Did you know that the majority of US adults do not have straight hair? This fact may be surprising since straight hair has long been the beauty standard in Western countries.
Clearly, there’s a lot to learn about curly hair and the industry that caters to curly girls and women. That’s why we compiled the latest research and statistics on wavy, curly, and coily hair.
Check out our table of contents to skip to the curly hair topics you’re interested in. Or get the juiciest facts from our research, which we’ve compiled in our key takeaways.
- Of all the US states, Alabama has the most curly-haired residents.
- 58% of women with coily hair say dryness is their biggest concern, while 68% of women with curly hair say frizziness is their biggest concern.
- 56% of US adults have wavy, curly, or coily hair.
- Among women with textured hair, 47% say they prefer to wear their hair natural, and 15% prefer straight or relaxed styles.
- The Andre Walker Hair Typing System categorizes hair types into straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.
- L’Oreal came out with a hair classification system in 2015. This system groups hair into seven classes — one class for straight hair, three classes for wavy hair, and four classes for curly hair.
- The Ouidad hair classification system specifically addresses curly hair types, grouping them into four categories: Loose, Classic, Tight, and Kinky.
- Textured hair consumers are more likely to spend big on a single hair care product, with 91% saying they’re willing to spend over $10 for the right product.
- Among textured hair consumers (wavies, curlies, and coilies), curly girls say they’re willing to spend the most on a single product.
- Only 11% of women say they love their hair when polled. When polling curly girls alone, that percentage increases to 40%.
- Hair follicle shape determines hair type. Sphere-shaped hair follicles produce straight hair, half-moon follicles produce wavy hair, and ellipse-shaped hair follicles produce curly and coily hair.
- Genetics determines whether a person has the trichohyalin protein, which scientists believe contributes to hair curl.
- Historians believe that all original humans had textured hair because curls better protect the scalp from the hot sun.
Is Curly Hair Rare?
Over 31% of women with naturally curly hair say they feel unique because of their hair texture. But just how rare is curly hair? Here’s what our research revealed about the least and most common hair types:
- Alabama is home to the most curly-haired people in the nation.
- Kentucky is the top state for people with frizzy hair.
- Kansas is home to the most straight-haired people in the nation.
- Among women with coily hair, 58% say dryness is their biggest concern, up 36% from 2017.
- Among women with curly hair, 68% say frizziness is their biggest concern, up 10% from 2017.
- Among women with relaxed or permed hair, 55% say breakage is their biggest concern.
- Among women with naturally straight hair, 40% say volume is their biggest concern.
- In 2021, it’s estimated that 56% of US adults have textured hair (wavy, curly, or coily).
- 47% of women with textured hair say they prefer natural styles, while 15% straighten or chemically relax their textured hair.
- According to stylist polls, 2 in 5 women with textured hair say they’re happy with their natural hair.
- L’Oreal Paris’ 2013 Curly Girl survey polled 2,000 US adults with textured hair. 74% of women with wavy or curly hair reported receiving compliments on their natural hair.
- If given the choice, 80% of women say they would prefer naturally wavy or curly hair. Only 16% of women say they’d prefer to have naturally straight hair.
How Many Types of Curly Hair Are There?
Not all curls are created equal. Some are tight and glossy, while others are bouncy and frizz-prone. Luckily, stylists and other hair experts have created systems to categorize the different curl types. We’re talking about a few of these hair typing systems next.
- The Andre Walker Hair Typing System divides hair types into 4 categories: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky hair.
- Straight Hair falls under Type 1. Type 1 hair can further be divided into 1A (fine and fragile straight hair), 1B, and 1C (coarse, thin straight hair).
- Wavy hair falls under Type 2. Type 2 hair further breaks down into 2A (fine and thin waves), 2B, and 2C (coarse and frizzy waves).
- Curly hair falls under Type 3. Type 3 hair further breaks down into 3A (loose curls) and 3B (tight, corkscrew curls).
- Kinky hair falls under Type 4. Type 4 hair further breaks down into 4A (tight coils) and 4B (z-angled coils).
- Since Andre Walker created his hair typing system, many stylists have expanded on his concept to be more inclusive.
- Instead of putting Type 3 curls into two groups, modern stylists differentiate between three Type 3 curls: 3a, 3b, and 3c.
- Type 4 curls have also been expanded into three coil types instead of two: 4a, 4b, and 4c.
- In 2015, L’Oreal came out with its own hair classification system. This system categorized hair into seven classes.
- Class I of L’Oreal’s hair classification system is for straight hair.
- Classes II through IV are for wavy hair.
- Classes V through VIII are for curly hair.
- Another way to identify curly hair type is to use the Ouidad hair classification system. This system divides curl types into four categories: Loose, Classic, Tight, and Kinky.
- Curl patterns come in different variations, including s’wavy, wavy, Botticelli, corkscrew, and coily.
- Type 3 curly hair features tighter curls in a spiral shape, ranging from defined to frizzy.
- Type 4 hair is almost exclusively seen amongst people of Afri 6can descent. Type 4 hair features tight, defined curls that have the same shape when wet and dry.
- Type 4A curls are usually tight and shrink to 50% of their original size when dry.
- Type 4B curls grow in a ‘Z’ shaped pattern and are less defined than 4A curls.
- Type 4C hair is coarse and dense, with undefined curl patterns that shrink more than 50% when wet.
How Much Do Curly Girls Spend on Products?
Curly girls have a lot of spending power. Research shows that textured hair consumers are willing to fork up more on products than their straight-haired counterparts. Exactly how much more? Keep reading to find out.
- 91% of consumers with textured hair say they would spend more than $10 on the right product.
- Among consumers with textured hair, curlies say they’re willing to spend more on the right product than coilies and wavies.
- 63% of consumers with textured or non-textured curls say they’re willing to spend over $25 on the right product.
- When polled, only 11% of women say they love their hair. That percentage increases to 40% when polling curly girls alone.
- Coily-haired consumers spend 20% more on products than consumers with straight hair.
- Among women with wavy and curly hair, 48% are searching for frizz-reducing products.
- Among women with coily hair, the majority are searching for moisturizing products.
- Over 80% of curly and coily-haired women buy products meant for textured hair rather than products meant for general consumers.
- 80% of consumers with textured hair say they’ve tried a new product brand within the last 12 months.
- Women with textured hair are more likely to outspend their straight and relaxed hair counterparts when it comes to buying a single product.
- Textured hair consumers spend more on products annually than consumers with straight and relaxed hair. Textured hair consumers spend $205 per year on products, while straight and relaxed hair consumers spend only $130 per year.
- Among wavy, curly, and coily hair types, consumers with curly hair spend the most on products at $247 per year.
- Curly-haired consumers spend 78% more on products annually than straight-haired consumers.
- Spending only $120, consumers with relaxed hair buy the lowest value of hair products each year.
- Hairstylist polls have also shown that curlies spend more on products than their straight-haired clients. 40% of stylists said curlies spend more on individual hair products, and 44% said curlies buy more hair products in general.
- In 2019, UK retailer Superdrug reported 40% growth in curl product sales. To meet demand, Superdrug launched 85 new curly hair products.
- Curlies can’t brush their hair as often as brushing can alter and even damage curl definition.
- Curlies don’t need to use shampoo as often because their hair gets less oily.
Is Curly Hair Genetic?
Genes determine phenotypes. In other words, the traits we inherit from our parents decide how we look, and hair type is no different. Here’s what scientists know so far about how genes contribute to curly hair.
- Genetics determine the shape of hair follicles, and hair follicles determine hair type.
- Spherical hair follicles allow for straight hair growth.
- Wavy hair grows from a half-moon-shaped hair follicle.
- Curly and coily hair grows out of ellipse-shaped hair follicles.
- Genes determine both hair texture and hair thickness.
- Specifically, genes contribute to the development of trichohyalin, a hair follicle protein that contributes to curl.
- Curly hair is passed down up to 90% of the time.
- Curly hair is an autosomal dominant trait, meaning only one parent needs a curly hair gene for a child to have curly hair.
- If a person has a gene for straight hair and a gene for curly hair, autosomal dominance means that person has curly hair.
- Studies show that men are 5% more likely to have straight hair than women. Research also suggests that hair may get curlier with age.
- In the rare case that a child doesn’t inherit their parent’s curly hair gene, one or more of the child’s grandparents always has curly hair.
Curly Hair History and Fun Facts
Have you ever wondered: where does curly hair originally come from? Scientists believe that curly hair has been around almost as long as humans have. Check out more curly hair history and fun facts below.
- Experts believe that all humans originally had kinky hair because curls better protected the scalp from the hot sun.
- Historically, African people have considered thick, kinky hair a sign of wealth and health.
- The idea of good and bad black hair evolved during slavery since slaves with straight hair were offered better opportunities than those with curlier hair.
- Straight hair remained the standard into the 1900s, with some black people using oil and heated flannel to smooth out their natural hair texture.
- In the 1920s, black men started straightening their hair with hot combs to achieve a hairstyle known as “the conk.”
- In the 1950s, hot rollers became all the rage after the original founder of Conair invented the fast-drying bristle brush roller.
- Nina Simone and other jazz musicians of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Is Beautiful movement inspired black women to go natural.
- Relaxed hair came back in style in the 1970s and ‘80s with the rise in popularity of the Jheri Curl.
- In the early 1990s, hair tool brands started releasing hot tools for crimping, curling, and straightening the hair.
- R&B stars like Mary J. Blige and Destiny’s Child popularized smooth, glossy curls in the late 1990s.
- The 2000s saw the rise of the Brazilian blowout, which used heat and keratin treatments to straighten and smooth the hair.
- Today, the combination of the Black Lives Matter movement and an increase in understanding about curly and kinky hair has led to increased innovation in the curly hair product industry.
- The average person with textured hair has 80,000 hairs.
- One person can have several different curl types.
- On average, curly hair grows six inches annually.
- At any given time, 90% of curls are growing while 10% are in the resting phase.
- Textured hair is more prone to shrinkage, with waves shrinking up to 5%, curls shrinking up to 30%, and coils shrinking up to 75%.
- In the media, curly-haired women are often portrayed as wild, quirky, and rebellious. Curly-haired men are portrayed as undisciplined and unruly.
- Studies have shown that 50% of men perceive curly girls as fun. Over 50% of women perceive curly girls as fun.
- 37% of men perceive curly girls as adventurous. 42% of men see curly girls as sexy.
- In a study of Tinder dating preferences, curly girls got 41% of matches while straight-haired women only received 19% of matches.