What are silk amino acids?

A silkworm with its cocoon.

Silk amino acids, also known as silk protein or sericin, are the gelatinous proteins that bind the silk filaments together. Protein is water soluble and can be found in liquid and powder form. These amino acids are used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products, including hair conditioners, hair sprays, and skin creams.

Acids are obtained from a silkworm cocoon by boiling the cocoon or puncturing the cocoon with a needle. During the boiling process, the silk that makes up the cocoon unwinds, thus allowing the silk threads and the silk amino acid to be harvested. Regardless of the method used, the silkworm is killed in the process, which is why some animal rights groups condemn the process.

Silk cocoons.

Silk protein is often used in hair care products because of its ability to penetrate and strengthen damaged hair. Amino acids bind to the hair’s keratin, thus creating a protective layer that helps retain moisture while adding shine. Several commercial sprays use these amino acids to provide extra protection and shine without weighing hair down.

Silk amino acids are often added to mascara as an eyelash conditioner.

Amino acids have a low molecular weight, which allows them to be easily absorbed by the skin. As with hair, silk protein binds to keratin found in the skin and creates a layer of defense against moisture loss. In addition, some studies have shown that the crystalline structure of sericin offers some protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays. Silk amino acids have some antioxidant properties and have been shown to be effective in fighting wrinkles.

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Silk amino acids can be found in hairspray.

In addition to its common use in ready-made cosmetics and beauty aids, liquid and powdered forms of consuming silk amino acids are available to those interested in making their own personal care products. A community of avid homemade beauty product makers — with websites, blogs and chat rooms dedicated to recipes and methods — has embraced the substance’s versatility, moisture retention, and smoothing abilities. For example, a few drops of liquid silk amino acids can be added to commercially made mascara as a conditioning treatment for eyelashes.

Some anti-wrinkle face creams and lotions contain silk amino acids.

While liquid or energetic forms of sericin work well, hobbyists report that liquid amino acids are generally easier to use in making lotions or creams. Silk’s energized amino acids can build up when added to finished compounds – a problem that can easily be avoided by using a liquid form. There are few substances in nature that can offer the mild moisture protection, antioxidant properties, and smooth shine of silk protein.

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