What is My Hair Type?
The key to understanding your hair is knowing your hair type. Your hair may look the same as someone else’s but you could in fact have completely different characteristics. So, how do you know what hair type applies to you?
There are a number of factors that differentiate hair. From curl pattern to porosity, understanding which categories you fall under will help you select the best products, techniques, and routines to help your hair thrive!
Here’s all you need to know about understanding your hair type.
One of the most universal ways of determining hair type is by using the Andre Walker hair typing system. The hair chart was made in the 1990s to help customers figure out which of Walker’s hair products was best suited to their hair, however, it’s still widely used today.
It’s important to note that this system doesn’t tell you everything about your hair. Andre focuses on texture and appearance so factors such as porosity are overlooked but the system is still a great way of starting your journey to understanding your hair type a little better.
The hair typing system is broken down into 4 main hair types:
Type 1 hair is typically straight but varies in thickness.
1A: This type of hair is thin and delicate. It doesn’t hold curls well and appears very flat with little body. Because 1A hair is so fine and delicate, it’s more prone to breakage and often becomes greasy much more quickly.
How to care for type 1A hair: Type 1A hair requires gentle handling. Invest in a good brush that will gently detangle knots without causing further breakage. You should also avoid tight hairstyles that may cause fine hair to weaken over time. Lastly, wash your hair regularly. A clarifying shampoo will keep excess sebum at bay or a volumising shampoo will add some body to this fine hair type.
1B: The next subcategory in the type 1 hair group is 1B which is slightly thicker than 1A. It falls straight but may have a slight natural bend. It’s still mostly made up of fine hair strands but often has a few coarse strands in there too. Kendall Jenner is a good example of this hair type.
How to care for type 1B hair: 1B hair can also appear oily so oil-controlling shampoos are a good choice. However, don’t overwash your hair as this can exacerbate oil production — a few times a week should be fine. Apply conditioners to the middle and end parts of your hair rather than directly on the scalp to avoid weighing down your hair.
1C: The last texture is 1C hair which tends to be the thickest of the three. It’s also the shiniest as natural oils can easily travel down the entire length of the hair. This hair type tends to have flat roots with arcs, bends, and subtle body running through the mid sections which are ideal for holding curls and air drying.
How to care for 1C hair: 1C is the most coarse hair type of the type 1 category which makes it susceptible to frizz and flyaways. Lightweight products such as serums or oils will nourish the hair while taming frizz and satin pillowcases are a great way of avoiding unnecessary tension.
Type 2 includes all wavy hair types both subtle and well-defined.
2A: 2A type is characterised by delicate ‘S-shaped waves, not really defined nor voluminous. The roots tend to be straight until just a few inches down where waves begin. Although they aren’t totally defined, this hair type is not straight enough to fall into the type 1 category.
How to care for 2A hair: 2A hair is quite manageable and low maintenance. However, because it’s a mix between straight and wavy you’ll need to find products that won’t weigh down your hair but still enhance your waves. Leave-in conditioners or hair masks will hydrate this hair type so frizz remains at bay and your natural waves can come through.
2B: Type 2B hair looks truly wavy compared to 2A which has a more tousled look. The wave pattern still appears as ‘S-shaped but is a lot more defined. This hair type is also prone to frizz as it has lots of body.
How to care for 2B hair: 2B hair can struggle with volume as the waves don’t start at the roots but using an afro comb can give your hair a lift. Moisture-rich shampoos and conditioners will also help your natural waves come through and when you’re styling your hair, try finger-curling each section for more definition.
2C: If your hair is somewhere between waves and curls then you’re likely to have 2C hair. It’s more than a wave but less than a fully formed curl but unlike 2A and 2B hair types, the waves start at the root.
How to care for 2C hair: Using curly hair products such as styling creams will help your patterns form and stop your hair from drying out. You should also avoid overwashing your hair. To lock in hydration, try using a co-wash instead of a traditional shampoo.
This is the curly hair category including loose curls to tight spirals.
3A: This hair type is defined as large loopy curls. They tend to be larger in size — often the diameter of a large piece of chalk or banana! 3A curls often have a lot of volume but the hair itself can be pretty lightweight.
How to care for 3A hair: Gels are a good option for 3A hair as they’re heavy enough to hold the curl pattern but light enough not to weigh them down. A good haircut is also important. The longer 3A hair gets, the looser your curls will often become so if you want to keep definition, keep up with regular hair trims.
3B: 3B curls are medium-sized ringlets that are tight and springy and are usually about the circumference of a sharpie. This hair type is very prone to frizz and can often get puffy. Unlike 3A curls, 3B curls don’t tend to lose definition.
How to care for 3B hair: Layering your styling products, for example using the LCO (leave-in, cream, and oil) method will build and retain moisture so your styles last longer before becoming frizzy. Protecting your curls at night is also important. Always wear a satin bonnet or use a satin pillowcase.
3C: 3C hair consists of tight coils with volume and lots of strands packed together to create texture. The curls tend to be smaller than 3B curls and appear as corkscrews rather than ringlets.
How to care for 3C hair: Since these curls are so tightly packed together, you need to be careful when detangling. Try using a wide-tooth comb and detangling in small sections to avoid breakage. Thicker formulas such as thicker styling creams will also provide a good amount of moisture.
Type 4 is the last category and this includes kinks, coils, and fros.
4A: Type 4A hair has medium-sized, loosely packed curls. The curls have a springy S-shape and are about the size of a crochet needle. Unlike type 3 hair, type 4 hair grows up and out. It also doesn’t shrink as fast as other coily hair types, nor will it tangle or knot as easily.
How to care for 4A hair: 4A hair may need to be moisturisedregularly. Oils can be applied to your scalp and the ends of your hair for a boost of hydration. Leave-in conditioners can also be a savior, especially in the winter so adding one to your routine will keep your 4A hair super soft!
4B: 4B hair has a less defined pattern of curls. The curl pattern tends to be more Z shaped, due to the hair bending at a sharp angle. However, it’s also common for people with 4B hair to also have 4A and 4c hair strands. This hair type is also prone to shrinkage.
How to care for 4A hair: Washing hair in sections will help get the hair scalp clean, which is important for dense hair types — scalp massager brushes can also help to remove buildup. To combat shrinkage, styles such as bantu knots can also help you retain some length.
4C: Lastly, 4C hair refers to afros. Even though this hair type does have ‘O’ shaped curls they are often so tightly packed together that it's hard to see the definition.
How to care for 4C hair: Moisture, moisture, and more moisture! 4C can get very dry so reach for oils and deeply nourishing products. Protective styles help to give your hair a break from outside exposure and daily manipulation.
Now you understand your hair type a little more, taking care of your hair should be a lot easier. Don’t forget to check out the Curls N Lengths online hair shop for everything you need!