6 Basic Things You Need to Know About Curly Hair Structure


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It’s a bit of a misconception that the only factor to consider regarding textured hair is the amount of curl. When you’re conducting an analysis and consultation, you must also consider aspects such as porosity, density, follicle shape and hair diameter in order to understand the best approach to cutting, styling and product recommendation. Here’s a quick brush-up on curly hair characteristics.


1—It’s all about follicle shape and growth angle.
Textured hair can be wavy, curly or coily and it’s the follicle shape and angle of growth that determine the shape. In straight hair, the follicle is nearly round. In coily hair, it’s a very flat elliptical. Straight hair grows parallel to the scalp while waves and curls grow on a diagonal or oblique angle. Tight curls grow perpendicular to the scalp.

2—The actual length can be deceiving.
Because curly hair grows horizontally, the actual length can be difficult to perceive. To gauge the true length, therefore, you must stretch or elongate the hair to account for “shrinkage.”


3—It’s a myth that curly hair grows slowly.
In fact, most curly hair grows at the same rate as straight hair—about half an inch per month on average. The reason the growth isn’t as noticeable is because of hair shrinkage, or the fact that it grows out or at an angle rather than straight down.

4—Textured hair can be any thickness or diameter.
A single strand of any hair type can be coarse, medium or fine. Hair density measures the number of hair strands on one square inch of scalp and can be low, medium or high. A hair type might be anything from fine-but-dense to coarse-but-sparse. It’s easy to assume that coily hair is also coarse and high-density hair, but that isn’t always the case.

5—There are often more than one curl pattern and level of thickness and density on one head.
The pattern, thickness and density might vary on different areas of the head, such as the nape or scalp vs. the ends, or it could even change along the length of the same hair strand.

6—Porosity is a huge factor.
Porosity is the ability of the hair to absorb moisture. It’s directly related to the condition of the cuticle, which can range from flat, smooth and resistant to raised and porous. If it’s the latter, it usually means the hair is damaged, dry, fragile and/or brittle. The tighter the cuticle, the shinier the hair will appear. The tighter the curl, the less the cuticle is able to lie flat.