Keratin: The Secret to Healthy, Beautiful Hair

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I want to share with you my story about how I learned of  the most critical building block for full, beautiful hair: keratin. A few years ago, my mother—a stunning woman who always had the most beautiful hair— was suddenly experiencing hair thinning and loss. During this time, I witnessed firsthand how experiencing hair loss is traumatic and can leave you feeling vulnerable, exposed, and perhaps even "less than." And as I watched the emotional toll it took on her, it empowered me to find a solution. 

Since then, I've been traveling the globe, meeting with leading researchers for a solution. My discovery? By ingesting the most critical building block for full, thick, beautiful hair, we can support a longer growth cycle and reduce the length of the shedding cycle, resulting in fuller, healthier hair with less hair loss. The key lies in a certain peptide required to facilitate this process—a peptide commonly known as keratin.

Now, many in the beauty industry have come to think of keratin as an ingredient in a topical hair application that comes with a negative connotation, but it’s time to change the way we think about this critical peptide. The truth of the matter is that there is a special ingestible form of keratin that does not harm your hair and is actually known to help prevent and even reverse hair loss—and it’s the ultimate beauty secret for thick, gorgeous hair. So, join me as I share this secret with you and provide surprising answers to the following:

  • What is keratin?
  • What is keratin used for?
  • What does keratin do for hair?
  • What are the benefits of using a quality keratin supplement?

Are you ready to unlock the secret to healthy, beautiful hair? Let’s dive in!

What Is Keratin?

Before we discuss how keratin benefits your hair, let’s start with the basic information you need to know: What is keratin, and what is keratin made out of?

Keratin is an insoluble protein primarily found in your epidermal tissues, such as your skin, nails, and hair. In fact, it makes up an astonishing 95 percent of the protein in your hair and nails! Simply put, keratin is the protein that promotes their strength, structure, and resilience to protect against damage and trauma. But that’s not all. This tough and fibrous keratin protein also forms the structural framework of the cells that line the surfaces of your organs, canals, and cavities. Interestingly, keratin comes from the Greek word for horn, as it’s found in other outer tissues, too, such as a rhino’s horn, sheep’s horn, and even various feathers, beaks, and claws.  

Its strength and resilience are the very reasons why using a topical keratin treatment is popular in the beauty industry. But these treatments can contain formaldehyde. As a result, they aren’t recommended to use as formaldehyde is a colorless gas that can be harmful when inhaled or absorbed by the skin. For example, Brazilian keratin treatments and Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy have been deemed dangerous by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, so formaldehyde-free treatments are recommended instead. Even so, research has shown that topical use of keratin isn’t as effective as supporting your beauty from the inside-out with ingestible keratin. And that’s important for many reasons.

So, let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of consuming keratin and then review the best ways to get more keratin into your diet and daily routine.

Top Keratin Benefits for Hair, Skin, Nails, & More

Overall, my favorite keratin benefit is the way it can make you feel. You see, consuming this powerful protein helps to improve your overall glow by helping you love what you see when you look in the mirror, as we all know how much skin, hair, and nails can have an effect on how we perceive our own personal beauty.

The confidence you feel, the strength you feel, and the inner glow that comes with your outer glow can’t be beat. That’s what I love most about ingestible keratin, and why I recommend not only using keratin for hairbenefits but for other things as well. Keep reading to learn about the top benefits of consuming keratin.

1. Supports hair growth and strength

While you now know that keratin is the primary strengthening protein in your hair and nails, you may be wondering this: What, specifically, does keratin do for hair, and is keratin good for hair like we’ve been led to believe?

Quite simply, keratin is up the foundation of your hair shaft. But, as we age, we experience a decline in the production of this valuable protein, leading to the deterioration of both your hair shaft’s stability and flexibility. The result? When you look in the mirror, you see hair that’s dryer, more prone to breakage, and even thinner than usual. And this new, less desirable-looking hair doesn’t stand a chance against your favorite products or styling tools.

Now, because it’s the very foundation of your hair, you will often find products marketed as a “keratin treatment” for hair or as a keratin shampoo or conditioner. But the truth is that these topical treatments don’t offer the same effects as ingestible keratin, which has been shown to reduce hair shedding by more than 40 percent!

Think of it this way: The average person has about 100,000 hair follicles on their head, with one to two hairs coming out of each follicle, and loses anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs each day. By extending the growth phase of hair and anchoring the follicles, keratin helps to support hair growth and strength, effectively potentially cutting your hair loss in half!

2. Promotes skin integrity and glow

You may be surprised to learn that keratin makes up the outermost layer of your skin, effectively acting as your biological raincoat. The strong and flexible fibers make your skin strong against tearing and penetration, and it’s what also makes your skin supple and flexible (because it also helps you retain the hydration needed to give your skin that glowing appearance we all love).

So, what happens to keratin in skin as we age? As I shared above, during the normal aging process, keratin production decreases, which can result in dryer, duller skin that often causes itching, irritation, and visible aging. Consuming keratin can help to counteract this loss because you’re providing the benefits of keratin from the inside-out—beginning at the cellular level. Protecting the integrity of your skin helps to lock in your natural hydration and promotes the natural glowing skin you can only get from maintaining proper internal health and optimal keratin levels.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that due to its ability to help stimulate cell growth, support collagen production, and promote skin integrity, keratin has also been found to support improved wound healing by improving the structure of regenerated tissue.

3. Helps strengthen nails

As noted above, keratin is also essential for strong, healthy nails. So, as this protein begins to decrease during the natural aging process, you may notice your nails becoming more brittle, discolored (turning yellow, gray, or appearing duller), and even beginning to split or crack open. But aging isn’t the only cause of keratin loss in nails.

Your nails can lose keratin for other reasons, including changes in your circulatory system (meaning nutrients may not be able to reach your nails to keep them nourished and healthy), exposure to chemicals and cosmetics, and repetitive cycles of wetting and drying, such as everyday handwashing or even just doing the dishes.

Fortunately, studies have shown that participants who took a highly soluble form of ingestible keratin experienced measurable improvements in the strength of their nails.

The Benefits of Taking a Keratin Supplement

One way to think about keratin treatment at home is through supplementation. In fact, survey of health professionals found that 66 percent of 300 dermatologists recommended dietary supplements to patients for true inside-out skin, hair, and nail health; and 79 percent reported personally using supplements.

So, why is taking a keratin supplement preferable to using a topical formaldehyde-free keratin treatment? As I shared above, in an effort to find a solution for not only my mother’s hair loss but for all others impacted by this confidence-destroying event, I’ve spent the last several years traveling the globe to meet with leading researchers in search of a solution.

These travels led me to New Zealand, where researchers have discovered a way to extract an ingredient known as Cynatine HNS from the luxuriously thick, healthy wool of sheep. Amazingly, Cynatine HNS is an ingredient that contains solubilized keratin in a highly bioavailable, peptide form. And this high bioavailability makes it capable of delivering keratin to our hair, skin, and nails. 

So, how effective is it? In one study, dermatologists gave 500 mg of keratin supplements containing Cynatine HNS to 50 women each day. These women were tested on measured hair loss, hair growth, hair strength, hair luster, and amino acid composition, as well as nail strength and overall appearance, compared to a placebo group.

The results showed:

  • 17 percent improvement in hair strength after 30 days
  • 39 percent improvement in hair strength after 60 days
  • 47 percent improvement in hair strength after 90 days
  • 80 percent had an improvement in nail strength, smoothness, and whiteness after 90 days 

Meanwhile, another study showed improvement in skin moisture, smoothness, and elasticity after 90 days of keratin, as well as an 11-percent decrease in wrinkle depth after 90 days.

Now, in most studies featuring prominent results, participants were given 500 mg daily or 250 mg twice daily because excess keratin can result in thick, rough, dry skin. So, when you’re sourcing your keratin supplement, pay special attention to both the primary active ingredient and amount featured in each capsule as well as additional supporting ingredients.

For example, NAOMI Keratin not only features 500 mg capsules of Cynatine HNS but also contains ingredients (such as biotin) known to support both the production and bioavailability of keratin, offering a dual-action approach to truly support healthy beauty from the inside out.

Foods That Boost Keratin

I highly recommend taking a quality keratin supplement because it can be very difficult to get truly bioavailable keratin from food, meaning there are no "keratin foods" you can eat to truly get all you need. That said, there are foods rich in certain nutrients known to support the synthesis of keratin in your body. So, when you’re at the grocery store, make sure to add the following nutrient-rich foods to your cart to help support the benefits of your keratin supplement.

1. Protein-rich foods

Eating protein-rich foods provide the amino acid building blocks required for the synthesis of different structural proteins in our body—and specifically keratin.

✓ Foods rich in protein: red meat, fish, yogurt, eggs, milk, nuts

2. Biotin-rich foods

Biotin is required to metabolize the amino acids required to build keratin; it also reinforces keratin’s nail- and hair-strengthening abilities.

✓ Foods rich in biotin: nuts, cauliflower, mushrooms, cooked egg yolks, salmon, avocado

3. Vitamin A-rich foods

The synthesis of keratin is dependent upon vitamin A. Note that vitamin A is fat soluble, meaning it absorbs better when consumed with healthy fats.

✓ Foods rich in vitamin A: Cooked greens (kale, collards, and spinach), broccoli, herring, liver

Note:  

4. Vitamin D-rich foods

Keratin synthesis is also dependent upon vitamin D, which regulates the development and growth of keratinocytes (the most common type of skin cell).

Foods rich in vitamin D: tuna, salmon, raw milk, mushrooms, eggs

5. Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods

Essential fatty acids regulate nearly every process in your body, including keratin production. Plus, they also help to offset the negative effects of stress on your hair and skin.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, mackerel, tuna, nuts

6. Zinc-rich foods

Keratin requires zinc for proper synthesis. Additionally, zinc helps to boost collagen production and skin elasticity. Conversely, a zinc deficiency can result in hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, and fatigue.

✓ Foods rich in zinc: red meat, crab, almonds, milk, cheese, dark chocolate

In Summary:

    • Keratin is an insoluble protein that is essential for optimal strength and structure for your hair, nails, and skin. We lose keratin as we age, which can lead to damage to those structures.

    • While a variety of foods can help boost the function of keratin, taking a high-quality keratin supplementation featuring the highly soluble ingredient Cynatine HNS has been shown to help improve the health and strength of hair, skin, and nails.

    • Specifically, taking NAOMI Keratin for just 90 days has been shown to reduce hair loss by 47 percent and improve nail health by 80 percent!

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