Updated: Mar 4
Hi guys! How are y'all doing? Today, we are going to be discussing hair types. First off, what is hair?
Hair is any fine threadlike strand growing from the skin of humans, mammals and some other animals. The hair is made of a fibrous protein called Alpha-Keratin. Each unit of the alpha keratin is bound with one another to form threadlike formations called filaments.
The hair is a common feature of the human body. We are going to focus on the human hair - that is the hair on the head. As common as our hair is, it can be divided into types. It is good for you to know your hair type so that you can better understand your hair and take care of it appropriately. There are four basic hair types and I am going to be discussing each hair type in-depth.
And before we go on, let me remind you that your hair is beautiful, whatever texture, colour, or length it is. Your hair may be straight, coily, curly, matte, glossy, long, short, thick or fine. It may not be another person’s definition of good hair or their cup of tea. Yep, still beautiful.
This said, did you know that having an intimate knowledge of your hair and knowing how to take proper care of it boosts your confidence, by like a hundred per cent? This is why I am an advocate of hair knowledge. Your hair deserves your respect, and may never get this respect if you don’t get to know your hair, its density, porosity, curl patterns, and styling needs.
And this is why you must understand your hair type. Only then will you be able to take proper care of it.
So, what does hair type mean?
Hair type, which is determined by your genetics, is usually classified based on the amount of curl in you have in your hair. This is what determines whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly, or coily,
The more asymmetrical or oval your hair follicle is, the curlier your hair will be. Now, it doesn’t matter if you have altered your curl pattern with chemicals or heat, your primary curl pattern cannot be changed, as it is in your DNA. When you stop applying heat or chemical to your hair, it will return to its natural curly pattern. Your genetic characteristics are reinstated each and every time your hair goes through its growth cycle.
Type 1- STRAIGHT: The type 1 hair is naturally straight and has no curl pattern. This type of hair is usually soft, shiny and oily mostly because it has no curls. While the individual strands may be thin or thick, coarse or fine, what makes this hair fall into this category is that it typically falls from root to tip without waving. This kind of hair tends to retain oil and becomes greasy very easily, so it is important not to use oil-laden hair products for this kind of hair. It is also important to avoid heavy butters or serums, and to go for texture sprays instead.
Washing straight hair too often can also stimulate the scalp to overproduce oils, so you may want to try dry shampoo if you have straight, oily hair.
The type 1 hair is easy to style but poor at holding curls. The type 1 hair consists of the type 1a, type 1b and type 1c.
Type 1a is usually straight from root to tip, it is completely flat and it's the type that holds no curl.
Type 1b is known for its volume, it's not flat and sometimes, and it would hold a curl.
Type 1c is straight, has volume and some slight bends and in rare cases, waves.
Type 2- WAVY: They type 2 hair is naturally wavy. It can be frizzy sometimes and it forms an 'S' pattern. Type 2 hair isn't as oily as the type 1 hair but it isn't dry either. This type of hair usually comes in a gentle, tousled texture. While the hair is quite straight from the roots to around eye level, a loose, undefined wave usually exists from the eye level to the ends. To retain your waves, it is best to avoid creamy or oil-based products and to go for a light mousse or a gel to define the waves you have.
Type 2 hair doesn't get as oily as it takes the oil more time to travel down the hair shaft due to the waves. Just like the type 1 hair, the type 2 hair consists of the type 2a, type 2b and type 2c.
Type 2a is fine and thin, it has a definite 'S' pattern mainly starting from the middle and then ends. It can be styled easily using the right products.
Type 2b can be frizzy and is a little resistant to styling.
Type 2c is frizzy with thicker waves and is much more resistant to styling.
Type 3- CURLY: The type 3 hair is almost always naturally curly and it also has the 'S' pattern. The type 3 hair tends to be dry as a result of its texture. It can be thick, frizzy or/and full depending on its category. The type 3 hair consists of the type 3a, type 3b and type 3c.
Type 3a is often curly with loops and it has well-defined curls that have a loopy, “S” pattern. Type 3a is also springy and has a tendency to dry out.
Type 3b is usually curly with spirals. It is usually well-defined, has spiral curls, and is typically more springy than type 3a and can be extremely frizzy.
Type 3c is usually curly with coils, often clumped together and usually taking some effort to make the curls stand out on their own. Type 3c is prone to dryness, sometimes tangles and has curl definition.
Type 4- KINKY: The type 4 hair is typically kinky, extremely wiry, consists of tight coils and is often very fragile. This kind of hair is also called coily hair. If you have coily hair, you will probably experience tighter curls than someone with curly hair. Type 4 hair is also considered as the driest hair type, and it forms a 'Z' pattern sometimes. It is usually thick and packed together. Type 4 hair consists of the type 4a, type 4b and type 4c.
Type 4a hair often has tight coils, is fragile and features an 'S' curl pattern. This hair usually has an S-shaped coil that can be wrapped around a chopstick. This kind of hair is very delicate and requires a lot of moisturisation and gentleness. To achieve moisture, however, doesn’t necessarily mean using oils. Rather, it is recommended that you use deep conditioning butters and creams for this kind of hair. It is also advised that you mostly wear wash-and-go styles.
Research shows that protective styles like weaves and braids might not be the best option for type 4A hair because while the hair is out of sight, it is also out of reach for the conditioning treatments it desperately needs. When you wear your type 4A hair in a protective style for weeks, you almost always completely lose the curl formation and experience very dry cuticle that catches on each other and break when you are taking out the protective hairstyle. It is thus better to wear this kind of hair in a style that lets you keep moisturizing. If you must wear a protective hairstyle, get a nozzle bottle that allows you to apply conditioning treatments to your roots.
Type 4b hair is usually clearly defined and it has little or no curl pattern.
Type 4c hair is often not as clearly defined and it has a curl pattern at the tip of the hair. This hair type is deemed the most fragile and tightest of hair types, often very easily broken when combed too often or too roughly. It is of necessity to nourish this hair type frequently with rich conditioners. You may want to try Shea buttercreams and coconut oil. Type 4c hair is perfect for afro hairdos, as you can keep it as high and round and big as you want a form of its own natural state.
I hope this was educative and helpful. From the descriptions and pictures above, you should know your hair type. In a later blog post, we will be discussing how to care for these individual hair types.
Be hair beautiful, be you
Learning to confidently wear your hair is a huge part of your hair journey. We may sometimes struggle with hair care, but the best way you can wear your hair is to do it with confidence. Here is how you can build confidence:
Learn what works for you: If afro hair is what suits you, by all means wear afro. And if your hair is wavy and you love a face framed with gentle curls, then go for it. No matter the texture or porosity or density of our hair, the perfect hairstyle is usually determined by the shape of our faces. So find what accentuates your face best and go for it.
Experiment a little: The truth is that you may not find what works for you best until you have experimented a little. So try this hairstyle today and if you don’t like it, shuck it and try another. You’ll hit gold sooner rather than later.
It’s important to understand that there are no absolutes in life, and your hair type is definitely no exception.
You might have gone through the hair types explained above and wondered, ‘What about my hair type? Which category does it fit into?” The truth is that your hair might not fit into any of these categories or may fit into several of the categories. Some people’s hair will have a curl pattern that fits one hair type and a texture that fits another, and yet density and porosity that falls into yet another category.
Please be assured that the objective of this article is not to fit you into a box that you shouldn’t be fitted into. This article is simply a classification of hair types based on many people’s experience. But you are not many people. So, if your hair type does not fit into any of these categories or stretches across more than one, it’s no cause for alarm. Your hair is simply doing its own thing, carving you out to be a unique person.
At the end of the day, what matters most about your hair is not its categorisation, but how well you take care of it.