The Hair Typing System

The Benefits of Knowing Your Hair Type

A healthy head of hair begins with knowing its texture, porosity, and curl pattern. Knowing how to use shampoo or even how heat products should be used can help determine how much you should be using for a certain type of curly hair.

A hair type is a system that educates people about the variety of hair textures and patterns that they all possess. Human hair is typically classified as African, Asian, or European by hair examiners with the help of a hair typing system. However, the complex nature of the hair as a result of biological diversity makes this classification too general for most. Hair typing systems have been designed to help everyday people understand the complexity of hair.

A typing system can be extremely helpful in identifying your curl pattern (or patterns), as it gives you a starting point when shopping for hair-care products and styling your hair. These commonly used systems, however, have recently been subject to a lot of criticism. The hair typing system created by Andre Walker is seen by many as creating hierarchies of acceptable curl patterns. Straight hair has been called type 1 hair, while Kinky hair is ranked as the 4th and final hair type. Some say this is reinforcing old ideologies that straight hair is “better.”

You can understand your hair’s unique characteristics and make better product selections if you know your curl pattern.

The curl pattern starts at Type 2a and goes up to Type 4c. Hence, “A” stands for fine/thin hair, “B” for medium-thick hair, and “C” for very dense/coarse/thick hair.

2b and 2c hair types are characterized by loose wavy curls. Heavy products tend to weigh down this type of hair, which is prone to frizz. Hair of this type responds well to sulfate-free shampoos, light silicone-free conditioners, and curl-enhancing products.

These types of hair are characterized by having curly edges. Hair that is coiled into spirals is called spiral curls. As the hair grows, it starts to curl and become more textured. Weather changes can affect the shape of curl patterns of type 3 more, so maintaining their appearance is necessary. It is imperative to use a moisturizing cleanser free of sulfates! Deep conditioners that moisturize and define curls are also crucial. Curly girls are advised to use lightweight leave-in conditioners and gels to set and define their curls.

4a and 4b (originally Andre did not have a category for 4c) types are very coily and kinky with slightly less curl definition. Its texture ranges from a cottony feel to wiry hair, to very tightly coiled hair. The hair shaft of curly hair is less protected by cuticle layers, making it vulnerable to damage and drying. Avoid direct heat with this hair type (flat irons, blow dryers, curling irons, etc.). The fragility of the strands will increase in type 4 hair; therefore, you must handle it gently. Choose cleansing conditioners that moisturize deeply. It’s a great idea to keep this hair type conditioned until the next time it is washed. Creamy puddings and custards protect this hair type from shrinkage by elongating the curls.

Texture typing and curl patterns are simply a guide to help you understand your hair and certain characteristics it may possess. These categories aid in providing clarity on how your hair behaves and how to best treat it for a successful hair journey