There have been many studies comparing Asian, Caucasian and African hair. Before you read this blog, please keep in mind that these are just generalizations based on research studies comparing the hair of different ethnicities. There are some major differences, but you may be surprised to know some major similarities too. Let’s discuss the differences first. Asian hair is the roundest in cross section it has the largest diameter and the naturally shed hairs have either a cut tip or a natural tip. The hair is typically straight. Caucasian hair is elliptical in cross section and these hairs have the smallest cross-sectional area. The naturally shed hairs typically have a cut or natural tip. Spontaneous knotting is rarely observed. African hair is the most elliptical and flattened in cross-section. It is ribbon-like and tightly coiled and naturally shed hairs have a frayed tip. Spontaneous knotting is commonly observed. In addition, longitudinal splitting, fissures, and breaking of hair shaft are often observed in African hair. These analyses were performed on untreated “virgin” hair. Hair was combed by the volunteers and the naturally shed hairs were described after analysis with an electron (super high powered) microscope. The study was performed in Europe on people of European, African and Asian descent. Obviously, as mentioned above, hair varies widely within races. For example, African American women can have hair ranging from tightly coiled to practically straight hair. However, these studies were done to show the main differences between the various ethnic groups. Other studies have examined keratin and amino acid composition of hair between the races. These studies have failed to demonstrate any differences in the type of keratin or amino acid composition between Asian, Caucasian, and African hair.
Some other differences between African hair when compared to other ethnicities include decreased tensile strength, decreased resistance to breakage, and decreased hair density. One researcher also found that there were less elastic fibers attaching African hair to the scalp which may explain the frequent hair loss and alopecia seen clinically in people of African descent. The bottom line is, based on multiple studies , we know African hair is more fragile and has special needs to keep it at its best. Just remember to keep this in mind when choosing your next hair style.