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The Mainstreaming of Ingestible Collagen

Sephora is making a wellness push, including adding collagen products from Crushed Tonic and Hum Nutrition.

Is ingestible collagen about to make it mainstream?

In Asia, collagen is already an established part of the beauty landscape, said to have antiaging benefits. But in the U.S., drinking collagen is not a widely adopted beauty ritual. A push from Sephora, however, could potentially change that.

The beauty retailer is adding several collagen products from Crushed Tonic, Hum Nutrition and Vital Proteins in a move to ramp up its wellness offerings. Promotion of the products and online sales start June 28 as part of a new wellness-focused skin-care animation that includes products from Moon Juice and The Beauty Chef. As part of its broader wellness focused, Sephora will launch the Clean Skincare and Wellness Wall in stores. In the wellness section, products will be merchandised by category.

It’s all part of the broader consumer adoption of the wellness movement, experts say, and collagen is now part of it.

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The beauty supplement market in the U.S. makes up a small chunk — $89.6 million — of the overall beauty supplement market, which did more than $3.3 billion in sales for 2017, according to Euromonitor. But beauty supplements are growing faster in the U.S. than they are globally. Data shows a 7.1 percent increase in U.S. sales, versus a 1.8 percent increase in global sales for 2017, according to Euromonitor.

In the U.S., collagen specifically has been on the rise, according to data from Spins, which tracks natural, specialty and multioutlet retailers. That data shows a more than 39 percent year-over-year increase in collagen supplement sales between the 52 weeks ended May 20.

According to Cecilia Gates, beauty industry expert and founder and creative director of Gates Creative, Sephora’s move deeper into supplements underscores consumers’ shift toward wellness.

“Sephora bringing it on gives it an added push into the mainstream,” Gates said. “But in general, the consumers that are interested in it — more Millennials — are sort of in tune with that already, they’re so much about total wellness.”

For supplements and collagen, ease of use (ingesting a powder or pill versus formulating a food-based nutritional plan) is also attractive to a generation that grew up around technology, she noted. “The Millennial generation is a driving force behind [the beauty-wellness overlap] — they’re a much more informed and exposed people,” Gates said. “They’ve had access to so much information that’s part of them understanding this total body-wellness idea.”

Experiences, too, play a part in collagen attracting U.S. consumers, she noted. “People like putting a powder packet into a cream matcha smoothie and posting a picture of it,” she said.

At Sephora, the collagen lineup will include Crushed Tonic, which makes individual servings of collagen, biotin, probiotics and superfoods in portable stick form. A 30-day supply costs $115. The brand was soft launched by Sally Kim in fall 2017 — Sephora is its first retailer. Crushed Tonic also sells online, where shoppers can sign up for a subscription program in exchange for a small discount on products.

“It will bring credibility to it,” Kim said, of Sephora’s collagen push. “For ingestible skin care, a lot of it is trying to get people to believe that it works. When you say, ‘collagen,’ for fillers or creams, people are like, ‘yes, I’m on board, that stuff works,’ but when it comes to drinking it, which is the most vital…people need a lot of coaching and research.”

The Sephora lineup includes Collagen Pop from Hum Nutrition, which sells 10 tablets for $12. Hum’s Collagen Pop contains marine collagen and vitamin C. For Hum, providing collagen in a different format — an effervescent tablet — was a big part of the equation. The brand also sells collagen in a pill form called Collagen Love.

“We really kept that shopper in mind that is on the go, is busy, and really wants to transform their drink into something with more beauty benefits,” said Walter Faulstroh, Hum chief executive officer. “It used to be a very niche product, ingestible collagen, though it is big in other markets outside the United States, but finally that trend has spilled over to the U.S.”

Collagen Pop will make its debut at Sephora online on June 28, then move into the brand’s other retail partners, like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, Faulstroh said.

For Sephora, which has dabbled in supplements, upping its collagen assortment makes sense, Gates said.

“We’re not just thinking about beauty in color makeup, skin care, topical products — now beauty is all around, inside, outside,” she said.

“People would rather buy it at Sephora than a GNC or a Vitamin Shoppe,” Gates said. “It’s also a perception thing. If you’re buying it at a retailer that’s known for beauty and you’re buying a supplement that’s supposed to help you with that, it feels more bespoke, more specific.”