Understanding Different Types of Hair: A Scientific Approach
Hair: The Science Behind Your Style
Hair is one of the most defining features of our appearance. It can be straight, wavy, curly, or kinky, and it comes in a variety of colors. But what determines our hair type? And why do different people have different hair textures?
The science behind hair is complex, but it all starts with the structure of the hair shaft. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, which is arranged in a series of overlapping scales. The shape of these scales is what determines the curliness of the hair.
In this article, we will take a scientific approach to understanding different types of hair. We will discuss the structure of hair, the classification of hair types, and the role of genetics in determining hair type.
The Structure of Hair
At the microscopic level, hair is made up of three main layers: the medulla, the cortex, and the cuticle.
The medulla is the innermost layer, and it is made up of loose cells. The cortex is the middle layer, and it is the thickest layer of the hair shaft. The cortex is made up of keratin fibers, and it is the cortex that gives hair its strength and elasticity. The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair shaft, and it is made up of overlapping scales. The cuticle protects the inner layers of the hair from damage.
The shape of the hair shaft is determined by the shape of the keratin fibers in the cortex. If the fibers are straight, the hair will be straight. If the fibers are wavy, the hair will be wavy. If the fibers are curly, the hair will be curly. And if the fibers are kinky, the hair will be kinky.
Classification of Hair Types
Hair can be categorized into four main types: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.
Straight hair has a round cross-section and the keratin fibers in the cortex are arranged in a straight line. Wavy hair has an oval cross-section and the keratin fibers in the cortex are arranged in a slightly wavy line. Curly hair has a flat cross-section and the keratin fibers in the cortex are arranged in a tight curl. Kinky hair has a zigzag cross-section and the keratin fibers in the cortex are arranged in a very tight curl.
Each hair type has its own unique characteristics and challenges. For example, straight hair is generally easier to manage than curly hair, but it can also be more prone to oiliness. Wavy hair is a versatile hair type that can be worn in a variety of styles, but it can also be difficult to style if it is not properly cared for. Curly hair is often seen as being more voluminous and textured than other hair types, but it can also be more prone to dryness and frizz. Kinky hair is the most fragile of the four hair types, but it is also the most versatile. Kinky hair can be worn in a variety of styles, from natural to braided to locs.
The Role of Genetics
Our hair type is determined by our genes. We inherit two copies of each gene, one from each parent. The different copies of a gene can be different forms of the gene, called alleles. The alleles that we inherit determine our hair type.
There are several genes that are involved in determining hair type. One of the most important genes is called the keratin associated protein 7 (KRTAP7) gene. The KRTAP7 gene codes for a protein that is found in the cortex of the hair shaft. The shape of this protein affects the shape of the keratin fibers in the cortex, and therefore the curliness of the hair.
Other genes that are involved in determining hair type include the trichohyalin gene, the keratin associated protein 1 gene, and the keratin associated protein 13 gene. These genes code for proteins that are involved in the structure of the hair shaft and the cuticle.