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Afro-textured hair is the natural hair texture of certain populations in Africa, the African diaspora, Australia and Asia, which has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals (through perming, relaxation, or other straightening methods). Each strand of this hair type grows in a tiny, spring-like helix shape. The overall effect is such that, compared to straight, wavy or curly hair, afro-textured hair appears denser.
Adjectives such as "wooly", "kinky", "nappy", or "spiralled" have frequently been used to describe natural afro-textured hair. More recently, however, it has become common in some circles to apply numerical grading systems to human hair types. There are also natural haircare products used today for unprocessed, natural hair, such as Cantu, Shea Moisture, African Pride, and Carol's Daughter products.
One popular version of these systems classifies afro-textured hair as 'type 4' (straight hair is type 1, wavy type 2, and curly is type 3, with the letters A, B, and C used to indicate the degree of coil variation within each type), with the subcategory of type 4C being most exemplary of this hair type (Walker, 1997). However, afro-textured hair is often difficult to categorize because of the many different variations among individuals. Those variations include pattern (mainly tight coils), pattern size (watch spring to chalk), density (sparse to dense), strand diameter (fine, medium, coarse), and feel (cottony, wooly, spongy).
The chart below is the most commonly used chart to help determine hair types:
Different ethnic groups have observable differences in the structure, density, and growth rate of hair. With regard to structure, all human hair has the same basic chemical composition in terms of keratin protein content. Franbourg et al. have found that Black hair may differ in the distribution of lipids throughout the hair shaft. Classical afro-textured hair has been found to be not as densely concentrated on the scalp as other follical types. Specifically, the average density of afro-textured hair was found to be approximately 190 hairs per square centimeter. This was significantly lower than that of Caucasian hair, which, on average, has approximately 227 hairs per square centimeter.
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