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What Is Keratin Shampoo?

A bottle of keratin shampoo.
Keratin shampoo strengthens the hair as it cleanses.
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  • Originally Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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Keratin shampoo is a hair care product designed to strengthen hair as it cleans. Manufacturers say that it tames frizz and makes hair less prone to breakage. Those in the hair care industry are divided about whether it is truly effective, acknowledging that, if it does work, results might take time. It is supposed to work for most hair types but is promoted heavily for those with curly or frizzy locks. Depending on the exact formulation, this type of hair cleaner might pose some health risks.

About Keratin

Keratin is a protein that occurs naturally in the body, not only in hair, but also in skin and nails. Made by cells called keratinocytes, it is made up of amino acids. The exact level of these amino acids is what makes the substance hard, as in an animal hoof, or soft and pliable, as in hair.

When keratinocytes form daughter cells, those cells quickly push the parent cells up and out of the way. The parent cells eventually die as a result. This process, called keratinization, is what creates the hair people see. To get a little more specific, the protein forms three major layers: the outer cuticle, the middle cortex and the inner medulla. The outer cuticle is made up of overlapping scales that, if damaged or lifted up too high, leave the cortex susceptible to loss of strength and shape.

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Keratin is extremely strong. If hair is brittle, it is often because damage from environmental factors, friction or chemical agents has broken down or removed some of it. The amount in a hair strand decreases naturally over time, so some manufacturers say that putting some back with a shampoo is a good idea.

Product Definition

Keratin shampoo is a hair cleaning product that has a common protein added to it. Manufacturers assert that it will make the cortex stronger. They also say it will coat the cuticle, adding protection to the cortex. The result is sleeker hair that is less prone to frizzing and breaking.

Effectiveness

Experts in the hair care industry are divided about whether these shampoos are as effective as manufacturers claim they are. Some stylists say that if a person already has had another protein treatment, the shampoos can keep the effects from fading quite so fast. They assert that, beyond this, the shampoos might not help very much. Others claim that the keratin takes time to build up on the hair and that the reason people sometimes dismiss the shampoos is that they don’t get the immediate results they want.

To bond with a person’s natural hair well, the keratin has to have the same form and sequence of the hair. People who buy the shampoos therefore have to pay attention to the source of the protein. Wool is a common source that is said to be similar to human hair.

The amount of damage a person’s hair already has also effects how well the products work. Results depend on the other ingredients within the shampoo, as well. Some of those ingredients, such as sulfates, potentially can cause further damage to the hair or affect how well the keratin bonds with the hair strands.

Hair Type

Most types of hair can be improved by using keratin shampoo, but it can particularly help frizzy, curly or dry hair. The added protein helps prevent moisture from being lost from the inner part of the hair strand. It also keeps too much moisture from getting in. With better moisture regulation, the hair frizzes less and is less brittle. People with curly hair are especially prone to dryness and frizz because they have hair in which the overlapping sections of cuticle are very open, making it easy for water to move in and out.

People who have very fine, straight hair often struggle with breaking strands, because their hair shafts do not have enough circumference or diameter to resist snapping. These individuals sometimes find that these types of shampoos can build up the strength of the hair so it doesn’t break as much. The problem is that fine hair is very easily weighed down. The more protein a person adds to their hair, the heavier it is. This can make it appear flat and lifeless.

Dangers

Some treatments, including certain brands of shampoos, contain substances such as methylene glycol and formalin. When exposed to heat, such as that from hot water or a hair dryer, these become formaldehyde gas. This substance is a known carcinogen, meaning that it has been linked to cases of cancer. Manufacturers include these ingredients because the formaldehyde helps the protein bond more permanently to the hair shaft, but they pose a significant health risk. For this reason, people who want to use these products need to be proactive about reading labels and avoiding ones that contain or indirectly produce formaldehyde.

Allergic reactions can occur while using these shampoos. Some of these reactions include severe itching or a rash the covers the scalp. If a person has not used these products before, it is best to apply a very small amount to the skin in one area first to determine if a reaction will happen.

Hair loss is sometimes reported when using these hair cleaners. They can build up to the point where the hair is less flexible than normal. The strands break as a result. This problem is temporary, as the hair follicles are still healthy.

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Discuss this Article

anon967468
Post 17

I've used tons of keratin products in the past (I was a bleached blonde), and now I'm using the Sauve Keratin Infusion shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair. I've never suffered any hair loss. In fact, I love keratin products for my hair! It's actually helped mine grow out faster since it's stronger and doesn't require such frequent trims. I guess everyone's different.

anon958605
Post 16

I started using the Syoss keratin shampoo and conditioner. My hair is just shedding all over my parents' carpet, clogging the drain and multiple strands all over my hands as I run through my long hair. Hopefully there will be improvement now that I tossed them in the trash!

anon943704
Post 15

Did anyone with hair loss do to keratin shampoo see regrowth after they stopped using it?

anon939984
Post 14

I would definitely not recommend a keratin shampoo or conditioner to anybody who wants to have a full head of hair. I decided to try the Tres Semme keratin shampoo hair shampoo, mask and conditioner. Big mistake.

The keratin products were so drying and that`s not the worst part. It left my hair tangled like wet mop and it was a struggle to comb and dry my hair.

At the end, I was left with clumps of hair in my hand and all over the floor. Never have I experienced such hair loss before.

anon345212
Post 13

If you have thin, fine hair that is color treated, do not use any shampoo or conditioner with keratin! My colorist used a keratin shampoo and conditioner after highlighting my hair. For the next 30 days, I lost hair by the handful every time I shampooed! And for those of us that have fine thin hair (and not balding hair, just fine and thin) losing hair is devastating! I cannot believe how much breakage I have had.

My colorist is now asking me to take supplements to "help" with hair loss that possibly "came from too much stress in my life". The stress only came in after holding so much hair in my hands after shampooing. What a total regret! And what's worse, my colorist didn't inform me of what keratin is or does or any possible side effects that it could have on thin fine hair. He just casually mentioned as he was finishing the rinse that he had used keratin shampoo. He said it would help strengthen my hair. What crap! What little bit of length that I had finally grown out over the past two years is now just a big broken mess. My sides and top are so thin that you can see my scalp! I have even started wearing some lightweight clip-in hair pieces to try and help cover my scalp.

I just wish I had known of keratin before. Just remember: don't use keratin if you have thin, fine hair.

anon332436
Post 12

The results are not guaranteed. Do you just take this as you will or should get advice from a medical practitioner?

anon296839
Post 10

I bought and used "It's a Ten" plus keratin and the conditioner with keratin. I spent a fortune last week. I had a lot of hair loss all week and an itchy scalp. Does this stuff have formaldehyde by another name in it?

anon295870
Post 9

I am losing all my hair because of the Keratin hair straightening treatment. I'm going through a complete nightmare. I had done this multiple times and now it's taken its toll and I'm losing tons of hair daily.

anon290153
Post 7

How much Keratin should be in shampoo and conditioner? I have heard of over 'keratinising' hair from there being too much in the products. How much is too much?

SmithCarvy
Post 6

I also use a Keratin shampoo that contains amino acids which helps produce shiny, healthier hair.

LauraStylist
Post 5

I'm using a keratin shampoo called Cocoa Keratin Daily Shampoo. It's really doing what they say it does here! Very good shampoo.

FirstViolin
Post 3

What exactly is a shampoo for keratin treated hair? I want to get one of those hard-core keratin hair treatments at my salon, but I read that after you do that you have to use a special kind of shampoo for like a week afterwards. Is there a specific kind of shampoo that is made for keratin treated hair, or do I just need to get a moisturizing one, or what?

Cheers!

naturesgurl3
Post 2

Has anybody ever used Coppola keratin shampoo? I've been looking for a really good home keratin shampoo and conditioner and somebody recommended that one to me.

I'm actually looking for one that I can use everyday, because I really want my hair to be smoother and shinier -- right now it's just a mess.

I've also heard that a rusk keratin shampoo is good -- what is this, and should I try it?

I'd really appreciate some informed feedback -- thank you!

EarlyForest
Post 1

I am such a fan of keratin shampoo! I have curly hair that tends to get frizzy and wild, so I used to go to salons to get keratin hair treatment shampoos.

However, those things are expensive, especially if you do them regularly.

So I changed to a Brazilian keratin smoothing shampoo, which works really well. Of course, I still have to go in about once every six months to get a smoothing treatment, but finding a home shampoo with keratin was seriously good for my wallet.

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