The Hair Repair and Biomimetic Science Behind K18

A message from our co-founder, Suveen Sahib

Many from the community (hair colorists, stylists and users) ask us what is so different about K18 v/s the bond builder products they have got used to over the past few years! Here is the science a bit simplified! 

Bond builder products are essentially ionic cross-linkers that temporarily patch cleaved disulfide bonds with some of them using polyfunctional chemical compounds having one component that covalently binds to the cleaved disulfides at the ends and then the other component that bridges the two ends back together via ionic (read:reversible) action, creating an artificial, extended bridge. Ionic linkers can get washed away by any agent with a higher alkaline pH (example by water and shampoos when hair is washed) even though the other component of the polyfunctional compound will stay covalently binded to the cleaved dilsulfide. Think of it like a suspension bridge, the pillars hold steady while the suspended part (the crucial motorway) gets washed away!

Hair inside is made of millions of interwoven keratin chains made of amino acids connected by peptide bonds. These interwoven polypeptide keratin chains are what hold hair inside together and give it strength and elasticity -they are like the vertical side poles of a ladder with the interchain and intrachain disulfide bonds being the horizontal rungs in these interwoven ladders, together making a strong, sturdy structure. The disulfide bonds don’t have artificial or physical connections in their natural state. They are covalent bonds (happen spontaneously when cysteine molecules are laid out in a specific combination and adjacency one of which releases energy to allow for disulfide bond conformation.(like two magnets with opposite polarity binding together even though there is no physical connection).

When hair undergoes harsh chemical processing or styling, the structure breaks in both its rungs and poles. Bond repair products patch only the rungs, bridging the two sides with a chemical bond. The structure is not secure since the side poles( keratin chains)  that hold the rungs are still broken. Also the rungs can be easily re-broken as soon as the hair is washed. The interwoven keratin chains cannot just connect back together by themselves or by artificial bridges. So hair loses its strength and also its resilience.. 

Given the cosmetic chemistry has its limitation, we dived in and painstakingly scanned the entire keratin proteome for years to analyze and test every sequence of amino acids and peptides that make up the universe of these keratin chains to determine their ability to naturally connect in the most effective way. Amino acids on their own are like alphabets, the number and order is critical, much like the organization of letters in a word. Patented K18 turned out to be the one unique peptide sequence that solved the puzzle, having just the right composition of cysteines, the structure, the adjacency and the length to fit right in and bind itself covalently with the keratin chains both in length and laterally while also participating in interchain and intrachain actions and disulfide reconformation. Covalent bonding is how nature operates, it is the strongest bond and also much more permanent that will not get rinsed away and removed by washing . This unique structure and composition is what makes K18 a biomimetic peptide with its entire library encoded in the keratin genome and patented! It feels at home in your hair and mimics the unique structure that reconnects the keratin dimers together in your hair! Unfortunately, hair cannot repair itself because it contains no live cells to make this specific keratin peptide so K18 simply happens to be the next best answer to restore your damaged hair to a near natural state of strength and elasticity and make YOUR HAIR BOTH LOOK AND FEEL LIKE NEW! and if K18 is not for you, then the legacy bond builder products will do an awesome job of patching it anyway !