Have you ever wondered why some of us have pin-straight hair while others have bouncy, springy curls that are tightly coiled? Naturally, there is even more variety of hair textures that fall in between these extremes.
Our unique hair type is something that is genetically predetermined and derives from our hair follicle. While manipulating the surface of our hair is possible to achieve different looks, science has been working at discovering how to change hair follicle shape naturally.
Before we answer the question of how to change hair follicle shape, let us first take a look into how different hair types turn out the way that they do.
How Hair Follicles Determine Hair Texture
On the surface, the shape of the follicle plays the largest role in determining your hair’s shape. At its core, the follicle shape is determined by the code written onto your DNA. The follicle may be round, oval, or straight and that, in turn, will dictate how the hair springs out of your head.
Follicles are basically pores. These tube-like structures are built into the skin and contain the follicle bulb that your hair grows out of. The amount of follicles on your head never changes from the moment you are born until you reach old age.
Working with keratin, the follicle determines your hair. Amino acids are comprised to make up the protein keratin, which gives hair its structure. The way these amino acids bond determines how your hair bends, or if it even bends at all.
Hook-shaped follicles produce a hair shaft with a concave cross-section with more keratin on one side than the other, causing the hair to curl. Round follicles create round hair shafts, as opposed to curly ones, so keratin is evenly distributed, making the hair grow straight.
How to Change Hair Follicle Shape
As of now, a pill or even a natural fix to your hair shape simply doesn’t exist. Several factors that happen physiologically, however, can change your hair’s texture, though we don’t have any control over this.
The shape of our follicles comes down to body chemistry, genes, and our hormones. As you may know, gene expression, that is, which genes light up and affect our body, indicates our hair type. Environmental factors, hormones, and stress can signal which genes to turn on in the body.
Big hormonal shifts occur at certain points in our lives that can alter hair’s texture. They include puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
The thyroid gland and its hormones can change your hair texture and volume. Additionally, androgens, which are male sex hormones, increase in boys and girls alike during puberty. An increase in body hair and baldness can also take place.
Enhancing Your Hair’s Shape
While you can’t do much about your follicles, you can manipulate your hair to enhance curl shape or flatten out waves.
It’s important to effectively moisturize hair regardless of its texture. For curls, add a moisturizer that is lightweight enough to give life to that bounce.
Various serums and oils can help you work towards the texture that you desire. Be sure to use them according to their individual instructions.
As always, avoid as much heat styling as possible as it can do plenty of heat damage to hair, sometimes for good, if done enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
The shape of a hair follicle is usually determined by DNA. Scientists still have many questions about the genetic factors that influence hair follicle shape, but most people in the medical community believe that your follicle shape develops when you are still an embryo.
Curly hair follicles are oval with a slight twist on the bottom. As hair grows through the follicle, it is coated with keratin, a protein that gives hair structure.
When hair goes through the oval shape, it is unevenly coated with keratin, causing a curly texture.
Hair follicles change shape throughout your lifetime due to hormonal changes. This change is particularly common during puberty when some people find that their hair becomes curlier. Certain drugs and vitamins can also impact your hormone levels.
Treatments like chemical perms can also break down the protein structures in hair follicles and reshape them. This can cause long-term damage to your hair follicles.
Hormonal changes can make your follicle shape more round, thus making your hair appear straighter. You can also get a permanent treatment to reshape your hair to make it straight.
It’s clear that we cannot change the shape of our hair follicles. We can, however, learn about their hair structure and tune into our body during periods of big shifts. Overall hair health is critical to getting the hair that we want in a healthy manner.