Collagen is an increasingly popular dietary supplement, and is technically a food product rather than a supplement. It’s one of the few supplements we recommend for improving skin quality, as oral collagen supplementation is clinically proven to reduce visible signs of skin aging such as wrinkles, skin dehydration and cellulite.
Choosing the right collagen product can be challenging because so many of the formulations appear similar to a consumer. Typically there aren’t many active ingredients; just collagen at various doses and potentially some flavoring agents.
In this article we’ll highlight what criteria to consider when choosing a collagen powder, and provide brand recommendations across different categories like flavored collagen and cheapest collagen.
What Matters When Choosing Collagen Powder Brands
In our category overviews, we always recommend that consumers look for a clean formulation as their first consideration. This means that the ingredients list contains effective ingredients and no harmful filler ingredients like added sugar or artificial flavoring.
For collagen powder, this is simpler than for categories like protein powder which tend to have more additives. Many collagen powder brands contain collagen powder as the only ingredient, which would pass the clean formulation standard.
Effective dose is the second consideration. Medical research suggests that 10 grams (g) daily is the maximum effective dose of collagen for improving skin quality. The linked research review, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology journal in 2019, evaluated results from 11 individual studies on collagen supplementation for anti-aging effects.
The study authors noted that the maximum dose used in the trials which provided benefit was 10 g. Based on the research, we consider 10 g an effective dose, and would only recommend collagen products that provide a minimum of 10 g collagen per serving. If the product provides more than 10 g of collagen per serving, we recommend 10 g, because there is no proven benefit to higher doses and this will save you money.
Price is the third consideration. Assuming a product meets both the clean formulation and effective dose standards, brands which are lower-priced are favorable. We measure price per 10 g dose to standardize price across brands which may have different sized products.
Secondary considerations are product certifications which may prove the purity of ingredients, and clinical research backing (meaning the product has been tested in legitimate medical research). These factors are uncommon for collagen products, but would give a product an edge over others all other factors being equal.
Best Overall Collagen Powder - Bulletproof Unflavored
Bulletproof is our top recommendation for collagen powder, because of their combination of effective formulation and relatively low price per serving.
Bulletproof collagen powder passes our clean formulation test because the only ingredient is collagen. Additionally, the brand sources collagen exclusively from grass-fed animals, which is proven to be more nutritious based on medical research.
This product contains an effective dose of 20 g collagen per serving. As noted in the previous section, we actually recommend only taking 10 g per serving to save money. Since this product has a serving size of two scoops, the solution is simple: just take 1 scoop instead. This will make the product last twice as long and cut the daily cost in half.
Bulletproof collagen costs $43.95 for a one-time purchase of their most popular 17.6 ounce (oz) product. This equates to $0.88 per 10 g collagen serving. They also offer a 20% discount for subscription orders.
We personally use this product and have found that it dissolves well in water or coffee.
Best Collagen Powder for Skincare - Vital Proteins
Vital Proteins sells a collagen powder that contains additional active ingredients which are effective for improving skin quality, and no harmful additive ingredients, so it passes our clean formulation test.
Their collagen powder contains 20 g collagen per serving, the same as Bulletproof. The brand claims that their collagen is sourced exclusively from grass-fed animals.
This powder also contains 80 milligrams (mg) of hyaluronic acid. As we discussed in our Vital Proteins review article, this is a slightly underdosed but effective ingredient for improving wrinkles and skin quality. Most medical research on hyaluronic acid is on its topical application, but there are studies showing it’s effective when ingested orally.
This supplement powder also contains 90 mg of Vitamin C, which research shows plays a critical function in maintaining skin health. Vitamin C is easily obtainable through diet, but many Americans fail to consume enough fruits and vegetables daily, and this vitamin is water soluble so there’s essentially no risk of overdose, so we believe this is a sensible and effective ingredient inclusion for a skincare-focused collagen powder.
As referenced earlier, this product contains an effective dose of 20 g collagen. However, we don’t recommend taking only a 10 g dose if you’re taking this product to benefit skin, because that would drop the hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C doses to suboptimal levels.
The price of Vital Proteins collagen powder is currently $27 for a one-time purchase which includes 28 servings of 10 g collagen. This equates to $0.96 per 10 g collagen serving, which is slightly more expensive than Bulletproof. For consumers who are purchasing this product for skincare benefit only, consuming the full 2 scoop serving would equate to $1.92 per serving.
Cheapest Collagen Powder - Great Lakes
Great Lakes makes a collagen powder which meets our clean formulation standards. Like Bulletproof, its sole ingredient is collagen sourced from pastured animals. There are no other active ingredients or flavorings.
This collagen powder contains an effective dose of 12 g collagen per serving, so we recommend using about 80% of a serving to achieve 10 g collagen. This is a bit annoying compared to the other products which contain 20 g collagen per serving, which makes it easier for consumers to simply use one scoop instead of two to achieve the 10 g collagen dosage. But often sacrifices in usability are necessary to save money on a health product.
The price of Great Lakes collagen powder is $29.99 at the time of writing this article, for a 1 pound (lb) container. This equates to $0.66 per 10 g collagen serving, which is 25% cheaper than Bulletproof collagen.
Like the other products, this collagen powder has no relevant certification or clinical research of note.
Best Flavored Collagen Powder - Bulletproof Chocolate
All of the collagen powders we’ve reviewed thus far in this article have been unflavored. We typically recommend unflavored health supplements because many flavored products contain flavoring compounds which may be unhealthy. However Bulletproof contains the only collagen powder we’ve come across that uses whole foods flavoring ingredients rather than “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors.”
Bulletproof Chocolate uses organic cocoa powder for flavoring, and stevia leaf extract as a natural sweetener. Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia leaf extract actually has documented health benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and potentially blood pressure lowering effects. There are no preservatives, added sugars or ingredients in this formulation that we deem harmful, so it passes our clean formulation test.
We generally recommend unflavored collagen powders to consumers, but we find this to be the best option for consumers who for whatever reason dislike the taste of unflavored collagen powder, and we find this to be a healthier alternative to all commercial flavored collagen powders that we’ve come across.
Like the other Bulletproof product, this collagen powder contains an effective dose of 20 g collagen, so we recommend using only one scoop of this product rather than two to achieve an effective dose of 10 g and save money.
This product costs $43.95 for a one-time purchase (exactly the same as their unflavored collagen powder). This equates to $0.88 per 10 g collagen serving. They also offer a 20% discount for subscription orders. The fact that the price is not higher even with the additional ingredients is impressive in our opinion.
Best Non-Meat-Derived Collagen Powder - Vital Proteins Marine Collagen
Some consumers who are vegetarian, vegan or otherwise ethically inclined to avoid products sourced from mammals may prefer a marine collagen powder like the one sold by Vital Proteins. There are no vegan or vegetarian collagen powders, because collagen is a structural protein in animals and scientists have not yet found a way to synthesize it from non-animal sources.
Vital Proteins marine collagen is sourced from wild-caught whitefish, and the only ingredient is collagen. Thus it passes the clean formulation test.
This product contains a dose of 12 g collagen, which is an effective dose as we’ve established previously.
The price of Vital Proteins marine collagen is $39 for a one-time purchase, which equates to $2.71 per 10 g collagen serving. This product is significantly more expensive than collagen sourced from land animals, which is unsurprising given that wild-caught fish is expensive. We still believe this makes a healthy collagen powder option for consumers seeking to avoid products derived from meat who have a moderate disposable income.
Best Type II Collagen Powder - Vital Proteins Cartilage Collagen
Most of the collagen powders we’ve reviewed in this article are sourced from pigs which contain primarily collagen types I and III. These are the collagen types typically used for skincare, and established in medical research to be beneficial to this end. Collagen type II is often supplemented for joint health and physical function.
A medical review published in the Nutrition Journal in 2016 found that type II collagen at a dose of 40 mg daily was effective at improving symptoms of knee arthritis. We will use 40 mg as the minimally effective dose of type II collagen since there is not nearly as much research on this type of collagen as on types I and III.
Vital Proteins sells a cartilage collagen product which is rich in collagen type II. It contains 3 g collagen type II, which is well over the minimum effective dose of 40 mg.
This supplement has a clean formulation, with the only ingredients being cartilage collagen sourced from pastured animals and gelatin capsule.
The price of this product is $41 for a one-time purchase, however the serving size seems higher than necessary. The product recommends a 4-pill serving, but we would alternatively recommend a 1-pill serving, since that would still provide 750 mg type II collagen which is well above the minimum effective dose.
At a single pill serving, the price of this product is only $0.34 per serving, which is quite reasonable. Keep in mind that this would only provide an effective dose for joint health and not for skincare, so this product is not an effective replacement for any of the other collagen products we’ve recommended earlier in this article.