Can Japanese have wavy hair? Get the facts straight in your head

Silky straight jet-black hair is a common trait among the Japanese populace. You will seldom find individuals with wavy or curly hair. 

Does this mean Japan is devoid of people with wavy or curly hair? 

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Don’t worry, in this article, we will not only answer the question “Can Japanese have wavy hair?”, but also find out the factors that contribute to Japanese having this trait.

A girl with long hair is posing for a picture.

Unseemly wavy

Though a huge percentage of the Japanese population has straight hair, it is estimated that 5 to 10 percent have naturally wavy or curly hair. 

Wavy or curly hair is more prominent in Japanese living in the northern parts of Japan, while this hair trait is more uncommon for those living in the southern region. 

This scanty population is made even smaller when those born with wavy or curly hair are forced to undergo chemical treatment to have beautiful straight hair – all so they can adapt to society’s standard of “normal” and “beautiful”.

To be accepted by their peers, some have to get their hair treated every 2 to 3 months, while others have to apply tons of hair products to keep their hair straight.

There are also instances when schools impose strict rules on how students should keep their personal appearances, including having straight hair. 

Kids with naturally wavy locks have to submit a parental note informing the school they were born with that kind of hair.

How can the Japanese have wavy hair?

Strange as it may seem since the Japanese are stereotyped as only having silky straight hair, some are born with curly or wavy hair. 

Curly and wavy hair patterns are the result of various factors, including genetics passed down from parents and ancestors to their descendants. 

What causes hair to be wavy?

Changes in hair texture and traits are due to various factors, including genes, climate, environment, and the use of different hair products that could damage the hair and scalp.

A blue background with a dna strand.


According to research, curly or wavy hair is a dominant gene trait affecting a person’s hair follicle shape and size. It determines whether a Japanese will have curly and wavy hair instead of regular straight. 

This means if you have parents or ancestors with wavy or curly hair, you are more likely to have them than not. 

Japanese with wavy hair are born with a hair follicle shape that is oval and round with an attribute of a slight follicular angle that results in waves in the hair.

Climate and Environment

Climate and environmental factors also play a role in determining a hair trait. 

How so?

If you can still remember your chemistry class where your professor talked about atoms, you’d know that temperature causes changes in an object’s molecular composition.

As for human hair, it contains disulfide bonds or 2 sulfur atoms held together by covalent bonds and hydrogen bonds intertwined with keratin proteins that contribute to hair structure. 

When in a humid climate (the air has excess moisture), water molecules in the over-saturated environment move into the dry hair and reshape the hydrogen bonds inside the hair fiber, causing waves and frizz. 

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun can also cause the hair to dry out and become damaged, leaving you with hair that waves and frizzes. 

In that regard, your hair is more prone to waves and curls if you live in a hot and humid area. 

A woman holding a hair dryer next to a bottle of hair care products.

Hair Products and Styling

Hair products and styling can also cause semi-permanent to permanent damage to the hair.

Hair dryers blow heat into the air to help it dry faster. This excessive heat can damage the hair cuticle sublayer and cause the hair to look wavy or frizzy. 

Meanwhile, some shampoos, conditioners, and chemical treatments contain emollients, petroleum, and other ingredients that can cause damage, leaving the hair dry, frizzy, and wavy.