Anyhow, if you cut through the hair strand of someone with naturally straight hair you would find that the cross-section is round. Curly hair on the other hand has a flattened oval or elliptical cross section, this however is only one difference. It is the feature that gives our hair it's very curly shape.
In addition, African/African-American hair:
- Tends to contain much lower levels of cysteic acid than other hair types - this means it's hydrophilic (much more water-loving), has a higher pH and a more negative charge
- It tends to have lower levels of "bonded lipids" and this makes our hair more oil-loving!
- The kinks in our hair are points of weakness so it is weaker. The average black hair will break after 33 grams of strain when wet; that figure is 43 grams for Caucasian hair and 63 grams for Asian hair. Dry hair can take more strain than wet hair, it will break after about 100 grams for Asian hair.
- It tends to be drier - as we all know!
- The cuticle layer is also a little different. Black hair's cuticle is composed of 7 to 11 layers (on average); that figure is 4-7 for Caucasian hair and 11+ for Asian hair.
The fewer the number of layer the more chemicals can be used to change the hair - so a person with a 7-layer cuticle will take chemicals more easily than a person with an 11-layer cuticle; remember those people who complain that their hair just doesn't take relaxer? They probably have a thicker cuticle layer.
That said, flatter (elliptical) hair strands are easier to treat with chemicals so black hair may ultimately be easier to chemically manipulate.
In summary, besides the curl that you see, different hair types have varied structural and chemical features that impact how products work with the hair. This is why different hair types needs slightly different products.
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