two women talking about what causes curly hair

What Makes Hair Curly?

What Causes Curly Hair?

If you’ve lived with curly hair for all of your life, you’ve probably asked yourself “what makes hair curly?!” or “ why is my curly hair so frizzy?!” as you begin your daily or evening haircare routine. The obvious answer to this question is that it's simply in your genetics, at its roots. What causes curly hair to frizz and become difficult to tame can be attributed to other factors outside of your control. Let’s take a look at the science behind your curly hair and dive into ways to battle unkempt frizz.

Why Does Hair Curl?

So, why is my hair curly? Genetics and hair anatomy both play a role in determining the shape of your luscious curly hair. As you might have learned in Anatomy 101, your parent’s genes lay the groundwork for your hair. Curls are the dominant gene so if one of your parents has curly hair, you should too! 

Now let’s talk hair anatomy: there is the hair shaft, hair root, hair bulb in the follicle (typically referred to as “hair follicle”). What you might have slept through in anatomy class is that the keratin protein is responsible for hair composition. The structure of the hair shaft is composed of three layers: the cuticle (outermost layer), cortex (middle), and medulla (very center of the hair shaft). 

The shape of the hair follicle is what makes hair curly; when the follicle is asymmetrical, the hair shape grows in an oval shape. So, the more asymmetrical the shape of the follicle, the more the hair will tend to curl as it grows out of the hair bulb. Another factor that determines hair structure is the number of disulfide bonds that occur within the hair. These bonds occur at the atomic level and are largely credited to give hair its structure and strength.  

Why is My Curly Hair So Frizzy?

If you are like me, you have been caught unprepared in the rain or humid day before… and then frizz starts.  What causes curly hair to frizz out of control is moisture, specifically the hydrogen bonds being disrupted. Hair bonds are held together by disulfide, hydrogen, and salt bonds. The disulfide bond contributes to your hair type (flat, wavy, curly); this type of bond responds to chemical changes to the hair like to use of shampoo, conditioner, hair treatments, etc

The hydrogen bonds respond to, you guessed it, water. Water causes your hair to frizz when the bonds are reorganized into a different chain and, as the hair naturally dries, the bonds can solidify into a different shaped chain. The moisture in the air and the presence of heat are enough to change the structure of the bonds, which is why your hair is different after being washed or after being styled with hot hair care tools (blow dryers, curling irons, etc.).

The last type of bond that contributes to hair frizziness is the salt bond. Salt bonds are impacted by your pH levels; these levels are usually changed by your hair care products. That's why it is important to choose the right product for your hair’s pH levels to keep a consistent look.

Common Natural Ingredients in Curly Hair Products

Now that you know what causes curly hair, we can talk about what to do with all those beautiful curls! Online beauty stores, like Miss Jessie’s, carry a seemingly endless number of hair care products. For curly hair types, you’ll want to generally avoid sulfates or products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. This active ingredient tends to dry out hair and strip your hair from the much-need oils that keep your curls stable. Alcohol chemicals can also strip your hair from oils, so it's better to err on the side of caution when purchasing alcohol-based hair care products. If you do accidentally use harsh chemicals in your hair, there are products to help your hair recover to its former glory! 

Natural oils are often included in curly hair care products to counteract the damaging effects of harsh sulfates and alcohols. In modern hair care products, you’ll find avocado, hemp, flaxseed, olive, cacao, and many other natural oils. Natural oils can help fortify your hair, just remember to use a wide-toothed comb or a brush that won't produce static!

Conclusion: It’s Your Time to Shine!

While you might not be able to change what causes curly hair, you can certainly manage it and let your curls down with the right products. Understanding what makes hair curly is the first step towards taking proper care of it. Knowledge is power and the next time you ask yourself “why is my hair curly?!” you can rest assured that Miss Jessie’s is there for you. Miss Jessie’s products are carefully designed with your curly hair in mind, embrace your lovely curls and let your healthy hair shine today!