Essential Skin Food Review: Can Nutrients Increase Collagen?

Essential Skin Food Review: Can Nutrients Increase Collagen?

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Essential Skin Food is a supplement for promoting optimal skin health sold by ActivatedYou, a brand founded by actress Maggie Q. The company claims their supplement can “encourage healthy collagen production” and support “firmer, plumper-looking skin.”

But does it really make sense to take nutrients to support collagen production rather than just taking collagen directly? Do the ingredients in Essential Skin Food have research backing? Does this supplement contain any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Essential Skin Food?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we share our thoughts on why taking collagen supporting supplements may be a waste of money.

We will analyze the ingredients in Essential Skin Food based on medical studies to give our take on whether or not this supplement is likely to improve skin quality, and feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand.

Ingredient Analysis

Essential Skin Food active ingredients

The ingredients in Essential Skin Food are shown above.

Vitamin C was shown in a medical review published in the Nutrients journal to promote collagen synthesis, but the 10 milligram (mg) dose is lower by a significant amount than any of the doses cited in the above-linked review.

What’s strange is that the research citation supporting vitamin C on the Essential Skin Food website is a meta-study on topical, not oral, vitamin C use for skincare.

Calcium is a mineral and we’re unable to identify any clinical trials showing it to increase collagen production, nor does ActivatedYou cite any on their product page.

L-lysine is an essential amino acid, and we can’t find any human studies showing it to promote collagen production or improve skin quality.

Dermaval blend is a proprietary (prop) blend with a total dose of 50 mg, which equates to an average ingredient dose of 5 mg.

To give perspective on how low a 5 mg dose is for a botanical ingredient, one single teaspoon or camu camu powder has a dose of 3,000 mg according to the USDA. This means that one teaspoon of camu camu powder provides a dose 600x the average ingredient dose in this blend.

We certainly have not come across any clinical evidence that these ingredients at these doses support skin quality. The Dermaval website suggests that their formulation is research-backed, but states that you need to contact the company to review the clinical research results.

L-proline is an amino acid, and a 2020 medical review concluded that “ addition of proline has failed to increase collagen biosynthesis in fibroblasts and other cells.”

Cosmythic is a trademarked pine bark extract that was shown in a 2014 clinical trial to have an anti-aging effect at a 100 mg dose. However, the dose in Essential Skin Food is only 40 mg.

The inactive ingredients in Essential Skin Food are shown below:

Essential Skin Food inactive ingredients

We consider these inactive ingredients to be safe and non-toxic.

Overall, we are unimpressed with the formulation of this supplement and are unable to identify any active ingredients with clinical backing at their stated doses.

But do collagen-supporting supplements even make sense as a category? We’ll share our thoughts in the next section of this article.

Are Collagen-Supporting Supplements Pointless?

The purpose of collagen-promoting supplements is to support and optimize skin quality, given that collagen is a core structural component in skin.

However, it may be illogical to take nutrients to enhance collagen production rather than simply taking collagen as a supplement, given that collagen has significant research backing for improving skin quality.

A meta-study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology analyzed results from 11 clinical trials on oral collagen supplementation for skin, and concluded the following:

“Preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging. Oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.” 

A 2021 clinical trial found that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation reduced the visible appearance of wrinkles.

As we documented in our review of collagen brand Live Conscious, the maximum effective daily dose appears to be around 10 grams (g).

Overall, we don’t see the purpose of taking collagen-supporting supplements rather than just taking collagen, which has significantly more clinical backing and an excellent safety profile.

For vegans and vegetarians, collagen-supporting supplements like Essential Skin Food may be the best option until technology evolves, because currently collagen is derived from animals.

Real People Try Essential Skin Food

A YouTube creator named “Simply Shellaby” has a video reviewing Essential Skin Food after 90 days of use that includes before-and-after images:

A YouTube creator named “JayleenOlivia” claims that the supplement has had no effect after 10 days of use:

Where to Get the Best Price

Essential Skin Food is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown at the time of publishing this article:

EveryMarket: $90.69 (link)

Brand website: $69.95 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $57.95 (free shipping, link)

Essential Skin Food is currently 17% cheaper on Amazon than on the brand’s website.

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

Momentous Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.

It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." 

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Real Customers Review Essential Skin Food

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion.

Essential Skin Food currently has a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 150 total reviews.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Angel” who gives the supplement a 5/5 star rating and claims it improved skin quality:

“...I am seeing the results on my face,I don’t look haggard, having. a clearer skin and I am more energetic. It is a little pricey, but it is well-worth it. For any woman, who wants to keep their youthful looks and healthy well being , I strongly recommend it.” 

The top negative review from a verified purchaser comes from an anonymous Amazon Customer who gives the supplement a 1/5 star rating and claims it’s ineffective:

“It doesn’t work. I was disappointed . After 6 days as me was taking it, my skin broke out sooo much. I stopped after 10!days using it, it didn’t get better.”

ActivatedYou currently has a 4.1 out of 5 star rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, and the brand responds to customer complaints in an attempt to resolve the situation, which is a sign of a high-quality brand.

Essential Skin Food currently has a 1/5 star rating on Google, but it’s a very small sample size (only two total reviews).

Pros and Cons of Essential Skin Food

Here are the pros and cons of Essential Skin Food in our opinion:


  • Safe active ingredients
  • Unlikely to cause side effects
  • Some ingredients have research backing
  • May support natural collagen production


  • Collagen-support supplements may be less effective than collagen
  • Doesn’t appear clinically tested
  • Mediocre online customer reviews
  • We can’t identify an active ingredient that’s effectively dosed
  • Expensive
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


Essential Skin Food is a decently formulated supplement for the category of collagen support supplements, but we don’t currently recommend this supplement because taking nutrients to increase endogenous collagen production doesn’t appear to be as effective as simply taking oral collagen supplements.

Further, we’re unable to identify any active ingredients in this formulation that we consider effectively-dosed based on a review of medical studies, although some active ingredients do have research backing.

This supplement contains non-toxic active and inactive ingredients, and we consider it to be unlikely to cause side effects.

For vegans and vegetarians, collagen support supplements may be the best way to increase collagen levels in skin, because collagen supplements are derived from animals.

Amazon currently has the best price on Essential Skin Food.

The online customer reviews of this supplement are unimpressive, although one YouTube creator provided before-and-after images in what appears to be an unsponsored review, suggesting the supplement improved skin quality.