Back2Basics: What’s Your Hair Type?

Back2Basics Hair Care

Class is now in session, and it is time to go back to basics for an elementary lesson on hair type. Review the following strands of thought to understand your type of hair.

Hairstylist Andre Walker is responsible for the hair typing system, ranging from type 1 through type 4, which he came up with in the ’90s. Over the years, curly hair communities have made modifications to add in more hair types. In those communities, calling yourself a 2C or 4B can instantly tell other curly girls a lot about you (and your routine).

Wondering how to find out your hair type? The best way to determine your hair type is to wash and condition in the shower, blot your hair with an old t-shirt (this won’t promote frizz the way a towel does), and let your hair air dry so you can see its natural shape, says Fred Connors, owner of FRED.nyc salon.

Type 1 Hair Type

Straight hair, do care. If you have type 1 hair, that means you’ve got that smooth, sleek, straight hair that so many women need a flat iron to achieve.

1A: “This is the straightest of straight hair types,” says Connors. “This hair type is quite uncommon. It’s pin-straight with no bends or waves. It has a great amount of difficulty holding curl.”

1B/1C: “These are more common for straight hair types,” says Connors. “Types 1B and 1C hair tend to curl under toward the base and hold curl.” Type 1C has slightly more curl than type 1B.

1B/1C: “These are more common for straight hair types,” says Connors. “Types 1B and 1C hair tend to curl under toward the base and hold curl.” Type 1C has slightly more curl than type 1B.

Type 1 Celeb Inspiration: Lucy Liu and Gwyneth Paltrow

Type 2 Hair Type

Beachy waves FTW. That’s exactly what you have if your hair falls within the type 2 umbrella, no dip in the ocean required.

2A: “Type 2A is wavier than straight hair but not curly,” says Connors. “It’s a very loosely defined wave. There’s no strong S shape.”

2B: Your hair has more defined waves than type 2A, with the distance between waves being shorter than it is for type 2A hair, says Connors.

2C: “Your hair looks curlier than types 2A and 2B, but it’s still a wave,” says Connors. You’ll notice an even shorter distance between waves than types 2A and 2B hair, as well as a more defined S shape.

Type 2 Celeb Inspiration: Jessica Alba and Drew Barrymore

Type 3 Hair Type

Hey there, curly hair! From light curls to tight curls, here’s what you need to know about curl patterns 3A–3C.

3A: Whereas wavy hair produces an S shape, curly hair produces a circle, says Connor. Type 3A hair is the loosest of the type 3 curl types and has the circumference of a piece of sidewalk chalk, says Connors.

3B: Your curls are tighter than type 3A, with about the circumference of a marker, says Connors.

3C: Your tightly-packed curls have the circumference of a pencil, says Connors. Think corkscrew curls!

Type 3 Celeb Inspiration: Julianna Margulies and Alicia Keys

Type 4 Hair Type

Nice to see you, kinky hair. Type 4 hair is usually thin, coarse, and packed with tight kinks. Here’s how to tell which type of kinky hair you have.

4A: “Your kink is really, really tight and in an S pattern,” says Connors.

4B: “Your kink is at a sharper angle than type 4A hair and in a Z pattern,” says Connors.

4C: “Your hair pattern is very irregular,” says Connors. “It’s not crimped or curved.” It’s similar to type 4B, just less defined.

Type 4 Celeb Inspiration: Viola Davis and Janelle Monae

What else affects hair type?

While figuring out where you fall on the 1A–4C spectrum will go a long way toward allowing you to put together the right haircare and styling routine, there are four other factors to consider as well.

Do you apply and apply and apply product only for it to seem like it’s just sitting on the surface of your hair? This might have to do with your hair’s porosity. “This is how absorbent your hair is,” says Rhodes Douglas. More specifically, porosity refers to how well your hair holds in moisture, water, and product.

To figure out whether your hair has low or high porosity, take a small section of hair and stretch it out. Slide a finger up and down your hair shaft. If your hair feels rough, that means you have low porosity and your hair doesn’t hold in moisture very well; if your hair feels smooth, that means you have high porosity, says Rhodes Douglas.

When your hair has good elasticity, that means it’s bouncy and full of life. “When you tug on a strand, you should be able to stretch it out and then it’ll go back,” says Rhodes Douglas. Chemicals, like those in hair dye, can mess with your elasticity and cause your hair to become limp, she adds.

To tell how much elasticity your hair has, try this little experiment: When your hair is wet, take a piece and stretch it out. If it returns to its original length once you release it, that means you have good elasticity.

Your hair density simply means how much hair you have. You can figure out whether you have low or high density hair by measuring the circumference of your ponytail, says Rhodes Douglas. The larger your ponytail circumference, the higher hair density you have. “People think they have a ton of hair, but often they don’t,” says Rhodes Douglas. “When gathered together, do you have a copious amount of hair or is it surprisingly less than you thought?”

It’s totally possible (and actually really common!) to have more than one type of curl pattern, says Rhodes Douglas. This is known as curl variance. “Often within curly hair types, you see tight curly hair and a more relaxed curl type,” says Connor. “If you have a mixture of manageable and difficult to manage hair types, I would use product for the hair type [that’s most difficult to manage].”

Ace the principles of healthy hair care. Ask Karline’s Salon about a routine that’s right for your hair type. For more information, call us at 561-471-0900 or make an appointment for your next visit.

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