Shopping List! Your Guide to Buying Collagen Supplements (Collagen Week Part 2)

Welcome back to collagen week … the week that’s like Shark Week … except no shark attacks, or big budget (or any budget). Earlier in the week we talked about the sources of collagen, types of it, and how much you should be aiming for in a day. Today is way more exciting though. We are going to be comparing the actual products on the shelves in Japan (pictures included!) so you know what you’re looking at when you’re shopping and can make an informed decision on which product is right for your needs.

First, before you set off shopping, let’s briefly talk about what all you might find in a can of collagen (besides, well, collagen).

  • Hyaluronic Acid: This is a humectant (it is very useful and ubiquitous in topical skincare) and is naturally present in the body as a joint cushion and lubricant. While it works well topically, I haven’t seen solid proof (yet) that as a supplement it helps either arthritis or skin. Side note, hyaluronic acid produced for medicine generally comes from rooster combs, i.e. it is not a vegan product (though if you’re shopping for collagen, you aren’t shopping vegan anyway, are you?). It can also be made by bacteria in a lab.
  • Placenta: You know what a placenta is (right?!), and this extract is generally sourced from pigs for collagen products (in the guide, you may see products where the collagen is sourced from fish, but has a placenta extract as well; that comes from pigs). Placentas are nutrient dense and include stem cells, estrogen, iron, B6 and are, in crunchier circles at least, thought to help treat and/or prevent post partum depression in women. You may have some ick factor from the thought of using this ingredient, but there is some evidence now showing reduction of transdermal water loss and UVB-induced wrinkle formation, lowered levels of the collagen degrading mRNA, and improved wound healing.
  • Ceramides: these are a natural lipid found in the body, and they help keep the skin hydrated. Like collagen, your body produces less and less as you age. This is a good ingredient to find in your topical skincare products, but I haven’t (yet) seen substantial evidence that oral supplementation is beneficial.
  • Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10: at risk of sounding like a broken record, CoQ10 is an antioxidant found naturally in your body, and one your body produces less and less of as you age. Primarily it’s in the outer layers of your skin and helps protect deeper layers of your skin from UVA. This ingredient is also widely found in topical skincare products (and has been heavily researched in this application). Evidence for supplementation with CoQ10 is promising, showing results of both increased levels of CoQ10 within the skin than topical applications alone (and perhaps even better than topical applications), and reduction of wrinkles that are already present.

You will see when looking through the shopping guide that different products will offer many more “bonus” actives than what I’ve mentioned here. Everything from glucosamine to probiotics to amino acids to antioxidants may be found in a collagen supplement. I’ve tried to line out what I can so you can pick and choose to find the best fit for you.

Additionally, you may see the words “low molecular weight” (or LMW) noted for both collagen and hyaluronic acid. This means the molecules are smaller, so potentially more readily absorbed (and used) by the body. You will see this mentioned in topical skincare particularly, as it’s thought that molecules that are too large will not be absorbed by the skin (Hada Labo’s premium line of hyaluronic acid lotion is a good example: it promises five different molecular weights of HA, in the hopes that it will be absorbed better than one).

So anyway … on to the shopping list! You should be able to find these at most any drugstore (Drugstore Mori, Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Drugstore 11, Don Quixote and even grocery and convenience stores), though you will likely not find every brand here at every store. Amazon.jp is another good source for collagen. Prices are what I personally found at a variety of sources, but keep in mind that they will vary slightly between stores, depending on the shop and any sale prices they may be offering.

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So that’s it! I hope this helps you select a collagen or two to try out. If you already use a collagen supplement, which one do you use?

If you’re stateside, I was able to find most of the collagen supplements listed above on amazon. You will notice that some of the prices are very close to what you would pay in Japan (like Shiseido’s The Collagen) and others will be noticeably higher. If you shop through these links, be aware they are affiliate links (you won’t pay extra, but I’ll earn a small commission).

Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen

This isn’t this blog’s first foray into collagen: I’ve written before about the wonders of this … ingredient? Superfood? Meat By-Product? Molecular structure? I don’t know what to call it, but if you aren’t supplementing with it yet, one way or the other, you might want to consider it. It’s thought to increase skin’s moisture level and even relax wrinkles (and promising studies have been published showing it boosts your body’s collagen-making ability, which decreases with age).  Continue reading “Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen”

Oil Cleanser Showdown: $4 Softymo vs. $10 DHC

When I started using an oil cleanser (and double cleansing), I nosed in gently with a very budget friendly choice, Softymo DEEP. At about 400 yen for 230 ml and readily accessible here in Japan (pretty much every konbini, supermarket and drugstore carries it), it seemed like a safe bet. It worked amazingly. So amazingly, that I never branched out into the middle or luxury sections of the oil cleanser market.

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If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Continue reading “Oil Cleanser Showdown: $4 Softymo vs. $10 DHC”

Biore ROSE Scented Watery Essence & Gel Sunblock!!!

It’s here! Start checking your local stores, if you’re in Okinawa. Biore’s limited edition rose scented version of its cult classic sunscreens, Watery Essence and Watery Gel, have arrived!

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Available in both the watery essence and watery gel formulas!

If you’re new to Japan, you may not know that limited edition is everything here. From sakura-themed, well, everything during cherry blossom season to the endless new flavors of Kit Kats to regional versions of mainstream products like the Okinawa edition of Lululun sheet masks, Japan is a master at producing regional and limited edition versions of products. It makes each trip to the konbini (convenience store) a bit of a treasure hunt.

If you have use (or use) Biore watery essence or gel sunblock, you are familiar with the very light, vaguely citrus fragrance. The scent fades very fast, just about as fast as it absorbs in your skin (which is pretty damn fast). This new one’s scent is a bit more noticeable, and lingers a little bit longer.

Let’s adjust that and remember this is a product sold in Japan, so the scent is still quite light. But, if you like rose scents in the slightest, I think you will like this. It smells very realistic, like real roses (again, very typical of Japanese products for the snozzberries to taste like snozzberries).

If however, you are not a fan of rose scents, you may find that it smells of old ladies, as my friend did. So … buyer beware.

This all being said, if you’re a diehard Biore sunscreen user, it might be fun to try and find a tube of this to mix up your SPF’ing this summer, or to give as a fun gift.

Heads up, yo: these are affiliate links; they don’t cost you extra if you purchase through these links, but amazon will pay me if you do.

Hall of Shame: Suncut UV Protect Spray Water-Resistant Sunscreen

The latest member of the sunscreen hall of shame? Suncut UV Protect SPF 50+ PA ++++ spray. It’s marketed as sweat- and water-proof. Now … let me preface this by saying, just like with the Missha sunscreen, the language I used is a bit strong. This is not a bad sunscreen, it’s just not good for me. Why? Read on …  Continue reading “Hall of Shame: Suncut UV Protect Spray Water-Resistant Sunscreen”