Collagen is responsible for skin elasticity and stretchiness and healthy flexible joints. A protein found in blood, muscles, and bones, collagen helps them cope with the pressures of being stretched. It acts as a scaffold, making up about three-quarters of your skin. It is also found in other tissues such as muscles and tendons and makes up about a third of the rest of the protein in your body. Collagen naturally breaks down as we get older and it’s hard for the body to make more. Collagen supplements are available in powder form (which tastes like the devil’s work) and also in capsules and liquid supplements. The internet seems to be full of pages claiming essential oils can help, but what is the evidence behind the best essential oils to stimulate collagen?
10 Oils Claimed to Be the Best Essential Oils to Boost Collagen
Of course, lavender would be top of the list of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen. It’s at the top of every one of our lists, right? It is one of our favorite oils, but does it stimulate collagen?
Well, the interesting thing is that we imagine all collagen to be equal, but in fact, there are around 16 different types.
For example, we find Collagens I and III in our skin and tendons, but type II is found in our eyes. Things need to stretch in different ways, so they do different things.
Lavender essential oil is proven to enhance procollagen, a precursor to collagen, which helps in the healthy turnover in tissue cells. This might be the reason that lavender essential oil is so conducive to wound healing. Indeed, another trial showed it improved levels of collagen I & III
So, yes then, it is one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen, but does it make for a good choice for the complexion?
Conditions like acne respond well to treatments such as micro needling which repeatedly pierce the skin to encourage collagen synthesis. The rapid turnover of cells seems to be beneficial. We can see how lavender essential oil’s ability to promote cell turnover could be helpful here.
Likewise, we would certainly want to be using it for stiff and painful joints.
Is Lavender one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen on our faces?
Essential oils don’t have side effects, but they do have many main effects.
What you will find if you use too much lavender on the skin, is it will become dehydrated. Molecules in lavender oil instruct the sebaceous glands, that are hydrating and plumping your skin, to stop producing.
So whilst lavender may be one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen from a scientific perspective, from a cosmetic point of view, using lavender as one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen, makes no sense at all. Unless that is, you have something wrong with your skin that needs healing like acne or eczema for example.
The skin is our largest organ. It is complex and made up of several layers. New skin cells are formed at the most base granular layer, then gradually progress up through the dermis to the epidermis. By the time the cells make it to the surface, they are already dead and begin to slough off.
Collagen resides in the dermis, and has two compadres there, elastin and hyaluronic acid. Elastin is also a protein complex that provides elasticity. The function of hyaluronic acid is to retain water and to lubricate the tissues. Incredibly, it can hold a thousand times its own mass in moisture. Together these three proteins act as scaffolding for the skin, holding up the epidermis and cuticle. These are what make the skin strong and supple. When they break down, the scaffolding tumbles just as if the poles have been taken out of a tent. The structure begins to deteriorate and ruckle. We see fine lines and wrinkles,
Collagen levels naturally begin to fall when we reach our twenties. The skin no longer bounces back quite as well as it did, fine lines and dark spots appear.
It is an inevitable part of aging but is made far worse by sun damage. Jasmine is one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen because it protects the skin against this natural sun aging.
Extract of Jasmine Flowers Protects Against Collagen Degradation
A Taiwanese trial released in April 2021 reported their findings of an extract (Not an essential oil, or even an absolute, to be clear) made from Jasmine sambac flowers. (Again, not Jasmine grandiflorum, although there is a jasmine sambac essential oils available too.)
The extract was proven to protect human fibroblast cells against premature aging from UVB rays.
To be clear, our clarity here does not suggest that jasmine grandiflorum essential oil might not do the same thing, only that it is not proven to do so. Likewise, that the effects were seen in a petri dish does not prove they will have the same effects when the cells are on our faces, but...
Jasmine has been used as a skin preparation for thousands of years. It improves the skin condition and reduces inflammation that can also cause collagen breakdown.
Jasmine is a spectacular oil to choose for skincare, especially if your skin is hot, dry and reactive, or if you have acne.
So can we say that jasmine is one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen? Not yet, but we suspect that the evidence that allows us to will emerge soon enough.
Frankincense was one of the most treasured resins of the ancient world, for many religious, cosmetic, and medicinal reasons. Most of these were attributed to its ability to restore elasticity to tissues and to preserve them. (that’s part of the reasons it was so well sought after to embalm mummies).
Bizarrely, given that, there has been very little research into proving or disproving these claims, potentially because their successes speak for themselves.
But the human body is an incredibly complex things and essential oils research always throws up surprises.
An American study affiliated with DoTerra international investigated frankincense's actions on the skin. It showed frankincense had profound effects on inflammation and tissue remodeling, but the reasons why that are strange.
Inflammation was moderated. Frankincense essential oils also significantly inhibited interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (inflammatory), and intracellular cell adhesion molecule 1 (make cells stick together as they would in tumors, for example), and collagen III.
Read that again.
It inhibited collagen III. Made it less.
That’s the opposite to what we would expect to see, but it might help us to understand why the resin (not the essential oil, to be clear) may be helpful in helping reduce tumors.
This does not stop it from being one of the best natural agents to protect and preserve the skin. But can we prove it's one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen? Not yet. As things stand at the moment, the only evidence we have says the opposite!
With our aromatherapists’ heads on, this is where we would have expected to find evidence, but we can find none. Not of collagen anyway. There is lots of evidence for the skin conditioning effects of roses, both for cosmetic applications and for conditions like seborrheic dermatitis.
Rose is hydrating and lubricating. It is proven to penetrate to the deepest layers to feed newly formed keratinocytes that will eventually become skin cells.
Rose is wonderful right across the board, so use rose absolute, or rose otto essential oil, or even treat your skin to some rosehip carrier oil, all of which pamper the skin exquisitely.
Helichrysum is a beautiful oil, rich in a constituent called neryl acetate. This molecule is superb for the skin, protecting and healing it even after severe burns and abrasions. The helichrysum genus is enormous, with around 600 different species. One of the reasons there are so many is that the chemistry alters so much depending on where it is grown. Indeed, oddly now, sometimes botanists use the essential oil as a means of identifying exactly what species they are working with.
Wrinkles form through collagenase activity. These can be stimulated by a variety of factors including UV light. Elastase exists in the tissues and degrades elasticity. In 2017, researchers from the University of Pisa, published their findings that helichrysum extracts inhibited both of these processes, improving elasticity in skin tissues. So, whilst we cannot cite it being one of the best essential oils to stimulate collage, we can prove that it protects and improves elasticity.
This is a controversial one. It comes up on lots of lists for a very good reason. Collagen degrades through oxidation, so should be protected by anti-oxidants. Indeed lemon essential oil does have superb anti-oxidant effects, but it is incredibly harsh on the skin.
Used in large amounts it can be a dermal irritant and is very drying.
Lemon oils skills are as an antibiotic and cleanser and are wonderful for supporting healthy immunity. However, this is not an essential oil we would recommend for skincare and would have no particularly promising effects on the flexibility of other tissues either.
Carrot seed is another oil that is often cited as improving collagen, but again, we can find no supporting evidence. That’s not to say there isn’t any of course, just that we perhaps didn’t look for long enough! The hypothesis most people's arguments depend upon is its tremendous antioxidant power.
However, this is an essential oil we would recommend using. It is incredibly nourishing and cleansing to the skin. One agent that is proven to do terrible things to the state of the skin is nicotine. Carrot seed oil cleans the skin deep down, improving the appearance of smokers' skin’s manifold. Does this mean we agree this is one of the best essential oils to stimulate collagen? It’s impossible to say. Do we think it is brilliant for skincare? Certainly, we do. Will it improve flexibility in tendons and muscles though? We would be very surprised.
Unsurprisingly, the things with the most amount of evidence are carrier oils. Skin cells are like bricks held together by a mortar which is made from lipids. Carrier oils are fantastic at replacing and repairing the lipid layer to make it stronger and more supple.
However, and there is always a “however” when we do these kinds of trial analyses.
Wheat Germ oil is very helpful. We know that because it has been making up serums and treatments for years. But the scientific evidence pertains to oral administration (so the oil was ingested, rather than put into the skin) and the participants in the trial were mice.
The wheat oil increased both collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid, meaning there was far less water loss from the tissues.
9. Pomegranate Seed Carrier Oil
Again, pomegranate seed oil is a well-utilized carrier oil by aromatherapists. It is thick and luscious, making it wonderful for skincare, but it also makes a great addition to massage oils for aches and pains.
A 2014 Iranian study researched a hydroalcoholic extract of pomegranate (so again, not an essential oil, or even a carrier oil ) and found several collagen interactions.
Both the pomegranate extract and its associated flower oil reduced the size of wounds. This was achieved by increasing “the well-organized bands of collagen, fibroblasts, and few inflammatory cells”
In addition, they found that the extract could reduce the onset and incidence of collagen-induced arthritis in mice.
It’s certainly not one of the best essential oils to stimulate collage, because we are sticklers for detail. It’s a carrier, not an essential oil, but a damn fine one, and we would certainly expect it to do spectacular things to the suppleness and structure of the skin.
Often known by its Latin name Centella asiatica, this is extracted from a little flowering green plant that has been important in Asian medicine for generations.
Again, the trial is with a “titrated extract” that is neither carrier nor essential oil, but many (not all) of the properties will be the same. We would certainly expect to see wound healing and improved skin structure using the carrier oil. Indeed it is fabulous for guarding against stretch marks. A 1990 clinical trial proved that its wound-healing capabilities were achieved through collagen synthesis.
There is limited information available yet for the best essential oils to stimulate collagen. However, common sense says that making serums and massage oils with rich carrier oils and oils such as jasmine and helichrysum will improve the skin and tissues hugely.