Finding the right way to care for your hair might be something you reached at after testing many things. Knowing your hair type is the first step.
Many of us struggle to find the right products for our hair and have more bad hair days than good. It could be because we are unaware of our hair type and may not be well versed with how to care for it. Our natural hair type depends on its curl pattern. There are four types of curl patterns: straight, wavy, curly, or coily, and it all depends on porosity and density. Knowing these details about our hair can help us figure out how to take care of it as well as how to style it.
This system of categorizing hair might be most useful for those who have textured hair as it's possible that their kind of hair never got enough attention until now. This system is a godsend for those who have been struggling to style their hair. After all, our tresses seem to have a mind of their own, and you're doing more harm than good by styling your natural hair in the wrong way.
Here are the four broad categories and then we go into the finer details:
Straight hair can be thin and wispy to thick and frizz-prone but straight hair is usually shiny. The lustrous look is thanks to the oil from our scalp which can slip into the strands easily and keeps them moisturized and healthy. Some people argue that straight hair is a spectrum as well but it is commonly believed that there is only one type of straight hair. Caring for straight hair means not shampooing often. “With straight or fine hair, I’d recommend texture sprays instead. Dry shampoos are also a good idea,” said stylist Kristi Lovelace to Healthline.
She also recommended the chin-length blunt cut for straight hair but recommends that people get a hair cut based on their face shape.
Wavy hair has multiple bends from the roots to tips. For instance, if you have a few bumps in your hair, then you just have the straight hair type. However, if you have Type 2 or wavy hair then you could be sporting beach waves or a more undefined wavy look, according to Cosmopolitan. There are three types of wavy hair.
Type 2A: Flat S-shape curve; finer and flatter hair, easy to blow out and straighten.
Type 2B: Defined S-shape; fine and/or medium thickness.
Type 2C: Mostly S-shaped waves with few loose curls and coarser textures; tends to frizz easily and lose definition.
People with 2A hair can use sea-salt sprays to amplify the natural curves in the hair. Those with 2B can use a wave-enhancing mousse and those with 2C should opt for a lightweight curl cream.
2B is ideal for balayage hair trend, says Lovelace. Type 2 hair is also ideal for the wavy bob cut as their hair is likely to natural form curves.
Curly-haired folks have actual curls. Their hair spirals around like a spring instead of an S-shaped curve, however the difference between the different kinds of curly hair types is in the width of the curls.
Type 3A: Mostly loose curls and a few waves; curls are finer and easily blown out; reactive to the elements.
Type 3B: Springy curls have the circumference of a finger or marker; prone to dryness and frizz.
Type 3C: Curls are tighter than 3B and thickly packed together.
Brushing curly hair can cause frizziness and it is recommended that this kind of hair is not worn in a ponytail. It is also better to avoid products with silicone and sulfates. Instead, use a leave-in conditioner and use your fingers to rake through them, according to Healthline. Air drying is also a better bet than blow-drying. Curly hair can be styled in a bun, put in an updo, or just worn down after air drying.
There is no homogeneity to how coily hair should look like. Commonly referred to as Afro-textured or kinky hair, it can range from tightly coiled curls or zigzag pattern that doesn't curl. It can be spongy in texture or be soft and fine or coarse and wiry, according to Allure. This type of hair has kinks and angles and unfortunately, the oil from the scalp is not enough to moisturize the strands. Coily hair is fragile, dry, and prone to damage but also versatile.
Type 4A: Tight, small coils mixed with some curls.
Type 4B: Strands bend in a zigzag shape and are thick; more prone to shrinkage than 4A.
Type 4C: Tight Z-shape pattern; fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type.
4C needs the most amount of moisture among the Type 4 hair variety. An emollient-rich cream is the best product to use for 4C while 4B can be shaped differently using a nourishing mist or an elongating gel. 4A can retain its definition with curling gel. Many people are ditching shampoo for co-washing or using just conditioner while washing.
“Type 4 hair is the most delicate hair type,” Silvana Castillo, master stylist and founder of The Curl Whisperer, told Healthline. “You have to be very gentle with it, and it needs a lot of moisture. We recommend that people wear it loose in wash-and-go styles," she said.
She also added that protective styles like weaves and braids are doing more harm. "What we’re seeing is the younger generation wants their hair to be bold," Castillo said. "They want the hair to be big and round, almost like a sun. And they want to experiment with fun colors — always keeping in mind the health of the hair."