What is keratin?
You may have heard the word keratin before but not really know what it means, other than it has something to do with our hair, right? Keratin is a type of fibrous protein that is mainly found in our skin, hair, nails, in humans, as well as in hoofs, claws, feathers and fur in animals. This is an essential protein for all mammals and humans are no exception, as we rely on keratin for the thickness and density of hair and nails, which serve for protection and are a healthy part of our immune system.
Keratin is very important in the human body and has a role to play in the skin’s thickness, moisture retention and absorption as well as the elasticity of the skin. It also plays a role in the volume or density of our hair. While there are many biological reasons why we have evolved with a need for thick hair to protect our skin and our body from foreign substances, infections and disease, it has also evolved with its cosmetic appeal, and for this reason keratin is also very often used in volumizing treatments and hair thickening.
Hair thickening and volume
There are many ways that keratin can be applied as part of a hair thickening treatment. The goal of any of these treatments is to thicken the hair strands themselves by adding more of this fibrous protein to the hair structure, thus increasing volume for aesthetic reasons. There are also many products on the market that claim to thicken hair, or give the impression of thickening hair, such as hair sprays, volumizing shampoo and conditioner, clip-on hair extensions, permanent or semi-permanent hair extensions and even spray-on hair products. Most of these products only address the cosmetic or aesthetic goals of hair thickening, seeking to give the impression of thicker hair with more volume and density without addressing the condition of the hair strands.
Keratin and hair thickening
Keratin is the one substance that is contained in the hair structure itself and that can be increased or added through treatment or diet in order to add volume by modifying the density of the hair strand itself. Excessively thin hair could be the result of a health condition, genetic inheritance or even caused be conditions in the environment. It could also be related to dietary causes, which is why anyone who is serious about improving their hair density should also consider exploring environmental and dietary causes.
It is important to distinguish between different situations involving hair thinning. In some cases, the hair strands may be brittle, in other cases, the hair follicle may be weak and hair falls out more frequently or easily than the norm. In still other cases, the hair strands are simple thinner and give the appearance of less volume, and yet in other cases the amount of overall hair might be less than the norm, or simply less than the desired amount for fuller volume.
There can be many reasons why the hair strands might be thinner, the hair more brittle, overall volume reduced and even for bald spots where the skin of the scalp may show through areas of hair, including receding hairlines. As discussed above, some reasons involve our genetic background, such as bald spots, the thickness of hair and the aspect of hair follicles and strength.
Some medical conditions can influence any of these factors whether the condition of hair follicles, the quality of hair strands or the amount of hair and its thickness. Furthermore, some medications or treatments for a variety of health conditions can change any of these factors, as would age, environmental considerations such as prolonged exposure to pollution, or acute exposure to highly toxic materials. In all cases, it may be difficult to control all of these factors when it comes to thickening hair or strengthening hair follicles, hair strands or improving volume.
However, there are many treatment options available to help any individual with improving the overall volume of hair, whether by improving strength of hair follicles to promote retention of hair, strengthening the hair strands to avoid breaking, split ends and other effects of brittle hair that reduce the aspect of volume, or even volumizing the strands of hair to thicken overall.
While we cannot change our genetics, and may or may not be able to improve a health condition that is causing the hair to be thinner, there are things that can be done to improve diet, as well as treatments available, and none need go to the extreme of hair transplant, unless that is perhaps a last resort, or the desired course of action.
Before getting to surgical options and hair transplants, it is worth exploring dietary options that would improve keratin levels in the body overall. This is important because unlike many treatment options such as volumizing shampoos and conditioners or even hair transplants, improving keratin levels will address all aspects of hair thickening, from the skin of the scalp and hair follicles, to the strength of strands and their thickness.
Increasing keratin levels naturally
A diet that is adequate in protein will help increase keratin levels in the body, and fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C and vitamin B will improve absorption of keratin into the body, which will assist any efforts to thicken hair. There are also many supplements on the market that contain keratin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin B, folate and zinc, which all assist in absorbing and integrating keratin into the body and improving collagen production to support the effects of increasing keratin levels.
Other ways to benefit from keratin
There are some other ways to improve keratin levels in the hair, such as specialized shampoos and conditioners that go a step beyond volumizing and add keratin. There are also many treatments available to boost keratin, as well as specialized products on the market that exist specifically to improve keratin levels.
Regardless of what you choose to do to improve the volume and thickness of your hair, take the time to consult a physician or a specialist you trust to discuss any options you are not familiar with.