What makes hair curly?

Hair Ideas & Inspiration

What makes hair curly?

10 Oct 2019

Image credit: Sian Wood, The Chapel Hairdressers - Islington

Do your curls feel like a blessing or a curse? Many straight-haired ladies gaze on with envy and awe at the curled coifs they see, as curls are often seen as representing freedom, independence and confidence. However, curls can be difficult to rein in, so it's important to understand your hair and find the right products and techniques that allow you to feel wonderful and not frustrated! Whether you embrace your curls or try everything you can to straighten them, curly hair is a result of genes you inherit from your parents and the composition and structure of your hair. So, where do these inherited curls come from?

Hair Follicles

Your hair is made up of two components - the shaft of the hair which shows above the scalp and the hair follicle - which sits in the skin and cannot be seen. It is the composition of this follicle that determines the shape and texture of your hair and the attributes of that follicle are determined by your inherited genes.

The very nature of these follicles determines the straightness or curvature of your hair. For example, if your follicles are symmetrical, you are more likely to grow straight hair. If your follicles are asymmetrical, your hair is far more likely to produce oval-shaped hair which has a greater tendency to curl during growth.


There is, however, more at play than just your hair follicles. How keratin is distributed throughout your hair also plays an important role in the straightness or curliness of your hair. Hair strands contain proteins called keratins and with curly hair, the keratin bunches up in the curve of the strand, making it a bit off-centre. Combined with the genetically-inherited shape of your follicle, these two elements can explain why you have a head of gorgeous bouncing curls.

Occasional Curls

You might normally have straight hair but notice on occasion that slight curls begin to form. This type of temporary curliness can be the result of humidity in the atmosphere, changes in your hormones or even caused by some types of medication.

Caring for your curls

Do you feel that your curls demand constant attention to keep them in check? Curly hair comes with a unique set of demands. Often, tight curls can suffer from frizz and dryness due to the natural oils on your scalp having a tougher time moving down the hair strands. Perhaps you would benefit from a moisturising shampoo and conditioner specially for curls. It can be helpful to have a hair salon consultation before deciding on treatments or styles for curly hair.

Different Types of Curls

Seeking a relaxed, detailed professional consultation with our hairstylists (in London, Marlow, Horsham, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells & Verbier) can help to determine your curl type and the best methods for caring for them. Perhaps your hair is wavy and you're open to trying a whole range of options including both straight and curly styles? Maybe you have spiral curls that follow an 'S' or 'Z' shape? Do you have tightly coiled or kinky hair? Come in for a personal consultation with advice on making you feel great about your curls again.