Keratin, explained

If you have ever wanted to have nice, silky smooth, and non-frizzy hair, you probably already heard about keratin. This ingredient is incredibly beneficial for your hair health and, thus, a popular addition to haircare

benefits of keratin

What is keratin

Keratin is a natural protein that makes up our hair strands. It’s also a main ingredient for animal fur, hoofs, horns, etc. Keratin is responsible for making your hair stretchy, strong, smooth, and silky. This protein naturally fights frizz and protects your locks from losing too much moisture. 

If your hair is damaged, frizzy, and prone to breakage, it means that it lacks keratin. A treatment containing this ingredient will be beneficial.

Is keratin and hydrolized keratin the same thing?

You probably already noticed that some haircare brands selling keratin-infused products mention hydrolized keratin as an ingredient. Is that the same as regular keratin? In a nutshell, yes, but also no.

The main problem with keratin applied topically is that its molecule is way too big to penetrate the hair cuticle. Here is where hydrolized keratin comes into play. 

Hydrolized keratin is essentially a protein molecule that has gone through a chemical process to be broken down to smaller molecules. These molecules are small enough to penetrate the hair strand and bring all the goodness to your hair. 

One important difference between hydrolized keratin and regular keratin: the hydrolized version does not straighten your locks. It can give a mild straightening effect by making your hair smoother and softer, but it will not magically turn your 4C curls into 1A. 

Types of hydrolized keratin

The most popular derived sources of hydrolized keratin are:

  • Wool. This is the most popular source of protein in the market. It’s relatively cheap and wildly accessible. The majority of brands use keratin derived from wool. Silk’e does so, too. 
  • Silk. This is the most expensive source of keratin. The protein comes from the natural silk fibers silkworm cocoons are made of. 
  • Wheat. Wheat-derived keratin doesn’t actually have keratin in it because keratin is an animal product. However, it does work as well as regular keratin. It’s also vegan-friendly! 

Benefits of keratin for hair

  • It makes your hair stronger. When you apply keratin topically, it fills the micro gaps in your hair shaft. While it can’t fully reverse the damage, it does give a temporary boost in strength and elasticity. 
  • It minimizes the damage. Keratin certainly doesn’t prevent the damage from sun, heat styling, or combing, but it drastically reduces the negative impact. 
  • It smoothes and softens. This is exactly what keratin is known for. After using a keratin-infused product, your hair will feel softer and more bouncy than usual. 
  • It helps your hair attract moisture. If your hair is dry and prone to breakage, it might be a sign that it doesn’t have enough moisture. Keratin helps attract it; other ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner lock it inside. 

What hair types keratin benefits the most?

While keratin works for all hair types, people with thick, curly, damaged, or frizzy hair will benefit the most from using it. For people with thin and fine hair it might be less beneficial.

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