Spreading Clean Beauty

Collagen vs. keratin: differences and their impact on hair care

Among informed consumers, hair care is no longer about choosing the right type of product: it’s important to understand it. This is precisely the point where learning about collagen vs. keratin lies. 

Collagen and keratin are both proteins that can be found in multiple human tissues, remaining crucial for the very foundations of the human body. There are a number of issues that can arise when it comes to collagen and keratin and, conversely, a number of treatments that can target collagen and keratin for better skin and hair care.

Knowing about collagen vs. keratin is also key when it comes to preventative approaches to hair care. The point is not only to address existing issues, but also to support long-term hair health and vitality. 

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In the current context, the focus on ingredients and science-backed claims means brands need to rethink their hair care strategies. An informative approach towards collagen vs. keratin could make a difference in the next generation of hair care products. 

There is an uncontested growing demand for products that target collagen and/or keratin concerns. But what exactly are the differences between these elements and how are companies working to integrate this knowledge in the face of evolving consumer preferences? An innovative, seaweed-based ingredient can provide some answers.

Collagen vs. Keratin: the definitions

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein involved in forming connective tissues in the body, such as skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage. In fact, it’s the most abundant structural protein in animals. 

Synthesized by fibroblast cells, collagen is known to fracture with age, leading to aging signs such as sagging skin and wrinkles. 

In the context of hair care, collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining hair strength, structure, and elasticity. It’s a natural component of the hair shaft (along with keratin) and its goal is to  provide structural support to the hair follicles, ensuring that they remain strong and resilient.

Aging or certain types of hair damage (such as heat styling, chemical treatments, or environmental stressors) can lower natural levels of collagen in hair, leading to dryness, brittleness, and breakage. 

This is precisely where hair care products incorporating collagen come in, as a vital ingredient for restoring the structural integrity of hair.

What is keratin?

Keratin is a fibrous protein which constitutes much of the hair, skin and nails, and which can also be found in internal organs and glands. Made from keratinocytes, it exists in alpha or beta forms. 

When it comes to hair care, keratin plays a crucial role in hair shafts, as it’s responsible for providing strength, structure, and protection. This is because hair cuticles (that is, the outer layer of hair) are primarily composed of keratin proteins, which act as a protective barrier against stressors (including heat, styling, UV radiation…).

Damage through chemical treatments or aging can deplete natural levels of keratin, and in turn lead to dryness, frizz, breakage, and dullness. In light of such issues, keratin treatments aim at restoring and strengthening hair, leading to stronger and smoother.

Similarities and differences of collagen vs. keratin

When comparing collagen vs. keratin, there are many similarities to be found:

  • They are proteins and are found abundantly in human tissues
  • Both are biopolymers made from amino acids
  • They both play crucial structural roles in the human body
  • Both present extensive industrial uses

However, here are the key differences when looking at collagen vs. keratin: 

  • Collagen is primarily involved in providing structural support; keratin serves a protective function
  • Collagen is synthesized by fibroblast cells; keratin derives from keratinocytes
  • Collagen is involved in connective tissues; keratin is found in skin, hair and nails, mainly

Collagen vs. keratin applied to hair care

The consequences of these differences between collagen vs. keratin are multiple when looking at hair care applications. 

On the one hand, low collagen concentrations can make hair appear lifeless and brittle, as well as making it potentially more prone to breakage and hair loss. As such, hydrolyzed collagen is incorporated into hair care treatments in order to assist in rebuilding the hair’s lost protein. This, in turn, can have an impact on hair that is healthier, presents longer growth periods and looks fuller. 

Just like argan oil, collagen is an excellent choice to promote healthy moisture levels so that strength and elasticity are maintained.

Keratin, on the other hand, is critical for the structural components in hair. Its role in protecting the cuticle and the hair’s inner core means that keratin depletion (caused by heat damage, chemicals or other environmental factors) might lead to dull, dry or frizzy hair. 

Through incorporating keratin hair care treatments, it’s possible to fill in keratin cracks along damaged areas in the hair shaft. This means the products work to heal hair from inside out, while also coating the outer layer of hair, forming a shield. The result is hair that recovers lost luster and shine, while increasing healthy moisture levels. 

To sum up when looking at collagen vs. keratin from a hair care perspective: 

  • Collagen aids in rebuilding lost protein for fuller and healthier hair growth
  • Keratin replenishes and protects the hair, restoring its luster and shine

The natural, seaweed-based ingredient targeting collagen and keratin

As consumers look for hair care formulas that target hair health from an “inside out” perspective, the questions around collagen vs. keratin have become increasingly relevant. This trend coexists with other debates, such as the hunt for vegan alternatives to keratin.

In this context, Provital’s innovative approach to plant-based cosmetic ingredients has provided yet another crucial development. Meet Densinaria™, an extract derived from the Palmaria palmata seaweed that addresses collagen vs. keratin interest in the hair care segment.

Rich in calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, iodine and trace elements, it presents unique recognized properties for hair health. More specifically to the point of this article, its content in Vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen, thus aiming at improving hair strength and elasticity.

What’s more, its arginine content makes Densinaria™ a strong candidate for those looking for a keratin hair care treatment. This is because arginine is a key component of alpha-keratin, which is present in 90% of human hair. At the same time, arginine is able to penetrate both the cuticle and the cortex of the hair fiber, and presents a strong affinity towards hair, all of which suggests that it may help to repair the hair internally, thereby reducing hair breakage.

Densinaria™ thus becomes a key ingredient for comprehensive hair care, being able to both target hair volume and strength from cortex to cuticle through the use of an innovative, nutritious seaweed.

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