What is the most popular hair type in the world?

When it comes to our hair, we all have different textures, densities, and styles we prefer. But have you ever wondered what the most common hair type is globally? With over 7 billion people in the world, there is certainly a lot of variation when it comes to our locks. However, when we break it down and look at broad hair types and classifications, patterns do emerge about which types are most prevalent.

What are the different hair types?

Hair types are often classified into three main categories: straight, wavy, and curly. Within those categories there are different sub-types that further specify the exact texture. Here’s a quick rundown:

Straight Hair Types:

– Type 1A – Fine, thin, and straight with no wave or curl pattern. Hard to hold a curl or style.

– Type 1B – Medium in texture and thickness with a slight wave, especially at the ends. Can hold some curl.

Wavy Hair Types:

– Type 2A – Fine and thin with a definite “S” shaped wave pattern.

– Type 2B – Medium, with a mix of wave patterns and some that are “S” shaped. Generally more body and wave than type 2A.

– Type 2C – Coarse and thick with stronger waves. The waves start closer to the roots in this type.

Curly Hair Types:

– Type 3A – Big, loose curls that are well-defined and springy.

– Type 3B – Tighter corkscrew curls.

– Type 3C – Very tightly coiled curls that form tight ringlets.

– Type 4A – Tightly coiled hair that has a lot of density and definition. Has an “S” pattern when stretched.

– Type 4B – “Z” patterned hair that is tightly coiled with less definition. Extremely dense hair.

– Type 4C – So tightly coiled it almost looks like there are no curls or waves. Also very dense but with less definition.

As you can see, there are many different sub-categories that allow us to classify hair textures. Using this system, we can analyze hair surveys and data to determine which types are most prevalent.

What factors influence hair type?

Genetics play a major role in determining hair type. Your ethnicity and genetic ancestry are key factors in whether you have straight, curly, or coily hair. Here are some of the genetic influences:

Asian hair – Many East Asian people have very straight and thick hair. This straight hair texture developed to allow more UV light into the follicle to produce vitamin D efficiently in northern latitudes.

African hair – Sub-Saharan African populations evolved tight, coily curls to maximize moisture retention in hot, humid climates. The curls create more spacing and air circulation.

European hair – Many (but not all) Europeans have slightly wavy to straight hair. This hair type evolved partly to allow more UV light to penetrate for vitamin D production like Asian hair, but with more moisture retention than very straight hair.

Indigenous American – Populations native to the Americas typically have straight to wavy hair with more volume. They exhibit diversity in hair textures due to ancient intermixing of Asian, European, and African peoples.

Of course, many other factors beyond genetics influence hair including styling, chemical processing, damage, the environment, and hair care. But DNA is the baseline that gives us hair type. Understanding the geographic distribution of these genetic populations allows us to map hair types around the world.

Mapping global hair types

Using comprehensive data on human genetics and global populations, scientists have created detailed geographical maps of hair types and textures across the world.

This map shows the distribution of indigenous hair types prior to modern travel and intermixing of peoples:

Source: https://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/hair-types/

A few key patterns emerge from the indigenous hair map:

– Tightly coiled afro-textured hair dominates Sub-Saharan Africa.

– Straight, thick hair is ubiquitous in North and East Asian populations.

– Wavy to loosely curled hair encompasses most of Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.

– Tightly coiled hair is found in certain Indigenous Australian populations, like the Aboriginal people.

– Variations of straight/wavy hair occur in the Americas, owing to ancient migrations from Asia and mixing with other groups.

This map represents broad genetic hair patterns. Of course, there are always outlying populations within regions that exhibit different hair types. But in general, indigenous populations fall into these hair texture profiles based on genetic history.

Today, modern travel and integration has led to much more diversity within regions and countries. But the underlying genetic patterns remain instructive when looking at hair type distributions. For example, people of East Asian descent will be prone to straight, thick hair regardless of where they live.

Understanding indigenous hair provides a baseline to analyze which hair types dominate globally today.

What is the most common hair type globally?

Given the distribution of indigenous hair types around the world, which one is most prevalent in the modern global human population?

To determine this, we need to look at:

1) The indigenous hair profiles of major geographic ancestral groups

2) The global population breakdown by ancestral group

This provides insights into which hair types account for the largest portion of the world’s population.

Population breakdown by ancestral group

Based on genetics studies, these are the approximate population sizes of major ancestral groups in the world today:

Ancestral Group Share of Global Population
East Asian 22%
Sub-Saharan African 19%
European 16%
South Asian 15%
Southeast Asian & Oceanian 10%
Central & South American 9%
North African & Western Asian 9%

This breakdown shows that people of East Asian descent make up the largest global ancestral group at 22% of the world’s population.

However, to determine the most common hair type, we need to look at the indigenous hair profiles associated with each ancestral group.

Matching ancestral groups to hair types

Here is how the major ancestral groups match up with indigenous hair types:

Ancestral Group Associated Hair Type(s)
East Asian Straight, thick hair
Sub-Saharan African Tightly coiled, afro-textured hair
European Slightly wavy to straight hair
South Asian Slightly wavy to straight hair
Southeast Asian & Oceanian Straight, thick hair
Central & South American Straight to wavy hair
North African & Western Asian Slightly wavy to straight hair

This shows that straight, thick hair dominates 3 of the 7 major ancestral groups, representing around 45% of the world’s population.

The tightly coiled afro hair type associated with Sub-Saharan African ancestry only accounts for 19% of the global population.

Therefore, based on genetic ancestral hair types and population distributions, straight hair appears to be the most common hair type globally.

Limitations and caveats

While genetics point to straight hair being the most prevalent, there are some limitations to consider:

– These ancestral hair profiles represent indigenous populations. Modern mixing has introduced more hair diversity within regions.

– Hair care and styling can alter natural hair texture, so observed hair types do not always reflect underlying genetics.

– The classifications into 7 ancestral groups are broad generalizations. There is diversity within the groups.

– Certain ancestral groups like South Asians exhibit a range of wavy to straight hair rather than one texture.

– Data on global population genetics remains limited, so the precise ancestral breakdown is a best estimate.

More research is needed to account for these limitations and caveats. But the overall genetic patterns clearly point to straight hair being the most common global hair type.

Environmental influences

In addition to genetics, the environment also plays a role in hair type variation globally. Key factors like humidity, temperature, and sun exposure can impact hair texture.

Several environmental influences on global hair distribution include:

Humidity – Very humid climates generally coincide with tighter, coiled hair types that protect the hair shaft. Dry climates have looser curls or waves.

Sun exposure – Higher levels of UV radiation are linked to straighter, thicker hair that allows more sunlight to reach the follicles to synthesize vitamin D.

Cold temperatures – Populations in Arctic climates evolved moderately straight, thick hair to insulate from the cold.

Heat – Some scientists argue that very tightly coiled hair evolved to maximize surface area to sweat and dissipate heat in hot climates.

Altitude – There is some evidence that high altitude environments selected for thicker, straighter hair types.

Modern lifestyles and artificial environments with heating/cooling, plumbing, and shelter tend to mitigate many of these environmental impacts. But indigenous hair textures evolved partly in response to climate variations.

In summary, both genes and environment shape global hair type differences, with genetics playing the predominant role that we see expressed in modern populations.


When examining the indigenous hair types associated with major ancestral groups and their global population distributions, the current data indicates that straight hair is most likely the most common hair type worldwide.

Approximately 45% of the world’s population has genetic ancestry linked to straight, thick hair textures from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.

Tightly coiled afro-textured hair only accounts for an estimated 19% of people globally based on Sub-Saharan African ancestry.

However, hair type analysis remains complex and approximations given limitations in genetic data and the diversity within groups. Environmental factors also contribute hair texture variation alongside genetics.

But the broad global patterns from indigenous hair types clearly point to straight hair types dominating in modern human populations. Therefore, straight hair can reasonably be concluded to be the most popular and prevalent hair type worldwide based on current data.

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