Keratin vs. Collagen: What Is the Difference?

Collagen and keratin are both proteins, but they work differently. For improving wrinkles, joint pain, osteoporosis, or inflammation, find out which works best!

Anju Mobin
By Anju Mobin
Kirsty Mac Dougall
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published May 19, 2022.

Both collagen and keratin are proteins present in human tissue. But they play different roles. While collagen makes up most of the connective tissue, keratin makes up the skin, nails, and hair.

What Is Keratin?

Keratin is a strong, fibrous protein that makes up much of the skin and various epidermal structures. This includes outer structures like hair, nails, and skin. It is also present in the hooves, horns, feathers, and wool of different animals.

Keratin protects epithelial cells, strengthens internal organs, controls the growth of epithelial cells, maintains elasticity, and strengthens skin. Some proteins also help regulate key cellular activities, such as cell growth and protein synthesis. Keratin helps the cells in the epidermis adhere to each other and form a protective layer.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein that makes up the body’s connective tissue. It is the most abundant protein in the human body, with 25–30% of the total body protein being collagen. There are 28 different types of collagen, but the main ones are Type-I, II, III, IV, and V.

Collagen gives the epidermis its firm structure and is also found in muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, teeth, blood vessels, skin, and the digestive system. Collagen is a tough material that is strong and has high tensile strength, meaning that it allows you a certain degree of elasticity.

This protein helps regenerate new cells, promoting skin firmness. Women experiencing skin aging have found collagen consumption to slow the aging process. Collagen supplements can be taken as a powder in shakes or smoothies, or as a collagen pill supplement.

Should You Choose Keratin or Collagen?

Whether you should choose collagen or keratin depends entirely on why you want it.

If it's for joint pain, skin aging, osteoporosis, or inflammation, collagen supplement wins the battle against keratin. If it's for hair, both keratin and collagen will do the magic.

Keratin is the primary protein that makes up the hair strands. The body uses several amino acids to build this keratin. When you consume collagen, it is broken into amino acids, a few of which can build keratin. Therefore, when compared, collagen is a better idea in general.

In particular, Type-1 collagen found in marine collagen is best for hair and skin.