Collagen vs Collagen Peptides: What's the Difference?

Your skin is the largest organ in the body, working tirelessly to protect you on the inside from all of the dangerous pollutants on the outside. Since it takes such good care of you, you’ll definitely want to return the favor.

One of the best ways to do that is by supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your skin glowing and healthy. Collagen is one of the standard elements that you might even already incorporate into your skincare routine.

But as you’re looking for the best cleansers and products, you might notice an ingredient called “collagen peptides.” It sounds like collagen -- so is it the same thing?

So put your lab goggles on and get ready to brush up on your chemistry skills, and let’s dive in so you can get a better idea of how each works to enhance your skin.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a major structural protein found in the body, and it’s actually the most abundant protein in the entire animal kingdom. Essentially, it’s the building block that keeps your whole body together, making up your hair, skin, nails, ligaments, and tendons. They also comprise your muscles and bones, make your blood clot, and keep your skin firm and strong.

Animals, including you, can be composed of over twenty types of collagen. However, it’s most abundant in types I, II, III, IV, which are the types you’ll find in collagen supplements.

Your body naturally makes collagen, though it begins to slow down the process as you age. That’s why it’s essential to get it from other sources, such as supplements. 

The thing is, collagen is a long-chain amino acid that is difficult for the body to break down and use. That’s why you need something made with smaller chains that can be easier absorbed.

This is where collagen peptides, or hydrolyzed collagen, come into play.

What Are Collagen Peptides?

Collagen peptides are short-chain amino acids that come from native or full-length collagen. 

Since collagen has such a high molecular weight, it is essentially insoluble and cannot be absorbed by the body on its own.

In order to make it more bioavailable, native collagen fibers are put through a process called enzymatic hydrolysis to soften the peptides so that they release from their tight bonds and can be easily absorbed into the body.

In other words, hydrolyzed collagen is a form of collagen that has been broken down into smaller parts called peptides that have low molecular weight. This means that the body can easily absorb them to mimic the effects of native collagen that it produces by itself.

Which Is Better: Collagen or Collagen Peptides?

After learning about some of the science behind both of these compounds, you might be wondering which one is more important to look for in skincare ingredients. The thing is, it doesn’t necessarily work that way.

Because collagen is produced by the body itself, it’s not really possible to take a pure, native collagen supplement: your body can’t absorb it through the skin.

However, collagen peptides are more easily broken down by the body and can help produce more native collagen on its own. For that reason, you’ll want to look for collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen on the ingredients list (they’re the same thing).

Where Do Collagen Peptides Come From?

Collagen peptides are derived from native collagen fibers, but where does that come from in the first place? Collagen is typically derived from animal sources, like beef or chicken. However, you can also get collagen from fish and other aquatic life.

Ocean life has adapted to some extreme conditions, making marine products some of the most effective for skin and holistic well-being. And at One Ocean Beauty, we use cutting-edge Blue Biotechnology to source natural molecules from marine microorganisms sustainably. The process ensures the best quality ingredients and consistent results.

We recommend you use collagen supplements that incorporate hydrolyzed marine collagen because of all of its benefits. Plus, it’s pescetarian-friendly and more sustainable than using grass-fed (beef) collagen!

Benefits of Collagen Peptides

After age 20, you’ll start to produce about 1% less collagen each year. While this won’t be too noticeable at first, a lack of collagen can make the skin look more wrinkly, frail, and thin.

That’s why it’s essential to increase collagen production so that your skin stays elastic and youthful for years to come. And collagen supplements made with hydrolyzed collagen are the perfect solution.

Skin Health

One of the main reasons you’ll probably seek some hydrolyzed collagen supplements is to enhance the look of your skin. Collagen “plumps up” your skin and makes fine lines or wrinkles less noticeable.

Your body can actually use collagen supplements quickly to help support your overall skin health. It basically hits the pause button on skin aging to make you look younger and more vibrant for longer.

But it’s not just good for cosmetic skin health. One study found that collagen supplements significantly improved skin hydration and density because of the peptide’s ability to reach the dermis, the most essential layer for restoring collagen. This may mean that it can make your skin stronger to defend against cuts, bruises, or scrapes.

Joint Health

Collagen isn’t all about the skin! Remember that it’s a valuable protein that makes up almost every part of the human body, including tendons and cartilage. For that reason, collagen supplements can help support healthy joints.

Cartilage is a connective tissue that cushions joints, but as collagen production decreases, these tissues can break down and lead to aches or pains during movement. 

Collagen supplements can help to soothe irritation and reduce redness and swelling, which is exactly what you might need to get relief from joints. Not to mention, it also supports bone repair and wound healing, which can help to increase mobility in those with osteoporosis.

Hair and Nail Health

Collagen is also the main structural component in your hair and nails. By taking collagen peptide supplements, you can promote healthy hair growth and protect the hair you already have. In your nails, collagen can make them less brittle, keep them strong, and encourage them to grow.

Protecting Your Skin

Even while taking collagen supplements, it’s essential to take good care of your skin to protect it from harmful pollutants and irritants. This can help to enhance the results of your collagen supplement.

Avoid the Sun

Harmful UV rays from the sun can cause your skin to become dry and brittle, leading to dark spots and fine lines. Not to mention, UV rays are carcinogens that can be cancerous at high levels. Be sure to limit your time in the sun and wear sunscreen to keep your skin plump and vibrant.


Cold temperatures, sun exposure, loss of collagen, and other factors can cause your skin to lose hydration. Dry skin can flake, wrinkle, and lead to fine lines.

It’s essential to moisturize your skin often to increase elasticity and increase its ability to retain moisture. One Ocean’s Replenishing Deep Sea Moisturizer combines collagen peptides with the unique properties of wakame extract to instantly moisturize your skin and help it stay moisturized for longer.

Eat Right

Believe it or not, your diet can have a major effect on your skin health. Foods that promote skin elasticity to prevent premature aging include green tea, olive oil, avocados, fruits, vegetables, and flax seeds. Additionally, things like beef or processed foods can have adverse effects, so try to limit your intake.

In Conclusion

Collagen and collagen peptides are often used interchangeably, though a distinct difference is important to understand. Collagen is a long-chain amino acid that the body produces on its own. It composes your skin, nails, hair, and ligaments.

Collagen production decreases over time, but you can’t take pure collagen in supplement form because it’s too insoluble for the body to use. Instead, collagen peptides that are derived from native collagen are more bioavailable and are made with shorter chain amino acids. These can foster the production of collagen to make your skin, joints, and nails healthier overall.

If you’re looking to decrease wrinkles and fine lines, soothe irritation in your joints, and enhance your hair health, you’ll want to look for this valuable ingredient in supplements or other skincare products.



Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix | NCBI Bookshelf

Enzymatic Hydrolysis - an overview | ScienceDirect

Why does skin wrinkle with age? What is the best way to slow or prevent this process? | Scientific American

A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study | NCBI

A healthy diet in women is associated with less facial wrinkles in a large Dutch population-based cohort | NCBI