The Mestiza Muse

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

Be Beautiful. Be Natural. Be You.

Is It Really Important to Know Your Curl Pattern?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Image of woman with short curly hair running hers fingers through it.

We partner with and endorse products from trusted companies that benefit our readers. Here’s our process.

As a reader-supported platform, we may earn affiliate commissions for purchases made through links, including those advertising Target.com.

Please read our disclosure for more info.

Curl patterns are unique characteristics of human hair that vary across different ethnic groups and regions worldwide.1,2 These variations arise from the different structures within the hair cortex.

So, why does knowing your curl pattern matter? Does it affect the hair’s physical and chemical properties? And, do different curl patterns require customized hair care routines?

The answer is a resounding yes! Identifying your curl pattern is important for tailoring your hair care regimen to meet your specific needs. To provide expert insight into this topic, I’ve enlisted the help of a hair scientist and cosmetic formulator with a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

In this article, we’ll explore why your curl pattern matters, how it influences your hair’s characteristics, and the importance of a personalized hair care routine. You’ll also learn about other critical factors that help create a customized hair care regimen, ensuring your hair looks and feels its best every day.

What A Curl Pattern Is, According to Science

Image of different hair textures.
This photo belongs to The Mestiza Muse: Various hair textures

A curl pattern refers to the shape of the curl along the hair shaft, which is determined by the diameter of the curl’s curvature. Hair experts have developed a universal system to classify different types of hair based on texture and curl pattern.3

Human scalp hair can be classified into four major groups:

  • Straight
  • Wavy
  • Curly
  • Kinky Coily

Hair can be further divided into sub-groups within each group based on factors like ellipticity, porosity, moisture content, and lipid profile. Understanding these classifications helps determine the best hair care practices for different hair types.

Curly Hair: Scientific Insight

What makes hair wavy, curly, or kinky? This question has been extensively studied by scientists and is closely tied to follicle activity and cellular arrangement within the hair cortex.

The shape of the follicle, where keratinization occurs and hair forms, significantly influences the emerging hair fiber. This process is governed by human genetics and cannot be modified or altered.4

Microscopic studies show that straight and curly hair fibers have different arrangements of cortical cells within the hair cortex. There are two types of cortical cells: ortho-cortical and para-cortical.

Graphic image of the changes in hair diameter and ellipticity with changing cellular arrangement.
This shows changes in hair diameter and ellipticity with changing cellular arrangement.

In straight (Asian) hair fibers, these cells are uniformly and homogeneously distributed throughout the cortex. In curly hair, however, ortho and para cells are arranged bilaterally, with one type of cell dominating the other. This asymmetry causes the hair shaft to curve, resulting in a curly hair fiber.

Additionally, this cellular arrangement leads to an elliptical hair shaft with variations in fiber diameter from the roots to the tips. This suggests that curly hair changes along its length, making it unique at each point along the shaft.5,6

Why Understanding Your Curl Pattern Matters

Knowing your curl pattern is crucial for effective hair care. It defines the nature of your hair fibers and influences micro and macroscopic characteristics, such as moisture content, porosity, and coarseness. These parameters vary across curl patterns, from lightly wavy to extremely coily kinky hair.

For example, straight hair fibers are typically less coarse and have higher moisture content than coily kinky fibers. Understanding these differences is essential for selecting the right hair care products and techniques.

Your curl pattern also impacts your daily grooming routine, including hair styling and volumizing methods. Different curl patterns require different management and products to achieve the desired style.

This knowledge is key to creating a customized hair care regimen. It helps you determine the right balance of emollients, hydration, and protein needed to improve your hair’s health. Today’s consumers seek personalized, result-oriented hair care products tailored to their specific hair type.

For instance, a shampoo designed for coily hair may not be suitable for straight or lightly wavy hair, and a conditioning mask for low-porosity curly hair may not work well for chemically processed curly hair. Understanding your curl pattern ensures you choose the right products and treatments for your hair’s unique needs.

Other Key Features to Know About Your Hair

While understanding your curl pattern is essential, there are other important factors to consider for a comprehensive understanding of your hair’s characteristics. These include:

Everyone dreams of having natural, shiny, and beautiful hair. To achieve this, consumers often use various grooming techniques, such as altering hair texture, changing hair color, straightening, or perming.

Protein treatments, moisturization, and hydration are also popular methods for maintaining healthy hair fibers. However, these techniques may not deliver the desired results if you don’t understand the fundamental features of your hair.

That’s why exploring and determining your hair’s porosity and curl pattern is crucial. These factors help define your hair’s body, volume, and texture, enabling you to choose the right products and techniques for your unique hair needs.


References

  1. Porter, C. E.; Dixon, F.; Khine, C.-C.; Pistorio, B.; Bryant, H.; de la Mettrie, R., The behavior of hair from different countries. Journal of Cosmetic Science 2009, 60 (2), 97-109. ↩︎
  2. Cloete, E.; Khumalo, N. P.; Ngoepe, M. N., The what, why and how of curly hair: a review. Proceedings of the Royal Society A 2019, 475 (2231), 20190516. ↩︎
  3. Marsh, J. M.; Gray, J.; Tosti, A. Healthy hair; Springer: 2015. ↩︎
  4. Richena, M.; Harland, D., What causes curly hair? Journal of Cosmetic Science 2022, 72, 643-654. ↩︎
  5. Camacho‐Bragado, G.; Balooch, G.; Dixon‐Parks, F.; Porter, C.; Bryant, H., Understanding breakage in curly hair. British Journal of Dermatology 2015, 173 (S2), 10-16. ↩︎
  6. BOUILLON, C., The Science of Hair Care, Second Edition. Taylor & Francis: 2005. ↩︎

HI,I'M VERNA

I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

My Favourite Things

Great hair goes beyond using shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Shop my favorite must-haves.

After years of requests, I’m finally sharing my go-to skincare products.

Give your space a quick refresh with these ultimate home decor ideas.

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure and make sure to pack these essential items to take with you on your journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep Reading

Curl Care

TROUBLESHOOTING

Is High Porosity Hair Genetic?

Are you curious about whether the characteristic of high porosity hair is inherited? It’s a valid question, especially considering the link between high porosity and damaged hair. How could a

Read More »

PRODUCTS

TEXTURES

TESTIMONIALS

OUR MANIFESTO

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted.
Do it now.

- Paulo coelho