How does collagen work?

Collagen. Perhaps you’ve been nodding and smiling this whole time, without having a clue what it is or how it can help you. Does it really work? Which collagen is best? Where does it come from? Is it worth spending your hard-earned money on? Let’s get into it.

What exactly is collagen?

The word collagen comes from the Greek word “kólla”, which means glue. It's a vital protein in your body, and makes up a total of 75% of the skin. Your body relies on this ‘glue’ in the formation and support of bones, teeth, ligaments, hair, nails and skin. It helps skin cells adhere to one another and also gives the skin strength and elasticity.

You can think of collagen as the glue that is tasked with maintaining the structural integrity of your skin. As we age naturally, our collagen production decreases.

What else contributes to collagen breakdown?

How much sleep did you get last night? How often do you forget to wear your hat or pop on sunscreen? How long has it been since you’ve had a weekend sans vino? Unfortunately, there are external factors that accelerate the breakdown of collagen in your body. These include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Stress
  • A diet lacking in essential nutrients
  • Alcohol and other substances
  • Environmental pollution

Use Ritual Collagen to kickstart a conscious approach to your wellness. Use it to gain momentum. Your daily dose can serve as a reminder to get in to bed 30 minutes earlier or to add in an extra serving of greens each day. 

How collagen works

Put simply, collagen supplies short-chain amino acids via your gut and into your blood stream. This allows it to penetrate deeper layers of the skin (also known as the dermis) in order to rebuild your collagen biomatrix. A collagen biomatrix is a set of interacting proteins which maintain your skin's health.

Ritual Collagen undergoes hydrolysis. This breaks down the amino acids into smaller molecules, small enough so your body can actually absorb them (not just flush them out!)

Can’t I use a cream or serum instead?

The only way to support collagen reproduction at the dermis level is to use an oral supplement. Hydrolysed collagen peptides stimulate the growth of fresh collagen protein in your body, but it is not possible for a topical collagen treatment to do the same as it cannot reach the dermis. 


Collagen diagram shows presence of collagen in the dermis layer of skin. Collagen does not exist in the epidermis, or outer layer.

Where collagen comes from

Bovine collagen is a naturally occurring protein present in the hides of cows. The collagen from cows happens to be similar to the collagen we have in our own bodies. Bovine collagen contains Type I and Type III collagen peptides, which are of great importance as they include three key amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These heavy-lifters are crucial collagen building blocks. 

Is a collagen supplement really worth it?

Here's what the research has to say:

91% saw an increase in skin hydration and resilience in just 2 months  1
Significantly improved crow’s feet and overall facial ageing  2
Increased skin smoothness and hydration in 12 weeks  3

Higher skin elasticity and moisture after 8 weeks  4
Clear improvement of skin appearance in women suffering from moderate cellulite  5
Increase of up to 49% in hair diameter after 3 months  6
Significantly Increased the hardness of fingernails  7
Reduced activity-related joint pain over 24 weeks  8





1. SOUKEN study 2008, Tokyo Japan: two month study hydrolyzed collagen.
2. Koyama. Effects of collagen peptide ingestion on the skin. Shokuhin-To-Kaihatsu 44:10-12 (2009) (in Japanese).
3. DERMSCAN study, 2008, Lyon France. Cutaneous properties of hydrolyzed collagen.
4. Proksch et al. (2014) Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2014; 27:47:47 – 55
5. Schunck,M et al. (2015) Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015 Dec 1; 18(12): 1340–1348.
6. Ohara H et al. (2010) Collagen-derived dipeptide, proline-hydroxyproline, stimulates cell proliferation and hyaluronic acid synthesis in cultured human dermal fibroblasts. The Journal of Dermatology Volume 37, Issue 4, pages 330–338.
7. Zague et al. (2011) Collagen hydrolysate intake increases skin collagen expression and suppresses matrix metalloproteinase 2 activity. Journal of Medicinal Food 14 (6) 2011, 618–624
8. Clark KL et al. (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion Vol. 24, No. 5, 2008, 1485–1496