Afro hair

Why Black People Have Curly, Kinky Hair

Published By: Janine Griffiths

Last Updated: September 22, 2022

African American hair is very unique and tends to be much coarser, curlier, and thicker than other hair types.

The Black community is culturally diverse in many ways and includes a range of textured hair types. This includes straight hair, and tightly coiled, frizzy hair, which is known as “Afro.”

The texture of black hair can be coarse and thick (kinky), soft to wavy (curly), or dense coarse strands known as “Senegalese” hair, which is common among African Americans of West African origin.[1]

Black people have been known for having curly textured hair that turns into curls when wet. This is attributed to climate and high amounts of keratin protein in the strands.

Why Do Black People Have Kinky, Curly Hair?

Many scientists believe that the reason why black people have kinky, curly hair is that it evolved that way to protect the hair from UV radiation from the sun. 

It is believed that Afro hair was genetically adapted to protect the scalp of the earliest modern humans in Africa. The elastic helix shape of the hair, along with the density, keeps the scalp cool because it produces an airy effect. Keeping the scalp cool helps to regulate the body temperature in countries with hot climates.[2]

Another reason why Afro hair appears the way that it does is because it contains natural moisturizing oils, which makes the hair curly and kinky. 

All of these genetic and environmental factors are the reason why black hair has evolved to be kinky and curly.

 

Traits Associated With Afro Hair

Hair types are often influenced by ancestry, and black hair is no different. The texture of black hair originates from the curl pattern of their African ancestors who spent a long time in the sun. As with any genetic trait, certain hair types are more dominant than others in a family lineage.[3]

These genetic factors also mean that curly kinky hair is very common in many African tribes. Other races may find it difficult to achieve these same looks due to differences in genetic makeup.[4]

#1 Higher Percentage of Keratin

Cross-section of an Asian, Caucasian, and African hair strand

Black follicles are larger than those found in other races; hence they produce more melanin which makes them darker-skinned. This also causes Africans to grow tightly curled hairlines with an abundance of natural oils.[5]

Black people can absorb more sunlight and produce a greater amount of melanin in their skin due to an increased presence of keratin. Keratin is a protein that absorbs light better and increases the natural production of melanin.

This makes the hair and scalp of African Americans more durable, which makes them have curly, kinky hair. On the same note, black hair strands are able to grow up to six times faster because the higher percentage of keratin in Afro hair makes it curlier and kinky.

#2 Afro Hair Has a Naturally Tighter Curl Pattern

Afro hair has a thicker, tighter curl pattern because heat and sweat make the curls tighter, thus creating a protective barrier to hold in moisture. This means that their strands are tacked together more tightly, and the smaller diameter of these curls typically leads to less frizziness.[6]

The reason black people have naturally thicker hair is that it has flatter, thinner cuticle layers than Asian or Caucasian hair.  [7] [8]

#3 Environmental Factors

Curly hair is a hereditary trait shared by all races throughout the world. However, many scientists believe that the reason why curly hair is more dominant in black people is that this genetic trait was passed down through many African generations for millions of years. 

However, this started to change about 20,000-40,000 years ago when earlier modern humans migrated out of Africa into Europe or East Asia, and this is the reason white people and Asian people have different hair types.[9]

Why Black People Use Different Hair Products

Afro hair is very unique so it requires products that are specifically adapted to treat and style the curls and kinks that are hereditary with this hair type. 

https://youtu.be/Te0i_Wg5hYc
My Must Have Natural Hair Products 2021

These products often contain more keratin, and essential oils such as jojoba, castor oil, tea tree oil, and Rosemary, for example. While these ingredients tend to be present in most hair products, they are especially useful for black people, because of the deep moisturizing effect and penetration that can really help to nourish the denser hair curls. 

Other ingredients such as Shea Butter is particularly popular in black hair products because it contains an abundance of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and other essential fatty acids.

Another popular hair product that many black people use is hair relaxers. 

Hair relaxers are chemical treatments that are designed to straighten black hair and make it less thick and curly. These relaxers have been around for over a century and contain ingredients such as calcium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.

However, other black people choose to wear their natural curly hairstyle without any chemical alterations. 

It is also common for black people to use heat protectants before using styling tools such as hot combs, hair steamers, or straighteners. These heat protectants often contain moisturizing ingredients such as silicones and keratin, which add additional nourishment and protection to the hair.

Some black people use hair products such as gels, mousse, and sprays to make their hair curlier. Not only do these substances provide a form of styling for hair, but they can also achieve permanent kinky curls, depending on how much of the product is used.

In Conclusion

In general, black people have curly kinky hair due to the evolution of skin pigmentation and evolutionary adaptation in people of African ancestry. The African American ancestors were closer to the equator and thus had higher exposure to sunlight and UV radiation. This led them to develop more melanin, which causes black skin color in humans and curlier/kinkier hair textures than other races who live in less sunny climates.[10]

This has resulted in many interesting and diverse cultural trends, styles, and products that were formulated to help give Afro hair the care and nourishment that it needs.

Janine Griffiths

Janine is a blogger/editor that edits and creates content for Afro Lovely.
She previously studied economics and journalism at college. After working for two major marketing agencies, she now uses her marketing prowess to create helpful advice, tips and blogs for our audience.
She currently lives in Leeds, in northern England.

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