Is Collagen Vegan? What Is It Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Published: April 2022.
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Collagen could be both, vegan and non-vegan. However, the latter is still more common as the method of making vegan-friendly collagen is very new. So, collagen is mostly made of animal tissue making it not vegan. Vegan collagen, however, is derived from yeast and bacteria.

In skincare, collagen is mostly used as a moisturizing agent. As well as an anti-aging compound, which dermatologists and scientists actually call a myth. Now, let’s take a closer look at why.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most important protein in the human body. 30% of our proteins are actually collagen. It is a structural component that gives strength to many parts of the body. And the protein can also be produced as a supplement or a skincare ingredient.

Collagen is not only in the skin but also in our bones, cartilage, and teeth. In addition, collagen ensures the tensile strength of our connective tissue.

When it comes to skin, collagen plays a key role in its structure. With age, the connective tissue becomes slack and the body does not produce as much collagen. In fact, the collagen content decreases by around one percent per year.

Thus, wrinkles form easily when the collagen structure is weakened.

What Is Collagen Made Of?

Still, collagen is mostly extracted from animal tissues. However, scientists have recently found a way to produce vegan collagen from bacteria and yeast.

Collagen in skincare has been known for many years as a protein obtained from slaughterhouse waste. This refers to animal tissue, skin, and bones. Collagen can also be derived from fish ligaments. And that type of protein is called marine collagen.

To this day, these are the cheapest two ways to produce collagen. Animal by-products are first boiled in water to extract the collagen. Then the collagen dries and is made mostly into a powder. A supplement that can be added to various types of products.

Luckily, modern technology has made it possible to make so many compounds in a vegan version. Making vegan collagen is still a fairly new technology. And it is sometimes called genetically engineered vegan collagen as well.

First, they add genes that produce collagen in humans to the genetic structure of microbes. Mostly to the bacteria called P. pastoris. Added genes allow the yeast to produce collagen components.

Lastly, they add a digestive enzyme called pepsin to the collagen components. This makes these components into a real molecule of collagen.

The vegan method is currently only used to produce topical collagen. In other words, vegan collagen meant for skincare.

Why Is Collagen Used In Skincare?

Collagen is used in skincare as a moisturizing and anti-aging component. Yet, the latter is not entirely true and often used as a marketing trick. A cream with collagen alone cannot do much.

Collagen molecules are far too large to actually penetrate the skin. It cannot get into the top layer of the skin. Let alone reach the lower layers of the skin – where collagen is actually needed.

Therefore it cannot act as the body’s own original collagen. So, unfortunately, pure collagen does not magically wipe away wrinkles.

However, additional anti-aging ingredients could help boost the skin’s collagen production. Antioxidants, vitamin C, and retinoids, for example. These stimulate collagen production and work better with fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of skin aging.

On the other hand, as a direct active ingredient in skincare, collagen has very good moisturizing properties. Collagen can store fifteen times its own weight in water. So, it has an intensive moisturizing effect and protects the skin from drying out.

Collagen preserves the skin’s natural activity. Therefore, wrinkles are smoothed and their depth reduced. The skin appears plumper and firmer. And becomes even softer over time.

FAQ About Collagen

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most important protein that gives strength to many parts of the body. Collagen can also be produced as a supplement or a skincare ingredient.

What is collagen made of?

Collagen is mostly extracted from slaughterhouse waste. This refers to animal tissue, skin, and bones. However, scientists have recently found a way to produce vegan collagen from bacteria and yeast.

Is collagen vegan?

Collagen could be both, vegan and non-vegan. However, the latter is still more common as the method of making vegan-friendly collagen is very new.

Summary

Nowadays, collagen can be found in many skincare products. Mostly to treat the signs of aging. However, collagen cannot actually reduce wrinkles as its molecule is too big to absorb where it is most needed.

Still, collagen has great beneficial features. For example, collagen’s moisturizing property makes the skin fresher, healthier, and younger-looking.

Although it is now possible to produce collagen in a vegan-friendly manner, most industrial collagen is still animal-based. Therefore, we recommend avoiding collagen products. Or shopping only at 100% vegan brands.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.