A Complete Guide to Hair Types

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Figuring out your hair type is very important if you want to solve any hair related problems. If your hair products aren’t giving you the results you want, it is likely that you don’t know as much about your hair as you thought.

Determining your hair type plays a great role in establishing your daily hair care routine.

Being aware of your hair type can make life a whole lot easier. Identifying your hair type can help you customize your daily hair care regimen and help you style it the way you want.

What Are the Different Hair Typing Systems?

Andre Walker was the first person to introduce a ‘hair typing system,’ which is also referred to as the Andre Walker system. He introduced this system in 1997 where he took a standard hair texture class and elaborated it into curl typing.

Andre classified hair into four different categories:

  • Straight Hair is Type 1
  • Wavy Hair is Type 2
  • Curly Hair is Type 3
  • Kinky Hair is Type 4.

He further introduced subcategories to define the different textures – a, b, c.

The hair typing system helps group your hair more effectively. The typing system helps you determine the exact type of hair you have, which helps solve your hair problems.
For instance, you might know you have wavy hair, but do you know what type of wavy hair you have?

Probably not.

This hair typing system can help you out. Depending on the type of wavy hair you have, you can make a daily hair routine.

How Do You Find Your Hair Type?

You can check your hair type very easily. Here’s how you can determine your hair type:

Wiry – Your hair has a sparkly sheen and has low shine and fizz. Water beads tend to bounce off the hair strands, never allowing them to get completely wet.

Thready – Your hair has a low sheen, but it is shiny. This type of hair is usually less frizzy and they never seem to get completely wet.

Cottony– Your hair has a low sheen but has a high shine and high frizz. It tends to absorb water quickly but doesn’t get completely drenched very fast.

Spongy – Your hair has a high sheen but a low shine. It tends to absorb water before getting completely drenched.

Silky – Your hair has a low sheen and very high shine. It is not frizzy and gets wet every easily.

Hair by Type

The hair typing systems introduced by Andre Walker are discussed here in detail. Too few people are aware of the hair typing systems.

Type 1 – Straight Hair

This type of hair remains straight despite any curling. Straight hair remains completely flat, starting from the roots down till the tips.

The texture of straight hair tends to be soft and silky. Straight hair tends to be shiny, but the downside is that straight hair is usually very fine or thin. Besides being very soft, high levels of oil secretion have been noticed in straight hair.

According to the hair typing system, straight hair is Type 1 and has three other subcategories.

Type 1A – Straight and Fine

Type 1A has very fine, straight hair. This type of hair tends to be soft and shiny. It is usually difficult to maintain curls with this hair type. This hair type gets oily and is difficult to damage. If your straight hair strand is thinner than a thread, then your hair type falls under this category.

Type 1B – Straight and Medium

This type of straight hair is neither very fine nor very thick and coarse. Straight hair that falls under this category tends to have a lot of volume and body. If your straight hair strand is as thick as a thread, then your hair type falls under this category.

Type 1C – Thick and Coarse

To fall under this category, your hair should be thicker than a thread. This hair type is usually bone straight and faces a lot of difficulties while curling. Asian women tend to have this type of hair.

Type 2 – Wavy Hair

This hair type is neither completely straight nor completely curly. It falls somewhere between the two. Wavy hair can be identified by the slight curl patterns that are formed at the lower end of your hair. Wavy hair is great for holding up hairstyles as the hair strands have a thick diameter. This hair type is further divided into three sub-categories.

Type 2A – Thin Wavy Hair

Type 2A doesn’t have slight bends; it has loose, natural and beachy waves flowing from the head. This type isn’t as frizzy as medium and thick wavy hair. It can be controlled by applying enough hair products.

Type 2B – Medium Wavy Hair

The hair that falls under this category has clearly-defined and tightly drawn waves. The hair tends to stick together and isn’t very bouncy. People with Type 2B hair experience a significant amount of frizziness. Many people who have this type of wavy hair have to use a lot of gel-based hair products to keep the frizziness at bay.

Type 2C – Thick Wavy Hair

This hair type has waves that are very tightly drawn. They start swirling around itself to form loose spiral curls. From all the subcategories of Type 2 hair, this hair type is the frizziest. If you have this type of hair, you must’ve noticed that it bounces slightly upwards.

Type 3 – Curly Hair

The easiest way to find out whether your hair is curly or not is to notice if your hair strand forms an ‘S’ pattern. Curly hair is very difficult to straighten. It tends to maintain its original shape despite any amount of straightening.

Curly hair has more volume and higher density than straight and wavy hair. The biggest downside of having curly hair is that it is prone to frizz and gets tangled easily. Curly hair can be sub-categorized into three main sub-types.

Type 3A – Loose Curls

This hair type features loose curls. They may seem coarse, but they are silky in texture. These loose curls tend to be well-defined and are best left on their own.

Type 3B – Medium Curls

While type 3A has loose curls, this hair type comprises curls that tend to be more spiraled and springy. Hair that falls under this category tends to be moderately defined on its own. But it tends to be very frizzy without hairstyling products such as gels and hair creams.

Type 3C – Tight Curls

The curls that fall under this category tend to be more tightly drawn and coily in nature. They are also textured, but the strands are closely drawn together. This is referred to as clumping. It takes some manual effort to evenly define the curls, but they’re still fine on their own.

Type 4 – Kinky Hair

Type 4 is Kinky hair, which may seem kind of rough but in reality, it is quite fragile and soft. This type of hair is highly prone to hair damage and breakage if it isn’t looked after properly. This hair type also has a high hair density and super-tight curls. If you look closely, these curls form a ‘Z’ shape. Type 4 is also divided into three main sub-categories. So, if you have kinky hair, it falls under one of the following categories.

Type 4A – Soft

This hair type consists of curls that are coily and form tight and perfectly cylindrical curls. These curly strands are about as much as the width of a pen and tend to be quite springy in nature. Unlike other sub-categories of Type 4, hair classified as 4A falls down and also have a clearly-defined curl pattern.

Type 4B – Wiry

This hair type consists of hair with tight, crimpy patterns. It can be difficult to distinguish between hair that falls under Type 4B and Type 4C. The key to differentiating between the two types is understanding that 4B hair is clearly defined, whereas 4C isn’t. The roots of 4B might not be defined clearly, but the ends/tips form a perfect curl pattern.

Type 4C – Extremely Wiry

This hair type entails hair patterns that form a ‘Z’ shape. The hair strands follow a zigzag pattern and there are no clearly defined sections of hair. Hair that falls under this category shrinks in size due to the extremely curly nature.

Hair by Texture

Many people believe that hair texture refers to how a hair strand feels to the touch, but that is a misconception. In reality, the texture of your hair is defined by the thickness of your hair strand. Despite the type of hair you have – straight, wavy, curly or kinky— your hair can be fine, medium and thick (also known as coarse).

You can learn more about the texture of your hair by choosing a strand of your hair. Your aim should be to get the most common hair texture, considering you have different hair textures.

Make sure that your hair is freshly-washed but has no hair products applied to it. Also, wash your hair in cold water rather than hot water.

Place the strand of your hair that you pulled out on a piece of white paper. You can determine the texture of your hair by comparing it to a piece of thread.

In case your hair seems to be thinner than the thread, you have fine hair. If the strand is as thick as the thread, then you have medium hair. If your hair strand appears to be thicker than the thread, then you have thick hair.

Straight Hair Texture

Straight hair often tends to be fine hair. It may be divided into other types, but it’s usually almost thin and shiny. Even though the hair strands are thin, this type of hair is very strong.

Wavy Hair Texture

Wavy hair falls between straight and curly hair. It’s usually thick in diameter and tends to be rough to the touch.

Curly Hair Texture

Curly hair ranges from thin to coarse, but it most commonly falls in the ‘fine’ hair category.

Kinky Hair Texture

Kinky hair appears to be very thick and coarse, but it is actually very sensitive and can be easily damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Rarest Hair Type?

1A is very common amongst Asian Women. Since Asia has a massive population, chances are Type 1 is the most common hair type in the world.

Asia is followed by Africa on the ‘most populous region of the world’ list. A vast majority of African women have Type 4 hair, meaning that the second most popular hair type in the world.

That narrows it down to type 2 and type 3. However, a lot of women these days straighten their hair, making it difficult to identify their natural hair type. So, the rarest hair type possibly falls between Type 2 and Type 3.

Is It Possible To Be Between Curl Types?

While many of you can easily identify your hair type category, others fail to do so. Yes, it’s possible to be between different curl types. It is also possible to have multiple curl types on your head.

No two hair textures are similar to one another. The diameter of the curly hair strands may vary from person to person— so can the density of the strands. At the back, the hair may be thin and fine while at the midsection, they might be denser.

Why Is My Curly Hair Going Straight?

There’s a chance that your curly hair becomes naturally straight. While it may be weird for many of you, a lot of people experience this due to hormonal changes in the body. It can be because of pregnancy, menopause or even puberty. Your hair pattern relies on your hair follicles that can change due to hormonal changes.

Conclusion

The hair typing system has made our lives so much easier as we can identify our hair types and textures through it. Like your customized skin care regimen, your hair can receive customized hair care too.

For the vast majority of women, their hair is their joy. The way you style your hair relies on your preference, but you may have noticed that your hair has its own limitations. It may be too frizzy or too straight to hold a curl.

Some things are beyond your control, but you can learn to work around them by identifying and learning about your hair type.

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