Keratin – Ingredient Highlight

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Keratin is often touted as a very desirable ingredient in shampoos and conditioners, and is even offered as a professional treatment at salons.  But what is keratin, and what effect does it have on hair?

What is Keratin?

Keratin is a structural, protective protein in the cortex (inner core of the hair) that helps give hair strength and acts as an external protective protein in the cuticle (outer layer of the hair). When hair is damaged by chemicals and dyes, by styling and daily blow drying, or even by environmental factors such as pollution or sun exposure, keratin is depleted. A lack of keratin can cause hair to become porous, frizzy, and susceptible to additional damage. When hair becomes damaged and more porous it absorbs moisture from the air causing the cuticle to swell and produce frizz. Adding hydrolyzed keratin to hair care formulas restores luster, body, and manageability to hair. To put it simply, keratin is the best answer to keeping frizziness away!

Formulating with Keratin

Using keratin in your hair care formulations is surprisingly easy.  Hydrolyzed keratin from Essential is an amber, water-soluble liquid. When formulating, you simply add hydrolyzed keratin to the water phase of your formulation. The recommended usage rate is 1% -5%. Try experimenting with equal amounts of hydrolyzed keratin and glycolic acid solution. Glycolic acid penetrates the hair shaft and boosts the stability of keratin helping to maximize that smooth, sleek look especially when used with heat from a hair dryer and straightening iron. In fact, many salons are now offering keratin treatments with these two ingredients in place of the old brazillian blowouts. The results are essentially the same without the harmful effects of aldehydes! Not ready to formulate from scratch? No problem! Check out these easy-to-make shampoo and conditioner formulas! Try the conditioner as a leave-on masque for an extra deep-conditioning treatment.

Deep Cleansing Natural Hair Shampoo

The activated charcoal in this Deep Cleansing Natural Hair Shampoo helps wash away residue from styling products while the marula oil, keratin, and benzoin resin help to strengthen hair, condition the scalp and draw in moisture.


½ Gallon               94%       Vital Skin Face & Body Wash
2 ½ oz                    3%         Keratin Protein 
1 ½ oz                    2.3%      Marula Oil
½ oz                       0.7%      Benzoin Resin


  1. Add ½ Gallon Vital Skin Face & Body Wash to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 ½ oz keratin
  3. Add 1 ½ oz marula oil
  4. Add ½ oz benzoin resin
  5. Mix well with stick blender or whisk
  6. Pour into bottles or back into original ½ gallon container and enjoy!

Keratin Natural Hair Conditioner

Keeping frizzy hair away is the main goal of this formulation. The action of the keratin combined with glycolic acid helps hair to be smooth and manageable, marula and avocado oil add nourishment, and konjac adds that silky feeling. All of these amazing ingredients combine in the Basic Conditioner base for a deep conditioning, custom conditioner!


½ Gallon               81%        Basic Conditioner

2 ½ oz                    4%          Keratin Protein
2 ½ oz                    4%          Glycolic Acid Solution
2 oz                        3%          Marula Oil
2 oz                        3%          Avocado Oil
1 oz                        1%          Konjac Powder


  1. Gently heat using stove top or microwave ½ Gallon Basic Conditioner to 180F and remove from heat.
  2. In a separate container, combine 2 ½ oz keratin and 2 ½ oz glycolic acid solution
  3. Add the keratin and glycolic mixture to the heated Basic Conditioner while mixing with a stick blender or high shear mixer until fully blended.
  4. Add 2 oz marula oil and 2 oz avocado oil and continue mixing.
  5. Slowly add 1oz konjac powder by sprinkling into mixture while continuously mixing with stick blender or high shear mixer.
  6. Mix until all ingredients are well-blended.
  7. Once the conditioner has cooled to room temperature, pour into bottles or back into original ½ gallon container and enjoy!
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5 years ago

Can this keep the hair smooth if used with a 350-400 degrees flat iron. Like the keratin treatments

5 years ago

Question: What is the approximate pH range of the Keratin Natural Hair Conditioner formulation?
I am excited to learn about the action of keratin in combo with glycolic acid. I will certainly try your formulation.

3 years ago

How do I add this to castor oil?