The Best Skincare Ingredients for Anti-Aging: Hyaluronic Acid vs Collagen - bareLUXE Skincare

The Best Skincare Ingredients for Anti-Aging: Hyaluronic Acid vs Collagen

If you're looking for the best active ingredients for anti-aging, you may be wondering whether hyaluronic acid or collagen is the better choice. Both chemicals are critical to keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful, but they work in different ways. For example, hyaluronic acid helps to plump up the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. In contrast, collagen helps to rebuild and strengthen the skin's connective tissues from within.

When it comes to this ingredient debate, it's essential to know that hyaluronic acid and collagen are both crucial to the health and appearance of your skin and connective tissues. Due to their importance, they have become a mainstay in cosmetics and skincare - supplements, injectables, and topical. This article is about topical skincare products and anti-aging products.

One thing you might not realize is that your body produces both chemicals within your cell matrix. However, as you age, both the amount and quality decrease over time. That's the reason why your skin loses elasticity and becomes more dehydrated as you age.

hyaluronic vs collagen, image of aged skin compared to young skin

So which ingredient is better? Read on to find out!

Hyaluronic Acid

From a skincare ingredient standpoint, hyaluronic is very effective topically. Although it's all one chemical, hyaluronic acid can be separated into solutions with different molecular sizes. Ultra-low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is small and can penetrate deeper into the skin layers. Higher molecular weight hyaluronic acid is more likely to sit on top and provide a hydrating cushion that helps fill in the appearance of wrinkles. 

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the human body. It's found in high concentrations in the skin, where it helps to keep the tissues hydrated and plump. When applied to the skin topically, hyaluronic acid can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the skin's hydration levels. Many wrinkle creams, or just creams in general, are packed full of hyaluronic acid due to its lack of side effects and visible effects on the signs of aging.

Hyaluronic acid is also a vegan ingredient, so it's a great choice if you're looking for natural skincare products. With that said, brands do need to double-check with their suppliers because some animal versions of hyaluronic acid exist. However, they tend to be reserved for medically injectable products.

If you've heard that hyaluronic acid can dry out your skin, that isn't true. However, it does have a tremendous ability to hold water. So, if you're using it in an arid environment, it might draw some water out of your skin. To prevent this, moisturizers contain emollients and occlusives to keep the moisture locked into your skin.


Unlike hyaluronic acid, collagen is a very large molecule, so it doesn't penetrate the skin layers when used topically. Therefore, if you use collagen as a topical ingredient, it will act as a humectant to help hydrate your skin, but it might not do much else. Again, this is because it won't penetrate the cell-matrix and do what collagen is supposed to do - namely, act as mechanical scaffolding to create structure, elasticity, and firmness.

Collagen is a protein that occurs naturally in the human body. It's a vital component of the skin's connective tissues, and it helps keep the skin firm and elastic.

Collagen is not a vegan ingredient, so it's not a good choice if you're looking for plant-based skincare products. In general, people usually choose to consume collagen as a supplement to provide the essential precursors for the body to manufacture more. However, there is ongoing work and innovation to develop plant-based biosynthetic collagen sources for people who do not want to consume animal tissues.

Many skincare products that aim to reduce age-related skin changes are targeted at improving collagen production. For example, vitamin C, retinoids, and bakuchiol are all marketed as ingredients that will stimulate collagen production and quality as a significant effect. More invasive options, like micro-needling can be very effective. 

hyaluronic acid vs collagen, infographic by bareLUXE Skincare

Hyaluronic Acid vs Collagen: Is There a Winner?

So which is the better anti-aging ingredient? Hyaluronic acid or collagen? Ultimately, it depends on what's important to you.

Hyaluronic acid is vegan and can help plump up the skin when applied topically. Along with other humectants like glycerine, hyaluronic acid is a critical component of millions of hydrating skincare products.

Collagen needs to be produced from within. Topical collagen doesn't do that much. Instead, to focus on stimulating collagen production, you'll need to use other ingredients (vitamin C, bakuchiol, retinol) or have a procedure like micro-needling.

For topical products, hyaluronic acid is the clear winner. Building collagen takes time and other methods, but it will give you the most long-term and visible results to prevent wrinkles and improve skin elasticity and strength overall.


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