What is keratin and can we get some more please?

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Infused into hair masks, added into nail polishes and formulated into skincare, Keratin is something we can’t seem to get enough of. Only, what exactly is it? And if our bodies make it already, can’t we just make some more?

When it comes to beauty buzzwords, it doesn’t get more ubiquitous than keratin. Frequently plastered all over beauty packaging, (often alongside hugely unsubstantiated claims), it’s pitched as the holy grail of hair health. After a decade of hair adverts featuring full, glossy manes more befitting of an Olympic show jumping ring, aisles of beauty products have emerged claiming to be packed full of keratin. Only step away from all the hype and you’d be forgiven for not being 100% sure what it actually is.

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Keratin is the structural protein that makes up the building blocks of our hair, skin and nails. Most keratin is found on outside surfaces of the body like skin, hair and nails but it’s also present in the linings of internal organs too. The skin’s epidermis contains cells called keratinocytes, which produce the keratin protein and the entirety of the hair shaft is made up of keratin highly compacted and fused together. Keratin is a crucial part of the body’s defensive amour, rebuilding and reinforcing, improving skin texture, strengthening nails and smoothing hair.

Keratin levels in our bodies natural decrease over time due to age, poor diet and stress but what you eat can have a marked impact on the body’s natural production levels. Avocados, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of nutrition for increasing the health and resilience of hair and nails. Similarly, eggs and salmon both contain biotin which promotes the body’s own natural synthesis of keratin. Berries, dark leafy greens and perhaps surprisingly, sweet potatoes, all high in antioxidant Vitamin A carotenoids, also support keratin production.

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When applied topically to hair, keratin fortifies the hair strands, filling in any gaps that cause flyaways and frizz. The result is smoother, bouncier locks but the downside is that often the visible effects are more due to the somewhat sneaky addition of heavy silicones. Moreover, the sleek effect only lasts until your next shower.

So what of keratin supplements? “Much of the keratin market is a placebo because the bulk of it is made up of keratin sourced from chicken beaks and feathers which don’t have the same amino acid profile as humans. This means taking this form on will just pass through your system with no effect,” warns Lucy Goff, founder of LYMA. “Conversely, LYMA use Cynatine® HNS that comes from New Zealand sheep’s wool and is the only form of keratin in the world that is completely proven to work.”

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Cynatine® HNS is the world’s first 96% solubilised keratin to be delivered directly to hair, skin and nails to repair, protect and strengthen. This peer-reviewed, breakthrough technology produces a highly soluble keratin powder which, through a unique and patented process, preserves the originality of the amino acid profile. The process also allows for a unique blend of oligopeptides formulated in size and structure for optimum absorption. Once orally consumed and digested by the body, the Cynatine® HNS in LYMA can significantly improve the vitality of hair, skin and nails. “With a growing evidence base behind it, Cynatine® HNS is increasingly recognised as a genuine cosmeceutical with enormous potential in aesthetic improvement,” confirms Dr Paul Clayton PHD, Institute for Food, Brain & Behaviour.

It’s entirely possible to supplement the body’s natural production of keratin, it’s just a case of ignoring the trendy labels and tapping into a genuine source that the body can absorb and make use of.

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