Can Collagen Improve Your Skin? Insights from a Dermatologist

Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bo explains the benefits of collagen for the skin. She clarifies that while collagen creams and serums can provide hydration, they don’t necessarily boost collagen production. Dr. Bo suggests consuming collagen peptides or hydrolysate orally, such as in powder, smoothie, or gummy form. This way, the collagen is absorbed through the intestines and bloodstream, signaling the skin cells to produce more collagen. Ingesting collagen consistently for three months can improve skin elasticity and reduce fine lines. Dr. Bo also addresses the removal of skin tags, recommending medical procedures like using gradle scissors, cryotherapy, or electrodesiccation rather than risky DIY methods. Additionally, she discusses laser hair removal and its potential for regrowth. Hormonal imbalances can contribute to regrowth, and if laser hair removal proves ineffective, a prescription called spironolactone can help block the effects of male hormones. For individuals with darker skin tones, a specialized laser and an experienced practitioner are required to minimize risks.

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Key Insights:

  • Collagen is an important protein for the body and skin, but applying it topically as a cream or serum only hydrates the skin and doesn’t provide significant benefits. It is more effective to consume collagen peptides or hydrolysate in powder, smoothie, or gummy form to increase collagen absorption internally.
  • Ingesting collagen peptides consistently for at least three months can improve skin elasticity and reduce fine lines by signaling the skin to produce more collagen.
  • Skin tags, benign growths that commonly appear in areas of friction, can be left alone if they are harmless. However, if removal is desired, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist who can use techniques such as gradle scissors, cryotherapy, or electro desiccation to safely remove the skin tags.
  • DIY methods for removing skin tags, like tying a string around them or using undiluted apple cider vinegar, may cause infection or chemical burns and are not recommended.
  • If laser hair removal doesn’t permanently stop hair growth, it is advised to undergo blood work and consult a dermatologist to check for hormonal imbalances. Prescription medications, such as spironolactone, can help block the effects of male hormones and reduce hair growth.
  • Laser hair removal can be effective for treating hirsutism, but individuals with darker skin tones should find a dermatologist experienced in treating skin of color to minimize side effects. Special lasers that target dark pigment are used for hair removal in individuals with darker skin, as the laser can otherwise damage surrounding tissues.


All right everyone, we’re talking skin people. That’s right, I’ve got dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bo, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. You may have seen her on TikTok and Instagram, where she’s known for her hashtag #ThatBoGlow.

Dr. Bo, I’m always hearing about collagen, causing collagen, it’s just causing it all over the place. Do we eat it, do we put it on our skin, do we put it in the smoothie? What do we do with collagen?

Okay, so your skin needs collagen. In fact, your body needs collagen. It is a very, very important protein. But if you’re going to spend money on your collagen, put it in your mouth, not on your skin. If you put a lot of money towards a collagen cream or a collagen serum, it’s just a fancy moisturizer. It’s just sitting on the surface, helping to hydrate. Believe me, there are less expensive ways to hydrate your skin.

But there is some mounting evidence, some very interesting studies showing that if you eat your collagen in something called collagen peptides or collagen hydrolysate, which is basically taking this big strand of collagen and breaking it up into tiny little pieces, if you eat it that way in a powder, in a smoothie, in a gummy, then it gets absorbed by your intestines and it actually gets absorbed through your bloodstream. And then it goes to your skin, among other places. If you hurt your knee, it goes to your knee, but it can also go to your skin.

So your collagen is basically telling your skin to make more collagen because little pieces of collagen are basically signals to our skin that damage has been done. And so our skin, the cells called fibroblasts, those actually pump out more collagen in response. So studies show if you do ingest collagen by mouth for about three months minimum, consistently, you can actually see a difference in the elasticity of the skin and in fine lines of the skin. So take home message, don’t rub your collagen on your skin, but you wanna drink your collagen. It works better from the inside out.

Now let’s get into it, internet, give us your best shot. Our first question is about skin tags, which can look like this video, which almost received 300,000 views. Wow. Yeah, although I have questions of my own. What the heck is a skin tag?

Okay, so skin tags, also known as acro, they’re benign, but they’re annoying. And they tend to pop up on the neck area, under the arms, in the groin, under the breast, like in areas of friction, right? So in areas where the skin folds on skin, that’s where skin tags tend to come up. And they can be totally harmless. They can be associated with something called insulin resistance or diabetes. So you do want to ask your doctor if you’re getting a lot of them. Right. And you can just leave them alone, but a lot of people want to do something about it. Let’s get to this TikTok user who asks, „How can I remove my skin tags?“

Okay, so I know you guys all want to DIY remove your skin tags at home. I do not recommend doing that. If you come to the office, we do one of three procedures for your skin tags. Procedure number one is to use gradle scissors. See these scissors and see how they’re sort of curved like that? What we do is we actually snip the skin tag right at the base. That sounds painful, but we numb it up first, so don’t worry. We use topical numbing cream or we can even inject it with a little numbing. Not going to be painful. So gradle scissors is technique number one.

Now, technique number two is to use something very fancy called cryotherapy. Cryotherapy, right? It is liquid nitrogen with a gun. Do you see the gun over here? So you can either spray it with the gun and it freezes and then it kind of turns black and then it sort of falls off. Or you can take little tweezers and you can actually put the tweezers in a cup full of liquid nitrogen and then take out the tweezers and if you’re really quick, then you can snip that skin, just pinch, just pinch that skin tag and it actually freezes right then and there and then turns black and then falls off. Mind blown, right?

And then technique number three for skin tags is you can use something called electrodesiccation. Electrodesiccation is when you take a little tool and you go and you’re basically using an electric current and you’re melting away the skin tag. So those are the three techniques that we use in the office. And pick your poison, they all work.

Now, I’ve seen one video which got over 22 million views. This person is removing a skin tag with a string, literally taking a string and tying it and trying to snap it. Now it goes away, it goes away, but I can’t imagine what happened next. This video doesn’t look like it’s a good idea, to me, Dr. Bo.

So some skin tags do sort of grow on a little sort of stalk. It is filled with a vascular supply, right? And that blood is sort of feeding the tissue, keeping it alive, right? So if you tie say dental floss around your skin tag, you could strangulate the tissue and then it can turn black and fall off. So that sounds very similar to some of the things that we do in this happy home.

The problem with this, guys, is that there’s a much higher risk of infection if you do this at home. I’ve also seen this other video with this TikToker trying to remove her skin tag with apple cider vinegar. Watch this video as she’s taking the bandage off. Look at that, it’s right in her hand. So there might be some benefits to drinking apple cider vinegar, but when it comes to putting it on the skin, if you’re using a form that is not diluted, it can actually cause chemical burns on the skin. The pH of apple cider vinegar is really low, guys. It’s between two and three, pretty acidic. So a lot of people who have sensitive skin, dry skin, you know, we can’t actually tolerate straight-up apple cider vinegar. So I wouldn’t do it for a skin tag because there you’re almost trying to burn it off, you’re trying to create irritation, I just don’t think that’s a great method.

Alright, Dr. Bo, so I have a question that’s coming from me. Let’s get personal.

I love it! Let’s get personal.

Okay, so I deal with hirsutism. Check it out. The hair on my face was the bane of my existence, and so I sought out a dermatologist. Yay! And I started laser treatment a year ago. My question, though, is that it’s growing back. It’s growing back, yeah. And so how can I not spend the rest of my life spending money on laser treatment? It worked, I love the results. The ingrown hairs are gone, the bumps, no more of that. But it’s still growing back.

Such a great question, and a lot of women struggle with it. So the first thing that we do as doctors when we see that is we do some blood work and we do a history because sometimes there are some hormonal imbalances happening that we can actually treat using other medications and other forms of holistic treatments to get it under control. But if your hormones are normal, then you can consider laser hair removal. But I do have some patients who the hairs do keep growing back even though they get the laser hair removal. And if that’s the case, what you can consider doing is there’s a prescription called spironolactone. Spironolactone actually blocks the effects of male hormones. It’s great for female pattern acne, like those deep cystic lesions that some women get on their lower face. And it’s great for hair growth on the neck, on the chin, on the jawline, on the chest. It can actually help you with the laser hair removal because you’re getting to the root of the issue. You’re not letting the hairs grow back.

Now, laser hair removal is amazing for hirsutism. A lot of women struggle with hirsutism. And it’s not just the hairs. They can get ingrown and they can get inflamed, and they can leave dark marks, something called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. So I’ve had patients come to me and they don’t even know that they have hairs. They just come in, they’re like, „Why do I have these acne bumps and dark marks?“ And then we figure out together that they actually are growing hairs that can even get ingrown, they can get inflamed, you know. And a lot of people say to me, like, „Wait, I have skin of color, I can’t get laser, right?“ And that’s actually not the case. So you can get lasers, but it usually takes a special laser and somebody who’s really trained in lasers because people with darker skin tones, like, you know, are at a much higher risk for having side effects from lasers because the laser, the way that laser hair removal works, guys, is that it targets the dark pigment. Now if you have light-colored skin and dark hair, like this, you’re the ideal candidate because the laser’s not confused. It’s like, „Oh, I know my target, I’m going to go right there, right?“ But if you have dark skin and you have dark hair, the laser gets confused. It’s like, „Where do I put my energy? What am I burning? What am I doing?“ So instead of just killing the hair, sometimes it kills the surrounding tissue. So you really want to go to somebody who’s very experienced with treating skin of color using a laser. So it may take a couple more treatments, but at least you know that you’re in good hands and it minimizes the risk.

Thank you so much, Dr. Bo. Listen, comment below with your pressing health questions, and of course, hit subscribe here to the health channel to get more answers from medical experts on the questions you want to know. Dr. Bo, again, thank you. Thanks for having me. You gotta drink it, right? You gotta drink the collagen mocktail.