When I was growing up, my glamorous mother would frequently do something very strange, that she maintained was the key to a beautiful complexion.
Every now and then, she'd casually reach into the kitchen cupboard, grab a raw cube of jelly (jell-o to my American friends and family) and eat it. Then she'd hand me one and insist I do the same. The good old fashioned gelatin contained in jelly cubes, she insisted, was the key to strong nails, clear skin and shiny hair. My mum has always been healthy and young-looking, and, even now, at the age of 60, with nails as strong as steel and hair as shiny as a freshly rubbed apple, she's a living testament to its powers.
Truth be told though, raw gelatin, on the face of it, is pretty icky. It's pure collagen and protein, extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish- we're talking hides, hooves, scales, marrow. Suspend your horror, though, for just one moment- scientifically, it makes a lot of sense. Unlike our wooly-mammoth-munching fore-mothers, or even our more head-to-tail eating war time grandparents, the average 2015 woman's consumption of collagen-rich connective tissue is pretty much nil. And there's no doubt in my mind that gelatin's powers are many. For a long time after leaving home, and my mother's watch, I neglected my intake. Then, in my mid-20s, after a strange period of break outs and noticing my hair and nails seemed weaker, I sought it out once again. This time, to my great relief, in capsule form (I am not hardcore enough for the jelly cubes, sorry Mama). Now I take two capsules along with my regular multivitamin and fish oils every day. I swear it makes an exponential difference to my skin and hair, and makes my nails grow fast and strong.
Scientific studies over the years back this up, see this article, with actual science here. And in addition to crediting gelatin supplements with anti-aging and collagen boosting results, it's also said that gelatin can boost your immune system and aid weight control. Studies have also shown that glycine, found in gelatin, helps you to sleep better at night.
And here's the clincher- gelatin is so plentiful a foodstuff, it's mercifully cheap and easy to buy. There are a tonne of brands on offer, but if you're curious, I use this one, available on Amazon for the mini-sum of seven dollars fifty.
Fuck Creme de la Mer. Gelatin; the anti-aging, nail-boosting, hair-shining, skin-strengthening beauty super-tool. Listen to Mama. Give it a try.
Note: Alas, for my veggie/kosher/halal friends, I'm still searching for a gelatin supplement (I've heard rumours of a seaweed source) that would work for you. If any readers have any pointers, I'd love to hear.