Hair typing can indeed be a complex and confusing topic. Understanding your hair type can help you better care for and style your curls. In this blog post, we'll dive into the various aspects of curly hair typing to provide you with a better understanding of your own hair. Keep in mind that hair typing is not an exact science, and your hair may have characteristics from multiple types.
There are 4 components that make up your hair type:
The most commonly used hair typing system is the Andre Walker Hair Typing System, which categorizes hair into four main types: Type 1 (straight), Type 2 (wavy), Type 3 (curly), and Type 4 (coily/kinky). Within each type, there are subcategories denoted by letters and numbers that further describe the curl pattern and texture. If you’re unsure about which category you fall into, leave your hair free of products and let it air dry the next time you wash your hair.
- Type 1 hair is straight, with no visible curl or wave. It ranges from Type 1A (fine and thin) to Type 1C (thick and coarse).
- Type 2 hair is wavy, with a defined "S" or "Slight" pattern. It ranges from Type 2A (loose waves) to Type 2C (strong waves).
- Type 3 hair is curly, with well-defined curls that form spirals. It ranges from Type 3A (loose curls) to Type 3C (tight curls).
- Type 4 hair is coily or kinky, with tight curls or zig-zag patterns. It ranges from Type 4A (tight coils) to Type 4C (kinky/coily).
In a nutshell, Porosity is your hair's ability to retain moisture. High porosity hair has raised cuticles and absorbs moisture easily where low porosity hair has closed cuticles and need more coaxing in order for moisture to be absorbed. Since I've already written a pretty extensive post about this, I'll just link it here. Just come on back when you're done reading!
Determining your hair density is an important aspect of understanding your hair type. Hair density refers to the number of individual strands per square inch on your scalp and can range from low to medium to high. To assess your hair's density, you can use a simple measurement method. If your ponytail circumference is less than two inches, you have low density hair. A ponytail circumference of two to three inches indicates medium density hair, while a circumference of four or more inches suggests high density hair.
If your hair isn't long enough for a ponytail measurement, you can still gauge your density by examining your scalp. If your scalp is easily visible without manipulating your hair, you likely have low density hair. If your scalp is somewhat visible from the top of your head, you have medium density hair. And if your scalp is barely visible, you have high density hair.
Understanding your hair density can help you choose appropriate products and hairstyles that cater to your hair's unique needs.
The final component of your hair type is its diameter. This refers to the actual thickness of the individual hair strands on your head. Generally, your hair can fall into three categories: fine, medium, and coarse. An easy way to tell which category your hair falls into is to take a single strand and lay it down on a plain, flat surface. Next, cut a piece of sewing thread about six inches long (choose a similar color to your hair if you can) and place it next to your strand of hair. If your hair appears thinner than the sewing thread, your hair is fine, while if it seems thicker, it’s likely coarse. Anything in between them would be medium. (Credit: functionofbeauty.com)
The geek in me wanted to put together a matrix to show you all the permutations possible when you consider hair texture, porosity, density and diameter but doing it was giving me a headache! The point is, there a quite a few combinations - even if you have the same hair texture, porosity AND density as someone else, if your strands are fine and theirs are coarse...BAM! Different products might work for each of you!
We'll explore this more in the next blog post. In the meantime, take a few minutes and determine your COMPLETE hair type to prepare!