The protein family called keratin is the building block of hair, nails, horns, hooves, tortoise shells, and reptile skin. It is the sturdiest animal material. Because of a strange process, said to have involved a mortician, it made its way into the beauty industry.
The Brazilian keratin treatment (Brazillian blowout) is the treatment that made this protein famous for hair care. It lasts a few months and works miracles on frizz. And most of the keratin harvested for this kind of personal care (straightening and smoothing treatments) comes from one of two places. It either comes from chicken feathers or sheep wool. One of the two better resembles human DNA and is better to use. So, the question becomes, does rubbing sheep wool on your head actually strengthen your hair?
A Breakdown of How it Works
There are two types of keratin evident in human hair. Type I is acidic, while type II is basic. Both acidic and basic types of keratin are parted into multiple groups. A study on keratin (K31), falling within the acidic grouping, will illustrate its effects most clearly.
Keratin is durable, and therefore a critical component for the mechanical strength of hair. It strengths the strand both inside and out. Although we often think of hairstyling in terms of outward appearance, the inner hair shaft's health makes a difference.
While one of the primary goals in the beauty industry is to alter the outer layer of the hair (cuticle) for styling, the inner layer (cortex) is often damaged. That leads to long-term issues. One direct consequence of not taking good care of the cortex is the loss of color. This layer of the hair shaft is responsible for holding the hair's pigment. So, if the cortex suffers, hair color suffers.
Damage to the cortex happens in various ways. Through intense sun exposure. Through bleaching or coloring. Through detergents used in conventional shampoos. And many more.
How does keratin help address the damage, keeping breakage and splitting at bay? It fills in the gaps on the outer layer while repairing the inner layers. Keratin penetrates the hair, reinforces it, and it coats the outside, strengthening each strand outside and in. Great news for those with damaged hair or anyone struggling with frizzy hair.
Yes, because of keratin, frizz is not so much an issue. It shows incredible smoothing and straightening capabilities. In that study previously mentioned, researchers compared bleached hair to a control group of curly hair. Keratin even restores chemically damaged hair dramatically. Bleached hair was repaired and thickened by nearly 49 percent.
Hair Styling Side Effects
Heat styling, such as blow-drying and using a flat iron, often causes inflammation and dryness. Over time, that inhibits hair growth, contributes to split ends, and eventual hair loss. The bottom line is that high heat, when blasted at the scalp, weakens the hair and skin on your head. It keeps many from having frizz-free hair. All that to say, specific chemical processes (coloring treatments with harsh chemicals) and styling tools can cause hair health issues. It's not that these things must disappear altogether. We don't need to sacrifice hairstyling entirely.
But to help reduce this heat damage and improve your elasticity, dry hair must become healthy hair. Keratin is a big piece to that puzzle, and with a few other considerations, it can do its job even better.
5 Ingredients That Help Keratin Restore Health Hair
Nettle is an exciting and powerful partner for keratin. Nettle reduces inflammation, eases irritation, and helps with moisture. The vitamin A in it moisturizes skin, combats breakouts, and reduces wrinkles or splotches. Keratin restores and coats the hair. As the hair is repaired, there is more hair in need of moisturizing and reinforcing. Nettle is effective at keeping the skin prepared to manage and care for the thicker strands. And it boosts natural volume and hair growth by regulating mineral buildup on the scalp. So, stronger hair and more of it. The ingredient pair in our collection makes for quite an effective team.
Argan oil is a rare and scarce natural ingredient. Even a little goes a long way, hence its fancy nickname "liquid gold." It moisturizes, aids wound repair, reduces stretch marks (yes, that's right, it does!), and is an anti-aging wonder. It contains allantoin and melatonin, which promotes the growth of healthy tissue. And while keratin repairs sun damage, Argan oil protects against UV damage in the first place. That makes sense, considering that Argan trees grow in the desert. The fat content in argan oil is the real key for the delivery of vitamins. Vitamins become more bioavailable when delivered with fat content. That also helps administer the nutrients nettle offers to the hair and scalp. And because of argan oil's other qualities, it also aids in protecting against breakage and dryness. It is a wonderful conditioner to pair with any protein treatment, especially if you're taking on the challenge to tame frizz.
Panthenol is a unique b vitamin with an extraordinary impact on hair. It is a humectant, emollient, and shine expert. With keratin and nettle thickening hair, you'll need more shine to go around as well as a way to keep moisture from escaping. That's where this provitamin comes in handy. How? Humectants are hydrating agents. Emollients retain water, improving the skin barrier function so that the newfound hydration is not lost to the air. This b vitamin is both.
Along with moisture and shine, panthenol contributes to softness. Softness is a fantastic bonus when considering keratin and nettle. Extra softness means that, as hair thickens, it remains a flowing mane rather than a stiff nest.
Quinoa is a superfood that also belongs in your hair. It coats the hair, leaving a protective film on hair strands, like keratin. And like keratin, it contributes to added hair growth and strength. It is a second round of protein treatment your hair will love you for. Quinoa can aid color retention as well as combat breakage. But the neat thing about quinoa is that it's continually making hair more resistant to damage over time.
Lavender is more than a fantastic aroma. It detoxifies the scalp, boosts hair growth, and calms the nervous system. Even if you ingest caffeine, lavender can still relax you. And it begins working benefits into your scalp almost instantly. The essential oil absorbs exceptionally quickly into the skin. It's excellent for both calming ourselves and for detoxing our hair follicles.
Get All These Amazing Ingredients at Once
We have these all-natural ingredients and more in our collection. And we've sourced them carefully. We are B Corp certified, meaning that our business pays special attention to our sustainability practices. That's because we care about being a positive force in the industry. We want to maintain an increasingly positive impact on both the planet and the people using our hair products. For further transparency to the impact we have, our ingredients are also listed on the EWG website. Enjoy safe, non-toxic personal care products that nourish your body from the outside in!
Basit, A., Asghar, F., Sadaf, S., & Akhtar, M. W. (2018). Health improvement of human hair and their reshaping using recombinant keratin K31. Biotechnology reports (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 20, e00288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.btre.2018.e00288
Gong, H., Zhou, H., Forrest, R. H., Li, S., Wang, J., Dyer, J. M., Luo, Y., & Hickford, J. G. (2016). Wool Keratin-Associated Protein Genes in Sheep-A Review. Genes, 7(6), 24. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7060024
Bragulla, H. H., & Homberger, D. G. (2009). Structure and functions of keratin proteins in simple, stratified, keratinized and cornified epithelia. Journal of anatomy, 214(4), 516–559. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01066.x
Wells, K. (2021, February 17). How To Get More From Argan Oil. Wellnesse. https://wellnesse.com/blogs/health/argan-oil.
Wells, K. (2021, February 17). The Effects of Lavender Essential Oil On Hair Growth. Wellnesse. https://wellnesse.com/blogs/health/the-effects-of-lavender-essential-oil-on-hair-growth.
Wells, K. (2021, February 17). Quinoa: Why this Superfood Belongs in Your Hair Too. Wellnesse. https://wellnesse.com/blogs/health/quinoa-hair.
Wells, K. (2021, January 22). Panthenol: How this Special B Vitamin Leads to Amazing Hair. Wellnesse. https://wellnesse.com/blogs/health/panthenol-hair.
Wells, K. (2021, January 6). The Unique Way Nettle Supports Hair Growth. Wellnesse. https://wellnesse.com/blogs/health/nettle-hair-growth.