Plant-Based Keratin: Does It Truly Work & Should You Buy It?

Beauty standards have been changing for centuries, but one common thread remains. Healthy hair will always be in style. However, to maintain gorgeous locks we find ourselves, in the 21st century, searching for the best treatments, products, and supplements even at the cost of harm to health and well-being. But thanks to the growing demand for cruelty-free beauty there is finally hope for things to change.

Products labeled as plant-based keratin work as well as keratin that is sourced from the slaughterhouse. Plant-based keratins use plant proteins to mimic the natural composition of keratin. Plant-based keratin is worth buying and trying out because it is cruelty-free and contains often only natural ingredients.

However, while plant-based keratin does not truly constitute as keratin, there are several other options that we can explore! There are other vegan supplements and methods to naturally increase your keratin production in the long run keep reading and find out what these are.

What Is Keratin

To understand the difference between plant-based and regular keratin as well as its effects on hair and health, you need to have knowledge about what keratin is itself! 

Keratin is a naturally occurring, fibrous structural protein that makes up hair, nails, and epithelial cells in the topmost layers of our skin. Keratin provides a barrier of protection for our skin, hair, and nails and regulates cellular activities such as cell growth and protein synthesis. 

Although keratin naturally occurs in our bodies, keratin products, treatments, and supplements are made from ground animal parts, hooves, feathers, horns, and hair which makes it wholly unsustainable. 

Effects of Keratin

The effects of keratin on hair depend on whether your hair is already healthy and what type of keratin is used. In general, keratin smooths down the cells that overlap to form the hair strands, making it seem silkier and glossier.

Dangers of Keratin Treatments

Keratin treatments as a whole are hazardous. It goes without saying keratin is fine, but the treatments themselves are dangerous. Keratin treatments use formaldehyde and extreme heat to cut the frizz and smooth hair. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and leads to infertility and respiratory problems. 

Rather than continuously getting keratin treatments, opt for plant-based alternatives and natural ways of boosting your own keratin production. 

How to Naturally Increase Your Keratin Production

As a vegan, one of the best things you can do for yourself to avoid the chance of possibly using animal products is to naturally boost your own body’s keratin production. There are three ways to do so: avoiding keratin decreasing activities, eating the right foods to boost keratin, and using products that increase keratin. 

Avoiding Keratin-Decreasing Activities

There are many habits that you may engage in that actually decrease the levels of keratin in your body, more specifically, your hair.

Using hot products such as flat irons, curling irons, and hair dryers can damage the keratin fibers in your hair. If you absolutely need to use heat on your hair stick to blow-drying your hair in a cool setting. Limiting your use of heat products on your hair can also save you time and money.

Bleaching your hair is also a keratin-decreasing activity.

Bleach contains harsh chemicals that can harm your hair and skin, but it also releases toxic chemicals into the water when rinsed which damages ecosystems and environments.

Bleach can also be tested on animals, so unless you are sure that it is vegan and cruelty-free, it is best to stay away from going platinum blonde with bleach. 

Eating Keratin-Boosting Foods

Keratin is naturally found in many vegetables and other foods.

20 Plant Pased Foods That Promote Keratin Production

  • Onions
  • Sweet potatos
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Lee
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya
  • Melon
  • Pumpkin
  • Soy
  • Peans
  • Quinoa

Foods such as onions, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, mangoes, garlic, kale, and carrots are great sources of keratin that can easily be added to your diet.

A protein-rich vegan diet filled with walnuts, almonds, and beans boosts keratin production by providing your body with the necessary amino acids.

Biotin and vitamin C play an essential role in keratin production so foods such as citric fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, and nuts are key to have in your diet as a vegan. 

Supplementing Your Routines With Keratin

This is where you need to be reading labels and ingredient lists.

A majority of keratin products are made up of ground animal parts so make sure that you are looking for products that act as plant-based keratin.

Supplements may be worth the buy but it does depend on how well your hair responds to increases in keratin. 

 Avoid dietary keratin supplements as they may not be vegan and too much keratin consumed can lead to other health effects.

Make sure to stick to products (like the ones in the next section) that allow you to add them straight to your hair or mix them into other hair products. These products will have the greatest effect, along with your diet, in creating healthy, strong hair. 

Vegan Alternatives to Keratin for Hair

As we mentioned before, plant-based keratin is made from hydrolyzed plant proteins. Hydrolyzed means the protein is broken down using water into its component amino acids.

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of different types of proteins. While not considered true keratin, plant-based keratin acts the same way. Here are some products that act as vegan alternatives to keratin for your hair by using plant-based keratin or similar components.

Scalp Rescue Smoothing Balm

The Scalp Rescue Smoothing Balm (Amazon link) from Max Green Alchemy contains Vegatin, a vegan keratin replacement created from wheat amino acids, soy amino acids, arginine HCL, serine, and theanine (the latter three are amino acids as well). This balm aims to build strength and elasticity from the inside out while only containing botanical oils, plant extracts, and vitamins. 

Nutree Amazonliss Treatment

Still, want a keratin treatment without the formaldehyde? Check out the Amazonliss Treatment (Amazon link) from Nutree! Made with ingredients such as cacao, acai, rice, soya, corn, and wheat, this three-step kit contains anti-residue shampoo, smoothing treatment, and an intensive repair mask. This keratin treatment is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free which makes deep moisture and amazing shine ethical and safe. 


If you’re not looking for completely new products but still want to add extra protection to your hair, VegeKeratin is a 100% vegan, vegetable alternative to animal keratin! It can be added to existing shampoos and conditioners to enhance strength and shine. VegeKeratin contains wheat and soy amino acids as well as arginine. 

Renpure Plant Based Natural Keratin & Argan Oil Deep Conditioner 

This (Amazon)conditioner is something that I really love and recommend. It may not fit everyone but is worth the try. A lot of people who use it say it makes hair so smooth and shiny without making it oily.

Renpure has a lot of products that are vegan, just keep in mind that it is not a 100% vegan brand so read the ingredients list before you buy.


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