What is keratin and how does it affect hair?

Keratin and its associated protein (KAPs) play a vital role in the structure of hair. It is important to understand the benefits and risks associated with keratin treatments and the various keratin products available in the market to maintain healthy hair.

Understanding Keratin and its Importance for Hair Health

Keratin is a protein that forms the main structural component of our hair. There are two types of keratin protein naturally present in our body: soft epithelial keratins and hard epithelial keratin. Hard Keratin is primarily found in the skin, cornea, hair, and nails. It constitutes approximately 80% of human hair, providing strength, flexibility, durability, and functionality to the hair strands.

The Impact of Damage on Hair and the Role of Keratin

Excessive hair bleaching, ironing, and other damaging procedures can cause the keratin protein to denature, resulting in dry, rough, fragile, and dull-looking hair. To address these concerns, various products such as shampoos, conditioners, serums, and supplements have been developed to restore and enhance the keratin in hair.

Keratin Treatment for Hair

Keratin treatment is a popular option for those seeking to improve the appearance of their hair. These treatments typically involve the application of a protein preparation derived from feathers, horns, or wool, mixed with a formaldehyde chemical, and then sealed into the hair using a flat iron. This semi-permanent treatment aims to smooth the hair cuticle, providing a temporary straight, smooth, and lustrous look.

Benefits and Considerations of Keratin Treatment

Keratin treatment offers several benefits, such as temporary luster, smoothness, and reduced frizz. It can also help fill the porous hair strands with protein, restoring strength, structure, and shine. However, it’s important to note that results may vary depending on individual hair types, and people with highly curly or wavy hair may experience a slight loss of curl and achieve straighter hair.

Different Keratin Products for Hair Care

Apart from keratin treatments, there are other keratin-based products available to address specific hair needs. Keratin serums are lightweight, non-greasy formulations containing hydrolyzed keratin, similar to the protein found in hair and nails. These serums protect hair from heat damage and split ends while providing a healthy shine.

Keratin shampoos, on the other hand, are formulated with hydrolyzed keratin and other ingredients like activated charcoal, biotin, caffeine, and argan oil. These shampoos aim to repair damaged hair, reduce frizz, and add smoothness.

To further enhance the benefits of keratin, there are also keratin conditioners designed to hydrate the hair and protect it from environmental damage. These conditioners contain ingredients like hydrolyzed keratin, panthenol, and oils to strengthen the hair and increase its elasticity.

Additionally, keratin hair masks can provide deep hydration and nourishment by penetrating the hair shaft. These masks offer protection against heat damage and help reduce hair breakage.

Understanding the Risks and Side Effects

While keratin is a naturally occurring protein, artificial keratin preparations may have some side effects. Many products contain formaldehyde, a chemical known to be a carcinogen with potential health risks. It’s important to note that hairstylists who work with keratin treatment products are at a higher risk of exposure to formaldehyde.

The high heat used during keratin treatments can also cause damage to the hair by breaking down the natural keratin structure. This may result in the loss of natural hair keratin and, in some cases, premature hair shedding.

It’s worth mentioning that formaldehyde can be found in various cosmetic products beyond keratin treatments, including nail polish, removers, hair dyes, glues, and shampoos. Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of keratin treatments and their potential consequences.

Exploring Other Keratin-Containing Products

For those seeking milder alternatives to salon treatments, keratin serums, shampoos, and conditioners can provide some benefits with fewer risks. These products are generally safer and less damaging to the hair compared to specific treatments.

Additionally, over-the-counter keratin supplements are available in powder or capsule form. However, their effectiveness remains controversial due to the protein’s resistance to digestive enzymes. Incorporating foods rich in keratin, such as eggs, salmon, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, kale, and mangos, into your regular diet can also enhance keratin absorption from the gut.


While the debate surrounding the overall benefits and risks of keratin treatments continues, incorporating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and using gentle densifying shampoos containing Biotin, Zinc, and Keratin can contribute to healthier, smoother, shinier, and thicker-looking hair. It’s essential to understand your hair’s specific needs and consult with professionals to make informed decisions regarding keratin products and treatments.


What is keratin treatment for hair?

Keratin treatment is a semi-permanent hair treatment that involves applying a protein preparation derived from animal sources mixed with a formaldehyde chemical to the hair. This treatment aims to smooth the hair cuticle, providing temporary straightness, smoothness, and luster.

Are keratin treatments damaging to the hair?

While keratin treatments are generally considered safe, they may have some potential risks and side effects. The high heat used during the treatment can damage the hair by breaking down its natural keratin structure. Additionally, some products used in keratin treatments may contain formaldehyde, a chemical with potential health risks.

What are the benefits of keratin treatment?

Keratin treatments can provide temporary luster, smoothness, and reduced frizz to the hair. They can also help fill porous hair strands with protein, restoring strength, structure, and shine.

Are there alternatives to salon keratin treatments?

Yes, there are alternative keratin-based products available, such as keratin serums, shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks. These products aim to provide similar benefits with fewer risks compared to salon treatments.

Are keratin supplements effective?

The efficacy of keratin supplements is still a subject of debate. The protein’s resistance to digestive enzymes raises questions about its absorption in supplement form. However, incorporating foods rich in keratin into your diet can contribute to overall hair health.

What are the possible risks of keratin treatments?

One of the potential risks of keratin treatments is exposure to formaldehyde, a chemical known to be a carcinogen. Formaldehyde can be present in the products or released through reactions with other ingredients. High heat used during the treatment can also damage the hair by breaking down its natural keratin structure.

Can keratin treatments be done at home?

While some products claim to offer keratin treatments that can be done at home, it is recommended to seek professional guidance to ensure safe and effective application. The expertise of a hair salon is particularly important for salon-grade treatments that involve formaldehyde.

How can I maintain healthy hair without keratin treatments?

Maintaining healthy hair without keratin treatments involves following a balanced diet, using hair care products with beneficial ingredients like Biotin, Zinc, and Keratin, and adopting a gentle hair care routine. Regular cleansing, conditioning, and protecting hair from heat and environmental damage can contribute to hair health.


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