With the natural hair movement in the 21st century, more and more people want to know their hair types. It’s true that there are no two people who have the exact same hair. We all have different and unique characteristics to the hair.
There are several ways to determine your hair type as you will see below.
However, understand that you are either born with naturally curly hair, straight one or the wavy type. The major reason for the difference in the hair structure is in the disulfide bonds amount.
If you have a lot of the bonds your hair becomes curlier while if you have less it becomes straight.
Whenever you are thinking about the hair textures there are three major features you ought to consider. The curl pattern, strand thickness, and density.
There are more aspects to it which means that you need a comprehensive guide. The founders of the classifications use different tools to classify your hair to a certain category.
In knowing your hair type and texture you understand what styling technique to use.
The Hair Classification Systems
1. The natural curly texture typing system
This is about the curl types. Once you know that yours is a curly hair type, you should then know that there are levels of the curls. You begin working with it when you understand the curl patterns you have.
This system focuses on the type 2 hair which is wavy, type 3 which is curly and type 4 which is coyly. Now, the sub classification is from A to C. This sub classifications focus on the diameter of the curls, coils, and waves.
2. O.I.S hair typing system
This was yet another method used to give women the perfect descriptors to the varieties of curls, coils and waves. With the system, the letters are used to represent the hair types, not the numbers.
So, while most black women fit into category 4, most black women are stigmatized by the fact that their hair is categorized as the lowest quality.
So, the LOIS system although not as popular classifies the hair in a way that makes you feel as though you have a rich hair even when you have type 4 hair.
It even categorizes your hair based on the sheen, shine, and width.
For this method, when you want to identify your hair you should do so when you have just washed the hair. This will help you know where the strands fall.
You then use a thread width comparison to your hair width and this will tell you whether your hair is thin or thick.
S – wave
The hair is either of the following textures
Thready – low sheen high shine, low frizz
Silky – low sheen, high shine, low frizz
Wiry – sparkly sheen, low shine, low frizz
Spongy – high sheen, low shine, high frizz
Cottony – low sheen, low shine, high frizz
3. Andre walker typing system
Well, this is the most popular system used for classification. Nonetheless, it’s still confusing to know where you fall in this system. With the method, you ought to know the hair texture, porosity, density, and elasticity.
So here they use the numbering as well as the lettering method for the classification.
Type 1 straight
This is then subcategorized to
1a- straight hair that is fine or thin. It’s soft, shiny and can’t hold curls well. It’s damage resistant and shiny.
1b- straight but medium hair. It has lots of volume and body.
1c the hair is straight and coarse. The hair here is very straight that you can hardly curl it. Most Asian women will fall in this hair structure.
Type 2 wavy
It features the s pattern that is further coarse and wavy.
2a- wavy is normally fine/thin. With this style, you can achieve different styles. It has the defined S pattern.
2b wavy medium. This is often frizzy but it’s a little bit resistant to styling.
2c wavy and coarse. It has thicker waves then it’s resistant to styling. It also frequently frizzy.
Type 3 curly
When it’s wet, you may classify it in the straight category but when it dries it takes on its natural shape. It absorbs the water and the humidity makes it curlier or frizzier. The hair normally has a thick body.
Styling it in its natural state is easy. You can straighten it with a blow dry or curl it further. It’s often shiny with soft and smooth curls with strong elasticity.
3a-loose curls: the hair is often shiny and it combines the different textures. It assumes the s shape with a great body. Note that, the longer your hair the more the definition of curls.
3b- tight curls: it has medium amount of curls.
Type 4 kinky
If you are of afro-descent your hair will fall in the category of either 3 or 4. While other ethnicities fall under the category of 1, 2, or 3. Now the letters refer to the diameter of the hair. Kinky refers to the very tight curls. The hair is often fine with more strands closer together.
They often have sheen but not the shine. It further has a proper elasticity. It’s silky and soft to touch.
4a- kinky soft: this hair has defined curly patterns. It’s usually tightly coiled and fragile.
4b- kinky wiry: they often have the z pattern although its tightly coiled. It’s also very fragile.
Aside from these factors, you should consider the hair texture porosity, density, and elasticity.
4. The global texture typing system
It works to check the curl patterns but then it gives you more descriptions on the characteristics of the hair.
- What’s the texture- thick medium or fine.
- What’s the wave pattern when dry?
- What’s the wave pattern when wet?
- And the cross-section of the hair?
- The manageability or the style ability of the hair.
- What’s the volume or the body of the hair
- The strength and elasticity of the hair
- How frequently does the hair frizz?
- What of the shine of the hair?
- What’s the moisture content of it?
- How about the oiliness of the scalp and the hair?
- The porosity levels
Check the surface smoothness.
Of all the systems you will realize that the global methods are more detailed which means that it will give you better-detailed results. It will help you to develop the right styling methods. The curly hair types are not easy to classify but with the systems above make it easy.
Detailed Description of The Hair Types
Type 4 hair
This hair is classified as the coyly hair that is further tightly curled. This hair is often also called kinky hair and it’s further tightly curled. The hair is also coarse, fine and fragile. It has a great sheen and it’s sometimes silky and smooth. It’s normally also elastic.
This hair basically has defined curl patterns that come in the shape of S.
This hair retains your moisture well.
On the downside, it is prone to dryness so it requires you to take good care of it.
This is the closest you have to the wash and go style. Since it has the curls, it’s like a style on its own.
It’s easy to achieve the curls. The only thing you need is the proper maintenance of the hair.
Use the gentle sulfate-free shampoos, rich creamy products to maintain the moisture
This has a more different texture in that it’s cottony in appearance. It takes on the z shape. It has bends and curves which makes it susceptible to damage from being dry. It also breaks. This hair will shrink to 70% and if you don’t straighten the hair it remains shorter than it should be.
It’s important to braid this hair to protect it from damage. Use low manipulation styles to keep the hair in place.
To take care of it, moisturize it as often as possible.
You should work to clean the hair frequently.
Deep conditioning is necessary.
It looks similar to 4b although now this one comes in even tighter curls. When its raw it doesn’t have the defined curls but you can twist, coil or curl them. They further have a shrinkage level of about 70%.
So, while your hair maybe 12 inches but it appears to be only 4 inches. Therefore, when you are looking to grow your hair longer, make sure you use protective measures like braiding, twisting, and curling.
The reason why the protective measures work to make the hair grow is that you don’t manipulate the hair.
Type 1 hair
This is basically the hair that has no curl patterns and its naturally straight. It’s mostly shiny and oily because of the lack of curls. Another reason is that since the hair is straight the natural oils of the scalp flow from the scalp to the ends of the hair strand.
On the downside, it has no body and its completely flat yet it never holds the curls. The hair structure is such that it has round fibers on all sides of the hair. It has no hook at the end of its bulb, therefore, it never grows at an angle.
This hair is soft and shiny at the same time it’s wispy and thin. It takes on the structure of the baby fine hair structure. They are a little hard to style because they do not hold the curls well. This hair requires you to use dry shampoo.
While it’s necessary to condition the hair, you should avoid thick conditioners. They will weigh your hair down. Let’s just say that this is the straightest hair that you can ever have. It contains no bends or waves on the hair. It’s further quite uncommon hair type.
There’s a difference between this hair and the one above. It usually has more body than 1a. It’s medium straight and therefore it will curl towards the base when you are styling it. It’s therefore easy to style. Also, the fact that it’s voluminous makes it easy to style.
In summary, it features the hair with full strands but with a slight bend towards the end. Remember the ends of 1a are straight. It doesn’t have real curls though. But it has a few bends here and there. This is popular and most women that are straight haired are in this category.
Most Asian women particularly have 1b hair.
It has even more bends than the 1b one. Generally, it’s classified as straight although it has a little more bends than the 2 types above. This hair is the thickest type of straight hair and its therefore prone to frizz.
Now, this hair type will hold your curls very well. You will also notice 1 or 2 S waves with the hair. Often the best style to go for is the long and layered one. It’s not that easy to style though as you may think.
It’s resilient and it’s easy to achieve the desired style without the need to use any heating tools.
This kind of hair is just naturally wavy and it will form the S patterns for your hair. This hair is never as oily as the straight counterpart. However, it isn’t classified under the dry category as well. Anyone with this hair type is considered among the luckiest.
They are a blend of both the straight and wavy hair. The problem is normally that the waves might not behave as required. You should be keen on maintenance otherwise you will have the hair falling flat.
This one has occasional bends on each strand of the hair. It comes in the loose natural beachy and waves over the head. It’s further not as frizzy as the other levels of type 2 hair. In applying a lot of hair products, you risk weighing it down.
The distinctive characteristic is that you don’t have the defined s-shaped hair. Your waves are almost like the loose waves. It has a lesser volume and definition. This hair isn’t that straight neither is it that wavy. The hair ranges from loose loops to coarse one.
This hair is clearly defined and yet it also appears tightly drawn. The hair will stick close to the scalp. When you are talking of a hair type that tends to frizz, this is it. The hair uses the gel-based product in the effort to get rid of the frizzes.
Always keep your fingers off the hair and this will help you to maintain the waves. Simply put, this hair type comes in with more defined waves. At the roots it takes on the straight texture then when it comes to the mid length it takes on the s-shaped waves all the way to the ends.
Here the waves are tightly drawn. They will even whirl around themselves to form the spiral curls. They are the frizziest of all the level 2 hair type. It further is a little bouncy in nature. They are thicker with sporadic curls all over the head.
You should try to use the finger styling method and remember to moisturize it as much as you can. From this level then you have to deep condition your hair frequently. Work to embrace all that big and bouncy hair. In summary, this hair is just thick and coarse.
2a vs 2b
There’s a clear difference between the two.
2a is wavy but not so wavy though its wavier than 1c.
Type 2b is wavy curly in that its s shape is more defined.
The type 2b although, it has some nice waves, tends to frizz.
2b vs 2c
You absolutely can’t confuse the two.
2b is wavy and almost curly while 2c is whirl wavy with very defined waves. They both have defined waves but 2c is more defined.
2c is thicker than 2b which gives you the leeway to style the hair as you wish.
Unfortunately, 2c frizzes more than all other types of hair.
Type 3 hair
This is naturally curly hair that has a defined S shape. Since its naturally curly it tends to dry because it’s not easy for the natural oils from the scalp to feed the hair strands. The natural oils aren’t even able to penetrate the bends and turns.
This, therefore, means that you have no choice but to use the nourishing products. If you have curly hair you should avoid a blow-dry by all means. The hair here ranges from the tight curls to the loose ones.
On this level, the cuticles don’t lie flat and therefore you will notice that the hair isn’t as shiny.
This is the hair that is best suited for those in moist and wet conditions. This hair is easy to style and manage when it’s still wet. This hair is further silky. The curls on this level are the largest in diameter and you will have a mix of wavy pieces in it. It’s the loosest of the type 3 hair.
This hair is easily damaged when you use the heat tools. It has a well-defined s shape and its often shiny. Use your fingers when you twirl it to increase the definition.
The hair has either springy curls or ringlets. The curls here are tight and therefore this is the level where it begins to shrink. Like the one above, it tends to dry out, therefore it needs you to moisturize it as often as possible.
If you have natural long hair then a lot of maintenance is needed. Try to use only products without the parabens and sulfates. The hair has a reasonable body and it’s in fact dense. I like it that it’s normally bouncy.
This is one of the densest hair types we have. Some people refer to it as curly coyly hair. This one has the most defined curls in this level with a rich texture. Your strands, in this case, are densely packed which makes them fuller.
The one thing you should know about it though is that it frizzes but it’s manageable. With the right product, you will maintain the hair. For hair type 3, it’s the one that experiences the most shrinkage.
One thing you should know though is that it will take you more manipulation for you to maintain the curls evenly. This hair is nicely defined although it isn’t as smooth as the 3b.
Determining Your Hair Type
You will know your hair type when you have just washed it and it’s free of all the hair products. This is when it shows off its distinctive characteristics.
Begin by washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo.
Let it dry but let it do so naturally. Don’t even use a towel to dry it as that will make it frizzy thus making it hard to classify the hair.
Part the hair to a few sections then uses the characteristics above to identify your hair type. Remember, it’s possible that you will have more than two hair types. So, you may have 2c hair and 3A. they just will be closely following each other in the chart.
Other Factors Determining Your Hair Types
You see there are four other aspects we had mentioned.
The porosity of your hair refers to its level of absorbency. It’s in reference to how much water, moisture or hair product your hair can hold.
You will know whether your hair has a high porosity or low one when you stretch a section of your hair then feel it with your fingers. If it feels rough then know that you have low porosity and vice versa.
This is the aspect that makes it show that your hair has life. It will show that it’s bouncy. How you know whether the hair is still elastic is that when you tug it, then it stretches and then comes back.
Do this when the hair is still wet and if it goes back to its original size then it’s elastic.
This is in reference to how much hair you have. Since you can’t count all the strands of your hair you will see just how thick it is and know whether it’s dense or not. The easiest way to know this is in measuring the circumference of your ponytail when you hold it.
Best hair shampoo for the straight hair
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo
If you are the type of person who always trusts LOREAL products, this is the best shampoo you can have as it works to fill your hair with volume. It will also clean it thoroughly. This shampoo is designed to penetrate the strands.