If you’re like me, then you know that curly hair can be a challenge. Some days it is manageable and then there are others when it simply cannot cooperate. However, it is fun to learn why it got this way.
We may never have a complete explanation as to how curly hair gets passed down from parent to child, but genetics can help explain some of it. Keep in mind that science is ever-changing, and while we may get logical answers about curly hair today, those answers could change tomorrow.
Still, it is fascinating to learn more about why we are the way we are and where we get certain characteristics.
Where Does Curly Hair Come From?
Simply put, curly hair comes from your parents. However, your parents don’t sit down before you are born to decide what texture your hair is going to be. Instead, whether they have curly hair or straight hair can determine if you end up with the same characteristic. Moreover, their characteristics determine yours.
Is Curly Hair a Dominant Trait?
Curly hair is a dominant trait, which means that if one parent has curly hair, then the chances are that their offspring has curly hair too. However, the strength of this trait varies, and children may not end up with curly hair, but rather wavy hair.
Since curly hair is a dominant trait, it overtakes the recessive trait, which could be something like straight hair. Still, a fluke could always happen, and a curly-haired parent could end up with a straight-haired child, but genetics would say otherwise.
A Quick Break Down of Genetics
So, what is genetics? And why does it have such a large say in the characteristics of offspring?
What Is Genetics?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that genetics is the research and study of how individual genes or groups of genes play a role in health and wellness. While learning more about genes can help us understand and prevent diseases, it also helps us understand other traits that get passed down from parent to child.
What are Genes?
This is often an overused genetics joke, but I feel obligated to insert it in this post—no, I did not misspell the word genes. I’m not talking about the denim pants we wear. Rather, genes are basic units of heredity and provide the directions for molecules to make proteins. All genes are made from DNA. Therefore, they help make you, you!
Everyone gets two versions of the same gene because one comes from either parent. Each copy of a gene is called a chromosome. As a result, this is how we can determine certain traits and characteristics in a child—but more on that in a bit.
How Do We Get Genes?
Everyone inherits their genes from their parents. It is a natural part of development while in the womb. Remember chromosomes from above? We have 23 pairs, 46 in total and they are assigned to us randomly, but one chromosome in a pair always comes from the mother and the other always comes from the father.
Dominant and Recessive Genes
Within a pair of chromosomes in our genes, one is typically dominant and the other is typically recessive. What this means is that the dominant trait can overpower the recessive and be the victor in determining a characteristic, such as hair texture.
Therefore, when we say that curly hair is a dominant trait, it normally beats out the other trait, leaving the child with curly hair.
Both parents can have a dominant trait. This only increases the likelihood of a certain characteristic in their child. Additionally, both parents can have recessive traits, thereby producing a child with those same recessive traits.
Can I Get Curly Hair Even If I Used to Have Straight Hair?
Our bodies are always changing, and it is almost impossible to predict everything that happens to it. Therefore, your straight hair can turn curly over time. The reasons for this are unknown and vary between each person.
It is also possible for your curly hair to straighten over time. Since curly hair is more fragile, there is always a possibility that it loses its curliness.
What Does It Mean If My Parents Have Straight Hair but I Have Curly?
Just because curly hair is a dominant trait does not mean that it is visible in every person. Sometimes the curly hair trait is shown through subtle wavy hair. As a result, it is still possible for your parents to pass the curly hair down to you.
Can I Predict If My Kids Get Curly Hair?
It can be really fun to try and predict certain characteristics for a child before they are even born. While science has advanced, it has not gotten to a point where it can pinpoint exactly which traits children receive.
The assignment of traits within genes is normally totally random—so random that it is almost impossible to predict. While you may have curly hair or your partner does, you can probably rely on the fact that your child ends up with the same dominant trait. However, there is always the possibility they don’t.
Is It Possible to Get Curly Hair If No One Else in My Family Has It?
Hair texture is an inherited trait. So, while some family appears to be free from those curls, producing a child with curly hair signifies that someone down the line has that curly hair dominant trait. Again, it is a matter of whether or not that trait is completely visible.
The Final Word
It is fascinating to learn more about why we are the way that we are. While genetics says that curly hair is a dominant trait, there is no guarantee that curly-hair parents produce a curly-haired child because genetics can be random and hard to predict.