Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 24th Sep 2020

All About Using a Keratin Shampoo - Treatment and Benefits

All About Using a Keratin Shampoo

Hair Care products are often marketed as ‘keratin-infused’ or ‘with the power of keratin,’ be it shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, hair serums, styling creams, or even keratin ‘hair smoothening’ treatments.

The average consumers are made to believe that keratin is one magic ingredient that has the power to resolve all their hair woes - making them strong, glossy, and frizz-free.

But how effective is keratin for enhancing our mane aesthetics? As always, we are here to leave you more aware as a consumer about the ingredients you use in our beauty regime, whether they are worth your time and money.

Today we dive deep into the world of the ‘Haute’ keratin. 


Keratin is the fibrous structural protein that makes up our hair, nails and also skin. Since it is such an essential building block of these parts, it is a general belief that keratin supplements and topical application will enhance the overall hair, skin and nail health.  

What Are Keratin Shampoos? 

Shampoos formulated with keratin contrary to keratin smoothing treatments in the salon are nearly not as effective. When it comes to shampoos, the actives stay on the hair only for a short span, and within that time limit, they need to penetrate into the hair cortex. For this to happen, the formulation needs to up to the mark and molecules of the actives need to be of a suitable size to penetrate quicker.

Keratin containing shampoos will enhance longevity and help maintain Keratin Treatments. Also, shampoos generally contain cleansing agents, that is, sulphates. Although sulfates are not the devil (mild sulfates do exist), the concentration in the formulation is really important to keep the natural oil balance in the scalp and not strip away everything.

How is dehydrated hair going to benefit from the low level of keratin present in the shampoo otherwise? 

The Truth About Keratin Complex

Keratin is a natural protein found in humans and animals. But for industrial-grade keratin, the one used for making hair products and cosmetics likewise is sourced from animals, especially from the slaughterhouse and poultry farm. From feathers and hoofs horn, wool, fur etc. Plants do not produce ‘keratin,’ but it can be synthesized from amino acids extracted from plants for industrial use. Such keratin is labeled as ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-derived’ keratin.

The source of keratin is of utmost importance for it to be effective for topical application. Keratin derived from horns and hooves becomes ‘denaturalized’ in the process, that is, is no longer effective or beneficial for hair, nails and skin treatment. Keratin derived from sheep’s wool, frequently termed as ‘bio-active’ keratin, is 91% homologous (biologically similar), and since it is still functional after the extraction process, it interacts very well with human hair and skin.

Therefore the popular myth that Keratin is always natural is debunked right there. But just because something in skin/hair care is not natural or organic, it does not mean that it has to be a nasty ingredient. 

Claimed Benefits Of Topical Keratin Products

Any Keratin shampoo in the market claims and may also provide some of the following benefits: 

  • Smooth, Frizz-Free Hair 
  • Added Lustre
  • Stronger Mane
  • Repairs Damage (oxidative stress, chemically treated, heat styled) 

From the facts mentioned above, you are smarter than to believe these marketing gimmicks blindly. Do not expect a shampoo containing keratin complex to transform your hair magically. That won't happen. 

Keratin Treatments - An Overview

Salon Keratin Treatments instantly gives the appearance of glossy, smooth and frizz-free hair, as the keratin coats the hair cuticle like wax and is later sealed in with heat. But the result is not permanent and several treatment creams include hair straightening ingredients like formaldehyde (toxic) that break the hair bond (of textured hair) and leave them straight.

If you consider getting a keratin treatment, try to go for formaldehyde-free or safer alternatives like glyoxylic acid. It is important to understand that more keratin does not necessarily mean better hair because hair can also absorb a certain amount of keratin. Any excess amount will clog the hair follicles and thus make the hair dull and lackluster. Too much protein is as bad as not enough of it. 

Why Use External Keratin? 

You might be pondering that if hair and skin have already keratin in them, why do we need to add it externally through products?

The answer is to fill the voids, as dramatic as it may sound. Oxidative stress and chemical treatments damage the keratin structure leaving the hair dull, brittle, and dry. 

How To Achieve Healthy Hair?

Since it is clear that keratin shampoos are not effective and keratin treatments come with side effects, what other ingredients do you choose for achieving smooth, glossy, frizz-free and healthy hair? The answer is not just a combination of ingredients, but also inculcating healthy hair habits

Hero Ingredients For Hair

  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is a great ingredient when it comes to your hair health. It enhances scalp health by forming a protective barrier, promotes hair growth, nourishes the scalp which yields healthy hair and also hydrates the hair. 
  • Panthenol: Panthenol is technically an alcohol of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and is also known as Pro-Vitamin B5 or dexpanthenol. It seals moisture in the hair strands being an emollient and draws moisture due to its humectant properties. Apart from this, it also penetrates deep into the hair cortex, repairs cuticles, smoothes hair, tames frizziness, and imparts shine. 
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera gel is one versatile product because of its multitude of benefits for the hair, skin, and overall body health. It hydrates the hair, but it also protects the hair being rich in antioxidants and helps repair and nourish the hair and scalp.  
  • Argan Oil: Argan oil is a gold standard when it comes to deeply condition the hair, quenching the thirst of each strand, and leaving you with glossy tresses. Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil deeply penetrates the hair cortex as it is identical to the natural sebum we produce. It deeply conditions the hair making it smooth, maintains the scalp’s pH, controls dandruff, stimulates hair growth, and repairs damage induced from heat styling. 
  • Antioxidants: Oxidative stress (excess of free radicals in the body) causes the hair to lose its vibrance and become dull, dry, and start graying. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and thereby help protect and repair the hair.  

Healthy Hair Habits

  • Take lukewarm showers as opposed to hot showers.
  • Eat a balanced diet, and make sure you get all the essential vitamins like A, B complex, C, D, E, and minerals like iron, zinc, selenium for healthy hair from within.
  • Include Omega 3-Fatty Acids in your diet - whether from natural sources like salmon, mackerel, flax seeds, etc. or capsule supplements. 
  • Include antioxidant-rich foods like berries, green leafy vegetables for combating oxidative stress. 
  • Your hair too needs TLC and food like your skin, even though it produces its own sebum. Therefore oil massage at least once or twice a week and also use a deep conditioning hair mask.
  • Use shampoos with mild sulfates if you are someone who has to wash their hair frequently. Every hair type is different and therefore choose a shampoo meant for your specific hair type - straight or textured, dry or color-treated, etc. Freewill solves your problem by taking a simple hair quiz for determining your hair type and creating your personalized hair care products to give your hair the extra love it deserves. 
  • Once or twice a month, exfoliate your scalp for removing any product residue from styling creams/products.
  • Use less amount of shampoo if you are washing your hair frequently. You need a dime-sized (for front and back) amount for washing your hair. Concentrate the lather on the scalp and don’t rub it to your roots unless you need to wash off excess oil from hair-oiling treatments. 
  • Use heat protectants for your hair before styling them with tools just like you protect your skin with sunscreen (which you really must do). 
  • As much as possible, try to air dry your hair instead of using the blow dryer and minimize heat exposure. 
  • Avoid rubbing your hair with a towel as that leads to frizziness and hair breakage. Just soak in the excess water with a cotton t-shirt or microfibre towel and let it air dry.