If you’re like me and have curly hair, some days it is nearly impossible to get your hair to stay still. Humidity is my worst nightmare and some days it is nearly impossible to do anything to it. This got me to thinking, what makes hair curly?
In article published in Time Magazine, they say that curly hair is determined by physics. In a study published in the Journal Physical Review Letters explained why curly hair can be hard to control at times.
The investigation concluded that, “the biggest variale curly hair has to reckon with is weight.” This means that the longer the hair grows, the more of a burden hair becomes. Eventually, the strand will become too heavy and topple over. In opposition, straight hair is more 2-D and really only moves in 2 dimensions.
If you have curly hair and it is shorter, it creates more of a 3-D helix. This means that the strands grow, “up, down, swooping in an angles, doubling back on itself.” If the hair is longer than the head or beyond, the researchers call it’s called a 3-D local helix, which is more complex.
Curly hair can be attributed to genetics. In a 2009 study conducted it was determined that, “a heritability of between 85 and 95 percent.” This research showed that the way a curl bends depends on its follicle. If a follicle is asymmetrical the hair that is produced is more likely to curl. If the follicle is symmetrical, then the hair grows straight.
This study also showed that even if you are born with symmetrical follicles, it is still possible to have curly hair. The scientists who conducted this study, determined that, “a cellular receptor called EGFR clusters on the outer root sheath of a follicle and appears to regulate the growth of hair.”
The study can be seen here
Although scientists can look at the physics and theoretics of curly hair in many studies, curly haired people like myself look at the problem of criss less theoretical. There can be theories and studies conducted on curly hair that looks at the algorithms behind it, but for the most part everyday people will continue to try to tame the mane with styling products.