While we are all familiar with the visual characteristics that help us differentiate between assorted hair types, scientists have recently discovered a protein-level variation that sets curly hair apart from its straighter counterparts. The discovery of these key fingerprint characteristics around curly hair is a game-changer for a number of reasons. These discoveries show that there are specific proteins more present in curly hair versus proteins found in straight hair. This study in proteomics, the large-scale study of proteins, makes innovative hair care discoveries and solutions possible.
The results of this experiment were recently published in The Journal of Cosmetic Science in a paper titled Insights in Human Hair Curvature by Proteome Analysis of Two Distinct Hair Shapes. This research was conducted by Evelyne Maes, Fraser Bell, Charles Hefer, Ancy Thomas, Duane Harland, Alasdair Noble, Jeffrey Plowman, Stefan Clerens, and Anita Grosvenor.
Proteomics and the Impact on Curly Hair
Nexxus’ innovative research has led to the creation of some of the most popular curly hair product releases of the last year.
Through an in-depth study that included hair samples from 50 subjects with very curly hair and 50 with very straight hair, scientists have discovered 13 unique proteins that were different between the two groups.
Until now, the differences between hair types have largely been believed to be dependent on the influence of hair follicles on the texture of the hair. The consensus has been that curved follicles lead to curly hair while collinear follicles lead to straight hair. Others believed that the proteins present in the inner root sheath play a role in the curliness of the hair.
Recent discoveries suggest that hair shape is a consequence of the internal features of the hair shafts and aspects such as keratin structure development, AKA the way the proteins in the hair develop.
The Study in Proteomics
“Scalp hair is a universal human characteristic, and a wide range of hair shape and color variations exists,” the researchers share. “Although differences in human scalp hair shape are visually apparent, the underpinning molecular insights are yet to be fully explored. This work reports the determination of differences at the protein level between two distinct groups of hair shape: very straight samples versus very curly hair samples.”
Using proteomic technology, the goal was to test whether differences in protein abundance could be observed between very curly hair and very straight hair. Over 362 proteins were discovered across both straight and curly samples. The scientists then zeroed in on the top 20 proteins that contributed to the most discrimination between samples.
To analyze the proteomics data, scientists compared overall protein profiles between samples. They also searched to find proteins that had significantly different abundance levels in each group.
Not only were many of the duplicates in close proximity to each other in each group, but a clear difference was found between the very straight and very curly hair type samples.
“Our results demonstrate that a distinction between the two experimental groups (very straight vs. very curly) can be made based on their overall protein profiles in a multivariate analysis approach,” the researchers shared. “Further investigation of the protein expression levels between these two groups pinpointed 13 unique proteins which were found to be significantly different between the two groups.”
These differences are essential in informing scientists about potential differences in how different hair types behave. It also innovated the rhetoric around how they should be treated.
The Hair Care Developments
Much like the innovative discoveries that led to the Nexxus Keraphix line of products, designed to target damaged hair, this research on curly hair has led to its own developments.
The Nexxus Curl Define range is the brand’s first foray into the curly hair space. Based on the protein characteristics discovered about curly hair in the proteomic study, scientists developed the line to be infused with silk proteins that reinforce signature traits found in curly hair. With the knowledge that curly hair is more prone to breakage, tangling, and fatigue than its straighter counterparts, the Nexxus Curl Define line aims to target curly hair-specific concerns.
The line includes Nexxus Curl Define Shampoo and Conditioner, as well as the Nexxus Curl Define Daily Leave-In Moisturizer. Each product is infused with a ProteinFusion strengthening blend to gently cleanse and then condition curly hair.
The line also includes the Nexxus Curl Define Ultra 8 Pre-Wash Treatment Tub which is designed to gently detangle and nourish your curls before washing.
For a hair care routine that’s been scientifically tailored through proteomics research to cater to your specific hair type and concerns, consider the Nexxus Curl Define line for hair that quite literally feels like silk.