Being vegan or vegetarian is a little bit of a double-edged sword, at least when it comes to aging.
Numerous studies suggest that veg lifestyles lead to longer lifespans, among a number of other health benefits. But, as we’re sure you’re aware, there are a handful of vitamins and proteins that are only found in animals, and it can be sometimes too easy for vegans and vegetarians to become deficient.
This includes collagen, unfortunately. While our bodies create our own collagen naturally, that natural collagen production decreases as we age.
But we want to both live longer AND have our healthy skin along for the ride!
So what can we do?
Are there vegan collagen gummies?
Short answer: not really. Longer answer: yes, there are vegan collagen gummies, but they don’t work in quite the same way as animal-derived collagen.
Because collagen is only produced by the animal kingdom, the only way to get more fully-formed collagen proteins into your body is to ingest collagen from animal sources.
Or, produce more of it yourself! Which is what vegan “collagen” gummies are here to help you do.
(Take a deep dive into collagen to learn more about what it is and what it does with our Collagen 101 blog!)
vegan collagen vs animal collagen
While technically there are vegetarian sources of collagen from genetically-modified yeasts (you may consider yeast vegan or not depending on how hardcore you are), products containing this are either nonexistent or extremely hard to find.
There’s really no such thing as vegan collagen supplements per se, so vegan collagen supplements never contain actual collagen.
Instead, they try to help support and increase your bodies’ natural collagen production, usually containing things like vitamin C, copper, and the aminos proline & glycine. These are among the major ingredients your body needs to produce its own collagen naturally, but that we may not be getting enough of in our everyday diets.
So the theory is that by making sure we’re loaded up on the molecules we need to generate collagen, this will kick our fibroblasts into gear.
do vegan collagen gummies work?
In a sense, yes. Your body produces its own collagen, so giving it an abundance of the vitamins, minerals, and aminos it needs should absolutely help, at least if you’ve got a deficit of some or all of these.
But, here’s the problem: the major reason that people supplement collagen is because our bodies stop making enough collagen as we age. And that’s unfortunately just part of the “aging mosaic,” which sounds pretty, but isn’t.
As we age, our cells reproduce more slowly and produce proteins more slowly, to the point where we’re not able to replace collagen faster than it is breaking down. We actually lose between 1 to 1.5% of our natural collagen per year, starting when we’re around 25.
So our natural collagen production won’t necessarily ramp back up just because we’re loading up on vitamin C. There doesn’t seem to be much, if any, research into the actual effectiveness of these types of collagen-boosting supplements.
To be clear: that doesn’t mean that vegan collagen boosters don’t work. The jury is still out, officially.
But it’s never a bad idea to make sure that you’re getting all the vital pieces of the collagen puzzle in your diet, whether through foods or gummy supplements!
And the eternal allure of gummy vitamins: they’re a fun, easy, and delicious way to make sure that you’re supporting your body’s nutritional needs, including the building blocks of collagen.
The Best Vegan Collagen Gummies
We highly recommend MaryRuth’s Organics Vegan Collagen Boosting Gummies. MaryRuth has a phenomenal line of vegan gummies. Plus, they’re organic and sugar-free.
Looking for biotin? MaryRuth’s got you covered, too.
Or, pick up their vegan Bone & Joint Health Bundle, which includes the Collagen Boosting Gummies, plus K2 + D3 Gummies and a K2 + D3 spray!
Pro tip: it can be hard to find vegan Vitamin D3, because most of the D3 out there is actually sourced from sheep’s wool. But it’s possible to derive D3 from lichen, which is what MaryRuth’s does.
The vegan Sugarbearhair Women’s Multi also includes 100mg of their proprietary collagen-boosting blend of aminos. You can read our review here!
Other vegetarian & vegan collagen boosters
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s actually kind of an exciting time in the beautyverse. Here are a few other ways to support your collagen-boosting routine:
vitamin C and retinol
There is some evidence that topically applied vitamin C serum, especially when combined with retinol, can help increase skin thickness and reduce wrinkles.1, 2 Here’s a good one.
Perhaps most promisingly (currently, at least for vegetarians, see below), ingestible retinol has arrived on the scene as of late, including the “world’s first retinol gummy,” the embody retinol gummy.
Retinol boosts collagen production, and here’s the best part: by taking it in a gummy, you can avoid the potential side effects of topical retinol. Topical retinol can irritate your skin, and actually make you more sensitive to photoaging, the process by which UV rays from the sun break down your body’s natural collagen. But take it orally, and you can sidestep the downsides.
🚨 Important note! 🚨
Unfortunately, retinol is not vegan, it’s usually derived from liver, egg yolks or fish oil. Vegans, skip down to check out vegan retinol alternatives 👇.
According to embody’s website, their gummies are “vegetarian, but not vegan.” We reached out to them for clarification, and they told us:
“We define vegetarian as “excluding meat, poultry, and fish” whereas vegan would exclude any ingredient derived from an animal source.
Retinyl acetate is typically extracted from animal products (usually liver) and so is not vegan.
We do consider the Retinol Gummy vegetarian because there are no viable animal products in the gummy, but there is refined extract from animal sources. “
So it’s up to you to decide if this meets your personal definition of vegetarian – some people might allow for “refined extract from animal sources” like collagen and retinol, others (like us) might argue that any animal-derived supplement that involves harming or killing the animal is not vegetarian.
vegan retinol alternatives
You may have heard of bakuchiol, an ayurvedic legend and plant-based retinol alternative that has exploded onto the skincare scene recently.
Rich in antioxidants, and with a similar function to retinol, topical bakuchiol doesn’t cause skin irritation in the way retinol serums do. Hallelujah 🙌.
The Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum is the queen of the bakuchiol kingdom.
And speaking of vitamin C, Biossance also makes a Vitamin C Rose Oil serum that we’ve been salivating over. If you try it, let us know!!
other vegan gummies for your skin
And don’t forget that collagen is not the end-all be-all for skin health.
There are other vegan gummies for skin & hair that can round out your routine. We’re huge fans of HUM’s Glow Sweet Glow, and especially their Hair Sweet Hair (read our review).
So, ultimately, there’s a multi-pronged approach to collagen and skin care if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
We know that vegans & vegetarians are generally already masters of holistic wellness strategies 😘, so hopefully we’ve provided you with some helpful starting points for both boosting your natural collagen and expanding your overall skincare cosmos!
- Humbert, Philippe G et al. “Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo.” Experimental dermatology vol. 12,3 (2003): 237-44. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0625.2003.00008.x
- Seité S, Bredoux C, Compan D, et al. Histological evaluation of a topically applied retinol-vitamin C combination. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2005;18(2):81-87. doi:10.1159/000083708