Protein is the building block of hair and silk protein, therefore, can be a wise investment into your haircare routine. In this article, I go through 8 of the most common benefits of using silk protein for hair.
Silk protein has innumerable benefits for hair such as boosting moisture levels to improving overall elasticity, strength, and shine. Incorporating haircare products containing hydrolyzed silk protein into your routine can really benefit your strands.
What Is Silk Protein?
Silk has become something of a ‘must have’ for today’s beauty aficionados – and for good reason. But what actually is silk protein?
Silk is made by silkworms, and the most premium kind is mulberry silk, which comes from silkworms that subsist exclusively on a diet of mulberry trees.
As well as being famously soft and silky to the touch, silk is also hypoallergenic, moisture retentive, and resists wrinkling far better than other fabrics like cotton or linen.
In fact, silk has so many benefits that it’s been used across Asia for a number of centuries.
Silk protein itself is made up of two proteins – fibrous protein fibroin and sticky protein sericin.
You don’t need to know the specifics of these proteins and how they benefit hair – but it’s this unique structure that makes silk protein so beneficial for hair.
Silk protein is often added to haircare products in order to benefit hair. In its original form, silk protein comes as a shell-like structure (that’s what the silkworms spin).
As such, it has to be broken down so as to be suitable for inclusion in haircare products.
This is done via the process of hydrolysis, which essentially means that the silk protein has been broken down by water.
That’s why any silk protein added to haircare products is typically identified as hydrolyzed silk protein.
How Does Silk Protein Improve Hair Health?
Between the use of heated styling tools like flat irons and curlers through to chemical treatments and the regular use of bleach, we can be really hard on our hair.
Unhealthy hair is typically dehydrated and dull, prone to breakage and frizz, and generally lacking any strength.
Now, hair is predominantly made up of the protein keratin and it helps to build and repair all aspects of your hair.
Whilst keratin is less vulnerable to damage than other cells in your body, excessive exposure to heat and chemicals will weaken the keratin, resulting in dry, lackluster hair.
Keratin, therefore, needs the support of other proteins and amino acids in order to contribute to and maintain hair’s overall strength and structure.
And this is where hydrolyzed silk comes in.
Hydrolyzed silk protein contains cysteine, which is an amino acid that’s important in the creation of protein in the body.
Cysteine is also the main amino acid from which keratin is made. As such, cysteine is the main amino acid found in your hair, skin, and nails – and it also contributes to the production of collagen.
It’s specifically because hydrolyzed silk protein contains cysteine that it’s so beneficial for hair.
By supporting, reinforcing, and adding the amino acid cysteine to your hair, hydrolyzed silk protein helps to support the keratin levels in the hair, moisturizing and strengthening hair from within.
Over time, as hydrolyzed protein helps to improve hair’s overall health, it will also improve hair’s shine and elasticity, reducing the risk of breakage.
8 Benefits Of Silk Protein For Hair
1. Boosts The strength of hair
When hair is damaged through frequent exposure to either heat or chemical treatments, the hair’s cuticle will lift up.
It’s this lifting action that weakens hair’s overall structure and strength.
When your hair’s strength and structure are compromised, you’ll also be sacrificing its elasticity and resilience, and will consequently be more likely to experience split ends and breakage.
Using hydrolyzed silk protein in your hair can help to repair these broken bonds and smooth the cuticle back down.
It, therefore, adds a layer of protection as it penetrates the hair, improving overall tensile strength and elasticity without weighing hair down.
However, don’t stop using your heat protection spray when you’re straightening or blow-drying your hair.
Integrating hydrolyzed silk protein into your haircare will restore and rejuvenate struggling strands, but you should nonetheless continue to take protective measures.
2. Penetrates hair shaft and coats fibers
Because silk protein is hydrolyzed when it is added to haircare products, it has a low molecular weight.
This means that it’s better at penetrating and absorbing into the hair shaft, rather than simply sitting on it.
As such, it helps to restore and repair hair from within and therefore has a protective function.
3. Helps repair damage
Including hydrolyzed silk protein in your hair can also help to repair damage by rebuilding broken bonds and sealing and smoothing down cuticles.
As such, it can help to reduce the damaging effects of excessive chemical or heat exposure.
Whilst it won’t help hair grow, ensuring that your hair is in the healthiest possible condition is a great way of supporting hair growth and minimizing loss or shedding.
4. Reduces dryness and boosts moisture
Silk proteins are known for being moisture retentive, meaning that they help to lock hydration into hair and prevent loss of moisture from strands.
Hydrated hair is healthy hair, and will contribute to overall hair strength and elasticity.
It will also mean that hair is less prone to frizz and split ends, therefore reducing any hair shedding, loss or breakage.
In fact, it’s because silk proteins won’t sap your hair of vital moisture that silk pillowcases are so popular.
If you regularly use hair oils and other treatments on parched strands, silk pillowcases won’t draw these hydrating treatments away, helping them to do their best work.
5. Improves hair’s softness and texture
Silk is notoriously very soft – we don’t describe things as ‘silky’ for no reason!
As already mentioned, many standard haircare procedures can cause the hair’s cuticle to lift, which will make your hair’s texture rough, as well as make hair more likely to tangle or frizz.
Silk proteins penetrate the hair shaft, which helps to smooth the cuticle down. This results in softer, sleeker hair that’s also overall more manageable.
6. Better manageability
When your hair is softer and stronger, it’s going to be more manageable overall. Hydrolyzed silk protein can reduce the porosity of the hair, which helps to tame unruly locks.
Plus, you’re less likely to experience frizz, tangles, and knots with sleek, hydrated hair, which will save you overall time and effort.
7. Helps with hair color
If you’re a fan of coloring your hair, using shampoos and conditioners containing hydrolyzed silk protein is a great way of keeping your color for longer.
Exposure to environmental hazards – particularly the sun’s UV rays – can diminish the vibrancy of your new color.
Integrating products with hydrolyzed silk protein into your haircare routine can help to reduce these effects (as well as contribute to the overall health of colored hair).
8. Reduces friction
Using haircare products enriched with hydrolyzed silk proteins is one way to boost your hair, but you can also sleep on silk in order to benefit from this wonder material.
Because silk is so soft, when you sleep on it, you reduce any friction that may occur between the pillow and your hair.
You’re therefore less likely to experience frizz and tangles when you wake up.
Plus, because silk is less absorbent than either cotton or linen, your hair is likely to remain better hydrated, too.
You can make the most of silk’s benefits by sleeping on silk pillowcases. Alternatively, wrap your hair overnight with a silk bonnet or scarf in order to experience similar benefits.
How To Boost Your Hair With Silk Protein
Sleep on silk
Sleeping on silk pillowcases or with a silk bonnet can help your hair to retain its moisture and reduce potential tangles caused by tossing and turning against cotton or linen pillowcases.
Use haircare products with added silk proteins
The benefits of silk proteins are being increasingly recognized by the haircare industry, meaning that there are plenty of products to choose from that have had hydrolyzed silk protein added to them.
Look for shampoos and conditioners, as well as treatments like masques and leave-in conditioners for extra nourishment.
Hydrolyzed silk protein can typically be purchased in two forms either a liquid or powder. These can then be added to your regular haircare products.
You could even make up a liquid solution and add it to a spray bottle for regular misting over your hair.
Just be sure to keep any DIY mixture containing hydrolyzed silk protein in the fridge. It’s also wise to avoid a concentration level of over 10%.
Excessive amounts of protein in the hair will make your strands brittle and unworkable.
Concentrations between 0.5 and 10% should be more than enough, and it’s probably wise to start on the lower spectrum and build up more as your hair gets used to the silk protein.
Can I Use Silk Protein On My Hair Everyday?
If you use protein treatments on your hair on a daily basis, your strands are likely to become very brittle and stiff.
It’s best to space out the use of hydrolyzed silk protein and only use very intensive treatments once a month so as to avoid protein buildup.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.
Alice is an experienced writer and researcher with a background in the Creative Arts. She is a published poet and is currently completing her Ph.D., having worked in a variety of industries, including as a theatre dramaturg.
Alice is passionate about the environment, so is always on the lookout for the best zero-waste products that are vegan and cruelty-free.