Curly vs. Straight
There are many different hair types but on the extremes are those with curly hair and those with straight hair. Curly hairs are ones which are curved or even go round in loops. There are also those with curls that result in wavy hair. Straight hair on the other hand is just that, no bends, kinks or curls on the hair.
While many people have their hair curled at a parlor, there are those that have naturally curly hair. But what causes these curls, and why are some curls different from the others?
What Makes Hair Curly?
- Hair Chemistry
Hair is made up of proteins, and these proteins contain sulfur in them. Groups of these proteins are scattered all along the length of the hair. When two groups or more of these proteins meet, they may form disulfide bonds which cause hair to bend. The more groups of proteins with disulfide bonds, the more the hair is caused to bend or curl.
The trait of having curly hair is heavily influenced by genetics. This means that this trait is hereditary and is passed along in a family or blood line. If your parents or any ancestors have curly hair, chances are that you or one of your descendants will have curly hair as well.
Scientists are also working to determine which gene or genes do cause curly hair. To date, the trichohyalin gene has been identified as one of the specific genes that determine hair curliness.
Genetics also points out the pre dominance of curly hair in African and European races, as opposed to East Asian populations. The environments each race has been in may have also shaped the gene structures of each race. This is why the curly hair gene is more pre-dominant in some races more than others.
- Hair Follicle Shape
Hair follicle shape also greatly influences the shape of hair growth. Oval shaped or ribbon shaped hair follicles will cause hair to grow out in curls. The shape also dictates just how curly the hair will be when it grows. Round or circular hair follicles produce straight hair.
The amount, as well as size, of hair follicles on the head also determines how curly hair will appear. Large, hair follicles will produce thicker hair as compare to small hair follicles which produce thin hair. More hair follicles will also give a fuller head of curly hair.
Artificial Curling Products
While most people naturally have curly hair, some want to alter their hair texture artificially. You may find that some shampoo, conditioners or hair products do alter the structure of the hair, making straight hair slightly curly. This is due to chemical alteration of the hair. These products increase the disulfide bonds in the hair. The increase in these bonds leads the hair to become curly.
The time it takes for the effect to last can vary from one person to another, but it is not permanent. As the hair grown, the original structure of the hair takes the place of the old hair.
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