Your hair aint better than mine!


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A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I ever wished that I had "good healthy hair". Naturally I was taken aback by her question, and slightly offended..."what's wrong with my hair" I asked and she responded "well, you have kinky hair isn't it frustrating to have bad hair" she responded. Seeing as I value my friendship with her and in all honesty was not in the mood to let an ignorant remark ruin my day I simply responded "nope I'm fine with hair just the way it is" and proceeded to change the topic of discussion. Nevertheless her remark left a lingering question in my mind... Why is Afro textured hair different from Caucasian and Asian hair? 

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Afro-textured hair is the term used to refer to the natural texture of African hair that has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals through perming, relaxing, or straightening. Hair is composed of the bulb, root and the shaft. The bulb and the root are found under the scalp. Contrary to popular belief, the part of hair that we see, the shaft, is not a living structure. According to biology, once it shoots from the scalp, it is dead. Thus, meaning that there is no such thing as healthy hair because a dead thing cannot be healthy. However, unlike Caucasian or Asian hair, Afro textured hair has a matte or dry appearance and this is mainly because the coiled structure of our hair does not allow for sebum, a natural oil produced in the sebaceous gland in the hair follicle, to go all the along the hair shaft. Sebum hydrates hair, maintaining its moisture and volume. Your sebum is actually part of what dictates whether you have curly or straight hair. When sebum is able to easily spread from the root of the hair to the tip, this produces straight hair that is silky and shiny. In curly, coiled, kinky hair, the sebum is not able to spread down to the tip which causes the strand to curl. 

Afro-textured hair has been found to be not as densely concentrated as other hair types, the average density of Afro-textured hair was found to be approximately 190 hairs per square centimetre. This was significantly lower than that of Caucasian hair, which, on average, has approximately 227 hairs per square centimetre. In a study on the diversity of hair growth profiles Genevieve Loussouarn found that Afro-textured hair grows at an average rate of approximately 256 micrometers per day, while Caucasian hair grows at approximately 396 micrometers per day. In addition to this Afro textured hair is prone to shrinkage after it is wet which is why some people chose to perm their hair to stop the hair from coiling and shrinking after it is wet. Blogger James C. Collier states that "hair, like skin, is part of our genetically malleable, adaptable, outer layer, protecting us from the elements. Tightly coiled, moisture resistant head-hair creates an enhanced barrier to ultra-violet radiation by turning many times on itself". 

In conclusion my Afro textured hair is different from Asian or Caucasian hair because I am genetically predisposition to have hair that will protect me from the harsh rays of the African sun and because of the coil like structure of my hair the necessary lipids to keep my hair silky straight do not reach my hair shaft.


References

Franbourg, A., et al. "Current research on ethnic hair." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 48.6 (2003): S115-S119.

Loussouarn, Geneviève, Charles El Rawadi, and Gilles Genain. "Diversity of hair growth profiles." International journal of dermatology 44.s1 (2005): 6-9.


Good Hair, Documentary by Chris Rock



1 Comment

I love this article!! I don't understand why some think because our hair is kinky that it is automatically unhealthy. It just shows how some aren't aware that we are different races and have different types of hair. Some aren't born with straight hair. I have the same probably with producing oil or my hair. My sisters and most of my friend's hair are always oily. I've been the one who has to continue to moisture my natural hair. something I found vey interesting was how kinky hair protects you from the sun. Since most girls probably deal with the same issues, I found an article how to keep your hair moisturized. http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/10/5-ways-to-keep-natural-hair-moisturized-in-dry-weather/

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