Keratin and Hair Growth – How Hair Grows 101

In this post we talk about “how hair grows “, “what makes your hair grow”, “how to make your hair grow ” and “what helps hair grow”. To answer these question we have to go to the “root” of the issue and talk about the composition of hair and what it’s made of.

Keratin and How Hair Grows

How hair grows and keratins role on hair growth

Before we can breakdown what role keratin plays for hair growth, we first have to talk about the composition of hair and how hair grows. The hair you see on your scalp or any part of your body grows from follicles within the epidermis (skin). The visible parts you see are called hair shafts. The hair shaft is anchored in the follicle by the hair root, which supplies nutrients from the hair bulb. The hair bulb is connected to the dermal papilla which aids with supplying blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your hair follicles for healthy hair growth. The connection between the bulb and papilla plays a fundamental role in hair growth.

Within your follicles there are multiple parts that help with the growth and development of hair; and can also. These parts include:

Hair Follicle Diagram | HairGrowthHQ

  • The dermal papilla–which supplies blood/nutrients to your hair bulb and is the source of nutrients for healthy hair growth.
  • The sebaceous gland/oil gland–which aids with lubricating your hair shafts keeping hair healthy and shiny.
  • The arrector pili–which aids with keeping the body warm by erecting hairs when a person is cold or frightened.

Taking hair supplements provide the dermal papilla and hair bulb with the nutrients it needs to grow healthier, longer hair. View our top 5 recommendations for hair growth supplements!

Now this part is important for understanding how hair grows. The hair bulb is supplied nutrients from the dermal papilla which causes new hair cells to start generating. The cell begin to move up the hair root, slowly maturing; this process is called keratinization. During keratinization the hair cells fill with fibrous protein and lose their nucleus. When the hair cell loses its nucleus it dies. The hair strands that exit the hair follicle and scalp are no longer alive and are simply fiber made up of keratinized proteins.

The keratinized proteins/hair strands that grow out of your scalp are composed of three layers. These layers are:

inside your hair strand | HairGrowthHQ

  • The Cuticle–acts as the outer shell of the hair strand and is composed of multiple layers of keratin cells. It’s the first defense against external toxins and dangers.
  • The Cortex–is the mid section of the hair strand and is the thickest layer. It contains the hair pigment and aid with moisturizing the hair shaft.
  • The Medulla–the inner most part of the hair strand. It sometimes found in curlier hair, and less in straight hair.

The Cuticle is primarily composed of keratinized protein. The cortex is composed mostly of amino acids which aid with the hair strand elasticity and color. Your hair strand altogether is composed of close to around 91% protein that are made up of long chains of amino acids. The amino acids are connected to one another by chemical bonds called peptide bonds/end bonds. The long chain of amino acids are called polypeptide chains and is linked by peptide bonds.

The average composition of hair is 45.2% carbon, 27.9% oxygen, 6.6% hydrogen, 15.1% nitrogen and 5.2% sulphur.

The polypeptide chains are also accompanied by side bonds. The side bonds that aid with holding the polypeptide are: Salt bonds, Hydrogen Bonds, and disulfide bonds. The hydrogen and salt bonds are the most ubiquitous, but also the most weakest and can be easily broken by heat and water. The fact that the hydrogen and salt bonds are easily broken by heat is why curling or flat irons can have a drastic effect on our hair pattern.

The disulfide bonds are less prevalent but much stronger than the other two. When relaxers or strong chemicals are introduced to hair, the disulfide bonds are what’s broken down and reformed to give the drastic change to your hair pattern.

Taking hair supplements provides your hair strands with the nutrients it needs to grow long and healthy. It also aids your body with breaking down protein to form amino acids, and also with transforming amino acids into keratin. View our top 5 recommendations for hair growth supplements!

Keratin in hair

Biotin and Hair Growth - How to Speed up your hair growth | HairGrowthHQ

Now that we’ve covered how hair grows, we can now talk about keratins role with hair. Keratin makes up about 90% of your hair, while the rest of the 5-10% is water, fats, pigment and minerals. Keratin is a fibrous protein that gives your hair elasticity and strength to both the outer shell and inner cortex. Keratin is composed of long chain amino acids (polypeptide chains) and is what both holds your hair strand together and gives it elasticity.

Keratin acts as the first line of defense when it comes to hair; it strengthen the strands, making it less likely to break. Keratin is said to be “water-proof” and is able to withstand high and low temperates. Without keratin in your hair, it’d be more susceptible to environmental toxins and sun damage.

Over times the keratin in your cuticle can begin to break down due to external stresses like over brushing, chemicals, and toxins. Using product that aid with restoring/fortifying the keratin in your strands is a great way to keep your hair healthy. When the hardened keratin shell that makes up your hair cuticle is broken down too much, it exposes the cortex, whic leads to hair breakage, dryness and/or dryness.

Is keratin good for hair growth?

Is keratin good for hair growth? | HairGrowthHQ

External products that contain functional keratin can be could for your hair. Your hair cuticle is composed of a scale-ish keratin shell that protects the inner core from damage. As time and damage begins to take its toll on your hair cuticle, the keratin shell can begin to loosen, causing your cortex to become exposed. To reinvigorate your hair cuticles and restore the lose keratin, using a keratin based product will help seal the damage.

As far as ingesting keratin, we would recommend using a hair growth supplement that contains amino acids. Your body naturally creates keratin from amino acids which are derived from protein sources, so eating an adequate amount of proteins per day, and using a hair growth supplement will aid your body with the production of healthy, strong keratin.

If you’re looking for recommendations on what supplements to use for faster, longer, healthier hair growth; we’ve composed a list of the top 5 supplements that will do just that!


Photos by kokotron bcm and Anish Sarai 2
Keratin and Hair Growth – How Hair Grows 101
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