WHAT IS HYDROLYSED ALPHA-KERATIN AND CAN IT STIMULATE HAIR GROWTH?

Hydrolysed alpha-keratin is a liquid protein complex made up of low molecular weight peptides. This amino acid complex mimics the natural composition of alpha-keratin in the body and helps in strengthening the hair structure.

Topical application promotes hair growth by increasing the water content of the epidermis and inducing collagen synthesis around the hair follicle.

HYROLYSED ALPHA-KERATIN INCREASES DERMAL HYDRATION

The scalp has the highest rate of water loss than any other area of the body.  Hydrolysed alpha-keratin increases the water content of the epidermis by reducing transdermal water loss.  The water-hating nature of the amino acids that make up keratin reinforces the waterproof barrier of the outer skin layer of the scalp.  A decrease in water loss increases the depth of the hair follicle canal by increasing the volume of the intermediate skin layers by up to 70%.

When keratin cells grow and divide, they are continuously moving up the hair canal from the zone of differentiation into what is known as the zone of keratinisation.  Here the cells die and become a unit of keratinised tissue held together by only by disulphide bonds.

An increase in hydration and the length of the differentiation zone means not only do these water-hating amino acids bind together more tightly to escape the hydrated environment, but they also have a longer period to align themselves correctly.  This leads to an increase in the number of intermediate filaments within the keratin helix before the cell becomes keratinised tissue. Properly bound filaments build a thick and smooth hair fibre with high tensile strength resistant to breakage and damage.

Adequate hydration enables proteins and enzymes to function more efficiently. It also provides a more efficient medium to transport nutrients, hormones and waste between blood and lymphatic vessels.

HYDROLYSED ALPHA-KERATIN INDUCES COLLAGEN SYNTHESIS

Hydrolysed alpha-keratin increases the expression of extracellular matrix components and adhesion molecules that anchor the hair fibre.  The extra cellular matrix consists of: collagen, fibronectin, laminin, proteoglycans and polysaccharides.

This matrix surrounds the hair follicle providing mechanical support and controlling the flow of nutrients and signals to the cell.  An experimental study on topically applied hydrolysed alpha-keratin showed induction of collagen type IV and type VII collagens, both of which are major components of the dermal basement membrane.

The continuation of anagen (growth) phase is dependent on the cells in the hair bulb (root) maintaining anchorage with the dermal basement membrane.

HYDROLYSED ALPHA-KERATIN INCREASES AVAILABLE AMINO ACIDS

Alpha-keratin is a polypeptide chain high in hydrophobic (water-hating) amino acids.  The amino acids that make up alpha-keratin are alanine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, cysteine and phenylalanine.  A study in 2017, found 100% of participants with hair thinning were selectively deficient in some or all amino acids required to produce alpha keratin [2].

When a keratin cell within the hair follicle attempts to produce keratin but finds a reduced availability of the required amino acids, the production of keratin will slow down and eventually cease.  When keratin production is reduced, the hair fibre will emerge thinner and grow more slowly.  When keratin production is ceased all together, hair growth will stop, and the hair follicle will go into telogen (resting phase), and the cycle will start again.

THE FINAL WORD

Hydrolysed alpha-keratin is a powerful complex rich in the amino acids required for healthy hair growth.  Regular application of hydrolysed alpha-keratin will improve moisture retention and induction of collagen in the scalp resulting in smoother, thicker hair that grows for longer.

REFERENCES

  1. Denyer, J., Marsh, C. and Kirsner, R.S., 2015. Keratin gel in the management of Epidermolysis bullosa. Journal of wound care, 24(10), pp.446-450.
  2. Gowda, D., Premalatha, V. and Imtiyaz, D.B., 2017. Prevalence of nutritional deficiencies in hair loss among Indian participants: results of a Cross-sectional Study. International journal of trichology9(3), p.101.