Shore Magic, an unflavored marine collagen peptide made from skins of wild cod, was one of the contenders I was most excited to try. Very avant-garde and gourmet. Shore Magic is a finer-grain, hydrolyzed collagen powder with a really slippery texture. I think it could add some congruous depth to any saucy seafood ordeal, any chowder, any bouillabaisse. I texted the greatest cocktail genius I know about adding it to a dirty martini. They attempted to dissuade me, but I did not listen; the martini was definitely scuzzy, but kinda good. I wouldn’t stray too far from “the ocean” or “an estuary,” with any flavor profiles here, but I’d see a happy future incorporating Shore Magic into lots of salty, briny concoctions.
If your face cream is unscented:
Tasting notes: Filtered water sipped poolside
Nutrition info: 20 grams of collagen; 18 grams of protein; gluten-free
One might assume that a product made from the literal bones of cows would impart sturdy, savory flavors and velvety textures. Yet Vital Proteins, which also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, dissolves seamlessly in everything from cold tap water to hot morning coffee, adding no discernible texture and almost no taste. But there is a hint of something there—chlorine, maybe? Something unmistakably made-in-a-lab. I’d hoped that bovine powders would add an earthy, deep bass note, but we’re all synth here. I like synth fine enough, I guess. Vital Proteins is the big box store of collagen powders and a collagen category originator. If you want something that gets the job done, is available pretty much everywhere, and is cheaper than most other options, go for it.
Tasting notes: Evaporated Starbucks Frapp, grocery store birthday cake
Nutrition info: 11.1 grams of collagen; 10 grams of protein; gluten-free
Dispiritingly, collagen flavor options seem to favor chalky choc varieties, cheery berry options, and the artificial vanilla taste of wellness. This non-GMO grass-fed bovine powder is definitely pandering to those with a sweet tooth and is begging to be popped right into a smoothie. Thrive’s collagen does fluff up beverages with a nice supple foam. Monk fruit is employed as a sweetener, but there is, again, a distinct twinge of artificiality following us around.
If you’re a plant-based nature babe:
Tasting notes: Mushroom risotto, a damp hike, the delicious wispy steam from the rice cooker
Nutrition info: There’s no collagen, per se, as this is a vegan product. But there is “high molecular weight of 10k-20k Daltons” of hyaluronic acid and 2.5 grams of Tremella mushrooms per serving, both of which could promote collagen synthesis and skin hydration; < 1 gram protein
As indicated in the nutrition info, vegan collagen is an iffy premise from a technical standpoint, but regardless of whether this will promote skin elasticity, I’m glad I made the exception for this one. Moon Juice’s Collagen Protect is billed as a “vegan creamer,” which raised my expectations for its employment as a texture-builder. I was extremely not disappointed. The texture was so much creamier than its animal-based counterparts, and mushrooms provided that earthy depth I’d been looking for. Many of Moon Juice’s magic powders smack of a shroomy-umaminess that I love. This collagen powder is made primarily from rice bran and silver ear mushrooms, which are kinda sweet in a loamy way, and the gentle flavor of jasmine rice powder comes through as well. I’ve only tried it solo, but I want to add it to rich veggie ramen next.
If you like to keep a little dirt on your veggies:
Tasting notes: Skim milk + portobello
Nutrition info: 17.7 grams of collagen per serving; 16 grams of protein; gluten-free