Have you ever wondered why is Asian hair so shiny as compared to Caucasian, African, and other hair types? All hair is hair after all, right? So, what makes Asian hair different then? Read on to find out!
Well, apart from our ethnicity (or genetics) which does play a major role in determining our hair texture, there are external factors like humidity, place of residence, hair care, etc., that also play a role in determining what exactly the texture of our hair will be.
If you are an Asian and do not have shiny and silky hair, well, you aren’t the only one, as that is a possibility and could stem from different underlying factors that result in a change in hair texture.
This article will talk about why Asian hair is shiny, as compared to other hair types, what makes Asian hair straight and whether it is true that Asian hair is stronger than Caucasian hair along with other such related topics.
Why Is Asian Hair So Shiny?
The Structure of the Hair
Before I delve any deeper into answering the most requested question about the reason behind Asian hair shine, I will have to run you through a little bit of scientific stuff here in order for you to understand the reasoning behind why Asian hair is shinier than other hair types. So, let’s go through the structure of a hair strand first.
Each hair strand has two main parts, wherein the visible part (we see) is the hair shaft and then, the hair root (which is under the scalp).
The hair shaft comprises of three main layers. The outermost layer is called the cuticle that is made up of overlapping flaps or cells (that replicate tiles on a roof). The cuticle is one that protects the hair strand from damage.
It can keep the inner layers of the hair protected and can give the hair a radiant shine. But, if the hair is damaged, then light will not reflect off the hair shaft and thus, it will not look shiny.
The second layer or the middle layer of the hair shaft is the cortex. It is the thickest among the three layers of the hair strand and it contains the hair pigment giving the hair its color.
The third and innermost layer is the medulla, which is present in coarser hair types, while fine hair usually doesn’t have this layer sometimes, which is normal.
Why Is Asian Hair So Shiny?
Well, now, since I have given you the scientific background, let me use it in explaining to you why exactly Asian hair is so shiny.
It is important to note that the cuticle on the shaft is the most important part of the hair that contributes to giving the hair its shine.
Thus, as per the research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in their paper titled ‘Asian Hair: A Review of Structures, Properties, and Distinctive Disorders’, they have quite a few findings that make evident reasons as to why Asian hair is so shiny.
Here are their findings below:
· The Asian hair cuticle layer is known to be more thicker and has compact cuticle flaps as compared to Caucasian hair.
· Asian hair cuticles are stronger as compared to Caucasian hair cuticles and thus have the ability to absorb more stress.
· The hair cuticles are closely attached to each other in Asian hair, as compared to African hair types.
· Asian hair is known to have one of the best cross-sectional areas, as compared to Caucasian and African hair types.
It is also known that East Asians hair has around 10 layers of cuticles, while Caucasian hair has just around 5 layers of cuticles.
Thus, we can be quite certain to conclude that Asian hair has more of an advantage when it comes to hair shine because of the number of cuticle layers it has.
Since the cuticles on the hair shaft is the part of the hair that is responsible for keeping the hair from damage and giving it a better hair shine, it is clear that Asian hair has the advantage in this case and thus is relatively shinier than other hair types.
Why Is Asian Hair So Straight?
Most often, you will notice that most of the Asian people or at least a large number of East Asian people have straight hair. It sure is intriguing right? How does that happen?
Well, one of the main reasons hair is straight, curly or wavy is the shape of the hair follicle. Some hair follicles can be round in shape, while there are others that are elliptical in shape or oval in shape.
So as per research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), they talk about cross-sectional views of the hair follicles, wherein they noticed that Asian hair strands had the greatest cross-sectional area, as compared to African and Caucasian hair (the other two main hair types). The Asian hair follicle had the most circular cross-section and was rounder in shape.
Thus, this could give us some reasoning as to why Asian hair is so straight, as compared to other hair types.
Another aspect researched by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), was hair curvature.
Well, this research, it states that Asian hair has a rounder shape which is more cylindrical with less curvature, leading to Asian hair being straight, while African hair has a more flattened shape, with twists and a higher curvature.
These two scientific reasons give us certainty on how Asian hair gets its straightness.
Is Asian Hair Stronger Than Caucasian Hair?
Let me begin with first answering the question before getting into the details. Well, yes, Asian hair is considered stronger than Caucasian hair, and here’s why!
Asian hair cuticles are known to be stronger because as per research, when tested under pressure (like when the hair is pulled), it can still maintain its original shape to a certain extent and only under extreme stress, it peel off as fragments when stretched.
But on the other hand, Caucasian hair is known to have fragile hair cuticles that cannot withstand high levels of pressure and can snap into tiny fragments when under extreme stress (like when the hair is pulled).
Why Does Korean and Japanese Hair Get So Oily?
One of the main reasons hair gets oily very quickly is because of having a straight hair type. Well, most Korean and Japanese people have straight hair types, this being one of the main factors causing their hair to get oily in no time even after they have washed it.
Let me break this down for you guys with an example. So, first of all, our scalp naturally produces a substance called sebum, which is oily or waxy in texture. This sebum coats the scalp and thereafter moves down along the hair shaft.
Now, for those with curly or wavy hair, the waves, curves or twists and turns in the hair will act like obstacles for spreading the sebum down till the tips of your hair strands and thus, it will take it longer for curly or wavy hair to get or look oily (but this can be a cause for dry hair as well).
On the contrary, straight hair is more prone to becoming oily because their hair shafts do not have any sort of texture to obstruct the sebum from flowing smoothly down the hair shaft. So it slides down the hair and makes it look oily.
Thus, for those with straight hair like the Korean and Japanese people, dealing with oily hair issues can often become an everyday problem.
How to Make My Asian Hair Shinier?
If you are an Asian who does not have the typical “shiny Asian hair”, then here are a few tips you could incorporate into your hair care routine that can help you achieve that hair sheen and shine over time.
Sometimes lack of shine could also mean damaged hair, so these tips will include ways to help reduce hair damage as well.
Tip 1: Use cold water for your final hair wash
Use cold water as your final hair rinse to help seal the hair cuticles and thus lock in moisture in the hair strand.
Tip 2: Use the right hair brush
Avoid using plastic combs, instead use boar bristle hair brushes as they are gentler on the hair strand and will cause lesser hair damage.
Tip 3: Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase
When our head moves around in our sleep, there can be friction between the hair strands causing damage. Thus, sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase instead of a cotton one.
Tip 4: Moisturization is key
The more the hair moisture, the better and healthier your hair will be. Thus, hair hydration through serums, hair oils, hair masks etc., can help prevent hair damage and increase hair sheen and shine.
Tip 5: Avoid using heat styling tools too often
Using heat on the hair too often can cause the hair cuticles to open up and thus, letting the hair shaft become more prone to damage.
Therefore, minimize the use of heat on the hair and use heat protectant sprays whenever you use heat styling tools.
Tip 6: Try the co-wash technique
Co-wash or wash your hair with only a conditioner (yes, no shampoo), once in a way. This can help your hair retain its moisture levels.
The final takeaway
I hope this article was able to answer all your questions regarding why Asian hair is shiny and what makes it that way, as compared to other hair types.
Getting into a little of the scientific aspect is always essential when trying to decode concepts like these.
We can finally conclude that it is the difference in the number of layers in the cuticles of the Asian hair type (more number of cuticles) that let it have a better hair shine, as compared to Caucasian and African hair types.