What is my hair type?
Grow Black Hair Naturally
There have been several attempts to define hair type. You may ask "Why
should I care?" Well, mostly you shouldn't. We think typing systems
actually complicate what can pretty easily be conveyed in a few words.
By the time you sort through what a 4b or 1a really means, you might as
well just say "I have thick kinky African hair" or "I have straight,
thin Caucasian hair". And, hair typing systems are so subjective as to
be almost worthless in our opinion. Who determines whether your hair
shafts are thick or thin? And whether the curl pattern is "loose" or
There are controversies surrounding hair type methodologies that use
works like kinky, nappy and other words that have less than positive
connotations for some people. Other systems use numbers. But, they tend
to lump all African American hair into one big category with a few
variations. So, how useful is that really? Considering everyone's hair
is slightly different and people can even have different types of hair
on their head at one time, categorizing hair is a difficult proposition
Now, having said all of that, there are two major systems that seem to
be the most popular. There is a system called LOIS that uses the hair
shape as the defining hair type. For more on LOIS, do a Google on LOIS
Hair Type. Until many people switch over to the LOIS system, the
standard seems to be the numbering system developed by Andre Walker.
In spite of our reservations about hair typing systems, knowing your
hair type can allow you talk with others and research products, styles
and regimens that are best for your particular hair. And you will often
see people saying they have 4a or 4c hair. So you might as well know
what it means.
The most common systems are ones that categorize the hair based on
curl pattern (with a number from 1 for the straightest to 4 for the
kinkiest) and on the thickness of the shaft. Keep in mind using
thickness here it's the individual thickness of a strand of your hair,
not the density of the number of hairs on your head. You could
have thick hair shafts and thin hair in terms of numbers of hairs or
vice versa. The
thickness is rated with a letter ranging from a to c. The following
numbers refer to the amount of curl or wave in a hair.
Type 1 Hair
|Type 1 hair is straight with no
discernible curl or wave pattern. This type of hair tends to get oily
and is usually shiny.
Type 2 Hair
|Type 2 hair is hair that has
some soft waves, but little to no real
curl. It doesn't form rings, just waves. It typically is more coarse
than Type 1 hair and will cling to the scalp in long "S" shaped waves.
Type 3 Hair
|Type 3 hair has a more definite
"S" pattern to it with the "S" being
more tightly formed. It will typically be relatively soft and will have
less shine than type 1 or 2 hair. It will straighten out or form
ringlets when wet but will draw up into a curlier pattern when it
dries. This hair type is typical of biracial (African and Caucasian
mix) people and of Blacks of a more mixed heritage.
Type 4 Hair
|Type 4 hair will have kinks and
twists and possibly coils but does not
form an "S" shape. It may be "L" shaped with bends rather than curves
in it. It may form tight coils or "O" shapes (tighter than the
"ringlets"formed by Type 3 hair.
This type of hair generally
doesn't change shape much wet or dry. It can be wiry and usually is
fragile. It tends to be drier than other hair types because the bends
and twists not only provide points that are more fragile, they actually
make it hard for the natural oil (sebum) produced by the scalp to reach
the ends of the hair shaft. Because the cuticles do not lay flat on
Type 4 hair, the hair tends to be less shiny than Types 1, 2 and 3 and
people will often think natural Black hair is dry or dull looking.
African-Americans have Type 4 hair, which is why this designation alone
is not really super descriptive. It seems we are the ones most
concerned with categorizing our hair and by this pretty crude system,
most of us fall into basically the same category.
Chemically Straightened Hair
|Chemically Treated or Permed
hair is a hair type we think we have to
add. Perming the hair changes the natural structure of the hair
creating its own hair type. It is going to be anywhere from a Type 2 to
a Type 1 in terms of straightness (depending on the strength of the
perm). In spite of the fact the hair shaft is slightly thinner due to
the action of the perming chemicals, it might still be a relatively
thick hair shaft. It will have more shine than natural hair because the
cuticles lay more flat. But, it will tend to be dry.
The letters a, b and c after the number tell you how thick the hair
strand is. a is the thinnest and c is the thickest. One would think the
thicker the strand the less fragile the
hair. But, actually type 4c hair can be the most fragile because of the
curl pattern and the dryness of the hair. Type 4c hair needs to be
moisturized regularly, treated gently and should never be brushed with
a bristle brush that can catch the bends and break the hair.
Treasured Locks has products to suit all hair types from 2-4 and for
chemically straightened hair. What our clients have in common is
curly hair that often tends to be dry and/or is fragile. Our
products are formulated to be gentle on the hair and to provide