If you have been in a similar situation, you have come to the right place. Did you know there are various types of hair? Knowing your hair type can help you pick the right products that can address your hair issues effectively.
Whether fine, thick, long, short, matte, glossy, curly, coily, or straight, your hair deserves respect. Get to know your hair’s curl patterns, its porosity, density, and styling needs because healthy self-care includes your hair.
What does hair type mean?
Your hair type is primarily based on your hair’s curl pattern. The amount of curl in your hair is determined by your hair follicle. The shape of your follicle determines whether your hair is:
The more oval or asymmetrical your follicle is, the curlier your hair will be.
Your hair type is determined by genetics.
You can alter your curl pattern with heat or chemicals, and your curl pattern can changed somewhat by hormones or medications you’re taking, but your basic curl pattern is in your DNA.
Every time your hair goes through its growth cycle, those genetic characteristics are reasserted.
What types of hair are there?
Andre Walker, known for decades as Oprah Winfrey’s stylist, is credited with devising a system that classifies hair according to one of four curl patterns:
Type 1 Straight hair
Type 2 Wavy hair
Type 3 Curly hair
Type 4 Coily hair
These types are further divided into subcategories based on the tightness or looseness of the curls and coils. It may sound simple, but like most attempts to define human characteristics, it isn’t.
You could have type 4C at your crown and 4A at your temples. Your hair could be straight at the root and wavy at the ends. The key is to understand what each type needs so you can style it well and keep it healthy.
How to style and care for your hair type
Stop everything and simply observe your hair. Is it curly, wavy, straight, or coily? There are four types of hair patterns. Want to know which one defines you? Let’s look at them in detail.
Type 1: Straight Hair
hair has no natural curl. The individual strands may be fine or coarse, thick or thin, but they fall without waving from root to tip.
hair has a tendency to become oily, so many stylists recommend that you check the label to be sure the product you’re buying isn’t going to add extra oil to your hair.
“With straight or fine hair, I’d recommend texture sprays instead. Dry shampoos are also a good idea.
Washing your hair too often can cause your scalp to overproduce oils, so dry shampoo is a boon for people with straight, oily hair.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Wavy hair type is neither straight nor curly. It falls somewhere between the two. In wavy hair type, you can observe a slight curl pattern at the lower end of your hair. It can hold hairstyles very well. Its texture is quite rough, and its diameter is thick.
Type 2 is divided into three sub-types:
- 2A is thin wavy hair
- 2B is medium wavy hair
- 2C is thick wavy hair
The natural state of type 2 hair is a gentle, tousled texture. From the roots to around eye level, your hair is fairly straight. And from eye level to the ends, you have a loose, undefined wave.
To keep from flattening out that wave, steer clear of oil-based or creamy products. Instead, stylists recommend that you boost the base with a light mousse or use a gel to define those waves.
As with 2A, type 2B hair curls from the midpoint to the ends. The curls have a more defined S shape. It may require a little more effort to straighten, but it’s easy to create that beachy look with a spritz of salt spray.
Type 2B is ideal for the balayage trend, where stylists hand-paint color on the outer layer of hair.
“When people come in with pictures of balayage,” Lovelace said, “the photo is always going to show wavy hair because when that hair curls around, it’s getting dimension from the back side. People with wavy hair don’t have to go out of their way to style this look.”
The most well-defined S-shaped waves are type 2C. The wave pattern may begin close to the crown and tumble downward. Type 2C hair is often thick and can be prone to frizz in damp weather.
Lovelace recommends using a diffuser, a toothy devise that snaps onto the end of your blow dryer and helps eliminate the frizz.
Type 3 Curly Hair
The best way to find out if you have type 3 curls is to check if your hair strand follows an ‘S’ pattern. It has definite curls that stay curly irrespective of any amount of straightening. It has higher density compared to wavy and straight hair. It is more prone to frizz and can get tangled quickly. Type 3 is again divided into three sub-types:
- Type 3A has loose curls
- Type 3B has medium curls
- Type 3C has tight curls
With type 3A hair, S-shaped curls form loose loops. The curls have a circumference a little wider than the large end of a taper candle. One important styling note: Brushing this type of hair can wreck curl definition and lead to a frizzy mane.
Type 3B curls have a circumference about as wide as the barrel of a Sharpie marker. Curls spring from the roots and have ample volume. To maintain their characteristic spiral shape, these ringlets generally need moisture.
Avoid silicone and sulfates in your curl products, though. They may temporarily tame frizz, but they can dry hair over time and lead to breakage.
These curls are tight and springy — they would coil perfectly around a drinking straw. To preserve the definition in these corkscrew curls, take a hands-on approach.
Instead of combing, which can lead to frizz and breakage, use a leave-in conditioner and rake through wet hair with your fingertips.
Type 4: Coils Hair
The curl pattern for 4A hair is an S-shaped coil you could wrap around a chopstick.
“Type 4 hair is the most delicate hair type, “You have to be very gentle with it, and it needs a lot of moisture.” But getting moisture doesn’t necessarily mean using oils. Deep conditioning masques, butters, and creams are good options for preserving hair health.
One thing The Curl Whisperer salon doesn’t advocate for is protective styles like weaves and braids.
Though some stylists swear by styles that allow you to tuck away fragile ends to protect them while they grow out, Castillo says these styles often do more harm than good. While the hair is out of sight, it’s also out of reach for conditioning treatments.
“When you have had your hair in a protective style for weeks, the curl formation is completely gone. The cuticle is so dry and open that it becomes like little fish hooks that catch on each other and break when you take out the braids,” Castillo said.
Better to wear it in a style that lets you keep moisturizing.
The curls in 4B hair zig-zag. One popular technique for defining and accentuating your curls is shingling.
Shingling begins with wet hair. Gently detangle with your fingertips, using liberal amounts of leave-in conditioner to moisturize and condition. Then separate your hair into four sections.
Work curling cream or gel down the length of each curl, twisting the strands around your index finger as you go.
Type 4C coils are the tightest and most fragile. It’s really easy to break them if you comb roughly or too often, and it’s vital to frequently nourish the hair with rich conditioners.
Coconut oils are still popular, as are shea butter creams. More people are ditching shampoo for co-washing, or rinsing the hair with conditioners instead.
In terms of style, 4C hair is having a moment.
“What we’re seeing is the younger generation wants their hair to be bold,” Castillo said. “They want the hair to be big and round, almost like a sun. And they want to experiment with fun colors — always keeping in mind the health of the hair.
1. Hair Density
The density of your hair pertains to how much hair you have on your scalp. The density differs from its diameter. You can have thin hair diameter but thick hair density, and vice versa. Depending on the number of individual hair strands on your scalp, there are three levels of density. To find out which category your hair falls under, you can do the mirror test.
Grab a big section of your hair and pull it aside. The extent to which you can see your scalp determines your hair density.
- Thin Density
If you can easily see your scalp, you have thin density of hair. That means your hair is scantily placed.
- Medium Density
If you can see your scalp partially from underneath your hair, you have medium hair density.
- Thick Density
If you can hardly see your scalp, you have thick hair density.
2. Hair Diameter
The diameter of your hair refers to the width of an individual hair strand. This is the most accurate way to determine your hair type. Do the strand test to figure out if your hair is fine, medium or thick.
Hold a single strand of your hair between your index finger and middle finger.
If you can barely feel the presence of a strand between your fingers, you have thin hair. In some cases, the hair strand can be so thin that it is not even visible.
If you can slightly feel the hair strand between your fingers, you have medium hair.
If you can distinctly feel the hair strand between your fingers, you have thick hair.
There is another way of testing your hair type by comparing it to a sewing thread. Place a hair strand along the length of a thread. If it is just as thick or even thicker than the thread, you have coarse or thick hair. If it is more or less the same thickness as the thread, you have medium hair. If the hair strand is significantly thinner than the thread, you have thin or limp hair.
3. Hair Greasiness
Want to know if your hair is greasy consistently or just acting crazy on certain days? Knowing the level of greasiness can help you understand how often you need to wash your hair. It can also help you pick products like clarifying shampoos and conditioners since oily hair tends to build residue faster.
To figure out the level of greasiness of your hair, you need to wash your hair thoroughly before hitting the bed and let it air dry. Once you wake up, do a patch test on your scalp.
If there is a heavily greasy patch on the tissue, you have greasy hair and scalp. This means you need to wash your hair 4 to 5 times a week.
There is no oil deposited on the tissue. This indicates a lack of hydration. Use products that can add and retain moisture in your locks.
If there is oil deposited on the tissue from only specific regions of your scalp, it indicates combination hair. Often the hair behind your ears and the temple region secretes a high amount of oil.