Hydrolyzed Proteins – how to choose the right one for my products

Proteins are essential building blocks for skin and hair, offering multi-functional and unique benefits. One essential must-know characteristic about skincare ingredients, especially proteins, is hydrolyzation. Hydrolyzation is the process which breaks proteins down into smaller-chained amino acids which then helps promote skin absorption. Hydrolyzed proteins are an important category within cosmetic ingredients because they strengthen skin’s natural protection barrier thereby helping to reduce or minimize moisture loss. Some hydrolyzed proteins also have additional properties undergoing derivatization which adds to or enhances a specific function, e.g., adding a quaternary ammonium group to become an effective conditioner (whitepaper Polymers: Proteins ).  


One example is Keratin, a widely used hair care ingredient that is also an essential and naturally occurring protein in the skin, hair and nails. It is a fibrous protein that is either in the form of an alpha or beta protein, unlike other proteins that are made of chains of polypeptides linked together.  


Vegetable Protein  

-Hydrolyzed (Soy, Wheat, Rice, Oat, Baobab, Barley, Hemp, Jojoba, Lupine) 

-Quaternized (Rice, Wheat, Soy, Barley) 

-Amino Acids (Oat, Rice, Wheat, Soy) 


Non-Vegetable Protein 

-Hydrolyzed (Collagen, Elastin, Silk, Keratin, Milk) 

-Quaternized (Keratin, Silk) 

-Amino Acids (Keratin, Silk) 


Proteins have a wide application and are one of the most versatile cosmetic ingredients available to the formulator.  

In skin care, moisture-enhancing attributes are the most commonly sought-after mechanisms which include anti-aging, soothing, firming and protecting properties. 

In hair care, the most widely sought-after attributes are conditioning, strengthening, repairing, shine, color retention, manageability and protection. 

Proteins can be combined to customize your product and to enhance these highly demanded cosmetic attributes for your product success. 

How do I choose the right protein for my formulation? 

First, the product undergoing formulation must include water since hydrolyzed proteins are water soluble. The formulator must also determine if the formulation is for skin or for hair care. When formulating a hair care product, the protein can contribute to a conditioning effect or can have other properties mentioned above. 
Whether for skin or hair care, the formulator must carefully consider the cosmetic claims they will use for their product. For example, claims such as vegan, gluten-free, or claims for performance such as anti-aging should be considered carefully to effectively market your product. The categories below show where each protein has its strongest attributes. 

Proteins for the Hair 

Strengthening: Baobab, Barley Quat, Collagen, Keratin Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Milk Protein, Rice Amino Acids, Hemp 

Repair: Baobab, Barley Quat, Collagen, Linseed, Keratin Amino Acids, Oat amino acids, Quinoa, Jojoba, Hemp 

Conditioning: Baobab, Barley, Collagen, Keratin Quat, Milk, Oat, Quinoa, Rice Quat, Silk Quat, Jojoba, Lupine 

Shine: Keratin Quat, Oat, Rice Quat, Silk Quat, Jojoba 

Color Retention: Quinoa 

Protecting: Baobab, Barley Quat, Collagen, Keratin, Milk, Quinoa, Soy, Wheat 

Proteins for the Skin 

Anti-Aging: Baobab, Collagen, Lupine, Elastin, Jojoba, 

Moisturize: Baobab, Barley, Collagen, Milk, Oat, Rice, Silk Amino Acids, Silk, Soy, Wheat, Jojoba, Hemp 

Sooth: Barley, Collagen, Linseed, Milk, Oat Amino Acids, Rice Amino Acids, Wheat Amino Acids,  

Firm: Elastin, Soy 

Protect: Baobab, Collagen, Milk, Oat, Quinoa 

MakingCosmetics Formulations containing Proteins 

Mild Face Wash with Jojoba for Softening & Hydration  

Sensitive Mango Masque  

Daily Moisturizer with Ceramides & Hemp Protein  

Curl-Retention Cream  

Sleek Strands  

Protein Hair Mask with Argan Oil  

Protein Hair Mask  




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