There has been a lot of buzz about keratin in the hair loss industry lately. It’s been touted as a miracle product, able to smooth curls and frizz whilst adding body and shine. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
The advertising and marketing of some hair products would have us believe that the keratin used in hair products like keratin hair fibres, keratin smoothing treatments and keratin shampoos/conditioners is the same ‘keratin’ that makes up our hair and nails.
Whilst this is almost true, and without getting too technical, keratin is actually a family of fibrous structural proteins and humans have 54 functioning keratin genes. Only some of these keratin genes are found in human hair and they are not likely to be the same keratins found in hair products.
As well as being present in human hair, keratin is also found throughout the animal kingdom in wool, horns, feathers, claws and hooves. It is from these sources that most keratin hair products synthesise their keratin. So whilst you may believe that you are buying something that closely resembles or imitates human hair, you are likely to be buying animal products.
I’m not a vegetarian so does this really matter?
Well that depends. Synthesising keratin from animal parts makes keratin an ‘animal protein’ which means it naturally contains a large amount of bacteria. In order to turn the animal protein into a safe cosmetic product, a significant amount of bactericides and preservatives are required.
Are all keratin hair products made from animal protein?
No, not all of them, but most of them. Unfortunately, the products which are not made from animal protein aren’t any healthier. The other way to ‘make keratin’ is to mix chemicals to imitate the structure of the forms of keratin found in human hair. These types of ‘keratin’ products are purely chemical concoctions rather than natural products.
But are keratin hair products really harmful?
It’s a good idea to mention to your doctor that you are using keratin hair products if you notice any changes in your health whilst using them. If you read some of the hair loss forums you will see some people reporting side effects such as breathing difficulties, skin and eye irritations and even coma – but these are extremely rare. The main chemicals to watch out for in keratin products are ammonium chloride and formaldehyde. Both are commonly used in keratin hair products and both are known to be harmful even in small quantities to some people.
Is there a way to just boost my natural keratin stores?
As keratin is a protein, you may find that increasing the protein in your diet may assist in preventing or slowing hair loss. Recent studies have suggested that women are not eating enough protein and since your body needs protein to make hair strong, a lack of it may be contributing to fine, thin or thinning hair.
I use keratin hair fibres, are there any alternatives?
Sure! There are a few companies making hair fibres from cotton, rather than keratin. Since cotton fibres are plant based, rather than animal based, they don’t require any chemicals so should be safe even for sensitive people. Most online reviews suggest that the cotton products have more positives than just the health and environmental benefits too so you may find you prefer them anyway.
You will find BoostnBlend hair fibres for women are made from 100% natural cotton without a keratin hair fibre in sight.