One of my favorite products is a good vitamin C serum! Why? Because Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, boosts collagen production, and brightens dark spots.

Here’s the breakdown! First, Vitamin C helps to reduce visible signs of aging by combating the free radical damage arising from sun exposure, heat exposure, and other environmental stressors (like pollution). When speaking to my patients, I often explain that free radicals are like tiny missiles, and they destroy everything in their path. They are highly reactive forms of oxygen whose effects can damage cell membranes and other structures in the body, including DNA and collagen. When you are exposed to a lot of free radicals, it means you are suffering from oxidative stress, and too much oxidative stress can lead to premature aging, skin cancer, and chronic skin conditions like acne.

Second, Vitamin C promotes new collagen which firms the skin, minimizes the appearance of pores, and smooths out fine lines. Vitamin C is actually a cofactor that is required by enzymes to crosslink and create new collagen. However, to boost new collagen, the Vitamin C has to penetrate through the surface layers of the skin and reach the deeper layer, called the dermis. Vitamin C made in the lab has been shown to boost collagen, but I have yet to see convincing studies showing that natural forms of Vitamin C have the same effect.

Third, vitamin C is one of our most effective brightening ingredients, lightening dark spots on the skin to create a more even skin tone and complexion. The way vitamin C brightens the skin is by binding to the copper ions that are required by the enzyme tyrosinase, so this notorious pigment-producing enzyme is basically rendered incapable of pumping out more pigment. Eventually, the darker, stained layers of skin are sloughed away.

Here are some of my favorite Vitamin C serums:

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

Naturopathica Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum


Dr. Whitney

I’ve dedicated over a decade of my life to researching the connection between diet and the skin and I share so much of this work in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. Nourishing and healing your skin from the inside out – through what you eat – is just as important as nourishing and healing your skin from the outside in through topical products and treatments! Your skin is a window into your overall health and one of the most accessible ways to take better care of your skin is through your diet.

Today, I’m going to share three of the ways that I incorporate collagen powder into my day to nourish my skin from the inside out and to help promote smooth, elastic, hydrated skin.  The brand of collagen powder I use at home and recommend to my patients is called Body Kitchen. I was so genuinely impressed with the quality and science behind the Body Kitchen products that I agreed to become their Physician Ambassador.

First, when I have my coffee, I add a scoop of the Youthful Beauty collagen powder right in and stir it up. It’s that simple. Now, I use almond milk in my coffee rather than skim milk because skim milk has been linked to acne. And, I don’t use artificial sweeteners, so if I want a hint of sweetness, I will add a bit of stevia and a pinch of cinnamon.

Second, if I’m making one of my favorite smoothies, I just add a scoop of collagen powder right into the smoothie. I call this one my dream smoothie because it’s so delicious and good for your skin.

Because I’m a blueberry fanatic and because they’re rich in antioxidants, I start with these. A handful of greens—baby spinach or baby arugula work here—adds a touch of collagen-friendly vitamin C while almond butter adds protein and skin friendly fats. I add frozen bananas for the thick and creamy texture they give. If your banana isn’t quite ripe, it’s a wonderful source of prebiotics, also known as the food for gut-friendly probiotics, however it won’t be as sweet. If you use an unripened banana and still crave a touch more sweetness, add a few dates, figs or even two stevia leaves from the garden! The plant is really easy to find at your local nursery and just as easy to grow.

Cacao, chocolate’s less processed cousin, is a treasure here. It’s derived from ground cacao nibs which are dried and fermented cacao beans. Sugar-free and loaded with special polyphenols that have been shown to reduce the signs of aging, cacao has a naturally bitter taste that is tempered by the smoothie’s other ingredients. It’s also been shown to put us in a better mood with its dopamine-releasing effects. I call that a win-win!

And – how simple is this? Just add one scoop of Body Kitchen collagen to optimize your body’s ability to help replenish the collagen your body needs to support your skin’s health.

Third, I love golden milk. If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat! As I share in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, Golden Milk is packed with skin friendly goodness.

You want to combine all of the ingredients except cinnamon in a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Yes, you can heat up your collagen powder and it will still stay intact! Whisk until smooth. Then, bring your mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a mug and top with a pinch of cinnamon.

Golden Milk with collagen is delicious for your skin because it includes cinnamon, which has been shown to boost your body’s natural collagen production, it helps stabilize blood sugar because it increases your cells’ ability to use glucose by stimulating insulin receptors, and it lowers your cellular inflammation to help combat skin aging Also, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient which helps to keep your skin soft and elastic while protecting it against the oxidative stress that accelerates skin aging. Top this off with your collagen powder and your skin will thank you!

I’d love to hear how you incorporate collagen supplements into your day! Drop a comment below and share your ideas!

Dr. Whitney

Beauty from the inside out is one of my favorite topics! On Good Morning America, I share my insight on how trending ingredients collagen and adaptogens may help your skin glow and heal from the inside out! Check out this segment to learn more!

What is collagen? Collagen keeps your skin plump, elastic and smooth. The two main amino acids that collagen is made of are called proline and glycine. These amino acids are essential for the formation and repair of your joints, bones, muscles, tendons, and of course, your healthy skin.

Can I boost my body’s own collagen production? One easy way to boost your collagen is to incorporate the right ingredients into your regular diet. For example, eating foods rich in Vitamins A and C is an easy way to boost your body’s collagen. Vitamin A plays a role in helping to restore and regenerate damaged collagen. And – you can’t even make collagen without Vitamin C! Which foods should you opt for: try dark leafy greens (which are rich in both Vitamins A and C), blueberries (which are rich in Vitamin C), and carrots (which are very rich in Vitamin A).

Is ingestible collagen a new trend? No! This is actually not as “new” of a beauty hack as you might think. People in Asia have been using collagen powders, drinks, and supplements for years. Here in the US, bone broths (which date back to ancient Greece and even Hippocrates himself who recommended them to people with digestion issues) have become popular in diet and beauty circles for the same reason: they provide a way to “drink collagen.” And now we’re seeing a lot of brands developing elixirs and supplements that deliver this powder protein.

What sources do collagen powders come from? Collagen can come from different sources including cows, pigs, and fish. One key factor to remember is that these supplements are not heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so you want to use reputable brands – quality does vary and ingredients do vary. I know many people who opt for bovine or cow based collagen supplements. Another very popular form of collagen is fish collagen. Collagen derived from fish is smaller in molecular size than collagen derived from cows or pigs, and is therefore more “bioavailable.” Translation: fish collagen is more likely to get into your bloodstream and reach the places where it’s meant to work its wonders.

Should I mix collagen powder into my coffee or water directly? Some people do mix collagen powder right into their coffee or cold liquids and enjoy it that way. I personally prefer to mix my collagen powder into a smoothie. Even though most of these powders are tasteless and odorless, I just like to err on the side of masking any hint of flavor. Here is one of my favorite smoothie recipes: Collagen Smoothie Recipe

Serves 1-2

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon collagen powder
  • 1 small banana, frozen in chunks
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach or ½ cup loosely packed baby arugula
  • **2 stevia leaves if using less ripe bananas and want more sweetness**
  • 2 ice cubes, if using fresh blueberries

Combine everything in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Enjoy immediately.

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