The global marine collagen market is expected to be valued at USD 950.85 million by 2026, up from USD 627.03 million in 2020 [i]. This growth is attributed to the rising popularity of collagen over recent years, including fish collagen. However, it is important for consumers to ensure the fish collagen they use is sourced sustainably so as not to impact our already ailing oceans. Speaking in light of United Nations' World Oceans Day on 8 June 2022, Toni Carroll, founder of South African nutricosmetic brand My Beauty Luv, says that fish collagen is either sourced from ocean-farmed fish, wild-caught marine fish or aquaculture fresh-water fish that are farmed. “The latter is far better for the environment, especially if the fish are farmed using advanced organic, regenerative and sustainable practices as this ensures environmental integrity.”
She explains that fish collagen is valued by the beauty industry and consumers because it has the lowest molecular weight out of all type 1 collagen and has extremely high bioavailability. “This means that absorption and assimilation into the body is far easier than most other collagens.” "As we age, the type 1 collagen in our skin - the same kind that’s in fish collagen - weakens, leading to visible signs of ageing including saggy and wrinkly skin. Preclinical studies show that ingesting fish collagen repairs skin collagen and elastin protein fibres while also producing a significant thickening of the outer skin surface [ii]. Human studies have reported decreased wrinkles and improved skin hydration and firmness following fish collagen supplementation. Fish collagen also protects against oxidative skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, i.e., sunlight [iii].”
The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day is Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean, and it is vital that the beauty industry, as well as conscious consumers, play their part. “The impact of overfishing is already starting to have a toll on South African shores,” says Carroll. “For example, if you live on the west coast of Cape Town, you may have seen first-hand the early effects of overfishing of marine fish along the Atlantic seaboard in the prevalence of ill baby seals along the coastline.” She says that veterinary findings state that starvation is the most likely cause. “Seals and other marine predators are forced to expand their hunting territories or starve. By avoiding marine collagen and opting for brands that support ethical, freshwater fish farming, you’re helping to protect our seals and other vital marine predators like dolphins, sharks and bird life.” “Another way that the beauty sector is impacting the oceans is by way of single-use plastic or packaging that is not recyclable,” adds Carroll. “Studies have shown that the beauty industry generates up to 120 billion units of plastic packaging per year[iv], which can end up in our oceans.”
To mitigate this, she points out that brands should consider using recyclable and sustainable packaging like glass which can be recycled or reused. “With more than half of the world’s marine species set to be on the brink of extinction by 2100 [v], both the beauty industry and its consumers need to be more conscious of the choices we make today or else we face consequences like these tomorrow,” Carroll concludes.
[i] https://www.expertmarketresearch.com/reports/marine-collagen-market [ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745978/ [iii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814612009818 [iv] https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/the-cosmetics-industrys-plastic-packaging-problem#:~:text=The%20personal%20care%20and%20beauty,beauty%20and%20personal%20care%20products. [v] https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/03/1114142