(This is an article I wrote in June 2019 but recently updated in April 2020)
Collagen: hype or true healthy hair and skin helper??? That’s what I have been asking myself over the last few years. I did not really mention a lot about collagen supplementing in my book in 2016 but I did mention the importance of the role of collagen in the body. The production of collagen in the connective tissues is crucial for healthy skin and hair and it also strengthens the capillaries that supply the follicles (the root of your hair) with the right nutrients.
Collagen is a very present protein in the body and plays an important role as a building block of our skin, hair and nails. In more scientific terms polypeptide, collagen contains a mixture of amino acids like proline and glycine, which are found in all connective tissue in our body.Collagen is often added to creams and lotions for skin and also an ingredient in shampoos and hair treatment products. BUT when you want to reap the biggest benefits than you have to take a collagen supplement to see real results. Over the last year, I have gotten more and more convinced of the power of collagen in my neverending search to help people grow stronger hair. BUT… is it really about just taking collagen or is there more to it?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and is composed of the individual amino acids proline, glycine, arginine, hydroxyproline. The highest concentrations of the substance in nature can be found exclusively in animal tissue, especially bones and connective tissue. Do you now understand the bone broth-hype? Makes sense, right?
Collagen is responsible for giving skin its elasticity, building stronger hair by strengthening the hair follicles and to strengthen connective tissue to make sure everything stays in place. Collagen protein makes up 30% of the total protein in the body, and 70% of the protein in the skin!
As we age natural collagen production declines and our current modern lifestyle (poor diet, stress, …) are not exactly helping our bodies to make it.
What about gelatin? Is that also collagen?
You often hear about taking gelatin when one talks about collagen. I remember when I was a kid my aunt always told us her nails were so strong because she took gelatin-capsules every day. However, there is a difference between the two.
Collagen is the basic form of the protein found in the body whereas gelatin is produced when collagen is boiled or heated. The two compounds have very similar compositions but the difference gets confusing when it comes to supplements. In general:
- Collagen Powder: this so-called hydrolyzed form of gelatin contains these proteins broken down into individual peptide chains. This form is usually easier to digest and is often suggested for people with digestive problems. The powder can be easily mixed into hot and cold drinks and is tasteless.
- Gelatin Powder: This is the pure form that is often recommended to use in cooking and it is the form that creates a gel. It is perfect for recipes like gum bears, marshmallows, gelatin puddings,… Gelatin is naturally found in bone broth: the cooking process required to make broth breaks down the natural collagen in the bones. When you put bone broth in the fridge to let it cool down the gelatin settles on top.
My mom always made fresh bone broth and then I enjoyed the marrowbone on a piece of toast with some sea salt and black pepper. I also describe this in my book “The complete guide to healthy hair”. It used to be the natural way to ingest collagen/gelatin from our daily food although no one raved about it as we do now. It was just “good for you”.
Collagen and your skin and hair.
While collagen is beneficial to the entire body, it is most noticeably beneficial to the skin and your hair. You can really start to see the difference in a couple of weeks!!! When you age, the epidermic (or outer layer of skin) becomes thinner and loses elasticity in a process known as elastosis. As this happens, a person tends to show more signs of ageing and acquire more wrinkles.
But there is hope! These changes are not irreversible. In fact, double-blind placebo studies show that women who took collagen regularly for 8 weeks saw a 20% reduction in wrinkles! I also got the same results taking collagen and my regular extra dose of extra Vitamin C (see my other article on that as well!) which helps collagen production. The study also showed that collagen can attract more moisture in the skin and increase skin’s elasticity, which is also something that you struggle with when ageing. BUT… there is a great BUT… I don’t just take collagen… nope… I have found out there is more to this supplementing with collagen and it is actually not by just taking collagen… it is about MAKING collagen… And that’s where silicon gets to play a big role! Silicium is THE MISSING LINK when talking about collagen, healthy skin, hair and nails. It is the key to getting all the nutrients to where they need to be and silicon plays the lead role in the production of collagen in your body. When taking the best possible kind of silicon you actually help your body to produce more collagen itself AND when you add some more collagen to that magical formula you get double rewards! And that’s when I REALLY started noticing results.
As healthy skin is also interlinked with healthy hair, once you start seeing the results in your skin you will also notice stronger hair and nails. Collagen is scientifically shown to fortify the hair follicles and being the root of healthy hair growth it is kind of logical it also helps you to get healthy hair. Taking a quality silicon supplement also helps your body to build keratine which builds hair and nails. The silicon is the motor behind the collagen and keratine forming process in your body so you are helping your own body to create more of the good stuff. It also helps to trap water in the form of hyaluronic acid in your skin, hair and nails. So that means less dry skin, hair and nails. This is pure hydration from the inside working like a moisturiser that works from inside. Isn’t that great?!! I never stop taking these nutrients since I know what kind of a difference it makes in my general health and looks. However not just any supplement will give you good results! There is so much poor quality crap on the market. But what products should you buy to get the best results?
What silicon and collagen to buy?
There are so many products on the market. In my book I mention Hubner, Dexsil and Biosil and I took them religiously for years, they helped a bit but it wasn’t until I got to know a new kind of silicon-supplement that I REALLY started seeing big results. In Belgium, I had the opportunity to test a new brand called B+Pharma SILIX Hair Skin Nails, which worked wonders for me. Their formula also contains zinc, selenium, biotin, hyaluronic. I am 43 now and I always get a lot of compliments on my almost wrinkle-free skin and strong nails which seem to grow like they are on speed;)) Look at the silly picture below which was around easter 2019 and I just turned 42… Apart from some wrinkles around my eyes, crow’s feet/laughing wrinkles, I am wrinkle-free on my forehead, chin, cheeks,… On the picture left I am frowning my forehead making a silly face here, but when not my skin is smooth as you can see in the second picture taken from a photoshoot from my hairbrush range Delphin & Emerence (I am wearing no foundation there and there is no photoshop at all!)… Of course, I also take good care of what I eat, protect against too much sun and take my range of supplements and foods which I describe in my book. But this supplement made it even better! I was very sceptical about why their silicon/collagen builder was so good so I really dived into the subject and have tested this on myself and my daughter with amazing results. And my daughter also noticed that it tasted so much better than other brands who often taste like rotten eggs and smell horribly. Silix has a nice, slightly acidic taste, which helps because you have to take the supplement on an empty stomach for best absorption. Just check it out and you’ll see for yourself. Take 2 measuring cups that come with the bottle, twice a day. After 3 months you can take a 2 week break or so and after that you can start taking it again for best long term results. Why? Well all of us are losing silicon over time and this process speeds up when ageing. You have to keep your silicon “stock” on a good level to enjoy beautiful skin, hair and nails at any age. I will write another article soon on that silicon loss problem in our bodies. So keep on reading my blog for more news.7