DO YOU HAVE COW BROW? Is there a farm­yard lurk­ing in your skin care? Find out here

Turns out your wrin­kle fix­ers might have more in com­mon with your Sun­day roast than you’d think. In fact, col­la­gen in­gestibles can con­tain chicken feet, fish scales and pork prod­ucts. Shocked? Read on…

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents - Words BECCI VALLIS

You’ve downed your green juice, eaten your avo on rye, and snacked on your pro­tein bar, but have you had your sk­ingestible yet? There’s a high chance you have – af­ter all, in­gestible beauty so­lu­tions are the new buzz in anti-age­ing as brands put lo­tions and po­tions on the back burner in favour of up­scale nu­tri-cos­metic pills and pow­ders with al­lur­ing face-plump­ing claims.

The big sell­ing point is that th­ese lit­tle pills could work quicker and more ef­fec­tively than any­thing we’ve been ap­ply­ing top­i­cally. Liq­uid for­mats, in par­tic­u­lar, claim to work as soon as you’ve downed them, as the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents have a higher bioavail­abilty. Trans­la­tion: they can by­pass the gut (where ac­tive in­gre­di­ents of­ten get bro­ken down), and are ab­sorbed into the blood stream al­most in­stantly. It’s a dream sce­nario for gen­er­a­tion Zs with a short scroll-and-swipe at­ten­tion span, and who are fully aware of the tick­ing time­bomb of how much longer their in­sides will keep them baby-faced, es­pe­cially when it comes to col­la­gen pro­duc­tion.

Col­la­gen (in case you missed the memo) is what keeps skin plump and re­silient, and we’ve been chas­ing our tails from as young as our mid- twen­ties in a bid to save it.“The word col­la­gen is de­rived from the Greek word ‘kolla,’ mean­ing glue, but once we hit 25, it de­clines by 1% per year,” ex­plains der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Alexis Gran­ite. That may not sound like much but that’s just the nat­u­ral degra­da­tion. Sprin­kle in free rad­i­cals, ex­po­sure to UV rays and poor diet – all of which break down col­la­gen bonds – and it’s a slip­pery slope to sagsville. No won­der a liq­uid promis­ing eter­nal youth (al­most) makes us sali­vate.

Th­ese elixirs are yet more en­tic­ing when you dis­cover that col­la­gen creams aren’t all that any­way. That’s be­cause col­la­gen mol­e­cules are far too large to pen­e­trate the skin – so while they’re ex­cel­lent at slow­ing the rate of mois­ture loss and give skin a semi-per­ma­nent bounce, they can’t quadru­ple your own col­la­gen.

So what ex­actly is in th­ese pills that claim to do what col­la­gen creams can’t? Well, for a start there’s a rea­son the for­mu­las for th­ese sk­ingestibles tend to be as closely guarded as Colonel San­ders’ spe­cial recipe. How would you feel if we told you that the source of liq­uid col­la­gen in Imedeen’s new Ad­vanced Beauty Shot, for ex­am­ple, is porcine (ie, from pigs)? Turns out the rest of the farm­yard’s fair game, too – cows, fish and chick­ens hold the key to age preven­tion as well.

COW BROW

Now here’s where it gets eth­i­cally tricky. If you’re a burger-chomp­ing, fully signed-up car­ni­vore, then this news may sit OK with you. But if you’re a veg­e­tar­ian/flex­i­tar­ian, pescatar­ian/ve­gan (delete as ap­pro­pri­ate), then not so much.

Ba­si­cally out of the 16 dif­fer­ent types of col­la­gen our skin is made up of, says Gran­ite, 80-90% are the same types found in our furry friends. Their skin, ten­dons and car­ti­lage are packed with the stuff, and see­ing as the best way to stim­u­late col­la­gen pro­duc­tion is to keep lev­els topped up, the farm­yard has be­come some cos­metic com­pa­nies’ go-to col­la­gen re­source. Fish aren’t let off the hook ei­ther – on the scale of col­la­gen qual­ity, ma­rine life is, in fact, seen as su­pe­rior to mam­mals.

“Col­la­gen from chick­ens, cows and pigs is mainly type II col­la­gen, which is gen­er­ally used to sup­port healthy joints,” says Dr Joe Cin­cotta, chemist at skin­care brand Time Bomb.“Fish col­la­gen is mainly type I and III col­la­gen, which im­proves elas­tic­ity, re­duces fine lines, im­proves cir­cu­la­tion and in­creases hy­dra­tion. Plus, it can be ab­sorbed up to 1.5 times more ef­fi­ciently into the body.”

The fish op­tion is also less likely to cause an ad­verse re­ac­tion. If you’re feel­ing funny af­ter your meaty skin main­tainer, you could be in the 3% of peo­ple al­ler­gic to bovine col­la­gen. Not that you’ll be able to tell which type you’re in­gest­ing be­cause most tend not to be la­belled, un­less it’s ma­rine col­la­gen, which brands do like to shout about.“At present, only al­ler­gens need to be high­lighted on the pack­ag­ing. The only way to tell the source is to write to the com­pany,” ex­plains Paul Dav­i­son, manag­ing direc­tor at LQ Supplements.

Col­la­gen-filled face creams fol­low the in­gestibles’ lead.“In­gre­di­ent la­bel laws for per­sonal care prod­ucts do not re­quire the source of col­la­gen to be stated,” Cin­cotta ex­plains. Although you’ll be pleased to hear that they’re

not al­lowed to source col­la­gen from any coun­try at risk from BSE.

LA­BEL LURKERS

It’s not just pig’s trot­ters and cow tra­chea that could be mak­ing up your beauty broth. Top­i­cal prod­ucts have of­ten used an­i­mal mat­ter to cre­ate lux­u­ri­ous tex­tures, stay­ing power and pig­ment. It’s less com­mon now, but if you’re wor­ried, eyes back to the la­bel.

Squa­lene (used in mois­turiser) comes from shark liver oil (not to be con­fused with squalane, which is from olives); carmine, a pig­ment tra­di­tion­ally found in red lip­stick, is crushed in­sects; hyaluronic acid can be pro­duced from fer­mented bac­te­ria but is also ex­tracted from rooster combs; and ker­atin is of­ten from ground hooves, horns and an­i­mal hair. You can thank­fully get the ef­fects of the lat­ter from a ve­gan blend of soy­beans, corn and wheat, but a ve­gan-ap­proved sym­bol on the pack is the only way to know for sure.

On the sub­ject of ve­g­ans, when it comes to crank­ing up your col­la­gen, if you fol­low a plant-based diet it turns out you’re get­ting a bit of a raw deal (no pun in­tended). You can try to do it the plant-based way and up your cop­per (found in nuts) and pro­line (found in as­para­gus, chick­peas and wheat) in­take, as both help to boost col­la­gen lev­els, but pro­line is most abun­dant in egg whites, meat and cheese, so again, not great if you’re ve­gan. Which is why vege­tar­i­ans fare bet­ter. Supplements like Re­ju­ve­nated’s Veg­giecol com­bine egg proteins with an­tiox­i­dants, cop­per and hyaluronic acid to sup­port skin in the same way that col­la­gen does.

Whichever pill, po­tion or prepa­ra­tion you use, just make sure you do it with your eyes wide open to the hid­den in­gre­di­ents buried be­neath the health claims. The sci­ence be­hind col­la­gen’s abil­ity to pre­vent age­ing be­fore it rav­ages your youth­ful vis­age (or af­ter those pesky wrin­kles have started to bed in) is pretty wa­ter­tight. What’s more, of all the ways to get it into your sys­tem, sk­ingestibles are the most ef­fi­cient. Just be aware that if you’re not care­ful, one life­style choice could knock out an­other. There’s a lot more to those beauty pills than meets the eye.

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