Keratin, or keratin, is a protein of the skin, hair and nails. This protein serves to provide protection, hardness and waterproofing to the skin and hair, making the skin elastic and firm at the same time, promoting cell regeneration due to its soft keratin content. This is why applying keratin to your hair produces amazing results, such as more shine, softness, elasticity and beauty.
Keratin is also present in the skin attachments (hair and nails). Hard keratin is found in nails, which, unlike skin, has a higher sulfur content, which makes it harder to maintain their shape. The keratin in the nails is made up of dead cells that have hardened and that fulfill an essential protective function.
What is Keratin used for in hair
Hair, like another skin attachment, is made up of 80% keratin. This makes up the outer layer of the hair. When there is a significant absence of it in the hair, it gives a dry and lifeless appearance to the fiber; while with the correct amount of this protein, it has its adequate protection, so the hair looks shinier and stronger.
Due to environmental and environmental factors, such as solar radiation; pollution; the use of chemicals on the hair such as some shampoos; dyes; straighteners; among other habits, such as the use of an iron; poor hair hygiene, etc., the keratin wears out and loses its protective function in the hair. This results in frizzy, dry and dull hair.
For this reason, many people decide to undergo a keratin hair treatment where they apply a product all over the head that restores the amount of existing protein. However, there are several types of products on the market, and care must be taken with those that are very toxic.
Keratin hair treatments
When the hair’s keratin has worn down, it is recommended to use treatments that can provide this protein in order to regain its strength and life. These treatments are intended to restore the health of the hair, making it look more hydrated and shiny. Many times these treatments are called “straightening”, but in reality it is a deep nutrition that restores the hydration of the hair, and therefore, makes it look smoother and silkier.
Keratin treatments have become very popular in recent years due to their effects, leaving hair silky without much effort. However, most of these products contain formalin or formaldehyde, a product that is harmful to the person receiving the treatment and the person who does it, and in some cases has been shown to be carcinogenic.
Keratin to straighten hair
The main effect of keratin on the hair is to repair and nourish to restore the protective layer of the hair. However, this treatment is associated with straightening the hair, and this is because the hair becomes stronger and more elastic, which is why it is often confused with a straightening.
Even so, there are various products based on formaldehyde or its derivatives that are used to change the chemical structure of the hair, and thus perform straightening; to which keratin has been added to help improve the appearance of the hair and thus achieve a very straight and shiny appearance.
Although these products may contain keratin, it is not the main ingredient, so it is not as healthy for the hair. Special care must be taken with their components, as some can be highly harmful and toxic.
Natural keratin for hair
Natural keratin treatments consist of providing the hair with keratin proteins that have animal origin (wool and feathers) or vegetable origin (rice, wheat, corn, soy), and do not have any formaldehyde or derivatives components. In this way, the hair is hydrated that will make it softer and shinier.
However, this product without formaldehyde is not effective for straightening and restructuring curly hair, as it is natural. In addition to this, there are other hair treatments with a function similar to that of keratin, these are: hair surgery and botox for hair. Both products can offer the same results, although care must be taken with the composition of these products and their correct application.
How is keratin applied?
It is important to note that it is more advisable to perform this treatment with professionals, who know the proper way of application. Hair keratin treatment is normally done in three steps:
Step 1: hair must be washed with purifying shampoo or residue remover. This shampoo is specially formulated to be able to eliminate all particles of dirt or other products in the hair cuticle and thus it can optimally receive the keratin product.
This is only used before starting the keratin treatment. Hair may look a bit dry after applying this. Rinses only with water and no conditioner is applied.
Step 2: application of the keratin itself. Hair should be dried until 80% of the moisture has been removed. With the help of a brush, the keratin concentrate should be applied all over the hair, lock by lock. Then, the product must be activated and sealed in the hair with the help of the iron. The heat of this will make the product penetrate the hair cuticle.
Hair will look strong and shiny. The product must remain on the hair for about three days so that it can absorb correctly and achieve better results. During those days, hair accessories should be avoided because they could generate unwanted waves in the hair shape.
Step 3: maintenance with salt-free and anti-frizz shampoo. After the period with the keratin applied, the hair should be rinsed with a shampoo that contains keratin protein and does not contain any type of salt (sodium chloride) in its composition, as this contributes to the duration of the treatment. The treatment can last 2 to 3 months depending on the care given to the hair and the use of a salt-free shampoo.
Advantages of keratin
- It works on all hair types.
- Reduces unwanted frizz and frizz.
- Helps tame very unruly curls on curly hair.
- The hair will be deeply hydrated.
- Changes in temperature will not affect the appearance of the hair as it will be protected and covered by a protective layer.
- It helps to notably restore hair that was mistreated by dyes, straightening, sun, chlorine, etc.
Disadvantages of keratin
- Treatment usually comes at a high price.
- The formaldehyde contained in smoothing keratins is harmful, especially in people with respiratory problems and allergies. It can also cause damage to the scalp.
- During the days when the product is applied, it cannot be washed, accessories cannot be used and you have to be very careful not to give the hair an unwanted shape.
- It should be carefully studied which hair it is applied to, since in some cases it can cause loss or loss of volume and thickness.
Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.