Does Collagen Help Acne?

With its seemingly endless skin benefits and top-tier ranking in the skincare hierarchy, you 

might have asked yourself the question: does collagen help acne? We know that collagen is important when it comes to the aging of the skin and its overall condition, but what are the benefits of collagen for acne sufferers?

In my view, it’s important to be objective when discussing the pros and cons of any skincare product, but this is especially true when it comes to collagen. In this article, I’m going to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using collagen for acne, and whether or not it really can help those with acne achieve clearer, healthier skin. 

What Is Collagen?

The Importance of Collagen in the Body

Collagen is one of the most essential proteins in the body and is responsible for the suppleness, firmness, and overall condition of the skin. You’ll find collagen almost everywhere in the body – in the joints, muscles, organs, skin, and even in the intestinal lining. 

Collagen is what keeps skin youthful; we can consider collagen a bit like the body’s natural glue or scaffolding: it helps keep everything in the body together and keeps everything connected, and when it decreases, the body begins to both look and feel frailer. Collagen is super important when it comes to your overall health, but also key when it comes to your skin. 

Does Collagen Help With Acne?

Before we can say definitively whether or not collagen helps with acne, it’s important to list and explain the various forms of collagen that are available to buy over the counter. You can buy collagen in the form of a collagen serum, as an oral supplement (such as a pill or capsule), or as a powder – each of these options reports varied results when it comes to skin benefits, and some are better than others when it comes to acne-prone skin. 

Does Collagen Serum Help With Acne?

Collagen serums are becoming more popular in the skincare market, as manufacturers harness the name association of collagen to their beauty products. Collagen serum can be great for hydrating the skin and providing a smooth, firmer texture, and can be combined with other active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, or other hydrating or exfoliating properties to create a great all-rounder skincare product. Collagen serum is applied topically and can be used up to twice a day as part of a skincare routine. 

Benefits of Collagen Serum for Acne:

  • Antibacterial – certain collagen serums are infused with ingredients that can help stabilize your pH balance in the skin – if you have acne-prone skin, this is a major plus: having a stable pH balance will make your skin less attractive to bacteria, strengthen your lipid barrier and therefore make your skin less prone to breakouts. It can also help repair the skin and speed up the healing of current breakouts. 
  • Intense hydration – all of us with acne-prone skin know how important it is to stay hydrated. Dehydrated skin not only causes breakouts, but amplifies existing lines, imperfections, and acne scars. Collagen serums provide deep hydration, helping to prevent this type of breakout. 
  • Anti-inflammatory – irritation is another key cause of acne breakouts and can trigger an overproduction of oil in the skin. Collagen is known to be highly anti-inflammatory, so can be useful in balancing the skin and keeping it soothed and smoothed.

One downside to collagen serum is that it cannot penetrate the skin’s dermis layer: the collagen protein in any topical serum will be too large and will therefore simply sit atop the skin, unable to fully absorb to allow the skin the full benefits. This makes it unsuitable for encouraging skin cell renewal, which helps get rid of acne scars. 

The best way to use a collagen serum is to choose one which has been fortified with other skin-enhancing ingredients. My current go-to collagen serum, CELLRENEW’s Collagen Stem Cell Serum, combines collagen with hyaluronic acid, palmetto, green tea, and reishi mushroom. This combination of ingredients provides a powerful nutrient cocktail for my skin: not only does the green tea balance my oil levels, but the collagen works alongside the palmetto to really strengthen my skin’s lipid barrier: with this serum, I haven’t had a breakout in months.

Does Collagen Powder Help With Acne?

Taken like multivitamins, collagen supplements – also described and sold as “collagen peptides” – are hydrolyzed forms of collagen, typically taken in the form of powder mixed into a drink. Many dermatologists consider collagen supplements to be far superior to collagen serums: while collagen serums tend to use large collagen proteins that are far too big to be absorbed into the skin and penetrate the skin’s dermis layer, collagen peptides are smaller, hydrolyzed forms of collagen which can be absorbed fast into the bloodstream and take effect within 1-2 weeks. 

Benefits of Collagen Powder for Acne

  • Fast, effective absorption – as the collagen in collagen powder is smaller, the body has an easier time absorbing it and sending it into the bloodstream.
  • When you take a collagen powder supplement, you’re providing collagen support to the whole body, rather than simply on the face or neck where applied topically.
  • Studies have found that ingesting collagen orally can increase the skin’s elasticity and improve the appearance of fine lines – this means that any visible acne scars will also improve in appearance.
  • Collagen powders can be safer than collagen serum for those with acne: as you’ll know if you’ve suffered with acne yourself, many topical skincare products can trigger inflammatory outbreaks on the skin.

In my view, I find that taking collagen peptides – i.e., ingesting collagen through a supplement drink – to be much more efficient than applying a collagen serum. My current favorite collagen supplement is Vital Proteins – I’ve been popping this powder in my morning coffee for a while now and I’ve really noticed the benefits – not just for my skin but my whole body. The great thing about ingesting collagen is that the results show up everywhere: my hair is shinier, my nails don’t break as much, and I find that my skin has a more even texture. I think that the combination of using my collagen serum alongside this collagen powder has really turbo-charged my results. 

Does Collagen Help With Acne Scars?

When it comes to acne scars, it’s important to remember that skin cell turnover is going to be what really makes the difference in your skin: skin cell turnover will replace the old, damaged cells with new ones, which will reduce the appearance of visible acne scarring and help give your skin a more uniform, smooth appearance. But does collagen help with acne scars? It all depends on how you use it.

Does Collagen Serum Help Acne Scars?

Because collagen serum is applied topically to the skin, you might think that it has the best chance of helping improve the appearance of your acne scars. Wrong! As I explained in one of my other blog posts about collagen serum, collagen serums are unable to directly penetrate the skin’s dermis layer and trigger cell turnover – unlike other skincare ingredients such as retinol.

This means that the benefits of collagen serum can be considered to apply uniquely to the skin’s surface. While a collagen serum might be able to provide deep hydration to plump up your scars and make them less visible, it’s not going to dramatically or fundamentally change the skin’s damage. As I explained in one of my articles about increasing collagen production, combining a collagen serum with micro-needling can be a more effective way to treat acne scars.

Does Collagen Powder Help Acne Scars?

If you’re looking to improve the appearance of your acne scars with collagen, the best option is to take a collagen supplement. While I’ve taken both collagen supplements and applied my favorite collagen serum regularly, I know that only one of these products has the capacity to improve the texture of my acne scars and reduce their appearance. 

Collagen peptides have been scientifically proven to improve the skin’s elasticity, which encourages skin repair and diminishes the look of scars, wrinkles, and fine lines. Collagen peptides also provide full support to the body’s collagen production, with minimal risk of causing a skin outbreak as it isn’t applied topically. Overall, I’d recommend powder supplements as your best bet for combatting acne scars with collagen. 

Collagen Supplement Skin Side Effects

As with any new skincare product or supplement, you should be aware of possible side effects or allergic reactions. As I pointed out in one of my other blog posts, you can actually be allergic to collagen. While collagen is a human substance, collagen supplements are often sourced from animals, which can cause allergic reactions and unpleasant side effects if you’re already an allergy sufferer. 

Typical Collagen Allergy Symptoms

  • Digestive Problems – if you’re feeling bloated, it might be due to excess collagen in your system. Collagen can take a while to break down, so you might want to reduce your dose if you run into this problem.
  • Headaches – collagen contains an amino acid called glutamic acid, which has been often linked to headaches when taken in elevated doses. Reduce your dose if your collagen supplements give you a migraine. 
  • Anaphylactic Reaction – if you’re already an allergy sufferer (especially if you’re allergic to eggs, fish, or other proteins) seek immediate emergency medical help if you go into anaphylactic shock. Those with severe allergies should opt for a hypoallergenic collagen supplement to be completely safe. 

Verdict: Does Collagen Help Acne?

When it comes to treating acne, collagen supplements can provide a helpful boost to the skin’s production of collagen. Collagen can improve both the skin’s elasticity and hydration, making it a great addition to an acne-prone skincare routine and great for improving the appearance of acne scars when taken long-term. However, collagen isn’t an anti-acne treatment. Collagen isn’t going to clear your pores or remove excess oil from your skin – its main use in an anti-acne routine is to strengthen the skin’s barrier and reduce the appearance of uneven acne scarring.

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Stephanie Nera (Pharmacist)
Analyzed by Stephanie Nera

I am a pharmacist who graduated cum laude in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the University of Santo Tomas. I have worked as a writer for over 5 years, handling small time and multinational clients alike. Most notably, I have worked as an in-house writer and medical reviewer for Hello Doctor. I’m an Arizona native who has spent a good number of years in the Philippines. With that said, my health journey has gone through many extremes throughout my entire life. As a former “fat kid”, stressed-out medical student, and current PCOS warrior, I am passionate about sharing my professional and personal insights with those struggling with these problems and more. (Spoiler alert: you’re probably using way too many medications and products right now). Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, anytime! Read more of Stephanie's articles.


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