Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Hair we are - Proper curl care for different races

Published:Wednesday | April 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Hair, often referred to as one's 'glory' and 'crowning glory', has been the subject of controversies arising from rules about hair grooming practices at some schools and work places.

At times, individuals of African descent receive messages that their hair may be deemed untidy in the natural state, and should not be kept out, as is often overlooked in other races.

We need to debunk concepts of 'good hair' and 'bad hair'.

The assumption should not be made that those who choose to wear chemically or heat-treated hairstyles are ashamed of their natural hair. Likewise, it shouldn't be assumed that a naturally straight-haired individual who gets a treatment to make it curly is ashamed of their straight hair. It is to each his or her own, whether to choose to go from curly to straight hair styles and vice versa.

It is recommended, however, that caution be taken in ensuring the haircare and styling practices are safe and not detrimental to one's health. We have looked at some of these haircare tips in previous articles.

Hair is produced by the hair follicle. The hair fibre is made up of many different proteins. The majority of proteins in the hair shaft are made of keratins. Di-sulphide bonds and proteins called trichohyalins help to structurally stabilise the keratins. Like skin, melanin gives hair its colour. Melanoctyes are the cells that produce melanin, which is packaged in melanosomes. Hair colour is determined by the number and type of melanosomes.

Let's look at some of the features of hair in different races.

Race can be defined as one of the divisions of mankind based on physical characteristics. Three main races are Mongoloid, Negroid and Caucasoid, which account for more than 90 per cent of the world's population. The other groups are Australoid and Capoid.



1. The melanin content of black Negroid hair and brown Caucasian hair was found to be quite similar. However, melanosomes in Negroid hair were found to be larger than those of Caucasian hair.

2. The ratio of different types of melanin (eumelanin to phaeomelanin) help determine whether the hair colour will be naturally black or brown versus yellow or red.

3. Negroid hair follicles are found to be curved, those of Mongoloids straight, while Caucasoid follicles varied.

4. Mongoloid hair is typically straight and circular in structure and has the largest diameter of all races. Caucasoid hair ranges from straight to wavy to helical, with a round or oval shape and thinnest cross-sectional area. Negroid hair is generally commonly helical or spiral with different variations. It has the flattest and most elliptically shaped fibre and is intermediate in size between Mongoloid and Caucasoid.

5. Several studies have showed similar hair protein content in different races, while a few have shown slight differences.

6. Negoid hair was found to be drier with less strength and more fragility. Adequate moisturisation and gentle handling is therefore recommended.

We have all been wonderfully made - curly, wavy or straight hair, hair or no hair.

- Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spas; Email