What Does Keratin Do To Your Hair?

Keratin is found naturally in hair. Did you know keratin is a major part of your hair, and as you well know, keratin helps condition your hair. What does keratin do to your hair is a common question asked before deciding to get a keratin treatment.

What Is Keratin and What Does It Do To Your Hair?

Keratin makes hair less frizzy, more fashionable, and straighter. Keratin works by smoothing down the cells that overlap each other along the hair shaft. Keratin is a topical treatment that makes your hair very smooth, manageable, full-looking, and shiny. Keratin treatments can last up to 2 months. After having a Keratin treatment, use sulfate-free shampoos to make your treatment last longer.

2/14/2023 According to the guardian, “Nearly 60 lawsuits alleging that hair relaxer products sold by L’Oreal and other companies cause cancer and other health issues will be consolidated in a Chicago federal court. The lawsuits claim that the companies knew their products contained dangerous chemicals but still marketed and sold them. A National Institutes of Health study published in October found that women who used the products multiple times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. The lawsuits follow the study’s publication, and the cases will be centralized into a multidistrict litigation before US district judge Mary Rowland.

Keratin treatments have the potential to improve the smoothness, shine, and manageability of your hair. Even while you are sleeping during the first three days after your treatment, you should take extra steps to ensure that your hair does not become wrinkled in any manner. This includes avoiding pulling or tugging on your hair in any way.

Tiny cuticles overlap each other like shingles on a roof to make up your hair strands. Layers of cells (called the hair cuticle) come together to create the outside layer of hair. The outside layer contains keratin.


Keratin Treatment Pros and Cons



Get that smooth shiny lookSome keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, which can be dangerous if inhaled.
Usually last a long time, 2 to 4 monthsTreatments can be expensive between $200 to $800
Hair becomes much more manageableNot washing you hair can be hard
Reduce the look of split-endsNot swimming might make it harder for some
Hair dries much quickerNot recommended for pregnant women
Strengthen and fortifies hair 


Frizzy hair can be a sign of hair damage. If your hair cuticles are not smooth they could be damaged from too much heat, coloring or perms. Click to see my 18 solutions on how to tame frizzy hair forever.

5 Things You should Know About Keratin And What It Does To Your Hair

So what does keratin really do to your hair? According to Stacey, Hair Research Analyst, “Keratin is actually a protein in which gives hair its structure and strength.

  1. Keratin protein coats hair cuticles
  2. Helps eliminate frizz and adds shine
  3. Expect more manageable hair after using keratin
  4. Keratin treatments lasts between 2 and 4 months
  5. To ensure best results use gentle products after using keratin

Did you know Keratin is one of a family of structural fibrous proteins

Keratin is a fibrous protein and is the key structural material that makes up hair, nails, horns, claws, hooves, and the skin’s outer layer. Keratin is also the protein that protects epithelial cells against damage or stress.

To get a better understanding let’s take a quick look at hair, what is it and is it really made up of dead cells? According to Matthew Hoffman, MD, “Hair is made up of keratin”

According to Meesh, Hair Product Analyst, “Keratin is a protein that is the main structural material making up hair, nails and in animals horns, feathers, claws and hooves. So it’s not just in humans. And since it’s a protein it’s not alive. There are no nerve cells in hair. So when you get a hair cut you feel no pain.

Keratin is also a protein that prevents damage or stress to epithelial cells. In water and organic solvents, keratin is extremely insoluble. Now that being said keratin is not a magic solution that automatically repairs damaged hair. To find out more read my article on does damaged hair grow back healthy. In this article I also go into products that will help restore damaged hair and what you can expect.

Also another great article on this site is how to protect hair from damage. you are not going to want to miss reading this one! If you have ever had hair damage then you know one big question is how to protect your hair from damage. After all you do not want to have hair damage again, right? In this article I’ll discuss tips to help prevent damaged hair.

Keratin monomers form intermediate filaments that are tough and form strong un-mineralized epidermal attachments found in reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals.

There are many combs that are infused with Keratin oil to help with static electricity. These combs infused with keratin oil seem to work better than other combs when it come to reducing static.

If you are battling a lot of static in your hair then you are going to want to read my article on why does my hair get static when I brush it.

What Is A Keratin Treatment?

There are several hair care developments and treatments to keep up with but there’s one I’d like to write about, keratin treatments in particular. If you’re unfamiliar, a hair treatment with keratin (smoothing treatment) is a salon product that aims to offer straight hair with plenty of shine and a smooth texture at one time. Also, there’s some important stuff you should learn before you book your appointment for a keratin smoothing procedure. For example, different hair textures may react differently to keratin treatments, from dry hair to curly hair to frizzy hair.

Keratin hair treatments can save styling time and make hair more manageable, therefore people with extremely frizzy or thick hair may opt for them. Your hairdresser will wash your hair first. Then, he or she will put the keratin treatment on your wet hair and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

What is a basic keratin treatment for your hair?

Although there are various basic types of keratin treatment formulations for your hair, the basic principle is that according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a professional hairstylist can use a combination of chemicals and heat (heat styling) to straighten and rearrange the natural bonds in your hair, generally using glutaraldehyde or formaldehyde. After application of the chemical solution to the hair, the stylist may usually add a keratin protein conditioner to keep the hair from being too dry and brittle. If all goes well, the end result is straighter, more smoother-looking locks.

According to the National Biotechnology Information Center (NCBI), this common hair treatment method now goes through a wide variety of name that I am sure you have heard of. They are Hair Botox, Brazilian Blowout and Acetic Acid Treatment just to name a few.

Keratin’s weight will hold your hair in place, so you don’t need to use hair sprays, gels, mousse, or root-lifting sprays.

Who can benefit from a Keratin treatment?

If you have wavy hair then you can benefit from a Keratin treatment. A keratin treatment is intended to relax your hair. However, keratin therapies do not do very well on hair that is tightly kinked. Natural hair bonds are just too tight to rearrange. Talk to a hair professional before you commit to a treatment. You hair professional can guide you through what are the best options for your particular hair type and texture.

It’s important to note this kind of treatment affects the hair fiber’s chemical structure, understanding the process and how it can influence the particular makeup of your hair strands are important. And  according to studies by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, in some cases unacceptably high formaldehyde concentrations may be used in these treatments. This can cause damage to your hair so doing your homework is crucial and also working with a professional you can trust.

Use a shampoo for keratin-treated hair or specifically formulated for chemically straightened hair without any sulfates, salts, or other surfactants. Chemically treated hair requires extra nourishment in order to remain hydrated, so skipping conditioner is not recommended.

How to take care of your hair after a Keratin treatment?

It’s extremely important to take extra measures in care for your hair after a Keratin treatment. You should consider using an improved shampoo and conditioner and consider a program that includes a hair mask or leave-in conditioner. You should strive to work into your hair care routine certain safeguards to keep your hair strands looking good. It’s important to note anytime after you add strong chemicals to your hair, whether it’s when you dye your hair with permanent hair color or when you undergo a keratin treatment.

The end result is you will have sleeker hair without having to use a hair straighter. Just remember to take the extra precautions and use hydrate your hair regularly to keep that beautiful sleek style.

Are Keratin treatments dangerous?

Keratin treatments are dangerous due to one of the ingredients used in most conventional salon formulations associated with keratin treatments is formaldehyde. It is described by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a colorless, strong-smelling gas typically used to make building materials, household products such as glue and fiberboard, and used as a preservative when dissolved in the water. It’s responsible for keeping hair in a nice shiny, straight and smooth condition for months at a time.

But there are some keratin treatments that do not contain formaldehyde (a known carcinogen). Instead, they contain ingredients such as methylene glycol, formalin, methanal and methanediol which release the carcinogenic compound when mixed with water during the treatment process. So while the solution might be theoretically formaldehyde-free, it isn’t combined with water yet.

This poses potential danger not only for you but also for the salon technicians who regularly preform the treatments in confined spaces. The CDC reports common formaldehyde exposure side effects which include sore throat, nose bleeds, and scratchy eyes. The U.S. In 1987 This has been listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a material which could potentially cause cancer if exposed for a long time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warns those exposed to possible health hazards and states that ingredients and products claiming to be safe, organic, or formaldehyde free might not be entirely accurate.

Such so-called keratin treatments can also cause significant harm to your hair over time. Treatment requires high heat to lock the hair in place, and for those with super-fine or damaged hair, it is not recommended. When you are looking for a less destructive, completely formaldehyde-free treatment, ask your salon if instead they use a glyoxylic acid-containing treatment. They do not straighten hair as drastically (they are more for shine enhancement and battling frizz), but they are much healthier as well.

Science Behind Keratin

The science behind Keratin is it’s a representative of the scleroprotein group of fibrous basic proteins. A type of keratin identified in vertebrates is A-Keratin. In vertebrates, it is the fundamental structural component that makes new, fur, nails, feathers, horns, paws, hooves, calluses, and the outer layer of skin. Keratin also protects epithelial cells from harm or stress. Keratin is insoluble in both water and organic solvents. Keratin monomers bind to form intermediate filaments, which are tough and form heavy unmineralized epidermal appendages in reptiles, birds, amphibians, and mammals.

Chitin is the only other biological material believed to approximate the hardness of keratinized tissue. We classify keratin into two types: primitive, softer forms found in all vertebrates and derived, harder forms found only in sauropsids (reptiles and birds). Since keratin is resistant to digestion, cats regurgitate hairballs, nice, sorry but true. I am sure this is not new to you but often wondered why and know we know. Also, I bet you did not know Spider silk is known as keratin, though the protein’s synthesis may have developed independently of vertebrate processes.

What is Keratin Made Of?

Although hair contains water, lipids, traces of mineral elements, and melanin, the main constituent is keratin. Its organization within the cortex is almost frighteningly similar to that of a rope or a cord. Which is a very interesting analogy, right?

How Strong Is Hair?

Well, this is even more interesting, and I bet you did not know. Hair is extremely durable. Each hair can withstand 100 grams of pressure, implying that an average head of 120,000 hairs could withstand 12 tons if the scalp was strong enough! This is because of the incredible way keratin is organized in the cortex.

Keratin The Raw Material in Hair And Is Hair Alive?

Keratin is a necessary component of hair. It is a protein produced by the combination of 18 amino acids, one of which is cysteine, which is high in sulfur and plays an important role in hair cohesion. Keratinocytes are responsible for its production. These cells, which are located at the base of the dermal papilla, multiply and differentiate. Although some extent to the hair follicle’s periphery to form the internal and external epithelial sheaths, others elongate to form the hair shaft. They fill with keratin fibers throughout this trip. Keratinocytes die as soon as they have filled with keratin. Thus, after a journey of around 0.5 mm within the root, the hair is definitively developed and does not get any further supply from the tissue that produced it for the rest of its life. So all this is to say in simple terms your hair is dead. It’s not getting any nutrients from the hair follicle.

Healthy Hair and Keratin

Did you know your hair needs lipids to maintain its beauty and strength? Lipids are naturally present in the hair shaft, while lipids are supplied by the sebaceous glands. All this to say your hair needs to be greased, ha! Yea, you want that nice shine hair, well you need to spread lipids produced by your sebaceous gland all along the hair shaft. Brushing with a high-quality boar bristle brush can help do that.

Hair’s lipid components account for 3% of its composition. They are produced in the hair bulb from sterols, fatty acids, and ceramides. They are primarily found in the intercellular cement of the cortex and cuticle, where they provide impermeability to the hair and maintain capillary fiber cohesion. Following extensive research into the latter point, L’Oréal Laboratories developed Ceramide R, which acts identically to natural ceramides, allowing damaged hair to be repaired.

Ceramides are a type of lipid that is waxy. Ceramides are made up of sphingosine and fatty acid.

What Causes Dull Dry Hair?

The sebaceous glands, next to the hair follicle, produce sebum. This combination of triglycerides, waxes, and squalene forms a coating on the skin’s surface and lubricates the hair, keeping its suppleness and sheen. Since sebum is hormone-based, it can be created in excess, causing the hair to be greasy and thick. If there is insufficient secretion, the hair becomes weakened, dry, and dull. So this is one reason you could have dull, dry hair.

What Else About Hair That’s Interesting?

Aside from water, which accounts for 12 to 15% of the composition of hair under normal conditions, other components are present in trace amounts.

And this is important because of its relative porosity, it can absorb a sizeable amount of water or water vapor and trap in mineral salts. These are an essential component of the hair shaft. Other nutrients are derived directly from us. Since the hair root has a strong blood supply, blood delivers nutrients and is absorbed into the hair during its development.


Hair Fall – Or called hair loss, also known as alopecia or baldness, refers to a loss of hair from part of the head or body. Typically at least the head is involved. The severity of hair loss can vary from a small area to the entire body. Inflammation or scarring is not usually present. Wikipedia


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