Caring for your hair takes time, dedication, the right natural hair products, and patience. We each have our own unique hair type that deserves astute attention to detail. Understanding the proper way to care for your hair type first starts with properly identifying what hair type you have. To do this, we put together some tips on how to identify your hair type and how to care for each different hair type once identified.
What are the Different Hair Types?
There are four different primary hair type categories: straight, wavy, curly, and coily. While there are multiple factors that determine a person’s hair type, the main one is your hair’s curl patterns. Genetics determines an individual’s hair type through the individual’s hair follicles. The amount of curl in your hair follicles is what is primarily used to classify which of the four hair types your hair falls under.
While it is possible to alter your curl pattern with heat, chemicals, or a specific routine, it is important to understand what your natural hair type is. When Andre Walker created a system to classify hair types into one of four (straight, wavy, curly, and coily) different curl patterns, he also broke down each of the types into four categories, then even further into multiple subcategories. The four main categories are:
- Type 1: Straight Hair
- Type 2: Wavy Hair
- Type 3: Curly Hair
- Type 4: Coily Hair
As aforementioned, these four primary hair type categories are then broken down into several subcategories. These subcategories are:
- Type 1: Straight Hair
- Type 2A: Wavy Hair
- Type 2B: Wavy Hair
- Type 2C: Wavy Hair
- Type 3A: Curly Hair
- Type 3B: Curly Hair
- Type 3C: Curly Hair
- Type 4A: Coily Hair
- Type 4B: Coily Hair
- Type 4C: Coily Hair
While this sounds straightforward and simple enough, identifying your specific hair type can actually be quite complex. A single individual could have a certain hair type at their roots, while having a different hair type near the top of their scalp. This is why it is vital to understand exactly what hair type you have and how to properly care for your hair type.
Type 1: Straight Hair
Out of all the different hair types, straight hair is probably the easiest to care for as it’s grouped into one singular category. While type 1 hair can differ from person to person, all type 1 hair is defined as having no ‘natural’ curl. Type 1 hair often tends to become more oily than other types of hair and is prone to breakage. For this reason, many experts recommend not using any products that have extra oily properties or promote these properties in your type 1 hair. Try to stick to using dry shampoos, lighter leave-in conditioners, and texture style type sprays when caring for type 1 hair.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Often referred to as the most ‘natural’ state of Type 2 hair, this hair type tends to be gentle and a tad bit untidy. This hair type is generally straight for the most part, featuring a looser wave/curl near your ends. This hair type should stay away from extra oily products to avoid reducing the natural wave. Instead opt for a lighter gel or mouse in order to try to maximize your curls.
Type 2B hair types generally feature a curly or wavy hair style from the midpoint of their hair strands, to the tip. This hair type features a more defined curl type that looks similar to an ‘S’ and can typically be more difficult to straighten than the Type 2A counterpart. Similar to the previous type, avoid using overly oily products and opt for lighter sprays and conditioners. A little goes a long way when trying to maximize your hair’s natural curls.
Type 2C hair types are often quite thick. This hair type has the strongest ‘S’ shape definition curls and waves. This hair type can be a bit frustrating as it is more prone to frizz when exposed to humidity or extra damp weather. Try using natural anti-humidity products to lessen frizz. Adding a diffuser to your blow dryer can also greatly help reduce frizz while maintaining your hairs natural curls.
Type 3: Curly Hair
While Type 3A hair types maintain the ‘S’ shape curls, they tend to be a bit wider and form a sort of loop definition. People with this type of hair should avoid putting their hair in ponytails or buns as it can promote quicker hair loss and lessen your hair’s natural curls. Brushing this specific type of hair can also ruin curl definition and promote a more frizzy nature. Try using natural hair products to help promote your hairs natural properties while relying less on stimulates or harsh chemicals.
Type 3B hair types tend to have larger curls that really pop from the roots and feature a lush volume. Unlike previous hair types, this hair type requires moisture to really flourish. Opt for a full body natural conditioner and nourishing leave-in conditioner. It is important to avoid silicone and sulfates in any hair curl products you may use though, as this can promote dry hair and lead to breakage with prolonged use.
Type 3C hair types should stay away from combing and brushing their hair to avoid frizz and breakage while promoting their natural bouncy style curls. Instead, opt to air dry (not blow dry) your hair while using your fingers to simulate a combing motion. Finish off by using a natural leave-in conditioner to promote volume and moisture retention.
Type 4: Coily Hair
Still sporting the ‘S’ shape hair curl, this hair type features a defined coil that could literally be wrapped around a pencil. Type 4 hair is by far the most delicate hair type. This hair type requires a gentle touch and a lot of moisture. Try using hair butter, creams, and a good deep conditioning masque to preserve your hair’s health.
“Zig Zag” curls define this hair type. The most widely promoted method for caring for Type 4B hair types is referred to as “shingling”. To utilize this technique, your hair must first be wet. From there, gently detangle your hair using your fingers while applying a generous amount of leave-in conditioner to really moisturize your hair. Once this is done, separate your hair into four different sections. Use a hair gel or curling cream on each of the four sections of your hair, twisting each curl and strand around your index finger as you go.
Last but certainly not least, we come to the most fragile of all hair types – Type 4C type hair. The tight curls/coils in this hair type require a lot of attention to detail and a gentle touch as they are prone to breakage and damage more so than other hair types. A deep, rich natural conditioner is your best friend for this hair type. Shea and mango butter work wonders on this hair type. Many people also like opting for a natural leave-in conditioner with optimal pH levels in order to improve both moisture retention and manageability.
All Hair is Unique
In the end, all hair is unique and beautiful by their own merits. To properly care for your hair type, you need to spend the time to get to know exactly what type of hair you have, how to manage it, how to promote its natural properties, and how to best utilize natural hair products to your advantage. By following the tips we outlined above, you will have a great starting point to help you on your hair care journey. For more natural hair care tips, visit our natural hair care blog today!