What an interesting question as both amino acids and keratin treatments are so closely connected.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are a highly necessary component of the body’s processes. Many amino acids can be naturally made by the body, and according to Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, they are the basic building blocks of protein chains. They function as the basic building blocks of the body supporting the digestive process and heart functions. Other amino acids, also known as essential amino acids, must be supplied to the body through the food we eat.  A diet rich in meat, dairy, seafood, nuts, and plant-derived foods are great sources.
There is no question that amino acids are essential to hair growth, hair strength, and length retention.
Amino acids are key to hair growth and retention. Both L-Methionine and L-Cysteine are known to combat hair loss by supplying sulfur to the hair cells.  In fact, the basic structure of the keratin within hair is made up of amino acids joined together by chemical bonds also known as peptide bonds. Therefore they are a key element to the strength of the hair fiber. There is no question that amino acids are essential to hair growth, hair strength, and length retention.

What is keratin?

Keratin is the hard protein that makes up the structure of the hair built by 18 amino acids. This high sulfur, high fibrous protein can be built through a healthy diet and can be nourished via healthy hair care products and gentle styling and hair care methods. Protecting the integrity of the hair is important but unfortunately excessive heat styling, extreme tension from hair braiding and weaving, product abuse, or any other harmful methods can affect the strength of the hair strand.

As a result, keratin treatments have entered the scene purposed to strengthen the hair shaft and restore the hair’s resilience through a very intentional method. Keratin is bound to the hair with conditioners and keratin to smooth the surface of the hair and prevent frizz. This temporary method helps the hair to be more manageable and require less effort and time when styling. After cleansing with a clarifying shampoo, a solution is typically applied to the hair and left to sit based on the desired effect. The hair is then blow-dried and flat ironed. Strict instructions are given regarding when to perform your next cleansing and conditioning ritual. This treatment procedure could be harmful to weak hair, not because the keratin compounds are harmful, but the intense heat of the blow-dryer and flat iron may be too much for weak and damaged hair to withstand.

Amino acids vs. keratin

Both amino acids and keratin are essential for hair to even exist. Interestingly enough, you cannot have one and not have the other. The presence of amino acids will bring about keratin rich hair growth while keratin treatments are available to adhere keratin compounds to the outer hair shaft to strengthen and smooth the hair. Are both procedures great? Absolutely, yet within reason. Knowing the current state of your hair and its most pressing needs will help you determine if a boost in your body’s amino acids or an external keratin treatments would be better for you!

Which one's right for you?

Eat more foods with amino acids if...

If your hair is weak as it grows in, then you need strengthening at the developmental stages of hair growth. You will know this if you observe the weak areas to not only exist at the ends but also towards your roots. A boost in amino acids within your body could help produce a stronger set of strands, given there are no other medical hindrances to your hair growth or excessive friction in your hair maintenance methods.

Try a keratin treatment if...

On the other hand, if your body is producing strong hair, yet damage is evident due to excessive chemicals, heat styling, or other harmful hair practices, a keratin treatment could be an option. Typically women with textured hair that like to straighten their hair with heat, desire less frizz, and enhanced manageability, and have moderately strong hair are the best candidates for this treatment.

Unsure where you fit in? Start by seeing a trusted licensed cosmetologist that has experience with your hair type. If your needs are beyond his or her expertise, see a licensed trichologist or dermatologist to determine the proper path for you to take!