Making waves? Marine collagen has future cosmetic promise beyond topical: Review

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

All pre-clinical and clinical trials, albeit few, have confirmed marine collagen’s ability to maintain or improve skin conditions and interest from 'beauty from within' category is surging (Getty Images)
All pre-clinical and clinical trials, albeit few, have confirmed marine collagen’s ability to maintain or improve skin conditions and interest from 'beauty from within' category is surging (Getty Images)

Related tags marine ingredients Collagen Marine derived ingredients Sustainability beauty from within supplements

Marine-derived collagen continues to gain significant scientific attention, given its sustainable and versatile attributes, but interest for use beyond topical cosmetics is bubbling fast, say researchers.

Writing in Materials Science and Engineering: C​,​ researchers from Italy’s University of Salento conducted a review on marine collagen and its derivatives – looking at the bioactive properties and uses of these ingredients; comparing potential to mammal sources; and investigating areas of upcoming research and potential.

Widely used as a topical cosmetic formulation ingredient for skin repair and appearance, the researchers said marine collagen was expected to grow fastest within the global collagen market – set to hit €828.6m ($897.5m) by 2023, according to a Markets And Markets report. However, most market growth, they said, would be driven by increasing demands for marine collagen and its derivatives in healthcare and dietary supplement applications.

Beyond cosmetics? Medical devices and beauty supplements

In the past two decades, marine collagen had garnered “great scientific and industrial interest as a ‘blue resource’”, ​the researchers said, and been harnessed in a wide range of health-related sectors, including food, medicine, pharmaceutics and cosmetics.

And over the years, research had associated marine collagen with a wealth of properties such as: the ability to improve cell proliferation, renewal and wound healing; reduce inflammation; help the absorption of calcium and other minerals; inhibit the growth of bacteria; act as an antioxidant; and help in the management of body weight and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers said various ongoing pre-clinical and clinical trials indicated a continued keen interest for use of marine collagen and its derivatives in healthcare – the largest application for the ingredient in 2018. Potential for use of marine collagen in medical devices and drug delivery systems, they said, had continued to drive research in the field, as had its potential in dietary supplements that targeted weight management and glycemic control.

However, cosmetics remained “the second profitable area of interest”​ for marine collagen.

Cosmetics and nutricosmetics – anti-ageing formulations and beauty supplements

The cosmetics industry had long sought out ingredients with effective antioxidant properties for anti-ageing, the researchers said, and evidence for marine collagen efficacy had increased in recent years. The role of marine collagen as an “enhancer of skin hydration and elasticity, minimiser of wrinkles and repairer of photo-damaged collagen and elastic fibres” ​had been demonstrated in various bodies of research and all pre-clinical and clinical trials, albeit few, had confirmed marine collagen’s ability to maintain or improve skin conditions, they said.

More recently, cosmetics research had turned to look at marine collagen peptides for skin health, the researchers said. One clinical trial had investigated the effect of marine dietary supplements on human skin appearance, the researchers said, with two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on 30-60 aged people. Resulted showed the administration of marine collagen peptides in daily drinking formulations helped improve skin hydration, wrinkling, elasticity and density.

“The designation of marine peptides as an effective anti-ageing ingredient opens a new way to marine collagen in the cosmetic sector,”​ the researchers wrote.

“…Marine collagen is indeed increasingly attracting the interest of researchers and industries, especially for applications in the healthcare and cosmetic sectors. Here, marine collagen seems superior to mammalian collagen owing to its higher absorption rate and bioavailability.”

Marine collagen ‘abundant’, particularly from fish by-product

There was also the sustainability argument for marine collagen, the researchers said. Collagen from fish, jellyfish and sponges, for example, had attracted strong interest because these sources were considered “safe” and “abundant”.

The researchers said by-product from the fish processing industry accounted for an estimated 70-85% of total catch weight, and so valorising this as a collagen source made the ingredient “eco-friendly and particularly attractive in terms of profitability and cost effectiveness”.

“…The utilisation of the discards of the fish processing industry as a collagen source provides the double advantage of reducing pollution while valorising the discards,”​ they said.

Similarly, use of jellyfish to source collagen was advantageous, given the frequent outbreaks of the aquatic species which caused environmental and economic problems, they said.

When compared to bovine and porcine collagen, the researchers said marine collagen, particularly fish, also presented a “lower threat of transmissible diseases to humans”​ and was also free from ethical and religious concerns.

Source: Materials Science and Engineering: C
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.msec.2020.110963
Title: “Marine collagen and its derivatives: Versatile and sustainable bio-resources for healthcare”
Authors: S. Luca et al.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Calendula Cellular Elixir: Alchemy in a cell

Calendula Cellular Elixir: Alchemy in a cell

Content provided by Naolys | 24-Apr-2024 | Product Brochure

Get ready to experience a cellular evolution in skincare with InnerLift Calendula's advanced Plant Cell biotechnology.

See our latest innovations in personal care

See our latest innovations in personal care

Content provided by Covation Bio™ PDO | 02-Apr-2024 | White Paper

At CovationBio PDO, we’re helping the world achieve its sustainability goals by enabling better performing, better-for-the planet products across a range...

Collagen Reimagined, Discover Biodesigned Type XXI

Collagen Reimagined, Discover Biodesigned Type XXI

Content provided by Geltor | 20-Mar-2024 | Product Brochure

Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein and a mainstream ingredient for beauty. Type XXI collagen transcends a common protein into a powerful bioactive

Empowering natural barrier function for future-proof skin

Empowering natural barrier function for future-proof skin

Content provided by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics | 14-Mar-2024 | White Paper

Corneopeptyl™ is a new patented peptide biomimetic to the LCE6A protein, obtained by green chemistry-based synthesis. By mimicking the LCE6A protein activity,...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more



Beauty 4.0 Podcast