Collagen Mask Review: Do They Really Work?
You may have heard that your skin needs collagen in order to maintain its firm, youthful appearance. There are literally thousands of products in the skin care market that claim to help “boost collagen levels for a more youthful complexion” or “plump skin with natural collagen”. One of the most popular approaches to provide the skin with collagen is a collagen face mask. But do collagen masks really work? In this collagen mask review, we’ll discuss what collagen is, collagen mask benefits, and 5 of the best collagen face masks.
What is collagen?
Before purchasing a collagen mask, you probably want to know what collagen is, right? Well, did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body? It makes up 25% to 35% of the whole body protein content. It is a very complex and massive molecule with long chains of amino acids (primarily glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) that form a triple helix structure.
Collagen is a major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin strong and firm, and also plays an important role in wound healing. Unfortunately, the body produces less and less collagen with age. In fact, after the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. Moreover, environmental free radicals (from things like excessive sunlight exposure, smoking, pollution, etc.) can degrade collagen proteins. The result is skin that becomes thinner and more fragile with age.
The problem with collagen masks
Now that you know exactly what collagen is and how it contributes to firm, youthful skin, you probably want to start using skin care products that contain collagen as a key ingredient, such as a collagen mask. But there’s just one problem: collagen cannot be absorbed into the skin!
Remember from the previous section that the collagen protein is a very large, complex molecule? This inhibits the protein from being absorbed deeper than the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin). Specifically, the collagen used in the majority of skin care products is supplied as large 15,000 to 50,000 dalton molecules. This means that the collagen protein is too large to penetrate the epidermis because of the 500 Dalton Rule. The 500 Dalton Rule states that the molecular weight of a compound must be under 500 dalton to allow skin absorption. Ultimately, this means that topically applied collagen will not make your skin firmer or supplement any loss of collagen that occurs with age. Rather, the collagen protein will sit on top of the skin and provide moisturization, but that’s about it. In order for collagen to provide anti-aging benefits, it would need to be absorbed into the deeper layers of skin (the dermis).
So does this mean that collagen face masks don’t work? The answer is yes and no. The key is to look for ingredients in a collagen mask that have the ability to penetrate the stratum corneum and epidermis, making their way deep into the dermis. You can look for ‘hydrolyzed collagen’ or ‘collagen amino acids’ on the product’s ingredient list. Hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids called peptides. It is theorized that topical application of these collagen precursors may increase collagen production (if the peptides make their way down into the dermis). However, this theory has not been proven.
There are other ingredients that have been proven to penetrate the upper layers of skin and stimulate new collagen production in the dermis. Examples of these ingredients include vitamin C, peptides, antioxidants, and retinol. Vitamin C serves as a cofactor for two enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of collagen. Peptides work by sending messages to cells called fibroblasts, signaling them to produce more collagen. Retinol and other retinoids are converted to retinoic acid, which binds to receptors to increase the production of procollagen. If you want to try a collagen mask, you’ll want to check to see if the mask contains one or even a few of these ingredients that are known to increase collagen production.
Collagen mask benefits
Using a collagen mask that contains hydrolyzed collagen or one of the ingredients mentioned above that can increase collagen production can provide numerous benefits. Some collagen mask benefits include the following:
- Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Firming skin
- Promoting a more plump complexion
- Increasing skin hydration
- Help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally.
Collagen mask benefits also include reducing cellulite and stretch marks — even if a collagen mask is intended for your face, you can still use it on other areas of your body. Collagen benefits the skin by increasing strength, durability, and thickness, which may help to reduce visible cellulite. Similarly, stretch marks occur due to thinning of the collagen and elastin fibers found within the dermis. Using a collagen mask with ingredients that are known to increase collagen levels in the dermis may help to prevent the formation of stretch marks.
A final collagen benefit is improved skin hydration. As we explained above, collagen is made up of many amino acids linked together. Amino acids are composed of many hydrophilic (water loving) groups, such as hydroxyl groups (OH) and/or amine groups (NH2). Due to this structure, collagen is considered to be a humectant. The OH and NH groups hydrogen bond with water, essentially “grabbing” it and holding it on the skin. Humectants slow water from evaporating and therefore keep the skin hydrated.
What is the best collagen face mask?
In order to choose the best collagen face masks, we had to evaluate the ingredients to ensure the collagen mask contained either some form of hydrolyzed collagen or an ingredient that is known to stimulate new collagen production. Any collagen mask that only contained collagen did not make the list because, as you learned above, the collagen protein cannot be absorbed into the skin. Below we have the top 5 best collagen face masks.
BEAUTYBIO Bright Eyes Collagen-Infused Brightening Colloidal Silver Eye Masks
These collagen eye masks are meant to de-puff and brighten the look of eyes while diminishing the appearance of fine lines. Fortunately, these masks contain hydrolyzed collagen, which may be able to stimulate new collagen production in the dermis. Other key ingredients include colloidal silver (helps diminish the appearance of puffiness) and pearl powder (instantly gives the eyes a brighter appearance).
Masqueology Gold Collagen Hydro-Gel Mask
This collagen face mask contains hydrolyzed collagen, although there’s only a small concentration of this ingredient in the mask. Similarly, gold is claimed to be a key ingredient, although it is the lowest concentration ingredient in this collagen mask. One good thing about the Masqueology Gold Collagen Hydro-Gel Mask is that it contains a high concentration of niacinamide. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is known to help repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling.
Naisture 15 Min Collagen Face Sheet Mask
This collagen mask is said to improve skin elasticity and reduce signs of aging in just 15 minutes. It features hydrolyzed collagen, as well as key ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and skullcap extract.
Hydropeptide Nimni Face Cream
Developed by geneticists, Hydropeptide Nimni Face Cream contains a pretty good mix of ingredients that can help increase the skin’s collagen production, such as peptides, vitamin C, and time-release retinol. One problem with this face cream is that it contains quite a few fragrance ingredients, which have the potential to cause skin irritation and sensitivity.
Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum
This lightweight, restorative serum is specifically formulated for aging skin that has experienced a loss of collagen. It contains a highly concentrated mix of peptides and proteins, derived from seaweed, wheat, and soy, to help tackle numerous signs of aging. For instance, this serum contains Pseudoalteromonas ferment extract, which is produced by the fermentation of a marine bacteria living in the cold Antarctic Ocean. During growth, the bacteria produce an extracellular material, an exopolymer of glycoproteins believed to help the bacteria retain water, adhere to surfaces, and withstand the extreme cold. Its protective function in nature is now being used to regenerate and protect the skin. Pseudoalteromonas ferment extract is known to stimulate the synthesis of type I and IV collagen and elastin, which may help to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Another ingredient in Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum that may help boost collagen levels in skin is tripeptide-1. Tripeptide-1 is categorized as a messenger peptide because it works by sending messages or signals to cells. Cells have the ability to communicate with each other to coordinate certain actions, which is known as cell-signaling. For instance, when collagen is degraded it produces peptides that signal skin cells to generate more collagen. Synthetic peptides like tripeptide-1 can mimic these naturally occurring peptides, thus causing your skin to “think” collagen is deteriorating. This results in new collagen production. Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum can be used as an overnight collagen mask that may help to promote firmer skin with fewer signs of aging as you sleep.