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Collagen vs. Keratin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 29, 2023
Collagen is a protein that provides structure and strength in skin, bones, and connective tissues, while keratin is a protein that strengthens hair, nails, and the outer layer of skin.

Key Differences

Collagen is a key structural protein found in skin, bones, and connective tissues, providing elasticity and strength. Keratin, on the other hand, is a protective protein found predominantly in hair, nails, and the outer layers of skin, providing rigidity and resilience.
The body's production of collagen decreases with age, leading to wrinkles and joint issues. In contrast, keratin production generally remains stable, but external factors can damage it, affecting hair and nail health.
Collagen is often used in medical and cosmetic products for skin rejuvenation and wound healing. Keratin is widely used in hair care products to strengthen and smooth hair.
In terms of structure, collagen fibers form a network to support tissues, while keratin forms a protective barrier against environmental damage.
Dietary supplements for collagen aim to improve skin elasticity and joint health, whereas keratin supplements are targeted at enhancing hair and nail strength.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Provides structure and strength in tissues
Strengthens hair, nails, and outer skin

Location in the Body

Found in skin, bones, connective tissues
Present in hair, nails, outer skin layers

Age-Related Changes

Production decreases with age
Production generally stable, affected by external factors

Use in Products

Used in skincare and medical products
Common in hair care products

Dietary Supplements

Aimed at improving skin and joint health
Focused on hair and nail strength

Collagen and Keratin Definitions


A protein that provides elasticity and strength in skin and connective tissues.
Collagen creams are popular for reducing wrinkles.


Resilient protein providing rigidity to hair and nails.
Keratin is responsible for the hardness of nails.


Used in medical procedures for tissue regeneration.
Collagen is used in wound healing treatments.


Protective protein forming a barrier against environmental damage.
Keratin in the skin helps protect against UV rays.


Integral to the structure of bones and cartilage.
Collagen degradation is a factor in osteoarthritis.


Key component in the structure of hair and nails.
Keratin supplements are taken to strengthen nails.


Main component of connective tissues in the body.
Collagen is crucial for maintaining healthy joints.


Used in cosmetic products for hair care.
Keratin shampoos help in repairing damaged hair.


A structural protein important for skin health.
Collagen supplements are used to improve skin elasticity.


A protein that strengthens hair, nails, and the outer layer of skin.
Keratin treatments make hair smooth and frizz-free.


Any of a class of extracellular proteins that are composed of three coiled polypeptide chains, form strong fibers, and are the main constituents of cartilage, bone, and other connective tissues in animals.


Any of a class of filamentous proteins that are abundant in the cytoskeleton of vertebrate epithelial cells and are the main constituents of the outer layer of skin and tough epidermal structures such as hair, nails, hooves, feathers, and claws.


Material composed principally of collagen proteins. Collagen is converted into gelatin when boiled in water.


Material composed principally of keratin proteins.


(biochemistry) Any of more than 28 types of glycoprotein that form elongated fibers, usually found in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue.


(protein) The protein of which hair and nails are composed.


The chemical basis of ordinary connective tissue, as of tendons or sinews and of bone. On being boiled in water it becomes gelatin or glue.


A sulfur-containing fibrous protein constituting the main structural protein of hard epidermal tissues, such as horn, hair, feathers, nails, claws, hoofs, and the like. It is an insoluble substance, and, unlike elastin, is not dissolved even by gastric or pancreatic juice. By decomposition with sulphuric acid it yields leucine and tyrosine plus various other acid-stable amino acids. The amino acid composition varies, but it usually has a high percentage of cystine, which stabilizes and insolubilizes the protein by forming intrachain linkages. A softer form of keratin is present in the epidermis and whalebone. Called also epidermose.


A fibrous scleroprotein in bone and cartilage and tendon and other connective tissue; yields gelatin on boiling


A fibrous scleroprotein that occurs in the outer layer of the skin and in horny tissues such as hair feathers nails and hooves


Is collagen important for skin health?

Yes, it's crucial for skin elasticity.

How does collagen benefit the body?

It provides strength and elasticity.

Are collagen supplements effective?

They can help improve skin and joint health.

What is collagen?

A structural protein in skin, bones, and connective tissues.

Can collagen decrease with age?

Yes, leading to wrinkles and weaker joints.

What's the difference in collagen and keratin's function?

Collagen provides tissue support; keratin offers strength and protection.

Are keratin treatments beneficial for hair?

They can smooth and strengthen hair.

Do keratin supplements improve nail health?

They can strengthen nails.

Can keratin be damaged?

Yes, by heat, chemicals, and environmental factors.

Where is keratin primarily located?

In hair, nails, and the outer skin.

What is keratin?

A protein that strengthens hair, nails, and the outer skin.

What does keratin do for hair?

It provides strength and resilience.

Where is collagen mostly found?

In skin, bones, and connective tissues.

Can diet affect collagen and keratin production?

Yes, certain nutrients can boost their production.

Can external products replace natural collagen and keratin?

They can supplement but not fully replace natural production.

Is keratin a part of the skin's defense system?

Yes, as part of the skin's barrier.

How does keratin affect skin?

It forms a protective barrier.

Are there vegan sources of collagen?

Vegan supplements mimic collagen's effects but don't contain actual collagen.

Is keratin only important for hair?

No, it's also crucial for nails and skin.

How do aging and lifestyle impact collagen and keratin?

Aging reduces collagen; lifestyle can affect both collagen and keratin health.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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