Vital Proteins Review: Better Skin in a Bottle?

Vital Proteins Review: Better Skin in a Bottle?

| |
| |

Vital Proteins is arguably the most popular collagen brand in the U.S. The brand sells a wide variety of collagen products from collagen powder to collagen bars, and their products are promoted by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston. Many consumers use Vital Proteins supplements to improve their skin.

But does collagen powder actually improve skin, or is this just a marketing claim? Do Vital Proteins products provide an effective dose of collagen? What is an effective dose of collagen? And do real users report that Vital Proteins collagen improved their skin?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review the ingredients in some of Vital Proteins’ most popular products based on medical research to give our take on whether they're likely to improve skin, and whether we recommend them.

We'll review Vital Proteins Collagen Powder, Collagen Water, Beauty Collagen, Collagen Creamer, Protein Powder and Collagen Gummies. We'll also share a review from a real user with before-and-after images after 3 months of use, and another review from someone who taste-tested all of their most popular products. First, we'll analyze whether collagen actually does improve skin appearance.

Does Collagen Really Improve Skin Appearance?

Collagen protein has a wide variety of health benefits, but most consumers take it for improvements to skin. As we age, our natural collagen production decreases which can accelerate skin aging and increase wrinkles.

Oral collagen supplementation is proven in medical research to improve a wide variety of skin parameters, including collagen density, skin elasticity and hydration.

The dose of collagen used in medical research varies, but we recommend a dose of 10 grams (g) daily, which appears to be the maximally effective dose. A recent medical review summarized 19 clinical trials on collagen for skin and concluded that “collagen peptides can delay and improve the signs of skin aging by decreasing facial wrinkles and improving skin hydration and elasticity.”

All of the studies except one used a dosage at or under 10 g daily except for one.

Clearly research shows that collagen supplementation can improve skin quality and reduce visible effects of aging, and we recommend a daily dose of 10 g. The improvements to skin typically take weeks to months, and are not instant.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides ingredients list

Vital Proteins’ most popular product is their Collagen Peptides powder which contains two active ingredients: hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid. 

Vital Proteins sources their hydrolyzed collagen from grass-fed animals, which we believe is a good decision from a health context since medical studies have shown that food sourced from grass-fed animals is nutritionally superior on average to that sourced from conventionally-raised animals. We already established in the previous section that this ingredient is effective for anti-aging.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides also contains 80 milligrams (mg) of hyaluronic acid, which is an effective ingredient for skin aging but may be slightly underdosed. We only found one study on oral hyaluronic acid's effects on skin. The researchers found that hyaluronic acid improved skin moisture, but the dosage used was 120 mg.

Vital Proteins collagen powder is free of questionable filler ingredients like artificial flavoring or added sugar, and for this reason we recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Powder.

One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Vital Proteins collagen comes from a creator called Sarah Fit who used the product for three months and shares before-and-after images:

We Tried Vital Proteins Ourselves

One of our product testers named Hannah Westerman tried both the unflavored and the Chocolate flavor of Vital Proteins collagen powder.

Here's her experience:

The powder does not come with a scooper so you need to use a tablespoon. The regular powder is a little harder to mix with liquid, it often gets clumpy. The chocolate powder mixes easily.

The taste of the regular powder is neutral but I find that it is best in smoothies, overnight oats and granola bars because of this.

The chocolate powder tastes good but is sweetened with stevia and that flavor is fairly prominent. If you don’t like stevia, you probably won’t like this powder. 

These collagen powders helped me to stay full for a while, gave me energy and contributed to high protein breakfasts that stopped cravings later in the day.

I did not experience any side effects from either powder.

Overall, I rate this product line 9/10, and it's one I plan to continue purchasing!

Vital Proteins Collagen Water Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Water ingredients

Vital Proteins sells a variety of naturally-flavored Collagen Waters. These drinks are flavored with small amounts of fruit juice like peach juice concentrate instead of added sugar or artificial flavors, which makes them a healthy option.

Each Vital Proteins Collagen Water contains 10 g of collagen which is an effective dose. They retail for $3/bottle.

From a cost perspective, this is less efficient than mixing 10 g of the collagen powder into a water, which only costs $0.96 per serving.

For consumers who can afford it, we recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Water and consider it likely effective for improving skin, given that it provides an effective dose of collagen and has no questionable additive ingredients.

Vital Proteins Taste Test

Since Vital Proteins sells a large number of collagen products that are naturally flavored, consumers are often curious about which ones taste the best.

A YouTube creator named Kayla Djukic published a popular video testing the taste of all of Vital Proteins' most popular products and sharing her thoughts. The video is unsponsored:

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer ingredients

Vital Proteins’ creamer is a much healthier alternative in our opinion to commercial creamers like Coffee Mate which contain added sugar, vegetable oils, artificial flavors and all sorts of questionable ingredients.

Vital Proteins offers three creamer flavors: vanilla, coconut and mocha.

We recommend the Vital Proteins Coconut Collagen Creamer flavor (ingredients shown above) because it contains no added flavoring agents. The only ingredients are: collagen peptides, organic coconut milk powder, silica and organic acacia fiber which makes for the most nutritious and non-toxic creamer we’ve come across in an Illuminate Health review.

Acacia fiber is an especially nutritious thickening ingredient that's been shown in medical research to have beneficial effects on gut health. A 2022 clinical trial found that acacia fiber supplementation helped to improve gut health and support microbial diversity in the gut.

We recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer from a health perspective and it's the only creamer we've recommended on Illuminate Health to date.

Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen Review

Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen ingredients list

Vital Proteins sells a separate line of collagen powders specifically marketed for beauty. The formulation is very similar to the standard Collagen Peptides product, but hyaluronic acid is included at an effective dose of 120 mg instead of 80 mg.

Beauty Collagen also contains 2 billion colony-forming units (CFU) of a patented probiotic blend called “LactoSpore.” While this probiotic has been studied in medical trials, we can’t find any research proving that it benefits skin.

This supplement also contains natural flavors, which is an ingredient we recommend health-conscious consumers avoid. As documented in a medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, there are legitimate health questions about some of the flavoring agents added to foods and supplements.

We do not recommend Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen due to the inclusion of natural flavors, and would recommend using the standard collagen peptides product instead.

Vital Performance Protein Powder Review

Vital Performance Protein Powder ingredients

Vital Proteins sells a protein powder called Vital Performance. While all of their collagen products are rich in protein (because collagen itself is a type of protein), this product has a higher protein dosage per serving (25 g).

This is an effective protein dose for muscle building. A medical review published in 2013 analyzed data from many individual clinical trials on protein and exercise, and concluded that 20 g to 25 g post-workout maximizes response of muscle protein synthesis.

We don't recommend this product because it contains 5 g of added sugar per serving in the form of tapioca dextrose. For elite athletes, consuming added sugar may improve power and endurance, but added sugar consumption is harmful to human health in excess, and many Americans consume too much added sugar from diet already.

Vital Performance also contains natural flavors and 230 mg sodium per serving which is relatively high for a protein powder.

We do not recommend Vital Proteins Protein Powder due to the inclusion of added sugar and flavoring agents.

Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies

Vital Proteins sells a variety of different gummies products, but their most popular is their Collagen Gummies (ingredients shown above).

As we explained in our review of Olly vitamins, we generally don't recommend gummy supplements because they tend to be underdosed and contain added sugar. The focus of gummy supplement formulations is typically taste first and efficacy second.

That trend holds true with Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies in our opinion.

These gummies provide 2.5 g of collagen per serving, which is still an effective dose, but it's a much less cost-efficient way to get collagen than collagen powder. The powder, as discussed above, costs $0.96 per 10 g collagen while these gummies cost $2.40 per 10 g collagen.

Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies contain 5 g added sugar per serving, and also contain natural flavors.

These gummies contain a preservative ingredient called citric acid that we recommend avoiding, as it has been shown in a series of medical case reports to cause whole-body inflammation in some patients. 

This is the worst Vital Proteins formulation in our opinion, and we do not recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies due to the inclusion of numerous questionable additive ingredients.

Does Vital Proteins Cause Side Effects?

Collagen is a very safe food product; it’s just a type of protein.

A thorough medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found collagen supplementation to be “generally safe with no reported adverse events.”

We don't believe that consumers need to worry about side effects from collagen consumption, especially in the case of unflavored collagen products free of questionable additive ingredients like the Vital Protein products that we've recommended.

Quick Takes on Other Popular Vital Proteins Products

Vital Proteins Marine Collagen - Clean and effective formulation. Collagen sourced from fish. Good option for pescatarians.

We haven't come across any medical evidence that collagen sourced from fish is more effective than collagen sourced from animals, and this product is more expensive than the standard collagen powder, so we wouldn't recommend this product to individuals who eat meat. Approved.

Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen - Safe & effective formulation, no flavorings. Green tea has been proven to have some additional skin benefits like photoprotection. Approved

Vital Proteins Bone Broth Collagen - This broth is sourced from pastured animals. Bone broth is known to be a nutrient-dense food, but probably doesn’t taste good as a powder (and some reviewers have mentioned this). A good option from a health context but perhaps not the most cost-effective or tasteful way to get your daily collagen. Approved.

Our Clean Collagen Pick

Momentous Collagen is our top premium collagen pick.

In addition to collagen peptides from grass-fed animals, it contains FORTIGEL, a trademarked collagen hydrolysate blend that's clinically shown to enhance elastin biosynthesis by 50% and may reduce ruptures and exercise-related injuries. 

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


For the most part, Vital Proteins makes high-quality collagen products and we recommend several of their formulations. The brand's unflavored collagen powder is the simplest and most cost-effective way to supplement with collagen, but consumers with more disposable income may want to consider more exotic formulations like Matcha and Bone Broth collagen which may confer some additional health and skin benefits.

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer is the healthiest creamer we've ever reviewed on Illuminate Health, and the only one we've recommended to date.

The only Vital Proteins products we don't recommend are Beauty Collagen, Collagen Gummies, and Vital Performance Protein Powder because all three contain additive ingredients we consider questionable.

We do not consider Vital Proteins collagen likely to cause any side effects. Collagen is just a type of protein, and is studied and proven in clinical trials to be a safe and non-toxic food product.