Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Asian Persuasion - Black vs Japanese hair (care)

I ride the train to work every morning. This morning I took note of a young lady who at about a year or so ago had neck length hair. However, today her hair is just about BSL heading to MBL. Now, I live in Japan so of course this lady is not black but Japanese. So it got me thinking...what are the differences between our hair. I know (or atleast I think I know lol) that she doesn't spend her Friday nights pre-pooing so she can wash, deep condition, tea rinse, towel/ air dry and then protective style.

We already know that the shape of the follicles has a lot to do with the structure and appearance of our hair and that in turn affects the strength and hence length retention. Asians tend to have round follicles producing straight hair which is easily lubricated by sebum, while African descendants have flat follicles which result in kinky, curly/ coily hair. There are two major issues here 
  1. sebum doesn't travel as freely, causing dryness and 
  2. the kinks which form at the turn of each curl or coil represent a point of weakness, making black people's hair vulnerable to breakage.

    But that's not what this post is about. We can't change nature and biology, but there are some things we can do.

What can we learn from our Asian (Japanese) counterparts?

1. I consistently get bored with my hair which translates to many hairstyles and even more manipulation. Japanese people rarely change their hair. I know many people who have had the same hairstyle for a very long time. Point: Leave your hair alone.

2. Many of them still wear their natural hair color. Of course there is still a decent percentage who color, but even so, they do not chemically straighten, so I suppose they can. And in my opinion those with their natural color almost always look much healthier. Point: Stay as close to what naturally grows out of your head. If you must chemically process, choose ONE.

3. My reading skills are limited here, so I can't decipher what the kanjis on the ingredients list mean. But I do see my friends reaching for those sulfate-free and protein-containing products. Point: Ensure that the structure of your hair is reinforced with a protein treatment every now and then and choose gentle products for your tresses.

4. Many people claim that Asians have a super healthy diet. While I don't think it is as healthy as some claim, there is no denying that they get their nutrients in. Rice - rich in silica, green tea - alkalining agent, seaweed and beans (many variations thereof) - rich in protein, are staples in any dish. Point: Ensure you get adequate nutrition from your diet, don't depend solely on supplements for this.

5. Many of these people are slim and trim. While I think there is a gene which they possess that increases the likelihood of this, it is a well-known fact that everyone (all the way up to age 150 lol) hits the gym or does some form of physical exercise. Add that to the fact that they love to hop on their bikes as opposed to driving and you've got a fit and healthy bunch. Point:  Get to sweating or get to stepping! Exercise is good for you in too many ways for you to bypass it. It'll benefit your body AND your hair.

Of course we all knew these things, but this article serves to reiterate and reinforce. So if you have been slacking, this is your reminder to return to and remain on the right track. 



  1. I think your best point is the manipulation and the never ending fights people with kinks have with Their hair. All this Wash days, all these products, protective styles we do to try to get our hair to do things it doesnt do. And i am talking about naturals as well. They "force" Their hair into braid outs, twist outs etc. Japanesee people seem to accept more the nature of Their own hair and like it as it is. Wonder how many japanesee people Would hide Their hair under wigs..?

    1. I suppose we really do do a lot to our hair. However, the nature of our hair necessitates that we have wash days, use certain products and do protective styles. Perhaps if we didn't do these things we would lose a lot of hair due to tangling, matting, dryness and breakage. I think we have a regimen to protect our hair. It's when it's excessive that it can hurt it. Thanks for your comment, it certainly was food for thought.


What are your thoughts?