Keratin is a fibrous protein. It is present in our body and in other living series. In the cosmetics industry, it is commonly used in hair care products, as it helps to strengthen, soften and improve the appearance of the hair fiber.
These proteins are known for their role in the construction and maintenance of the structure of various body tissues. It is characterized by being a protein insoluble in water and resistant to chemical decomposition and enzymatic degradation. This makes it an essential component for the integrity and protection of hard tissues such as nails, feathers and horns of animals, as well as for the structure and strength of human hair.
Benefits of keratin
At the esthetic level, keratin offers numerous benefits for the skin, nails and hair. Some of the most important are the following:
- Strengthens hair. By applying keratin topically or incorporating it into hair treatments, we can reduce hair breakage and split ends, improve elasticity and strength, and promote healthy-looking, shiny hair.
- Improved nail appearance. The use of products containing keratin can help strengthen brittle nails, prevent flaking and promote healthier growth.
- Skin protection. As it is present in the epidermis, it helps maintain a protective barrier against external factors such as free radicals, pollution and UV rays. This can also lead to increased hydration.
- Softness and elasticity. By stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, proteins that provide firmness and suppleness to the skin, keratin can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
- Repair and reconstruction. By providing essential proteins and amino acids, it can support cell regeneration and wound healing, promoting the recovery of damaged skin and hair.
How is keratin obtained?
Keratin is generally obtained from two main sources:
- Animal keratin. A common source of keratin is the hair and feathers of animals, such as sheep, cows or chickens. These materials undergo an extraction and purification process to obtain the keratin. Often, by-products from the food industry are used to avoid waste.
- Vegetable keratin. Vegetable keratin is an alternative to animal keratin and is obtained from vegetable sources such as corn, soy or wheat. Through biochemical processes, peptides and amino acids are extracted from these plant sources to obtain a form similar to animal keratin.
Once the keratin is obtained, it is processed and used in cosmetic products such as shampoos, conditioners, hair treatments, masks, among others. These products help restore and strengthen the hair structure, improving the appearance and health of the hair.
In addition, in recent years, the development of synthetic keratins, which are produced in the laboratory instead of using animal or vegetable sources, has grown. These synthetic keratins seek to replicate the properties and benefits of natural keratin in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Which organ produces keratin?
Keratin is produced in keratinocytes, which are the main cells of the epithelium, the tissue that lines the skin, nails and hair. These specialized cells synthesize and accumulate keratin within themselves as they mature. As keratinized cells move to the surface of the skin or harden to form nails and hair, keratin accumulates and forms a tough protective layer.
In the skin, keratinocytes are found in the outermost layer of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum. These cells are constantly renewed by a cell renewal process called keratinization. During this process, keratinized cells are gradually shed from the surface of the skin and are replaced by new keratinized cells that form in the lower layers.
In the case of hair and nails, keratinocytes are found in the roots of the hair follicle and in the nail matrix, respectively. As keratinocytes divide and mature, they produce keratin, which then accumulates and forms visible hair and nails.
What foods contain keratin?
There are no foods that provide keratin directly, since this protein is broken down during the digestive process into its basic components, the amino acids.
Thus, to produce keratin in the body, it is necessary to ingest nutrients that support protein synthesis in general. Some foods rich in amino acids and essential nutrients that favor keratin production are:
- Animal proteins such as lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood. In addition, they are also rich in zinc and iron, important minerals for healthy hair and nails.
- Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein, in addition to containing B vitamins, vitamin D, biotin and other nutrients that contribute to healthy hair and nails.
- Legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas, as well as soy products, such as tofu and tempeh, are vegetable sources of protein. Although they do not contain keratin directly, they are rich in amino acids necessary for protein synthesis and can be part of a balanced diet.
- A balanced diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and antioxidants essential for overall health, including healthy skin and hair. Some recommended choices include spinach, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and berries.
- Walnuts, almonds, chia seeds and flax seeds are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals that can support hair and nail health.
Commitment to quality
This text on keratin has been prepared by professional editors. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.
At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. Y a actualizarla o corregirla en cuanto haya nuevos conocimientos.
Among others, we have used the following sources:
- Basit A, Asghar F, Sadaf S, Akhtar MW. «Health improvement of human hair and their reshaping using recombinant keratin K31» en Biotechnol Rep (Amst). 2018 Oct 24;20:e00288. doi: 10.1016/j.btre.2018.e00288.