Why do Africans have curly hair?

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Africans have curly hair in order to protect their head from intense heat. Our scalp consists of hair follicles which grow hair out of them. The texture and size of the hair are influenced by the follicle size and shape. The thickness of hair depends on the number of follicles that form the lining of the scalp. Usually large sized follicles grow thick hair and small sized ones grow thin hair. The number of follicles on the scalp determines the amount of hair on the head.

The hair texture varies based on the shape of the follicle in cross section. The round shaped follicle in its cross section will generate straight hair while the follicle shape is oval in case of the curly hair growth. The hair is tightly coiled if the hair is originated from flat ribbon like follicles. This type of hair texture is available to most of the people with African hair origin.

The African hair appears coarse as well as wiry. The Africans produce oils on the scalp called sebum. The African hair secretes more amount of oil compared to Caucasian and Asian hair. Though the hair secretes oil, it does not spread all over the curly hair fiber as the hair is tightly curled. The hair fibers due to lack of proper lubrication becomes dry and rough. The hair strands become more brittle and coarse to touch. The smoothness and silky texture of straight hair will not exist in curly hair in any kind of ethnicity. The reason can be same in all the cases but sometimes differ in some ethnic groups.

The African hair is so brittle that longer growth of that hair is very less observed. Every hair fiber creates stress at every turn in the hair fiber. This stress makes the hair to become weak and brittle. That is the reason for the hair that is tightly coiled to exist as shorter rather than long. It can be said strongly that the hair texture of the Africans is genetically inherited. The reason for this is that all Africans have the same hair pattern which is different from other ethnic groups.


Author: Hari M

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One Response

  1. Blaqkid

    July 8, 2013 9:11 pm

    There are a few inconsistencies with the truth within this article, for instance that while most people of African descent do have some form of curl, coil, or zigzag to their hair shaft due in fact to heredity; it is completely false to say that they all have the same curl pattern. Every individual has their own unique curl pattern(s), because it’s common to have multiple. Also, while you were correct in stating that the inability of sebum to travel down and spread throughout their hair strands I believe it’s important to also point out the necessity of African descendants to apply natural and essential oils to their hair themselves. So please revise from “The African hair is so brittle…” to “African hair can be so brittle…” but with proper care(moisturizing and adding oils) and maintenance(trimming & detangling). Thank you, and your article is quite informative other than a slightly misinformed outlook on African hair.


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