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Pub Science: Hair, An Homage To The Afro

Pub Science: Hair, An Homage To The Afro

Let’s throw it back to our parents’ style when they were our age and in university. The flared jeans, the gold chain, the platform shoes, and best of all: that afro! That shimmering, stylised, highly flammable head of hair.

Chemical alterations and expensive stylist appointments aside, how come some people have straighter or curlier hair than others?

Surely it isn’t because some ate their bread crusts while others demanded crust-less triangle fairy bread. It may have to do with two little proteins – one controls the amount of the other one, which changes the shape of the hair follicle.

The brains of the duo is called KROX20 and controls the amount of the brawn, IGFBP5, that is produced. The brawn gets to work by disrupting the symmetrical pattern of the hair follicle. When it is even and round straight hair is produced, but when it is irregular and flat hair is curlier.

This is because when your hair follicle is flat, there is a higher chance for the hair protein, keratin, to bond to itself. This works by the amino acid cysteine, which is part of keratin, forming disulphide bonds with other cysteine molecules in the hair. So the flatter the hair follicle, the more disulphide bonding that goes on, which means more bending and curling.

A crimping iron and hair curlers may give you those lush locks your parents perfected before you were around, but nothing will beat good old genetics.


By Lawrence Menz



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