What is the difference between marine and bovine collagen?

Making sense of supplements

Editor / February 17 2022

For a lot of us, ingestible beauty has become as much a part of our routines as moisturising. After all, if you’re on a quest for glowing, plump, and youthful skin, you’ve got to have your inside and outside bases covered. 

Collagen supplements are often the ones to get the call-up, thanks to studies that have proven their ability to improve skin hydration and elasticity.

But there are two main types to choose from: marine collagen and bovine collagen.

So what’s the difference and what does each do for our skin?

The difference between marine and bovine collagen

It’s quite funny when you think about it, but both collagens have simply been given a more *elegant* name to refer to the animal they derive from.

Put simply, marine collagen comes from fish and bovine collagen comes from cows. More specifically, marine collagen is often made from fish skin and scales, whereas bovine collagen is typically made from cow hide.

For this reason, a lot of people who don’t typically consume meat products (or may be pescatarian) prefer marine collagen. But it’s also good to look into whether the product you’re considering purchasing is sustainably sourced.

Which one is better?

Just like asking whether cream blush or powder blush is better, the answer depends on what you’re looking for.

Marine collagen is primarily Type I collagen, whereas bovine collagen is a mixture of Type I and Type III collagen. Both help with elasticity in the skin and gut support, but there are some differences in their performance.

Marine collagen benefits

Marine collagen (Type I) is said to absorb 1.5 times more efficiently, giving it the reputation of having superior bioavailability. Type I collagen is also the strongest and most abundant type of collagen in the body, providing a big support for skin healing and strengthening. For this reason, those focused on skin care benefits alone are often swayed more towards marine collagen.

Bovine collagen benefits

As well as skin care benefits, there have been some studies that suggest bovine collagen can also help to support muscle mass. This is attributed to the type III collagen that's mixed with the type I, and can be of benefit to age-related muscle loss. It’s also been demonstrated to improve joint and bone health, in particular in alleviating osteoarthritis symptoms. It seems having a mixture of collagen types can also present a mixture of benefits.

Collagen supplements to try

Skinstitut Collagen Plus

The Collagen Co Passionfruit Mango Collagen Powder

Dr. LeWinn’s Marine Collagen Peptide+ Inner Beauty Liquid Shot