Hair Typing

Hair typing is a system used to describe and categorize hair textures.  Our hair comes in various textures, colors, shapes and density.  Hair in general is hard to categorize because of the variations on everyone’s head.  I believe that GOOD hair, no matter the texture; kinky, coily, curly or straight, is healthy hair.  Hair serves the same purpose on every person no matter which race: it is the patterns and textures that requires different maintenance and products.  The curlier the hair, the greater the amount of disulfide bonds and vice versa.  Hair typing systems are in no way the Holy Grails of hair.  They just serve as a way for people to get a sense of how their hair looks, and how one can better care for their hair type.

Oprah Winfrey‘s hair stylist, Andre Walker developed one of the most well-known hair typing systems.  In Andre Talks Hair (1997), Walker divides hair into 4 categories:

Type 1: Straight Hair.  There are 3 subtypes in this category: 1a (fine, thin & soft); 1b (medium textured with body waves); and 1c (straight with body but resists curls and shaping more).

Type 2: Wavy Hair: not necessarily straight or curly.  Wavy hair has a coarse “S”-shaped pattern and lays flat against the scalp.  There are 3 subtypes in this category: 2a (easy to handle and style, S-waves when stretched); 2b (medium textured that tends to frizz and has a distinct S-wave); and 2c (coarser than 2b, distinct S-waves, resists styling more and has a tendency to frizz.

Type 3: Curly hair: has a loopy “S” pattern, lots of body and is easy to straighten and style.  Type 3 hair is usually shiny and soft, and the curls are well-defined.  Unlike type 1 and 2, type 3 hair only has two subtypes: 3a (shiny and big, loose curls); and 3b (medium curls that resembles ringlets or corkscrews).

Type 4: Kinky Hair: kinky, coily or tightly curled, and fragile.  Type 4 hair shines less, but is very soft and can feel silky to the touch.  It also has the least amount of cuticle layers amongst all the hair types, which makes it more prone to damage and breakage.  Though this is the case, with proper care, type 4 hair has the potential to grow to great lengths.  Just like type 3 hair, type 4 hair has 2 subtypes: 4a (tightly coiled hair that has an “S” pattern when stretched); and 4b (less defined “Z” curl pattern that has a wiry texture and less moisture).

Lesson: Hair should not define an individual, but it still plays a great factor in the way we look.  Like Oprah says in Andre Talks Hair (1997), “its how you fell about your own hair that matters…Hair grows on your head; your attitude about it grows inyour head” (p12).  Healthy hair requires the right products, tender love and care.  Love yourself as well as your hair, whether its straight, wavy, curly or kinky.  Embrace your hair texture!


Learn, Laugh, Grow & Live!

Peace & Blessings!



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