Everyone’s hair is different with its own set of issues. Let’s take a look at the challenges faced by curly hair.
Hair characteristics such as fineness, degree of curvature, and length determine how oiled hair is. In other words: if the hair is fine and straight, it will be the most efficient to transport (wick) the sebum from the scalp and because the fibers align compactly, the oil gets transferred efficiently to all the fibers by contact to each other. This hair will appear more oily and limp than curly hair. In curly hair the curvature inhibits transport of the lipids and the fact that the fibers don’t lie uniformly against each other will also prevent the transfer across fibers. Overall results: curly hair appears dry. [Reference:Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair by Robbins ]
The lack of alignment in curly hair is also one of the reasons that hair lacks shine. Highest levels for shine will occur if a surface is smooth and uniform. Virgin hair of the same color will differ in shine if one is straight and the other is curly. Additionally, the more the damage, the more dull the hair gets. As the cuticles get lifted or damaged, the light is diffused instead of reflecting in a specular way. The shine band across the hair is thus not visible.
Studies have also shown that the manageability of African-American hair is more challenging compared to Caucasian hair because the increased degree in curl makes it necessary to use much more force during combing. Unless the hair is kept well lubricated, breakage will likely happen more.
Level of curliness
In a study done by L’oreal, the researchers examined hair of African descent from various countries: Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia and United States. From the study they deduced that African-American hair is looser in curl and curl degree increases from Jamaican to Ghanaian to Liberian to Kenyan (tightest curls). The study also showed that:
hair fibers with a higher degree in curl are typically thinner, more elliptical and weaker than hair that has looser curls.
Frizz and management efforts
Curly hair is more susceptible to frizz problems, which means that once the hair is styled, it is not touchable. Many will sleep in bonnets or loose braids or pony tails to avoid losing the definition and body in curly hair. Furthermore, retouching the hair the next day is not as simple as brushing it. It also requires more delicacy in handling. Using the right products for retouching is another hurdle for those who haven’t found the right fit yet.
Curly hair is genetically designed to be more challenging to maintain and keep healthy. The curlier the hair, the more care it demands. Every head will have its own unique set of curls, which means that you should find products that will cater for your curl types. NaturallyCurly.com has a nice chart inspired by Andre Walker’s charting system that categorizes the curls.