Keratin is a protein in our bodies that supports the structure of skin, nails, and hair, but a poor diet or simply getting older leads to lower levels. The result can be dry and wrinkled skin, brittle nails, and more fragile or thinning hair. Keratin has been an ingredient in hair products for many years, and more recently it became available in supplements to boost levels—and beauty—from within.
Years of research led to a special process to make keratin absorbable in supplements. This form of keratin, called Cynatine HNS is now found in many beauty formulas, and has been shown to improve the health and appearance of skin, hair, and nails.
To test out the effects of keratin on skin, researchers in Salt Lake City, compared the results of 500 mg daily of a Cynatine HNS keratin supplement with a placebo among a group of 50 women. The study, published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, measured skin moisture, elasticity, wrinkling, and overall appearance. After 90 days of daily use, women taking keratin showed significant improvement.
In another study, published in The Scientific World Journal, researchers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia collaborated to test the same keratin supplement for effects on hair and nails in a group of 50 women. They measured hair loss, hair growth, hair strength, hair luster, and amino acid composition, as well as nail strength and appearance. Compared to a placebo, keratin produced significant improvements in both hair and nails.
One measure was a hair-pull test, measuring how many hairs were lost on pulling. Among those taking keratin, there was a 16.9 percent improvement after 30 days, 38.9 percent improvement after 60 days, and 46.6 percent improvement after 90 days. Nail characteristics that were tested and showed significant improvements included hard/soft, resistant/fragile, broken/not broken, rough/smooth, and yellowish/white. All tests were carried out by licensed dermatologists.
Did you know...
A form of keratin called Cynatine HNS is now found in many beauty formulas for hair, skin, and nails.
Beauty Supplement Details
In both of the above studies, the daily supplement tested contained 500 mg of Cynatine HNS keratin plus 15 mg zinc, 1.65 mg copper, 18 mg vitamin B3 (niacin), 13.68 mg vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), 2 mg vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and 300 mcg vitamin B8 (biotin). Combinations like these are available in multiples brands of supplements. Some also contain vitamin C and other nutrients known to support keratin production and healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Keratin and Joints
A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements tested a slightly different form of keratin, called Cynatine FLX, for osteoarthritis. Among a group of 50 men and women, 500 mg of the supplement daily for 60 days was twice as effective as a placebo in reducing pain and joint stiffness.
Beware Toxic Hair Straighteners
Keratin is an ingredient in many popular hair-straightening salon treatments such as the Brazilian Blowout, but these are quite different from keratin in supplements and natural hair-care products. Since keratin is a substance naturally found in the human body, it’s not toxic. But in addition to keratin, salon-style hair-straightening products may contain or release formaldehyde, and there are concerns about their safety, especially for hair stylists who may often be exposed to chemical fumes while straightening clients’ hair. Although such straighteners are sometimes referred to as “keratin treatments,” they should not be confused with naturally nontoxic keratin.