What if a drink could give you the thick, shiny hair, glowing skin, and strong nails you’ve been chasing for years? That’s the idea driving the skyrocketing popularity of drinkable beauty products, a wellness movement that focuses on treating your beauty woes—from aging to dry skin, and more—from the inside out. Formerly a fringe trend, the drinkable industry has exploded over the past few years into a powerhouse market recognized by dermatologists, nutritionists, and researchers.
New York–based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe explains that drinkable beauty products refer to a wide group of drinks or elixirs that help you reach your hair, skin, nail, and general beauty #goals. “Beauty and skin health is about the inside out, and the outside in,” she notes. “What you ingest through diet and supplements is sometimes just as important as what you put on your skin.”
The buzziest drinkable right now is collagen, a protein found in the human body that is an important part of your connective tissue, binding cells together and giving the skin youthful elasticity and structure. “Healthy collagen levels are what give young skin its strength and smooth, plump appearance. After our mid-20s collagen levels start to decline, resulting in thinner skin and wrinkles, and deep creases begin to appear around the mouth and neck,” says Dr. Bowe.
Recent research has gone a long way in supporting the idea that drinkable collagen could be a real-life fountain of youth. Dr. Bowe says that attitudes are shifting in favor of drinkables among beauty professionals. “Although many dermatologists, myself included, used to be very skeptical that liquid collagen could make any difference on the skin, recent research shows that it really can, and that results are long-lasting.”
She’s referring specifically to new research published in January’s Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology that found tossing back a collagen peptide drink every day could be the key to better skin within just eight weeks. Researchers saw women drinking daily supplements noticed their dermal collagen density increase in a big way, while fragmentation of the dermal collagen network significantly decreased.
Another study published in 2013 also found that after taking 2.5 grams of a hydrolyzed collagen peptide taken over eight weeks, women saw wrinkles around the eyes disappear by an impressive 20 percent. The participants also noticed that their skin had higher levels of moisture and elasticity for a month after they stopped taking the collagen, suggesting results could be really long-lasting.
So, why is drinking collagen important, even if you’re already religiously applying beauty products filled with the stuff? Well, topical products can boost collagen production, but only if your body already has the building blocks to produce that collagen. “Peptides and growth factors that you place on your skin can only do their job if your diet contains enough of the amino acids required to actually string together the molecular chains of collagen,” Dr. Bowe explained.
If you are still hesitant about boarding the liquid collagen train, know it’s not expensive to give give it a try: A 20-ounce (567 gram) container of collagen peptides will set you back around $41—a small investment when you consider the study saw a difference with just 2.5 grams per day.
There’s also a ton of wellness companies on the market with liquid products that they claim can improve your hair, skin, and nails. Fountain is a popular one that offers “water-soluble forms of proven nutrients in liquid formats” including a drinkable antioxidant, glutathione, and another product packed with resveratrol that studies show can help fight aging. (Aside: Wine is also packed with resveratrol, so take your pick.)
Of course, there’s also a class of (much less fancy and expensive) drinkable beauty products that health coaches and dietitians have been touting for years that might already exist in your kitchen. “One of my favorite drinkable beauty products is apple cider vinegar. It has numerous health benefits, to name a few: It helps detoxify your system, it has antibacterial properties, it boost your immune system, and aids digestion. When your body is in balance and your organs all function properly, you look and feel your best,” explained health coach and Ford-represented model, Jill de Jong.