Hair type and texture are determined by several factors, including genetics.
Hair type and texture are determined by several factors, including genetics.

Hair type and texture are determined by several factors, including genetics. The African hair is more coiled and drier; Asian hair (Korean, Japanese) is straighter and thicker; and Caucasian hair is somewhere in between with around 45% having straight hair, 40% having wavy hair, and 15% having curly hair. However, each person has a unique hair texture. Not everyone, who has straight hair, has hair that looks exactly the same. They may vary in texture, have slight waves, etc.

Types of hair and hair texture:

There are four main types: straight, wavy, curly, and tightly curled.

  • Type 1 is straight hair that doesn’t curl.
  • Type 2 is wavy hair that is in between straight and curly. 
  • Type 3 is curly hair that looks like the letters “S” or “Z.”
  • Type 4 is hair that is coiled very tightly.

The hair types and texture can be broken down even more based on the hair’s curl pattern, density, porosity, width, and length. For example, someone with loose curls would be Type 3a and someone with tight curls would be a Type 3b.

What determines hair type?

Genetics and environment affect hair type and texture. 

Genetics of hair type:

Research shows that hair type and texture are inherited. There is also an “additive” trait contributing to the hair type and texture. This means the amount of curl in the hair depends on how many curly hair gene variations are inherited. Hence, two curly-haired parents may not always have curly-haired children because many different genes are involved. A curly-haired parent can also carry straight hair genes, which they may pass on. Genes can also interact with each other to determine hair texture. This is the reason why in a family, different people have different types of hair.

Environment:

Genes aren’t the only thing that affects the hair type. The environment can also have a big impact on hair, especially the texture. Humidity can make the hair frizzy or curly, while cold winter air can make hair dry and static-prone. The texture of hair also changes with age. Hair becomes gray, thinner, rougher, finer, and dry. The oil glands in the scalp shrink with age. How you treat and style your hair can change its texture. Bleaching, hair coloring, using styling tools, straightening, and perming can change hair texture; some improve hair texture, while others worsen hair texture. 

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Can you make your hair straight?

It is not possible to change the genetics of the hair. There are several at-home treatments and salon treatments that help straighten hair. Some of them are long-lasting, while others are temporary.

Long-lasting treatments for straight hair

Treatments include:

Professional permanent straightening:

This is a chemical process that permanently alters the hair structure. It changes the protein bonds in the hair. The results can last for several months depending on the chemicals used. However, the new hair that grows would be the person’s original hair type and texture because it is not possible to change the genetics of hair.

At-home treatments:

Several chemical hair relaxant kits can be used to loosen the curls and straighten hair. Some products may provide results that last a few months, while others may last longer.

Semi-permanent hair straightening:

Keratin hair treatment, Brazilian blowouts, and other semi-permanent hair straightening treatments can help straighten hair. They are usually done by professionals at salons. The results last 3-5 months.

Temporary ways to straighten hair

Temporary ways include:

Blow drying:

Blow drying by blasting hot or cold (less damaging) air on the hair using a round or flat brush. This can take time and requires one to master the technique to get perfectly straight hair. The results last till the next hair wash.

Using hair care products meant to straighten hair:

There are shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditioning products, hair serums, and hairsprays, which aim to coat the hair strands, weighing them down, relaxing the curls, reducing frizz, and proving hydration. The results last for about a day till the next hair wash.

Applying essential oils:

Using natural oils such as coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil, or a combination of oils can help improve hair texture. They can be applied all over the scalp and hair and washed off after 30-60 minutes with shampoo and conditioner. This may be done multiple times a week. These oils help hydrate the scalp and repair the hair. It can help in hair growth, strengthening the hair and making it soft and shiny.

Hairstyling tools:

Hairstyling tools such as hair straighteners or curlers use heated plates made of ceramic or titanium powered by electricity to quickly straighten or curl hair. These provide the best results among all temporary hair-straightening techniques. These are easy and quick to use, resulting in instantly straight and shiny hair. The results last till the next hair wash. However, time, upon daily use, the heat can damage the hair, making it dry, brittle, and dull. Hence, care should be taken to prevent this by using shampoos, conditioners, and masks free of parabens and sulfates and heat-protecting hair products before styling, hydrating hair serums, and regular use of hair oils.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2021
References
https://daily.jstor.org/why-do-some-people-have-curly-hair-and-others-straight/

https://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask45

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/exd.13347

https://www.gbhealthwatch.com/Trait-Hair-Curl.php