Should you take collagen for your hair? A trichologist answers our questions

By now, we’ve all heard the term collagen thrown around by various skincare brands, beauty fanatics, medical professionals and the press. And you’re probably aware that it’s one of the main proteins found in bones, skin, hair, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

collagen for hair
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When it comes to skincare, collagen is what keeps the skin plump and stops it from sagging. You may have even spotted pro-collagen wording on some of your beauty products or bought them specifically for that reason. Collagen is naturally-produced in our bodies and can also be ingested and topically applied, but our levels of it decrease as we age, and this starts from a lot earlier than you’d probably expect, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin.

But what about collagen’s effects on our hair? Of course, we know that hair is made from a protein called keratin (the same one that makes up our nails ), but according to trichologist Eva Proudman, collagen also plays an important role too. Here she explains what you need to know about collagen’s role in healthy-looking hair.

WHAT EXACTLY IS COLLAGEN?

Collagen is a major structural protein found inside and outside of our bodies. It is a unique building material composed of amino acids that provide strength and structural support to our skin, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.

WHY IS COLLAGEN LOST AS WE AGE?

As we age the body reduces the amount of collagen produced, this starts from your twenties, and by age 40, we lose around a third of our collagen.

As with a lot of bodily processes, the production of collagen slows down as we age. While UV exposure, pollution and poor diets all contribute to a faster loss, the reduction in collagen is inevitable at some stage. Menopause also plays a key factor in reducing collagen, with some studies showing that women can lose around 30 per cent of their skin’s collagen within the first five years post-menopause alone.

WHY IS COLLAGEN GOOD FOR OUR HAIR?

It is a little unknown, but the hair cell is the second fastest (and hungriest) dividing cell in our bodies. It divides every 23 to 72 hours, and requires 25 per cent of our daily protein intake and all eight essential amino acids. Amino acids are also responsible for the strength and elasticity of the hair and support the natural growth cycle.

collagen for hair

Some of these amino acids are found in collagen, including proline, the main component of that oh-so-important keratin. And let’s also not forget that our hair is attached to our skin, particularly the dermis (the middle layer that holds all of the hair roots), 70 per cent of which is made from collagen, so keeping that strong is paramount to reducing hair loss.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP KEEP OUR HAIR AS THICK AND HEALTHY AS POSSIBLE?

Protein is really important to the hair. Ensuring a good daily intake in your diet really supports hair health.

When the hair is wet, it is at its most fragile, so always use a wide-tooth comb to avoid friction and damage. A brush with wide bristles is better for the hair as, again, it reduces friction and breakage. Turning down the heat and using a heat protector spray is vital, as too much heat can break and damage the hair.

HOW CAN SUPPLEMENTS HELP?

Collagen in its native form cannot be utilised by the body. Bioavailability refers to the rate at which a substance is absorbed into the body when taken. Marine collagen is bioavailable when taken because it’s been hydrolysed, which means broken down into tiny pieces.

Marine collagen is absorbed through the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream and then carried throughout the body as amino acids. Here’s the clever part, this then stimulates your own body to create more collagen where it’s needed. This may be in your skin, hair, nails or elsewhere.

Supplements can provide essential amino acids that support healthy hair growth. It also helps to calm inflammation in the scalp, smooth and calm the hair to deliver shine and manageability.

6 collagen supplements for your hair hair

Remember, hair grows around a quarter to half an inch a month, so it will take a while to see the effects of any supplements you take!

collagen for hair

Marine liquid collagen drink for women, £32.99, Absolute Collagen

collagen for hair

Perfectil Platinum collagen hair drink, £39.85, Vitabiotics

collagen for hair

Natural marine collagen sachets, £39, Vida Glow

collagen for hair

The Beauty Chef collagen inner beauty boost, £16, Cult Beauty

collagen for hair

Collagen super powder, £24, Beauty Pie

collagen for hair

Skinful marine collagen plus vitamin C, £45, Planet Organic