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

Silky, straight, jet-black hair is common among Asians, especially the Japanese populace. You will seldom find individuals with wavy hair. 

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

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Don’t worry. In this article, we will answer the question “Can Japanese have wavy hair?” and determine the factors contributing to Japanese having this trait.

A girl with long hair is posing for a picture.

Unseemly wavy

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

Curled hair is more prominent in Japanese living in northern 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 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 products to tame and straighten their hair.

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

Kids with naturally curled locks must submit a parental note informing the school they were born with that hair.

How can the Japanese have wavy hair?

Strange as it may seem since the Japanese are known for having silky, straight, jet-black hair, some are born with hair that naturally curls. 

Curled hair patterns result from various factors, including genetics from parents and ancestors to their descendants. 

A blue background with a dna strand.

What causes hair to be curly?

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


According to research, curly or coiled hair is a dominant gene trait affecting a person’s hair follicle shape and size. It determines whether an Asian will have curly and kinky 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.

Human hair contains disulfide bonds or two 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. 

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.

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

Personalized Wavy Hair Care Recommendations

Being born with naturally wavy hair comes with many challenges. I have to contend with frizzy hair and tons of bad hair days. 

To help save you time finding the perfect hair care to tame your curls, I’d like to share my tried and tested favorite Japanese shampoo and hair care brands that turned my waves soft, manageable, and radiantly healthy.

Ichikami Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner

I highly recommend the Ichikami Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner. Infused with traditional Japanese herbal extracts, one of the hair care secrets of Japanese women, these products work wonders for curly hair. 

The herbal goodness nourishes and maintains the perfect moisture balance, leaving my waves soft, smooth, and manageable.


The traditional herbal infusion provides a soothing effect on the scalp and hair. It nourishes and hydrates without any unwanted build-up.


The fragrance might be subjective; I find it pleasant, but it depends on individual preferences.

Shiseido Ma Chérie Perfect Shower

I swear by the Shiseido Ma Chérie Perfect Shower styling gel for a natural hold that doesn’t compromise on softness. It effortlessly defines curls without making them stiff. Plus, it’s super lightweight, ensuring the hair stays soft and easy to style.


The lightweight formula doesn’t weigh down the hair. Provides a flexible hold for a more natural look.


You might need an additional product for a stronger hold if you have extremely curly hair.

Kao Essential Damage Care Hair Oil

I turn to the Kao Essential Damage Care Hair Oil to control frizz and add a healthy shine to my hair. It’s a lightweight solution that nourishes without making my hair greasy. Perfect for daily use, it keeps my hair in check and promotes overall hair health.


The non-greasy formula is suitable for daily application. Effectively tames frizz while maintaining natural movement.


If you have very fine hair, using it sparingly is advisable to avoid overloading.

Shiseido Tsubaki

The Shiseido Tsubaki is my go-to shampoo and leave-on conditioner for washing hair with natural spirals. It’s a game-changer, hydrating and revitalizing my locks for a healthy shine. 

The best part? Its lightweight formula ensures my hair stays refreshed without feeling weighed down.


It can be applied to damp or dry hair for added convenience. It leaves my hair feeling rejuvenated.


If you have extremely dry hair, you might need additional moisturizing products.

Moist Diane Extra Damage Repair Treatment

For intense repair and moisture, especially if your hair easily frizzs and needs some extra love, the Moist Diane Extra Damage Repair Treatment is a must-try. It dives deep to combat dryness and frizz, leaving my hair softer and more manageable.


It targets and addresses damage, making it suitable for dry or chemically treated curly hair. It leaves the hair feeling wonderfully soft.


If you have fine hair, using it sparingly is recommended to avoid any potential heaviness.