How long does it take for collagen to work?

Carla Oates
Carla Oates

Collagen is a protein that maintains the structure of connective tissue, enabling numerous functions to take place. With age, collagen formation is diminished, contributing to a loss of strength and stability in various connective tissues; a process that may be accelerated by certain lifestyle choices (e.g. exposure to environmental pollution, smoking, alcohol abuse, nutrient deficiency, etc.)  

In recent years, numerous studies have shown that age-dependent reduction in collagen synthesis can be reversed by the intake of collagen supplements. For many individuals experiencing collagen loss, you might be wondering “how long does it take for collagen supplements to work?”.  

Whether you’ve been taking collagen for months or you’re simply curious about what to expect, we’ve got the inside scoop. Stay tuned to learn more about how collagen is absorbed and used by the body’s various systems, and when you can anticipate visible results.  

Why you should take collagen 

Before we delve into the ‘when’, let’s start with the ‘why’. Why should you take collagen? To start with, loss of collagen is an inevitable process. With age, the number of active fibroblasts (the primary cells responsible for synthesising collagen) decreases, while ageing fibroblasts exhibit reduced functionality and responsiveness to signalling cues, contributing to the gradual breakdown of existing collagen. This results in compromised tissue integrity, manifesting as reduced elasticity in various organs and structures throughout the body. That’s where collagen supplementation comes in.  

In the last few decades, advancements in technology and increased understanding of collagen's molecular structure and functions have led to numerous studies examining its effects on joints, bones, skin and other body systems, demonstrating significant health benefits and few known risks. Some of these include: 

  • Significant and sustainable improvements in skin hydration, elasticity and roughness. 
  • Significant increase in hair regrowth and thickness. 
  • Improvements in mild digestive symptoms, including bloating, delayed intestinal transit and constipation. 
  • Improvements in bone strength, density and mineral mass.
  • Improvements in joint stability, functional capacity and mobility. 

How long will it take for collagen to work? 

So how long will you have to wait to start seeing results? While there’s no definitive answer for this question, we can look at research conducted on different areas of the body to provide some approximate timeframes.  

For skin health 

After ingestion, collagen supplements are metabolised to bioactive di- and tri-peptides in the gastrointestinal tract, which are then released into the bloodstream and accumulate in the skin to form the collagen biomatrix, yielding benefits for both skin structure and function.  

Many studies on collagen supplements for skin health show significant and sustainable improvements of skin hydration, elasticity, and roughness within three months or less. A 2014 study found that Verisol™ (hydrolysed collagen peptides) had a 98% success rate in improving skin elasticity levels in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 69 women. Versiol™ has also been shown to reduce eye wrinkle volume by 49.9% and increase collagen by 65%^.  

^After 8 weeks in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 114 healthy German women. 

For joint & muscle support 

Collagen studies for joint support show huge variability among time frames, but all tested products, collagen types and dosages seem to deliver positive outcomes and no safety issues have been reported.  

A 2009 randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition demonstrated improvements in joint pain and function after 6 months of administration of 10 g of collagen per day, while this 2011 study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage reported an increase in proteoglycan content in knee cartilage after 24 weeks of treatment with 10 g of collagen per day.  

Similar variations have been seen in studies focusing on skeletal muscle, though less evidence exists to support the benefits of collagen on this connective tissue.  

For hair & nails 

Collagen's amino acids contribute to the formation of keratin, a key protein for hair and nails. This internal support promotes healthy growth and resilience to environmental and physical stressors. While research into the effects of collagen on hair and nails is relatively new, some studies have found favourable results.  

A 2001 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that women who were given a collagen supplement had a significant improvement in hair growth after 180 days of treatment. Similar results have been achieved in 8- and 12-month studies. 

For gut health 

A Rome Foundation Global Epidemiology Study estimated that more than 40% of the global population experiences at least one digestive disorder, with irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia being the most common. Symptoms of functional gastrointestinal disorders include bloating, stomach cramps, pain, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, irregular bowel movements and acid reflux.  

Recent research has indicated that collagen peptides may be helpful in targeting gastric and bowel-related issues. In a 2022 digital study published in JMIR Formative Research, the consumption of 20g of collagen resulted in a reduction in bloating and an improvement in bowel frequency over a period of 8 weeks.   

The bottom line: When you can expect to see the results of collagen 

Whether it's promoting skin elasticity, supporting hair and nail health, or improving gut function, collagen's impact is gradual but potentially significant. Being consistent with your collagen supplementation is key to making the most of your results.