Curls Week – Why did my hair change from straight to curly?

Welcome to a week celebrating curly hair!

Curls Week - Hair Romance

Now you know why your hair is curly but what if your hair changes?

That’s exactly what happened to my hair.

For years I had long, straight hair. Maybe it was a little wavy, but never frizzy. Then one day it started to change.

All of a sudden I had curly hair.

And I had no idea how to style it.

It took a long journey of trial and error to work out how to style my curls. I slowly fell in love with my curls and they are the reason I started Hair Romance.

Now I know from your comments and questions that I’m not alone in this hair change and I have found some reasons why this happens.

Hair Romance - Why did my hair change from straight to curly

Why did my hair change from straight to curly?

There are several theories as to why hair changes texture.

Hormones, stress and ageing as seen as the common causes for changes to your hair texture and quality.

You’d think, with the size of the hair industry, there would be a conclusive answer to this question, but research is still underway and there are no decisive results.

One interesting fact about curly hair is that the gene for straight hair is recessive but that the curly hair gene is not completely dominant. That means you could have the curly hair gene but until it’s activated, your waves and curls will be dormant too.

The most likely theory, in my opinion, is to do with your hormones. Hormones are a possible trigger for the curly hair gene.

As well as affecting the quality of your hair, hormones can change your muscle tone too. This includes your scalp. The change of muscle tone could affect the shape of your hair follicles and their direction of growth. Straight hair follicles grow straight out but curly hair follicles have a hook shape.

With my hair, puberty was the when my curls decided to appear and this fits with the hormone changes. For many women, pregnancy and birth have a significant impact on their hair too.

So if you’ve noticed significant changes to your hair texture, check your hormone levels and talk to your doctor and hairdresser about it.

How to cope with the change to your hair

If like me, you’re finding your new curly hair difficult to handle compared to straight hair, help is at hand. Start here with my guide to styling curly hair and check out my other curly hair posts.

On the other hand, if you had curly hair and it’s starting to go straight, find out how to get your curl back.

Have you experienced a major change in your hair? Has your hair gone from straight to curly, or the other way round? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Tracy says

    My hair changed when I was about 17, I always had wavy unruly hair with a permanent frizzy halo and my hair was shoulder length. I started to let it grow and begun to let it dry naturally as more time in bed seemed more appealing than time spent blow drying my hair and noticed that my hair was getting curly, and the longer it grew the curlier it seemed to get. My hair now sits just above my hips at this stage and I love love love my curls. I have always been fond of my curls as I have found they suited my laziness just having to wash and go but it’s only in the last 7/8 months I have fully got to grips with my curly hair and how to care for it properly (mainly since finding your wonder website) and I have noticed a massive difference. People even commented on my hair after I made the changes asking had a put colour in or had a new cut put into it because they knew it looked different. Ooh and I had been using a big t-shirt to dry my hair but needed to buy another and my mam suggested a cotton fitted sheet for a baby’s cot. So I bought a pair and they are great, with the elastic they are curved and fit snuggly around your head and all your hair gets gathered inside it too…brilliant!

    • Hair Romance says

      wow Tracy, your hair sounds amazing! It’s so long too! Thanks so much for your kind words and for the fab tip about the cot sheets. Such a smart idea x

  2. Kim says

    My hair was always so straight people would ask me how I got it so straight and smooth. Until I had a pulmonary embolism when I was 43. The stress of nearly dying made me lose a lot of hair. When it came back in it was curly. It continued to be curly for 5 years while I was on the medication warfarin. When I switched blood thinners, the curl went away. A few months ago I started taking warfarin again and the curls are back.

    I think it was the stress of my illness plus the medication that makes it curly.

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks for sharing your story Kim. Stress is definitely a factor as the body sees hair as unnecessary so it’s the first to be affected when you’re unwell. Hope you’re doing ok now x

  3. says

    The hormones thing totally makes sense. My hair was pin straight til I started high school and became progressively curlier over the years. Then last year my hair started changing back towards straight (right now there is a soft wave, but lots of frizz) which coincided with my son’s birth.

    • Hair Romance says

      It’s weird how it works, isn’t it Tasneem? Pregnancy in particular has a massive impact on your hair especially the post-partum shedding that many experience.

  4. Charlette Smith says

    I have curly hair, always have. And probably always will. (I am 52, 4 kids and waiting for the 10th grandchild, due any time)
    But, I do know 2 women that had straight hair until they went through chemo. Once their hair started growing back, it was extremely curly.

    • Hair Romance says

      How exciting for your 10th grandchild! Chemo is such a horrible process, I’m not surprised their hair changed as well.

  5. Anke says

    I had curly hair when I was very little. Then it got straight with slight waves on the bottom half of it. When I was 11/12 years old my curls came back. First waves, then full on ringlets. So the hormone thing makes sense. Unfortunally during my teenage years I got very sick. The medication I took made me loose a lot of my hair. When it grew back the bottom part was straight, so layering it was just looking weird. It was like Annie with a mollet (if thats how you spell that). Now I’m 26 my curls have loosened a bit to the point if people ask me if I had a perm and the bottom part of my hair is starting to curl again! Im very happy with that.

    You’re website is amazing btw, keep up the awesome work!

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Anke, and thanks for sharing your story! Glad your curls are coming back and hope you’re ok now too x

      • Anke says

        I am okay now, thanks.

        Also, because of this blog I want google crazy and looked for a hairdresser who was actually specialized in cutting curls. I came up with the curlsys system and went for an appointment yesterday. My hair FINALLY has an awesome haircut and I have a huge mane of big curls.

  6. Teresa says

    It’s been the other way round with me. I used to have really curly hair, like angel curls and when I got 8 or so they turned straight. I still mourn for my curls ):

  7. says

    Great subject and one i hadn’t considered yet which is unusual as we have this conversation A LOT in the salon. Equally as popular is also curly hair gone straight due to over straightening, colouring, hot ironing etc or in Teresa’s case just outgrown with age. We so often have clients baffled as to where their curls have gone :-)

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks for commenting! I agree it’s often colouring or heat styling that changes hair, but there are so many factors in play :)

  8. Ashley says

    My hair is the opposite. It was very curly when I was little, to the point no one believes that it is me when they see my baby/toddler pictures. By the time I was 5 or 6 it was completely straight.

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Ashley, that also seems like a common story. Baby hair is quite fine and so it can curl more easily. Maybe as you grew and your hair grows longer and stronger it becomes straight

  9. Elaine Larsen says

    I side with the hormone crowd. I had straight hair as a child that went frizzy when puberty hit. Then I lost some curl with each baby that I had. I like my hair now, it’s a lot easier to manage.

  10. says

    My hair went from nearly stick straight to gradually getting curlier and curlier, starting when I was 28 (so after 10 years on the pill). I don’t get perfect ringlets naturally, but the top especially go very curly when I let it air dry with some product and scrunch. Your blog has been a lot of help! I just wish it wasn’t so frizzy, but so far haven’t found the perfect combination.

    • Hair Romance says

      I love hearing all the different ways that our hair changes, thanks for sharing your hair story Trude x

  11. Heather says

    My hair was mostly straight as a child. Just a small amount of “flip out” at the back of my neck by the time I was 5. Then by high school I had weird sporadic waves, and by University it was fill on Shirley Temple! I loved my curls! Once I figured out styling it was wash and wear and I got compliments everywhere I went! Then during pregnancy with my first child my hair started going straight. By the time I delivered I had nothing more than a kink in my bangs, but not even diffusing would bring about wave! Now I’m pregnant with my second child, and my hair is still straight as a board. I’m hoping once I deliver this little one my curls will return, but in the mean time I’ve cut my hair short and I’m starting from scratch trying to figure out styling again. The good news is that I passed my curls on to my daughter who has a head full of crazy ringlets!

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Heather, that’s such a crazy change in your hair! Hope your curls come back and glad your daughter has picked them up in the meantime :)

  12. Raye says

    I had completely straight hair forever. kept it a short “pixie”, bobs. Then in my late 20’s I had a major back surgery and spent a year in recovery. After that, my hair turned. curly, in loose beautiful ringlets, keep it in a very long shag.

  13. Megan says

    My hair also went from straight to curly. I don’t remember the exact age it started changing, but if I had to guess, I’d say it started to get a little wavy around 16 and became really curly by 18. I don’t think I ever really minded though. I knew I could run a straightener over it if I ever wanted to have straight hair for the day. I don’t do a lot of hair styling though. I just let it air dry… although it takes hours now that I’ve let my hair get long again. I’m glad my hair went curly though :)

  14. Akemi says

    I remember having thick, straight hair that would curl a bit at the end when I was young and every few years it got curlier and curlier and I cried a lot because I loved how pretty my hair was. It was straight with curls at the end. My hair now is so curly, still thick(i think it’s gotten thicker) and so frizzy that I barely can do anything with it.

    I’m mixed, my dad is half black, native american, English, Irish, Scottish and welsh. My mum is half Japanese, a quarter Norwegian, Irish and Scottish and we most recently found out Austrian. So as you can imagine, my hair is all kinds of confused. I’ve tried everything to manage it, co-washing, air drying, products for curls, oils and everything. While my hair retains a lot of moisture and is very strong, I can barely style it. If I do get to style it, its a miracle. I love having my hair straight but I hate sitting down for five hours to straighten it.

    I found a picture of me from when I was around 11, my hair was in a high ponytail and my hair still reached my mid back, it was then that it started to frizz more. But now, when I try to grow my hair out long, it gives me migraines. I love my hair long and makes me so sad I can’t have it that long. I love how thick it is and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get people asking me if my hair is naturally curly, and while I am flattered, they often say they wish they had my hair but I tell them they dont because unlike a lot of people with curly hair, mine is just so hard to manage. I love my curls, it took me a long time to love them and appreciate them but, I want my old hair back. Straight with natural curls at the end. At least with that, I knew how to manage my hair and it wasn’t as unresponsive as it is now.

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Akemi, I know your hair feels like hard work compared to your old hair and I understand because my hair is similar. If people are complimenting your hair, maybe you should try seeing it through their eyes. Your hair sounds amazing xx

  15. Brooke says

    I have very curly hair so I hoped my kids would as well…my youngest is 19months with very curly baby hair that keeps getting tighter!(so exciting for me but that’s not to say it won’t change!) my middle child had curly hair until she was one and then it all fell out and came back stick straight. She is now five and in the last few months she has started to grow fuller hair and the top later is stick straight but from just below the crown the rest has started to spiral!!(even more exciting!) but it looks pretty silly right now because the top layer is longer than the rest because it’s so straight! Such a strange thing to happen and no matter what I read about it there’s no real reasoning for this!

  16. ana says

    My hair went from afro curly(age 0-7)then it turned pin straight(age 8-13)now it really wavy and turning curly again (I’m 14 now)but I haven’t seen any post of that only straight to curly

  17. Davina TAYLOR says

    My hair has changed dramatically from long thick and straight to frizzy dry breaking at 6 inches in three months since I started taking Warfarin Please advise me the best treatment Unfortunately because i am an older woman the doctors think what I look like is no longer important

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Davina, sorry but one of the possible side effects of warfarin is hair loss. I’m not sure what to suggest as I wouldn’t want to interfere with your medication. The good news is the hair loss is reversible once you stop taking warfarin. I would do a conditining treatment and get a trim to even out any breakage/split ends. A fresh haircut can make you feel a lot better. Hope you are ok x

  18. Philip Charles says

    Good day I stumbled upon this article because my mum and I started noticing a change in my hair (I’m a guy (x ) she told me my hair might be changing. Both my parents have really curly hair my older sister has pin straight, thin hair and I’m 15 years old I have been growing the top of my hair and leaving the sides short. The top of my hair is about 10 centimeters (4inches or so ) And I’ve always had pin straight and thin hair until now my hair has started to turn wavy from the top the sides are too short to tell if it’s changed. Do you think my hair will keep changing?

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi! You’re probably at the age to be experiencing hormonal changes in your hair. I’ve also heard it said that your hair changes every 7 years. It’s hard to know if it will continue to change as everyone is different :)

  19. Cynthia says

    My husband’s hair was straight with a very faint wave, until he slipped into a Coma in May 2013. His kidneys had shut down, he was put on a respirator and a fading tube was put directly into his stomach. He was this way for 8 days. He experienced major hair loss. When his hair began to grow back it was curly/fuzzy.
    It has been over a year now and it is still curly/frizzy. What can be done to control it. And will his straight hair ever return?
    Would shaving his head make it straight again???
    Answer, please.

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Cynthia, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s health. I hope he is ok. It’s hard to tell if his hair will change back. The stress of illness can have a long term effect. Use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner and use a moisturising cream to control the frizz right now. If his hair is short, you could try shaving it to see if this makes a difference. I’m not sure if it will. I wish you all the best x

  20. Mary J. says

    Help, please!

    Starting at about age 30, my thick, straight hair started to get just slightly wavy in the back. Over time, the waves started coming in here and there, some on the sides, more in the back. Here we are, 13 years later, and none of it is exactly curly, about 25% of my hair is still straight as a stick, some is very wavy, some in-between, all just a jumble, and all of it, where once it used to be sleek, shiny, and straight, is all frizz, all the time. I have no idea what to do with it. I have no idea how to cut it. I can’t layer it for fear the frizz will be worse. I’ve tried texturizing the ends, but it looks a terrible mess. My hair is a mix of course and baby fine strands, so I try not to take heat to it too often, because I dread splitting the ends and making it just look even worse.

    I’m desperate for a new hairstyle besides long and all one length. My stylist is terrific, but even she is at a loss. I’m a low-maintenance kind of person, and I have no desire to become someone who spends more than just a very little while “doing” my hair each day. Should I suck it up and go to some expensive, big-name hair stylist? I’ve thought of going to see Tabatha or someone of her ilk to get some truly expert advice and styling. I need some updating, soooo badly. I’m an actress, and this is really a business decision, not just personal.

    What do you guys think? Does anyone else have this kind of thing going on? I mean, if I had more even waves on my head, it wouldn’t be such a problem, but this weird mix i’m left with is baffling and depressing. I miss my wash-and-go straight hair, but I can’t live in the past. I have to deal with what’s here, now. Thanks, all.

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Mary, I really feel for you as your hair sounds like such a mix of textures. What I would probably suggest is a keratin smoothing treatment to even out your hair texture. This will give you back a wash & wear hairstyle that is easy to manage. You’ll need to spend on the salon treatment, but in the medium term it will make your hair much smoother and easier to manage. Hopefully someone else may have some other suggestions too, but if your hair is frustrating you that much then I would change it. Good luck, Christina x

  21. April says

    I had some waves as a child but at puberty it curled right up. I’ll also mention the exact same thing happened to my older brother. We both inherited the curls from our father, but at 72 his curls have transitioned back to waves, so I’m guessing ours will too when we get up there in age.

  22. Robyn says

    My hair was poker straight as a child, started curling when I was 17, and remained curly until I had my first daughter at 30, and second daughter at 31. After that (and maybe being on insulin for gestational diabetes), my hair went completely flat. However, now I am 35 and noticed a few weeks ago that my hair was starting to curl. I bought some Bumble and Bumble and tried it in my wet hair today and I have a head of full curls….weird. Also, after reading this blog and comments about hormones, I may have to check to make sure I’m not pregnant….

  23. TallTxRed says

    I had put to rest for a few years on my search of hair change. (beginning of research said that hair follicles do NOT change) I researched it very deeply back in the early 2ooo’s. Why? Because my daughter (now almost 17) used to have the softest large blonde curls, she reminded me of a very very young Shirley Temple but thinner hair. But when she was about 4 she started to loose huge amounts of hair.. no balding, no sickness, no medications.. I took her to a dietary specialist, a glycemic (sugar issues) specialist, had blood tests, etc. All told me she was checked as normal. Just a kid with almost no hair.

    She used to have locks down to her shoulders at 4yo and within a 5 months she had baby fine straight as straight can be hair! We had to use hair creams to keep all her ‘new hair’ from sticking straight up (have pics of 4″ of fine hair floating straight up/ like she was hit by lightening daily) because of it’s fine’ness’. It took about a year to get thicker and longer. She became a ‘woman’ at 9 and the only change was her hair got double thick and not as blonde.

    We started to notice at about 11 her “roots” were curly. Like using a half inch curling iron. Stress could have been a factor.. Our/My income had changed for the worse. But she felt she had to learn to ‘straighten’ her hair with a flat iron almost daily. Can you imagine? Having about 4 inches of curly hair with 14″ of straight hair?

    So then hair damage is being done. So we slowly clip away.. then drastically. Last hair trim was about 5 inches and her embracing the curls. She does this by loosely braiding her wet locks over night so she might get her hair back to her waist again.

    That was just two years ago. Here we are at almost 17 and the top 4 inches of her 18 inch long hair is now straight at a board! I am so frustrated! I don’t know how to help or suggest hair styles.

    I have trichotillomania since 12 so I am clueless on to how to help her to the next step. I know how much hair can make you feel comfortable.. I lost that battle. Of course I admire how thick and strong it is now, just don’t know how to get her to like it… quarter straight and 3 quarters curly. You just can’t make a natural curl. Can you?

    Wish us luck!

    Or will we go thru the damage again from using heat to match the hair?

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks for sharing your story, that’s a massive hair journey that you and your daughter have been on. I’m not sure what advice I can offer, except to say that straight to curly can look great and it’s on trend now. I would work with her natural hair and not worry about the switch in textures. Good luck to both of you xx

  24. Valori says

    I am 58 years old and have had thick silky straight hair for most of my life. The only exception was a wave that developed across the back when I was pregnant at age 32 with my second daughter. I am at high risk for a particular cancer and beginning in early 2011 I participated in a clinical trial that had me taking an oral smart bomb chemotherapy for one year. This drug is not known for causing hair loss like traditional chemotherapy. However, I started shedding excessively so they lowered my dose to keep me from quitting the trial. The shedding stopped but then I developed beautiful waves (which happened to only two people in this major study across four renowned cancer centers), which went away soon after I was finished with the drug. That was about two and a half years ago. Now, in the past few months my waves have reappeared, and in the past couple of weeks I have started shedding excessively again. I am well past menopause, take very few drugs except for migraine prevention and headaches, and have not done anything unusual or made major changes in drugs, vitamins, or supplements during this time. I did endure a bout with walking pneumonia earlier this year during which I was given a lot of antibiotics and steroids, and I’ve lost some weight but it has been done responsibly via WeightWatchers. Do you have any ideas on what could be going on here?

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Valori, hair is a funny thing as it’s a real barometer of how our body is doing. It can also show quite a delayed reaction too as hair grows so slowly. Hair grows around an inch a month so depending on how long your hair is, this change could have be triggered months earlier. I hope you’re feeling well now and your hair starts to go back to a normal cycle soon x

  25. Marie says

    My hair was always fine and so straight it couldn’t hold a curl for more than 20 minutes before it dropped out. Then, when I was 6mths pregnant with our 2nd baby, I got a soft perm done, just to add some body and help me get through the lanky, greasy hair stage. Well, unlike the other perms I had had, this one had a loooong term impact.

    Even when the perm had grown out and I had cut that hair off, my hair still had a wave and an awkward kink to it. Finally, 7 years ago, things got pretty tough with illness and family illness and whatnot and about that time, my hair decided to do the curly thing. Now we’re coming out the other side and my hair has settled into full-on ringlets! Which I have to admit looks flippin’ cool, considering it’s long enough for me to sit on.

    It’s been pretty interesting trying to figure out how to work with curls- until 6 months ago, I was best friends with my flatiron or just pulling it all up into a twist or a bun. Now I’ve decided to tame the beast and am loving what I have! :)

  26. Cody says

    There’s no cure? My hair changed when I was 13, I had nice thin hair for the first 12 yrs of my life. I would make a deal with the devil to get it back. I hate my hair now. I remember the first time I had it chem straightened, I was crying with joy..well until it dried.. No matter what I do it won’t straighten, what do you recommend for a male? I want my old hair back. Any products or suggestions?

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Cody, sorry you feel that way. You can get your hair chemically straightened and there are smoothing salon treatments too now that work well. It sounds like you need a better haircut too that will help you manage it. Find a great barber and you’ll see that curls don’t need a cure :)

  27. Megan says

    First, I have to say that I just accidentally came across your blog… and I am so happy that I did! I can’t wait to look through everything and get new ideas for my hair.

    My hair was stick straight and thin all through high school and college. It wouldn’t even try to hold a curl. Then… I became pregnant with my twin boys. I don’t remember my hair changing too much while I was pregnant but I do know that it started to get a little thicker. Right around the time they turned two, my hair started to get a little curl to it… and it hasn’t looked back since! It’s crazy how much it has changed in just two years!

    I definitely believe hormones played a role… plus my mom had straight hair growing up and right around the time she had my older sister hers started to get curly. So hormones and genes.

    I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it. Some days there is just too much frizz, and other days it’s not too bad. I’m embracing it more now… and beginning to really like it!

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Megan! Thank you so much! Hope you find lots of style inspiration here. Some of my tutorials are shown in straight hair but they work the same in curly hair too :)

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