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Everything You Need to Know About Collagen.

Naturally present in the body, collagen is somewhat the architect of the skin and makes up about 80% of the extracellular matrix of the dermis. This molecule can also be used in the cosmetic field to formulate moisturizing and firming treatments. What are the properties of collagen? How is it obtained? Discover all the key information about this active ingredient here.

Published May 24, 2024, updated on May 24, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

Collagen, in brief.

Collagen is a fibrous protein found in the connective tissues of animals. It accounts for about 30% of the total proteins in the human body and plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of the skin, as well as that of bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Collagen is characterized by its triple-helix structure, formed by three polypeptide chains, which gives it mechanical strength and elasticity, essential properties for the proper functioning of connective tissues. There are 28 types of collagen, but type I is the most prevalent form.

This protein is primarily produced by dermal fibroblasts during a biosynthesis process that begins with gene transcription and ends with the assembly of collagen fibers. However, collagen synthesis decreases with age. This loss typically starts around the age of 25, where the body loses about 1% of collagen per year and then gradually accelerates, reaching decreases of 25% per year. This leads to a loss of skin firmness, sagging, and the appearance of wrinkles.

How is collagen obtained for cosmetic use?

Regardless of the source (bovine, porcine, marine...), before extracting collagen, the raw material must be meticulously rinsed with water to remove all undesirable elements (blood, fat...) and then dried and ground. The extraction of collagen can then be done in various ways, each method having its own advantages and disadvantages. Most often, collagen is obtained through chemical hydrolysis or enzymatic hydrolysis.

At Typology, we use biomimetic fragments of the native type I collagen sequence, derived from transgenic wild plants. This biotechnology technique utilizes a plant-based medium in which a transcribed collagen fragment in vitro has been inserted to be expressed.

What are the benefits of collagen?

When applied topically, collagen primarily provides hydration to the skin. Indeed, this hydrophilic molecule is capable of retaining water on the surface of the epidermis to prevent it from evaporating. Collagen thus strengthens the hydrolipidic film, which has a protective role, and limits water loss. It is particularly used in formulations for dry skin or for individuals looking to prevent skin aging. Hydration is indeed one of the key factors for maintaining supple and plump skin.

In addition to its moisturizing effects, studies in vitro have shown that collagen peptides exhibit antioxidant properties, meaning they are capable of neutralizing free radicals, thereby mitigating the harmful effects induced by oxidative stress. The smaller they are, the better their ability to donate an electron to stabilize free radicals. Neutralizing oxidative stress plays an important role in wrinkle prevention. Indeed, by oxidizing endogenous collagen and elastin fibers, free radicals alter their structure and weaken their ability to optimally support the skin.

Finally, collagen could reduce the appearance of established wrinkles. However, it should be noted that this applies only to collagen peptides, which are fragments of collagen with a low molecular weight that allows them to penetrate the epidermal barrier. This firming effect is attributed to their ability to stimulate fibroblast activity, enabling the production of the skin's structural protein fibers. A study conducted over 4 weeks with 22 women showing visible wrinkles demonstrated that the twice-daily application of collagen could significantly improve skin density and suppleness.

Collagen: Are There Any Contraindications to Be Aware Of?

Highly biocompatible, collagen is an active ingredient generally well-tolerated by all skin types, including the most sensitive. However, scientific literature reports a few cases, rare but existent, of collagen allergies, even with topical application. These reactions manifest as erythema and edema, fortunately temporary. Researchers explain this phenomenon by the presence of specific antibodies (IgE) to collagen in some individuals. Therefore, as a precautionary principle, it is advised that individuals allergic to shellfish or fish avoid applying marine collagen to their skin.

Before using a new product, we recommend that you test it on the inside of your elbow or your wrist.


  • RODRIGUEZ M.I. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2018).

  • AGUIRRE-ÁLVAREZ G. & al. Collagen hydrolysates for skin protection: oral administration and topical formulation. Antioxidants (2020).

  • FERTALA A. Three decades of research on recombinant collagens: Reinventing the wheel or developing new biomedical products? Bioengineering (2020).

  • LIU D. & al. Collagen peptides and the related synthetic peptides: A review on improving skin health. Journal of Functional Foods (2021).

  • LEE J. H. & al. Effect of a Topical Collagen Tripeptide on Antiaging and Inhibition of Glycation of the Skin: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2022).


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