When it comes to hair growth, many people question if the main contributor is hair care or the genes inherited. I have heard several people say the lack of ‘hair genes’ in their family is responsible for their slow hair growth but is that truly the only/main reason?
The Oxford dictionary’s definition of the gene as a unit of heredity transferred from a parent to offspring and also a determinant of some characteristic of the offspring broke it down perfectly. A child is made as a result of a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg, making an individual as a whole a product of the combination of chromosomes from both the father and mother. Chromosomes come in 23 pairs in every human being and each chromosome contains hundreds (even thousands) of genes which is an avenue of information storage for the cell, and this brings us to Genes.
Genetics is about how information is stored and transmitted through generations – John Maynard Smith.
A gene is a tiny section (3%) of a complex molecular structure known as DNA (a two-stranded molecule that is condensed to give a unique double helix structure known as a chromosome). The DNA contains genes which contain instructions for building proteins that are essential to the body and also proteins that serve as messengers to further create chains of amino acids. The gene determines what type of protein to produce and when to produce it, and then the protein goes ahead to form new molecules for the cell. Now the genes’ job is to tell the body what characteristics should be present in the body (e.g eye colour, hair colour, hair texture, height and so on). These characteristics that are passed from one generation/parent to a child are referred to as traits. Using a car, as an illustration, the transportation by road represents the DNA, while the car is the chromosome, and the steering wheel is the genes and the tyres are the proteins. The steering wheel gives direction to the tyres, dictating and controlling the location where the proteins are showing the traits inherited.
Each parent carries two copies of their genes (scientist refers to these two copies as alleles) and passes one copy each to their child. This is why the child has many characteristics of both the parents like hair colour, same eyes etc. Although these characteristics are a result of genes, what must be noted is that other conditions also come into play. This is why genetics is listed as one of the contributors to hair growth but not the only contributor. It is possible to have afro-textured hair full of kinks because probably your mother/father also has it, or one of your grandparents but it is also 100% possible to have thick afro-textured hair when both of your parents have thin afro-textured hair. So, it is safe to classify genes as the biological contributor to healthy hair growth.
It has been established that the growth rate for afro-textured hair is slower (due to the porosity and other conditions) compared to the other hair textures. Haircare on the other hand can be classified as a physical contributor to healthy hair growth, steps taken to maintain and promote the health of the hair are all vital. Now hair care does not only refer to products used on hair and hairstyles worn for protection but also the vitamins and diet the hair needs. Steps taken in hair care are necessary steps if you want your hair to grow.
The afro-textured haircare comprises proper moisturisers, appropriate products, and ingredients, consuming needed nutrients, and trimming out split ends.
Haircare is also known as a contributor to healthy hair growth since there are also other attributes.
There is something that attention should be paid to, and it involves how the genes and hair care all work together to help sustain the hair. Take for example if a fair skin tone gene is passed to a child, the weather of the environment where the child later lives can become the major reason behind the child’s skin tone. The stated example means that the physical and biological attributes are both responsible for the features of an individual. A lady who inherited long and soft kinks might end up having problems with her hair if the environment she is living in is a dry one and also if no hair care is followed.
The relevance and contribution of both biological and physical factors can not be ignored, which is why hair care is encouraged no matter how or the physical appearance of the afro-textured hair. The needed protective hairstyles, moisturisers, proper shampoos and conditioners, vitamins, wash routine, and others help hair grow into its full potential, to reflect the individual’s genetic makeup. This is why it is possible to see a lady with healthy hair when that of her parents or family members is not as healthy.
The genes and hair care complement each other and result in the all-round growth of healthy long hair.
Much research that has been carried out points to Lhx2 as an important hair regulator, the inactivation of this gene gives the hair follicles the ability to produce more hair strands while its activation does the opposite.
Be careful of the products used on your hair, ensure your hair care takes the weather of your environment into consideration, consume a balanced diet and nutrients that will help boost healthy hair growth, and most importantly, it is not enough to rely on only your inherited genes (it might have little to do or contribute). Your afro-textured hair needs proper moisturization and other important ingredients which should definitely help you navigate when getting your hair products. Avoid the chemicals and stick to the organics instead, they always work better and yield healthier results.
Your genetics loads the gun, Your lifestyle pulls the trigger”- Mehmet Oz