Hair Types and Textures
Is your hair thin or thick?
Does your hair just literally falls flat on your head?
Tell me, do you know your hair type?
What about your hair texture? If I was to ask you what’s your hair texture? Would you be able to tell me?
Would you tell me, Oh I have curly or wavy hair! Well sorry to tell you but that’s not hair texture, that’s hair type.
Just a little teaser, but it’s important that we know the difference between hair type and hair texture and how we can use this knowledge to make better choices in regards to the hair products we use. We’ve also included pictures and the characteristics of the different wave patterns of hair so you can quickly identify your own.
Have you ever heard of hair density or hair porosity?
Well this section not only focuses on hair types and textures but other important features of our individual hair strand that we should know. This section will empower you with the information you need to know what products to use on your hair and just how this will impacts the look and feel of your tresses.
Hair texture is not how the hair feels but is the measure of the thickness of a single strand of hair. It is classified as being fine, medium or coarse.
Hair texture varies from individual to individual, and can even be different in separate areas of the same head. Regardless of if your hair is straight, curly or kinky; coarse, medium and fine hair can be found among all racial and ethnic groups.
Fine hair has a small circumference and has the most fragile texture and is easily damage. People with fine hair tend to have more hair than people with thicker hair strands. Another interesting characteristic of people with fine hair is they will have oilier hair than other hair types, as well as extremely difficult to hold a style. You will find that your hair is light and will fall flat against your head.
Fine natural hair will have the following problems:
Doesn’t hold styles well
Can become weighed down with heavy products, causing the hair to look stringy
Can look thin and may break easily because it’s fragile
Medium hair is the most common hair type and tends to cover the scalp well.
It is not a fragile as fine hair and can be manipulated into various styles quite easily.
This hair texture is particularly strong and takes longer to dry than others. Coarse hair has a stronger texture and can be very resistant to chemical treatment such as perming, hair coloring and straightening. This hair type can tolerate heat well and resist breakage.
People with coarse/thick natural hair will appear to have a full head of hair and will hold styles very well.
How to determine my hair texture?
The comparison is typical to a piece of thread. So get a regular piece of thread. Section out a small patch of your hair and then select an individual strand.
If your hair is thinner than the thread, then you have fine hair.
If it’s the same width of the thread then you have medium hair.
And if it’s thicker than the piece of thread, then you have thick/coarse hair.
Every woman has a natural wave pattern to their hair. It refers to the amount of curl in the hair strand and is as a result of genetics and racial background. The most popular typing system used is the Andre Walker Curl Typing System. In 1977, he took the standard hairdresser type classes and expanded it. He classified hair into four main categories:
Type 1 – Straight
Type 2 – Wavy
Type 3 – Curly
Type 4 – Kinky
Andre then created and defined sub-categories known as – a, b, c – within the texture classes.
Naturally straight hair is the strongest of the four types and tends to reflect light to the eye the best and gives it a glossy appearance.
Straight hair is hard to damage and nearly impossible to curl. Because the sebum (hair natural oil) gently works its way down from the scalp to the end without any interference of curls or kinks, and it’s the oiliest texture of all. Type 1 is further subcategorized into Type 1a, 1b and 1c.
Type 1a (Fine/Thin) – Hair is completely flat, and straight from the root to the tip and has little to no body. This hair type tends to be very soft, shiny and very difficult to hold a curl. Women with this hair type tend to have very oily hair that is difficult to manage.
Type 1b (Medium) – Women in this subcategory finds that their hair is not completely flat and tend to have hair with more body than 1a. Most straight hair women fall into this category. Its most distinguishing feature of type 1b is that it will hold a curl, and has sporadic bends here and there and the ends of the hair tends to curl under slightly unlike type 1a that has only straight ends.
Type 1c (Coarse) – Hair is generally straight, has body and a few parts has slight bends. Its individual strands tend to be thick and coarse. Most Asian women fall into this category.
Type 2 – Wavy
Hair lies somewhere between straight and curly hair. It is naturally wavy and forms an “S” shape. Type 2 hair is not as oily as Type 1 due to the texture pattern of the individual hair strand, but type 2 isn’t dry either. Within the type 2 category, there are Type 2a, Type 2b and Type 2c categories.
Type 2a (Fine/Thin) – Hair has several loose, natural waves all over the head and is very easy to handle. This hair has a definite “S” pattern and can accomplish various styles.
Type 2b (Medium) – Hair has waves that are clearly defined and tends to be very frizzy. Hair sticks close to the head and is very resistant to styling.
Type 2c (Coarse) – Hair is also resistant to styling and is the frizziest of all the Type 2 categories. Women with this hair type have thicker waves and hair that bounces up and slightly away from the face.
Type 3 – Curly
Type 3 hair is naturally curly and shaped like an “S”. Type 3 hair forms naturally defined ringlets. Humidity tends to make this type of curly hair even curlier or frizzier. Type 3 hair has a lot of body and is easily styled in its natural state or it can be straightened with a blow-dryer into a smoother style. Type 3 hair is shiny, with soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity. Curly hair usually consists of a combination of textures with the crown being the curliest part. Andre Walker’s Curl Typing only describes two sub-categories: 3a and 3b, but we have included a description for what we know to be a very popular and has now made its way into the typing categories, 3c.
Type 3a (Loose Curls) – These curls have a definite loopy “S” pattern and a well –defined and springy. Curls are naturally big, loose and very shiny.
Women with this hair type generally have no problem straightening their hair, and can use a variety of styling products to achieve back their bouncy curls. One major problem with this hair type is it tends to be very frizzy so climate is a game-changer for these women.
Type 3b (Tight Curls) – Women with Type 3b hair have well-defined springy, spiraled curls. These curls range from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrew. Women with this hair can straighten it but it can be very challenging. Its texture can be very coarse and it’s not as shiny as women would like.
Type 3c (Curly Coily) – Hair has voluminous, tight curls in corkscrews and tends to be very coily. The curls can be very kinky or tightly curled with the individual strands closely packed together (also known as clumping). Women with this hair have a challenge getting their hair straightened as well as to get their curls evenly defined, but it can be done.
Type 4 – Coily
Type 4 hair is classified as hair that is coily and tightly curled without the defined ringlets like that of type 3 hair. Type 4 hair can range from fine and thin to wiry and coarse with lots of strands densely packed together. Type 4 hair tends to be extremely dry because of the shape of the individual strand. The sebum produced in the scalp tends to get no further than an inch or two down the hair shaft. Coily hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, meaning that it has less protection from the damage inflicted by combing, brushing, straightening, curling and blow-drying.
Type 4a (Fine) – Hair is coily and forms prefect “S” pattern curls. It has more moisture than 4b, and can be wiry or fine –textured. Hair is very fragile and has a lot of strands densely packed together.
Type 4b (Medium) – Hair tends to take on a tight, crimpy pattern. Instead of curling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter “Z” and has a cotton-like feel.
Type 4c (Coarse) – Type 4c hair also consist of a “Z” shape, more of a zig-zag pattern and tends to show little to no defined sections of hair. Individual hair strands range from fine/thin/super soft to wiry/coarse with lots of densely packed strands. 4c hair is also known to shrink up to more than half of its actual length.
L.O.I.S African American Natural Texture Typing System
This popular curl typing system is said to be less complex in comparison to Andre Walker’s system. It also takes into account strand thickness and assesses how hair texture impact natural African women define their hair. It uses several properties to help you work out your hair type such as:
Pattern of your strands
Thickness of the strand
Sheen and Shine
The system is based around the letters L.O.I.S. which stands for L stands for bend, O is curl, I is straight and S is wave. The bends, kinks and coils of your hair will resemble one or more of the letter: L, O, I or S. In addition to bend, curl, straight and wave is the texture or thickness of the strands which include thin, medium and thick.
L – All the hair has bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve then you are what is known as a daughter L.
O – If the strand is rolled up into the shape of one or several zeros like a spiral, then you are a daughter O.
I – Most of the hair lies flat with no distinctive curves or bends then you are a daughter I.
S – If the strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys so to speak, then you are a daughter S.
It’s important to note than you may have a combination of the letters, with one being more dominant than the other (s)