Have you ever woken up, caught a glimpse of your all-tangled wild curly locks in the mirror, and thought “Why me?” Trust me you aren’t the only one. Curly hair can feel like a burden when it’s frizzy or uncooperative, but those ringlets may indicate you have a genetic advantage passed down from your ancestors.
While achieving sleek straight hair is the new trend among women, it is a research-backed fact that curly hair gives you an evolutionary edge (yes, even in the modern day) over your straight-haired (be it natural or artificial) peers.
5 Acquired Evolutionary Perks of Curly Hair: What Research Suggests
Still on the fence? Fine. Don’t take my word. Let the study results at hand convince you about the marvelous curls you’re slaying with. Here’s what science has documented about the superpowers hidden in your spirals:
1. Your Curls Has Always Acted As A Natural Shield Against the Sun
Curly hair gets a bad rap for being difficult to handle, but those coils and kinks are no accident. Research shows that curly hair likely evolved to protect humans from the hot and humid elements, especially the harmful UV rays.
Tight curls create a denser covering on the scalp. The dense growth blocked (and keeps blocking) more sunlight to prevent overheating in hot climates, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where humanity is said to have originated. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Just like animals with thick fur, the more impenetrable the hair barrier, the better protected we are from the environment. Curly locks act like natural insulation, keeping us warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
2. Your Curls Are Like a Miniature Defense System in Itself
When our evolutionary ancestors encountered threats from animals or other humans, having a head full of snarly, thick hair may have helped protect them.
Curly hair forms an impenetrable yet springy mesh that makes it difficult for predators (and modern-day creeps) to get a grip on the scalp. Trying to grab a fistful of tight curls is like trying to hold onto a thick, fuzzy rope. An attacker’s hands would slip right off the slick surface of the dense curls before they could get purchase.
So while curly hair may be difficult for you to comb, it likely shielded our ancestors’ scalps from becoming an easy target during conflicts and attacks and keeps shielding us from pervs even to this day. Those unruly locks were and will be the original helmet!
3. Curly Hair Is Known to Retain Less Moisture
Limp, straight hair tends to soak up and retain more moisture than textured curls. This made straight hair less advantageous in hot, arid environments where conservation of water was key to survival.
The curly hair shape forms a more hollow shaft that doesn’t absorb as much liquid. Like a straw, the curled shaft holds less volume of fluid inside.
One study found that curly hair holds about 6% water content by weight. Straight hair retains over 20% water content by weight. The curly shape acts like a straw, with less capacity to hold water inside the hair shaft.
By retaining less water in the hair itself, curly locks leave the precious resource free for the body to use. Less water evaporation from the hair resulted in better hydration for early humans living in hot climates with scarce water sources.
4. Curly Hair Taking Ages to Grow Is More of An Advantage than You Think
Girl, don’t even get me started on trying out short hairstyles with that curly mane. I’ve been there, done that, and let me tell you – it’s a struggle! If you end up dissatisfied with a short curly style, it feels like an eternity before the hair grows out enough to try something new.
On average, curly hair grows at a slower rate than straight hair. One study found growth rates of 6 inches per year for straight hair compared to just 4 inches per year for curly hair. Sounds like a real deal breaker doesn’t it? Well, there’s a significant advantage to the snail’s pace at which your curly hair grows.
The slower growth rate means curly hair stays anchored in the follicle for longer periods between shedding. This translates to a denser head of hair overall.
5. Curly Hair Shafts Are More Resilient
Multiple studies have confirmed that curly hair shapes distribute mechanical stress more evenly. Combing and styling typically cause less breakage damage on textured hair.
The curved shape of curls better handles strain placed on the hair. Curly hair retains integrity with fewer split ends or breakage over time.
6. Tighter Your Curl Is, Thicker The Strands Are
Scientists have determined that curly locks have thicker individual hair strands compared to straight hair. A higher curliness grade corresponds with greater strand thickness.
One study showed that Type 3 and Type 4 hair on the curl classification scale had thicker strands than Type 1 and 2 hair. Tighter coils demonstrate more resilience against breakage.
The Fruit of Your Curls Will Accompany You
Your hair texture tells a story going back thousands of years to the origins of humankind. So, next time your ringlets feel unruly remember they’re part of your genetic identity.
Rather than fighting your curls, try embracing them as the gift of evolution they are: a badge of resilience passed down to you over generations. Your hair carried unique benefits that allowed your ancestors to grind through the harshness. Now your curls are part of the vibrant legacy you’ve inherited as their descendant. Maybe it’s time to retire the straightener and let your inner lion out!