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March 01, 2021
There are so many different areas of hair all over the human body, with our head hair alone having countless variations from person to person.
Discovering exactly what type of hair you have allows you to care for it properly, and for your hair to live its best life. Hair types can be simplified into a categorical system. And the most universally commonly used system was created by Andre Walker A.K.A Oprah's Hair Guru, and is used throughout the world to identify hair types.
Hair identification systems aren't all inclusive, but hair isn't always contained to one type either. For example, the top of your neck may have different hair than the top of your face.
Hair is so unique that even though the identification system is constantly being expanded and developed, it is still just a guideline to help you or your therapist understand what products, treatment and care is needed for the optimal health of your hair.
Your hair type is a combination of density, diameter, porosity, oiliness, elasticity, moisture and curl pattern.
Texture refers to the natural pattern of your hair. Wash it and let it dry to evaluate your true texture.
If it's straight, you'll be a type 1 (straight)
If it's with a slight S shape in it, it's a type 2 (wavy)
If it has an obvious continuous curl pattern, it's a type 3 (curly)
And if there are tight curls or zig zag patterns, you're a type 4 (coily)
This is determined by the thickness of your individual strands. Get a single strand of loose hair and a piece of sewing thread and lay them down on a flat surface.
Your structure is broadly speaking either;
Fine - if your hair strand is thinner than the thread. It
Medium - if your hair is a similar size to the thread. It's easy to style and will hold for a long time period.
Coarse - if your hair is thicker than the thread. It's holds curls but can be hard to style due to lack of suppleness.
This is how well your hair absorbs moisture and hair products. Place your hair in a bowl of water. You can determine your level of porosity by seeing if;
High (absorbs moisture well) - it sinks to the bottom
Normal - if it's below the surface but doesn't sit at the bottom
Low (doesn't absorb moisture well) - if it sits above the water surface
To determine whether your scalp is dry or oily or a little bit of both, look at your hair 2 days post wash. What do your roots look like?
Flat and greasy - oily scalp in need of oil reductant or sebum increase
Flaky - dry scalp in need of a gentle hydrating shampoo
Greasy and Flaky - normally due to product and oil building up with improper/infrequent washing. It's in need of an oil reductant and a soothing treatment/product.
Andre Walker's system uses letters and numbers to categorise the hair.
Numbers identifying the curl shape;
And the letters identifying the width of the hair pattern;
1A - Fine, soft and easy to style - most styling products will work, only needs a small amount
1B - Medium thick, pretty manageable - reacts well to products and will do pretty much anything
1C - Coarse, very difficult to style and shape - a bit more effort and strength from products is needed to hold styles
2A - Fine waves, easy to straighten - Easily weighed down by products creating low volume. Reacts well to small amounts of water-based product
2B - Defined S shapes, starting near mid length of hair - Can be difficult to straighten, texture sprays are great enhancers
2C - Coarse, well defined S bends starting near root - Tendency to frizz means attention to scalp moisture is perfect. Conditioning products are great for 2C hair
3A - Large, loose, glossy curls, responds well to scrunch styling - Easy to maintain, low porosity and smooth, reacts well to misting throughout the day
3B - Tight springy ringlets, easily dries out due to cuticle splaying on curves - humectants on damp hair are perfect for 3B types.
3C - Tight corkscrew curls, lots of natural volume - Tendency to frizz. Great for co-washing (wash with conditioner only), creamy cleansers and a moisturising style cream
4A Dense, springy S shapes - needs moisture, reacts well to curl creams and leave in moisturisers
4B Densely packed, sharp Z shapes - Perfect for use with balms to roll out the curls into defined shapes
4C Fragile, very tight zig zag pattern causing shrinkage - Generous amounts of leave in moisturiser and regular use of oils will keep 4C hair hydrated and sealed
So what's your hair type?
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