You probably don’t know your hair type if you’re like many guys. “Of courseD I do!” you might respond to that question, “it’s curly!” It’s a general type.
However, being more specific is an important step in making your hair look its best. This is because your hair type will determine which styling products are best for your hair.
What does “hair type” actually mean?
Your hair type is simply how curly or straight your hair is. (If your hair is straight, your curl pattern will be…straight. You didn’t know that. The shape of your hair shaft determines the curl pattern. Curly hair is oval-shaped while straight hair is round and coily hair flat.
Your DNA determines the shape of your hair shaft and how curly or straight it is. Your natural curl pattern will return as your hair grows through the stages. However, heat from flat irons, blow dryers, and chemical treatments such as relaxers may temporarily alter your curl pattern. Certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy, can permanently alter your hair’s appearance.
These are the main categories that hair falls under:
- Coily (sometimes referred to as “kinky”)
These are hair types that you probably already know. We’ll need to be more specific to help you get the best out of your hair. We recommend using hair products with nourishing ingredients.
What are the different types of hair?
Andre Walker, Oprah’s long-time stylist, created the most popular method for categorizing hair in his book Andre talks Hair! Walker’s system is not without its critics, and it’s by no means perfect. But we’ll be focusing on it because it’s the most well-known method of categorizing hair.
Walker applies the broad categories above but gives them numbers: straight = 1, curly = 2, and curly = 3. Walker also adds letters (A-B-C) to indicate the curliness of your hair. This is useful as two people might face different challenges if their curly hair is curlier than the other.
It is important to remember that the curl pattern you have throughout your head might be different. Walker’s system might say that your hair at the temples and hairline are 3B.
It is important to know not only your category, but also your subcategory in order to get the best bang for your buck when you buy styling products, shampoo, or conditioner. Let’s get started.
Walker categorizes straight hair as Type 1. Straight hair is not distinguished from other types by its lack of visible curl patterns. This type of hair is less susceptible to damage from harsh weather or elaborate styling (think: braiding, curling and blow-drying). This type of hair is naturally shiny because it allows your natural oil (known by sebum), to travel clear from the scalp up to the ends. If the hair isn’t well cared for, that shine can quickly become oily.
There are three types of straight hair: 1A-1B and 1C. Your individual hair strands will determine which subtype you choose. 1A is the thinnest strand of straight hair, 1B is medium, and 1C, is the longest. You can search “1B hair” to see images and find out which subtype you are. If you’re not familiar with Walker’s system, your stylist might be able to help.
This hair type tends to be oily so avoid thick, creamy products that will add oil to your hair. You might be able use creamier products if your hair is closer to 1C than to 1A. Make sure you shampoo your hair to remove any buildup. Dry shampoo is an excellent option to keep your hair clean and without the need to go in the shower as often. You might also consider a volumizing conditioner or thickening shampoo. These conditioners tend to be lighter than other types.
Type 2: Wavy hair. Type 2.
This and curlier hair types play an even greater role in choosing the right products for you. How to tell if your hair is 2A, 2B or 2C.
2A: It is easy to style and straighten your hair. Each strand is thin.
2B: Your hair is more resistant than others to styling. The hair is thicker.
2C: No matter what you do, your hair will not give up its curl pattern. Your hair’s individual strands can be thick and prone to frizziness.
Creamy products can cause 2A hair to look weighed down if your thin, loose waves aren’t as strong as you would like. Try mousses and gels instead, which are usually lighter.
Hair 2B and 2C are thicker and more defined. This makes heavier products an option. Moisturizers and oils can prevent your natural curl pattern becoming distorted by frizz. If you have 2C hair, look for the words “anti-humidity”, or “antihumectant” on your label.
Type 3 is curly hair. This curl pattern is less defined than wavy hair but more defined than curly hair. Curly hair can be thick and easily damaged. They are also more prone to frizzing in humid environments. It can look loose or curled depending on its subtype.
Andre Walker’s original system only included two t-ypes of curly hair: 3A or 3B. Natural hair community members added 3C to the system. This group fights the stigma associated with curls and coils and encourages you to love your hair as it is. Walker’s subtypes are crucial for all hair types. 3C was added to make Walker’s system more accessible for those with fine hair.
This is how to identify 3A,3B,3C hairs:
3A: Your curls look loose and large.
3B: Your curls will be tighter and closer to a ringlet shape. They are coarser and more dense than 3A curls.
3C: Your curls are corkscrew-shaped and dense, and have a circumference that is about the same size as a pencil. The volume of 3C hair is greater than that of 3A and 3B.
It is important to remember that type 3 hair should not be brushed. Frizz can be created by brushing your curls. Instead, use conditioner to comb your hair while you are in the shower. Avoid pulling your hair back in a ponytail or bun if it is longer. If you wear these styles on a regular basis, the tension they put on your hair can cause your curls to become looser.
Type 3 hair requires moisture to prevent frizz. It can also handle heavier products than type 2. You can use anti-humidity products to help your hair. However, avoid silicone and sulfates as they can cause damage over time.
3C hair should be treated with a little less care than 3A or 3B. It shouldn’t be heated with styling tools. Instead, let it air dry after it gets wet. Avoid combing, as it can damage delicate hair. Apply a leave in conditioner to your hair after you have shampooed and condition it. Then, use your fingers and fingers to remove any tangles. Although this may seem like a lot, especially if your hair is long, you might be amazed at how great your hair looks after it.
Type 4 hair is coily (sometimes called “kinky”). This type of hair has a tight curl or Afro texture and shrinks a lot when wet. Coily hair is thicker and more dense than other types, so it may not be able to withstand rough treatment. The truth is that this hair type is more fragile than others because it has less protection (called cuticle layer). Because natural oils take longer to reach the ends, this hair type is more susceptible to dryness.
This is how you can tell the difference between subtypes and types of coily hair.
4A: You have fine hair strands or wet hair. You have a distinct curl pattern in your hair.
4B: The hair strands you have might be coarse, fine, or wiry. Because the coils are so tightly wound, your curl pattern may look more like a zigzag.
4C: Although your hair texture might vary depending on the strand, it is extremely delicate and susceptible to breaking. It might be difficult to grow your hair out. Your coils may not be as defined as those of 4A and 4B. (Like 3C hair, this hair type was added to Walker’s system after it had been created.
People with curly or wavy hair should maintain moisture. However, they will need to use gentler products to prevent breakage. Do not skimp on conditioner, and make sure to use a leave in conditioner after you get out of the shower. You can moisturize your hair with oils, creams or deep conditioners even if you don’t wash it every day.
You should skip shampoo if you have hair that is 4B or 4C. Instead, use conditioner, which is called “co-washing”, and wash your hair with a natural conditioner. Conditioner is a great way to clean your hair without stripping it from the oils it needs. It is also a good idea to avoid expensive products and stick with natural oils like coconut oil or shea butter. Your hair is more susceptible to harmful additives than other types.
This might have been a lot of information, so let us recap. It’s a good idea to know your general hair type (straight or curly, curly or coily). However, you will need to determine which subcategory it falls into in order to properly treat it. The extent of your curl pattern and the thickness of your hair will determine your subtype.
You can now confidently buy styling products for your hair with more confidence knowing exactly what kind of hair you have. Although it may take some time and trial and error to find the right products to make your hair look great, this information should help you narrow down your choices.