If you’ve stepped foot in a beauty store within the last few months, you’ve seen it: the word “collagen” splashed across every other cream, serum, and on countless supplement pills and powders. Skincare enthusiasts have become obsessed with collagen for a solid reason: this protein found in our tissues and organs is the key to keeping our skin supple and firm.
But collagen isn’t always kind. It’s an ephemeral visitor that begins to bid farewell beginning as early as our 20s. If you’ve started noticing hollowness in your cheeks or tear troughs and fine lines on the delicate, thin skin under your eyes, those are all typical signs of a slow down in collagen production.
Of course, we don’t take any loss of youth lying down these days, which is why products as disparate as drugstore cleansers and $300 moisturizers are making similar promises: restoring collagen in your skin. If a moisturizer, procedure, or smoothie truly can reduce signs of aging, it’s worth its price tag—and if it’s a marketing gimmick or a far-fetched goal, we’re here to tell you so you can blow your money on something far more fabulous.
We asked experts to separate collagen fact from fiction. Here are all of the ways you can rebuild collage in your skin—and a few that aren’t going to do the trick.
You may own an at-home microneeding (or micro-roller) device. You may use it faithfully, three times a week in combination with a powerful vitamin C serum. And, rest assured, you’re reaping some of the benefits of collagen growth—but never confuse an at-home device (or product) with the same service provided by a doctor or skincare specialist.
“There is a huge difference between at-home microroller devices and in office microneedling procedures,” says Abramowitz. “Medical grade microneedling devices must go through FDA clearance, while at home devices are not held to such standards. In-office microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, does trigger a response from the body, which then produces collagen. This treatment is considered minimally invasive, designed to cause micro injuries to the skin by using tiny micro needles.”
If you’re torn between choosing an in-office microneedling procedure or a laser to rebuild collagen, Zeichner says it’s no contest. Lasers win: “The wound created in the skin by microneedling devices are larger than the microscopic channel created by lasers. Also, lasers can penetrate deeper into the skin than microneedling devices.”
The biggest benefit of using at-home microrollers? Better product penetration, according to Abramowitz —so instead of considering a more expensive roller, focus on finding the highest quality serums with anti-aging peptides.
GloPRO Microneedling Regeneration Tool, $199, nordstrom.com.