All hair is beautiful, but identifying your hair type and understanding its structure is the first step towards being able to manage it and care for it better.

Your hair type, or simply the way your hair naturally falls without any styling, depends essentially on the shape of your hair follicle.  The more asymmetrical your hair follicle is, the more curly your hair will be. You may alter your hair type through chemical treatments or styling products, but every time your hair grows out, your natural type will always show. This is because hair type is determined by DNA and cannot be permanently altered, even though it may change slightly over years due to other factors such as humidity and hormones.

Since there is a vast variety of hair types and textures in the world, a standardized way of differentiating was necessary. The most popular one so far was created by celebrity stylist Andre Walker, who divided hair into four major types- straight, wavy, curly, and coiled. These are further divided into subcategories based on the texture of the strand (fine or coarse) or the tightness of the curls. It is not necessary to have the exact same subcategory of hair throughout your head- you may have tighter curls on your crown and looser ones around your temples.

Hair Types

 

Type 1: Straight Hair

As the name suggests, Type 1 hair falls straight from roots to tips, without any curl pattern. In this type, the subcategories go from 1a to 1c, where 1a strands are finer and 1c strands are much coarser.

This hair type tends to get oily fast and may start appearing “weighed-down” with overuse of oil or heavily moisturizing styling products. Excessive shampooing can strip the scalp of its natural oils, in turn causing the scalp to produce even more oil. In this case, dry shampoos are your best bet at keeping your hair free from dirt and grime, while also keeping them bouncy and fresh. Light-weight styling mousses and volume-enhancing styling products also help.

Type 2: Wavy Hair

Type 2 hair usually does have a curl pattern, but it is quite large, forming gentle waves while in its natural state. Within this type, the subcategories are 2a, 2b, and 2c, with the wave pattern getting shorter and curls showing up more prominently as we move from 2a towards 2c.

Type 2a is a gently tousled texture and just like straight hair types, should steer clear of heavy, oil-based products. Type 2b has waves with more definition, making it ideal for a balayage. Type 2c has the most pronounced wave pattern, and is often more thick and prone to frizz, especially in humid weather.

Type 3: Curly Hair

The curls are most well-defined in this type, further being divided into subcategories of 3a and 3b and 3c. the tightness of the curls increases as we move from 3a to 3c. The best tips to manage this hair type are to ditch the comb, which is known to cause frizz and breakage and use your fingers instead to go through your hair with a leave-in conditioner. Wear your hair open as often as possible, as the pressure from ponytails can often cause your curls to lose their formation, resulting in frizz.

Type 4: Coiled hair

This hair type has the tightest curl pattern- one that can even fit around a chopstick and is by far the most fragile and tough to manage. While 4a has delicate, tightly wound coils, 4b has more of a frizzy, zig-zag pattern. This hair type needs a lot of moisture, making oils and deep-conditioning masks the best products for coiled hair.

 

Once you have identified and understood your hair type, it becomes much easier to choose products accordingly, giving your hair the care it needs in a more targeted manner. While choosing hair care products that work the best for you is largely a game of trial-and-error, it is always a good decision to take recommendations from people who have a similar hair type as you.

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