The science of mixed-race hair

Carly Lewis-Oduntan investigates why mixed-race hair differs from other textures

Photo: Labelm

Typically when we hear the term ‘mixed-race hair’ we think of full-bodied curls, somewhere between wavy and afro-textured. But just like anyone with natural hair, a combination of different heritages can result in a diverse plethora of hair types from straight or wavy to curly, coily and kinky. After all, your genetics directly link to not only your hair texture but also the thickness of your individual strands which is ultimately determined by the shape and size of your hair follicles.

‘Mixed hair has more para-cortical cells than ortho-cortical cells, meaning it’s less prone to damage than African hair and it’s stronger and more elastic,’ says Michelle Thompson, afro hair specialist and creative director of the Francesco Group. ‘It also has more of the cell membrane complex, which is what holds the cortical cells in place. This allows the hair to be more resistant to manipulation. Lastly, mixed hair also has more cuticle layers than African hair, which lay over the ortho-cortical cells, meaning the hair is more fragile to external damage.’

Though there are a wide range of hair textures that we see in people of mixed- heritage, it’s common for mixed-race hair to lean more towards the afro than the straight side of the spectrum. The science behind the make-up of mixed-race hair doesn’t give us a definitive answer as to why this is, however, research shows that in the rare cases of white and Asian people born with afro-textured hair, only a single version of the gene that produces this hair type has to be passed down from either the mother or father. Therefore it makes sense that whilst mixed-race hair isn’t typically the most coarse or tightly coiled, it still has more characteristics comparable to the afro than straighter European textures.

READ NOW
Lathaniel Chambers is X Factor's leading afro hairstylist

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Theme developed by TouchSize - Premium WordPress Themes and Websites