Step right up, step right up! Welcome, my dear skincare-lovin’ friend, to the ultimate showdown in skincare!

In the left corner, we have the supreme reigning world champion, the legendary Collagen. Known for it’s age-defying plumpness and hydration.

And in the right, we have the fierce contender, Retinol. Armed with its cell-renewing prowess and wrinkle-fighting skills.

Get ready for a showdown like no other as these two titans go head-to-head in the quest for the best beauty products and better, younger, healthy skin.

A Closer Look At Collagen

So I’m certain that you have, without doubt, heard of collagen before.

That’s why you’re here, after all. But have you ever thought about what it actually is? What it does? And why you so desperately want the latest product from (insert pop star or online celebrity here) that’s loaded with the aforementioned c-word?

So let’s talk about this little wonder protein, and get to know it a little better, shall we?

Okay, so we know that collagen is a protein. And what it does is works as structural support for the connective tissues in your body. So basically, it works to strengthen and support not only your skin, your bones, and all of your organs but your ligaments and tendons, too.

So let’s just pause on our skin. Because that’s really what we are focusing on here, right?

What Exactly Does Collagen Do For Your Skin?

  • maintains your skin’s elasticity
  • helps contribute to your skin’s hydration and moisture retention
  • helps to heal wounds more quickly
  • causes your skin to stay supple and plump (that is – helps to reduce the look of fine lines)

And while we’re shouting the praises of collagen, let’s take a quick look at all the other miracles it performs for us that may not be so visible to anyone else.

What Does Collagen Do For Your Body?

  • supports joint flexibility
  • helps reduce joint pain and stiffness
  • supports all over bone health
  • works to create resistance to bone fractures
  • helps contribute to muscle strength and stability during exercise and movement
  • helps to maintain the lining of your gut and improve overall gut health


How Can You Use Collagen on Your Skin?

Collagen for your skin usually comes in the form of topical creams, masks, and serums. And when you apply these products directly to your skin, they absorb into your skin from the outside to support your skin’s collagen levels from the outside.

Using collagen this way can not only help to improve your skin’s hydration, elasticity, and firmness but may also help improve the overall appearance of your skin as far as minimizing wrinkles and lines. This can, in turn, help your skin have a more youthful appearance. Good news, right?

What I love most about collagen-containing skin care products is that they can also help your other skincare products to work more effectively. This is because collagen can help your skin absorb products better, as it retains moisture like a champion.

Now all of this news sounds pretty good. It’s worth bringing you back down to earth for a second. So without bursting your collagen-supported bubble entirely, consider that the visible effects of collagen may be somewhat short-term. And may not last as long as, say, oral collagen supplements. We’ll get into these shortly.


a close up of a jar of cream


What Can You Do To Get the Best Results Using Collagen?

To see all-over results for both your skin and your system on the inside, it may be best to consider taking both as a dietary supplement that you will ingest as well as topical collagen-containing skincare products on your face and body.
And while you might just see results with either of these processes on their own, combining forces with both will give you the best chances of overall improvement and health benefits as much as you can.

Collagen Do’s and Dont’s

  • Do be sure to prioritize a balanced diet. By eating a nutritious and balanced diet, you can support your body in producing its own collagen. By including foods that are collagen-rich such as proteins, and that contain zinc and vitamin C, you can be sure to
  • Do drink more water. By drinking plenty of water throughout each day, you can help create an environment within your system that collagen thrives in.
  • Do use collagen-boosting skincare products. It’s never too late to start incorporating a new product into your skincare. And if you’re especially concerned with fine lines, aging, and the general condition of your skin deteriorating, then look for products containing collagen-boosting ingredients such as vitamin C and peptides to support your skin’s elasticity.
  • Do use sunscreen. UV rays from the sun can break down your skin’s collagen. By using sunscreen every day, you can help protect the collagen in your skin and simply protect your skin from so many bad things – sun damage, skin cancer, melanoma, and premature aging to begin with.
  • Do exercise regularly. Performing physical activity can help stimulate collagen production. Amazing, right? It can also work to help keep your joints and muscles strong.
  • Do manage stress. Yep, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your collagen levels and overall health, too. Get out and go for a walk, meditate, try yoga or pilates, and remember to breathe.
  • Don’t eat too much sugar. Over-consuming sugar can lead to something called glycation. And in turn, this can cause damage to your body’s collagen and lead to premature aging.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can lead to a decrease in collagen production. And an increase in the aging of your skin. Not smoking entirely, or quitting now – can be instantly beneficial for maintaining (and improving if you quit!) your collagen levels.
  • Don’t overexpose yourself to harsh environments. Being out in extreme weather, like winds, extreme heat or cold, or even pollution, can cause skin damage and harm your collagen levels. Do your skin a favor by avoiding extreme weather conditions.
  • Don’t rely entirely on collagen supplements. Even though collagen supplements can be of great benefit to you, it’s also important to combine them with a healthy diet and overall healthy lifestyle. Don’t just put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Don’t lose patience. It can take time to build collagen and even longer to see results. By being patient and consistent in time, you will see gradual results with your efforts.


smiling woman in pink and blue shirt
Don’t forget to use sunscreen! Imag by the National Cancer Institute


A Closer Look at Retinol

So we’ve just taken a really good at what a marvel collagen is.

But we can’t discount Retinol by any means. The newcomer that has emerged from scientific research to become a must-have beauty contender for those among us starting to internally freak out about the effect gravity is having on their faces and bodies.

To put it simply, retinol is a form of vitamin A. And it is proven to be able to improve the overall look of your skin. So let’s take a look at just how it does that.

First of all, retinol has the incredible capacity to boost cell turnover. This means that it can help increase the rate your cells can be shed and replaced with new cells. So in the case of your skin, it can help improve to texture of your skin and give it a smoother, softer appearance, too. Retinol can also work to fade dark age spots on the skin, and (drum roll) reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Now, remember that as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen naturally.

This is where retinol gets to shine center stage.

Retinol can help stimulate collagen production, so it helps keep your skin plump, reduces the dreaded sagging, and generally help us look younger!

Of course, there has to be a caveat. All this good news has to come with a balancing act.

And that balance is having a knowledge and understanding of retinol. As it can be incredibly potent.

If you start using retinol, you may notice your skin has a bit of a freakout reaction. Some call it a period of adjustment! However your skin reacts, it’s important to know that your skin will respond, so its always vital to start small. Start with a low concentration.

Consistency is also key to reaping the benefits as well.

One more thing. Retinol can cause sensitivity to the sun. So always use sunscreen to protect your sensitive skin when you’re using retinol. Or even when you’re not, to be honest.

What Does Retinol Do For Your Skin?

  • anti-aging properties – retinol stimulates collagen and, in doing so, can maintain your skin’s elasticity and improve the general appearance of your skin
  • cell turnover – it can boost your body’s cell turnover, which results in smoother, softer skin
  • improves skin texture – retinol can help to promote smoother more even skin surface
  • minimize dark spots – can help fade dark spots and any imperfections and unevenness to create a more even complexion
  • skin elasticity – retinol can support your skin’s elasticity, which can in turn make your skin more supple and minimize the appearance of wrinkles
  • retains moisture – retinol can help your skin increase hydration and look plumper
  • heals wounds – by supporting tissue repair in your skin, retinol assist in the healing process for your skin
  • collagen boost – retinol can help maintain collagen levels because it stimulates collagen growth and, in doing so, support skin health all over

What Can You Do To Get the Best Results Using Retinol?

Start slow. Especially if you’re a Retinol newbie. It’s vital to begin with a lower concentration and then gradually build it up, as your tolerance increases.

Be consistent. This will allow your skin to get used to the power of retinol. It will ensure you see results in time.

Use it at night. Take advantage of the natural regeneration that occurs within our skin during the night. This will allow for the most effective results with your retinol treatment.

Follow retinol with moisturizer. A gentle post-retinol hydration will be the best defence against particularly dry skin or the peeling of your skin.

Wear sunscreen. As we know, retinol can exacerbate your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. So pair your retinol treatment with SPF. No questions asked.

Avoid aggressive products. Stay away from harsh exfoliants, and harsh skincare products in general. AHA’s for one, should be avoided by all accounts.

Acquire patience. It is going to take a little time for your skin to adjust to this new product. So give it time, but stay consistent with your daily skincare routine. Including your use of retinol. And as always, if you have any issues or concerns, seek the advice of a professional dermatologist.
Check out some of the most popular Olay Retinol-based products in this deep-dive comparison.

Retinol Dos and Dont’s

  • Do start slowly. Remember – if you are new to retinol products, start with a lower concentration and gradually build to higher concentrations over time as your skin becomes accustomed to retinol.
  • Do wear sunscreen. Retinol use will make your skin more sensitive to the effects of the sun. The best way to avoid these effects is to simply – use sunscreen!
  • Do apply retinol at night. As well as being sensitive to the day’s sunlight, applying retinol at night allows it to work while your skin is working – through the night.
  • Do use a moisturizer. Using a gentle moisturizer after retinol will help prevent any potential drying or peeling of your skin, which can happen.
  • Do be patient. Visible results may take time. So remember to be patient. Be consistent with your application, and give it a few weeks to a month – as it may take this long to see any visible improvement.
  • Do a patch test. Before going anywhere near your face with retinol, try a small patch test on your arm. This will show you if you have any reaction or sensitivity to retinol prior to applying it to your face.
  • Do protect your eyes. Keep retinol away from your eyes. Your best bet may be to use an entirely different eye cream near your eyes to ensure that no retinol can get near them.
  • Don’t Overapply. More is certainly not more when it comes to using retinol. Follow your products instructions as over-applying can lead to further drying or irritation of your skin.
  • Don’t mix ingredients. Avoid using retinol in conjunction with other active ingredients. As we mentioned, AHA’s or benzyl peroxide can react and cause increased sensitivity or skin irritation among other responses.
  • Don’t use while pregnant or nursing. It’s safest to avoid using retinol altogether while pregnant or nursing. Research is minimal on this combination as to whether it is safe or not.
  • Don’t use with exfoliating products on a daily basis. Over-exfoliating can be devastating on the skin you’re working so hard to improve. Avoid exfoliating too frequently, and if you must exfoliate, keep it to every other day at absolute most.
  • Don’t forget your neck and chest area. Include your chest and neck area by extending the retinol into these areas as well. This will ensure the effect is even between your face and chest and neck and consistent.
  • Don’t combine retinol with harsh cleansers. Harsh products can further increase sensitivity and reactions. Stay with gentle products while using retinols.


woman in white bathrobe holding smartphone
Don’t forget your chest and neck with retinol – image by Kalos Skincare

Which is Best, Collagen or Retinol?

While I want you to walk away feeling solid about which works best for you, comparing the effectiveness of collagen and retinol is not straightforward. They both serve entirely different purposes and have their own unique benefits for your skin. Let’s break it down:


Collagen is a protein that works to provide structural support to your skin. It helps your skin to stay firm, plump, and elastic.

And while collagen supplements and skincare products can help support collagen levels in your body and promote overall skin health, their effectiveness can vary from one person to the next.

Collagen products may improve your skin’s hydration and texture, but the ability collagen has to penetrate the skin deeply and directly replace lost collagen is still a hot topic of debate.


Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. And it’s best known for its ability to boost cell turnover and stimulate collagen production.

Retinol is highly regarded for its anti-aging properties. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots in your skin. Retinol has been extensively studied and proven incredibly effective in addressing various signs of aging and improving overall skin texture.

Can I Use Both Collagen and Retinol in My Skincare Routine?

Now, while collagen and retinol have their own unique benefits, they can complement each other in a skincare routine. So, the answer is yes.

Collagen focuses on providing structural support and hydration, while retinol targets cellular renewal and collagen synthesis. Combining the two may have even better results than either single product on its own; enhancing the overall health and appearance of your skin.

The choice between collagen and retinol depends on your specific skincare goals and concerns.

If you’re primarily looking to address signs of aging and improve skin texture, retinol is often considered a more potent and scientifically validated option.

However, if you aim to support overall skin health, including hydration and elasticity, the benefits of collagen can make it a valuable addition.

It’s worth noting that your individual results may vary from the next person. And it’s always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional. They can help to determine the best approach for your specific needs.

Additionally, a comprehensive skincare routine that includes other beneficial ingredients and practices can further enhance the effectiveness of collagen and retinol.


Whether you join Team Collagen or Team Retinol, remember that each fighter has something incredible to offer on the journey to radiant skin.

Embrace the power of both, take your skincare routine by the gloves, and enjoy the ever-evolving quest for timeless beauty. Let’s raise a cheer for both of these contenders, and may your skin always be the winner!


Featured Image by Jess @ Harper Sunday

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