Why does knowing Hair type matter?
Last updated date: 27-Apr-2022
13 mins read
Just like all of us are different – hair has unique characteristics! Finding out what your hair type is and having a deeper understanding of its qualities. A hair type quiz can give you more insight into how you can take better care of your hair, choose the most appropriate products and find the secrets of how to style it just how you like it!
You can find hair type charts presented in several ways, including specific hair type chart men versions! For men, it can be harder to answer the question “what hair type do I have?” if their hair is very short and does not have enough length to exhibit its natural shape.
Knowing how to determine hair type can help you find the most advantageous hairstyle for your hair because realistically not all types of cuts and styles will be suitable for everyone. For example, people that deal with thin hair will prefer shorter haircuts, but those with heavily curly hair could opt for braids. Knowing how to appropriately care for your hair is key in creating a hair-care routine, from washing products to styling aids and styling tools – for example, individuals with fine, straight hair should avoid heating, as it can make the hair more prone to breaking.
How to know what hair type you have?
If you don’t want to ask a professional for their expertise, here’s how to find your hair type! There is a set of 6 characteristics your hair has that you must understand and analyze in order to know your hair type and appreciate its full potential! All hair types have their benefits and downsides, but the key to having healthy, versatile hair is knowing the specifics and recommendations of your own type! There are several resources online in order to make sure you have correctly determined your hair characteristics, including by completing a “What hair type do I have?” quiz.
Finding out your hair greasiness level
If you can determine how greasy your hair naturally is, you can easily create a washing routine and see how frequently your hair needs to be washed! This can also give you an idea of what type of shampoo is better for you and the health of your hair.
In order to find out how greasy your hair is, a hair type test involves thoroughly washing your hair before you go to sleep and let it dry naturally, without using a hairdryer or any styling products. In the morning, press a piece of tissue against your scalp behind your ears and at the top of your head. You can simply define your hair greasiness based on the amount of oil that gets transferred to the tissue.
- Dry: If there is no oil deposited on the tissue, your hair is considered dry. This can highlight a hydration issue and you should opt for hair care products that support your hair to maintain moisture.
- Oily: If there is an abundant oily spot on the tissue, your hair is considered oily. This means your hair builds up greasiness quickly and you should try to wash your hair roughly 4 times a week or opt for suitable products!
- Combined: If there is a difference between the patch left from the hair behind your ear and the one at the top of your head, your hair is probably combined – this is because both of these spots are expected to secrete similar amounts of grease. It is important to choose products that are specialized in treating your hair, to make sure you keep it healthy and even help reduce the imbalance.
- Normal: If you consider that the spot left on the tissue is average, with little amounts of oil, your hair type is considered normal. In this case, you should wash your hair once or twice a week.
Finding out your hair density
Hair density is the measure of how many individual hair strands one has. The way to self-assess this is visually while looking in the mirror separate a section of hair and try to determine how much of the scalp you are able to see. Generally, density is divided into three types:
- thin (easily see the scalp)
- medium (partially see the scalp through hair)
- thick density (hardly to see the scalp)
Finding out your hair porosity
What this characteristic refers to is the ability of hair to retain and absorb moisture. Hair porosity cannot be visually self-assed. A home assessment involves submerging a strain of hair into water and assessing how much water it absorbs.
- Low porosity: visually, the strand of hair will float on the water surface. As a consequence of this, people will low hair porosity will find it takes longer to dry their hair because the water remains on the surface. The hair has minimal capacity to absorb water, making it feel sticky when wet and preventing products from sinking into the hair.
- Medium porosity: visually, the strand of hair will float inside the water. This type of hair porosity is considered to be absorbing a balanced amount of moisture. Generally, people with this type of hair find it less prone to damage and their hair does not feel sticky after being washed.
- High porosity: visually, the strand of hair will sink at the bottom of the water. High porous hair can never truly have enough hydration because it is more prone to damage and will quickly absorb chemicals. Unlike the other two types, high porosity hair can be caused by constant excessive hair product application.
Finding out your hair diameter
Unlike hair density, the diameter assesses the width of single hair strands. Testing the diameter can be done at the same time as the density test, by holding a strand between the index finger and thumb. Generally, diameter is divided into three types: thin (barely feel the strand) medium (slightly feel the strand), and thick diameter (distinctly fill the strand). Another way to assess this is by comparing your hair to a piece of sewing thread. Thin hair will be thinner than the thread, medium hair will be similar if not equal, while thick hair will be visibly thicker.
Finding out your hair elasticity
The elasticity of the hair is determined by the ability of individual hair strands to stretch before coming back to their natural state. In order to test this yourself, try and stretch a strand of hair as much as possible.
- Low elasticity: hair will break almost instantly after being stretched
- Medium elasticity: hair will exhibit reasonable stretch before breaking
- High elasticity: hair will stretch to a significant amount without easily breaking.
Hair professionals consider high elasticity hair the healthiest type of hair because it is also associated with high strength.
Finding out your curl pattern
The shape of the hair follicle in your scalp out of each hair strand grows from determines your specific curl pattern. In simplistic terms, people tend to use their curl pattern as the main defining factor when determining their hair type, and while it is not wrong, there is so much more to it to know about!
By simply looking at your hair in its natural form, it can be classified into 4 natural hair type categories:
- straight (hair type 1)
- wavy (hair type 2)
- curly (hair type 3)
- kinky (hair type 4)
You can complete an online curly hair type quiz to rule out some of the categories. In order to take good care of your hair, you must try to always use a brush for hair type specifics that you need.
1 hair type: Straight hair type
Hair type 1 is simply defined by having no natural curl, falling straight down without waving, regardless of its density, diameter, or other characteristics. For straight-hair type men, visually it takes over 3inches for a curl to be formed. For women, the 3 categories are described below.
- 1A hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory is straight and very fine, making it very easy for the natural moisture of the scalp to travel from the top to the ends, giving it a shiny, oily appearance. Hair type 1A is considered the rarest hair type and is traditionally common in women of Asian descent.
- 1B hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory has more volume than 1A, having a medium texture that makes it easier for the strands to hold styling procedures, like curls. Hair type 1B is considered the most common hair type.
- 1C hair type
Hair falling under the hair type 1C subcategory is the thickest and coarse out of the straight hair types. Depending on the environmental factors, individuals with this type of hair find that it sometimes goes frizzy.
If you’ve answered the questions “what is my hair type?” with “straight”, a couple of things you should know when it comes to protecting, caring for, and styling your hair include getting a blunt haircut, to give the appearance of having thicker hair, wash your hair often, because straight hair gets greasy the fastest, try to opt for volumizing products, but avoid heavy styling products and if you’re blow-drying your hair, flip your head upside down, for more volume.
2 hair type: Wavy hair type
Hair type 2 is simply defined by having an S-shaped natural curl, being a middle-ground between straight and curly hair, which gives it more shape and texture when compared to straight hair.
- 2A hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory is thin and does not present any frizz when dried while maintaining its natural S-shape.
- 2B hair type
Hair falling under the hair type 2B subcategory is wavy and presents more frizz than hair type 2A, noticed when dried by strands sticking out of the natural S-shape.
- 2C hair type
Hair falling under hair type 2C subcategory has waves that begin from the top of the head and is the thickest out of the three wavy hair types, presenting the most frizz when dried.
If you’ve answered the questions “what is my hair type?” with “wavy”, a couple of things you should know when it comes to protecting, caring for, and styling your hair include opting for shampoos that focus on moisturizing and hydrating, try getting a layered haircut to allow your waves to be more relaxed, use styling mousse and a blow-dryer diffuser for preventing frizz.
3 hair type: Curly hair type
Hair type 3 is simply defined by having a natural curl, in the form of spiral curls. Individuals with this type of hair find that it tends to tangle and is more likely to be frizzy and dry. If you want to better differentiate between the 3 subcategories, check out the hair type chart curly guidance.
- 3A hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory has loose curls, with a shiny fine aspect.
- 3B hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory has springy, medium to tight curls. It is more likely to frizz.
- 3C hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory has thick, tight curls, having a lot of texture.
If you’ve answered the questions “what is my hair type?” with “curly”, a couple of things you should know when it comes to protecting, caring for, and styling your hair include keeping in mind that generally, the shorter your haircut is, the more curly your hair will appear, opt for a moisturizing hair routine, ideally specially designed for curly hair as this is the key in fighting hair-frizz.
Men’s curly hair types are defined a bit differently, under the following rough guidelines:
- Type I: is described by taking 2 to 3 inches before a curl is formed. For men with hair shorter than 3 inches, the curls will be visible around the 1.5-inch area. If the hair is shorter than 1.5 inches, it will appear to be straight.
- Type II: is described by taking 1 to 2 inches before a curl is formed. For men with hair shorter than 1 inch, the curls will be visible around the 0.5-inch area. If the hair is shorter than 0.5 inches, it will appear to be straight.
- Type III: also known as coiled is described by taking 0.5 to 1 inch before a curl is formed. In this case, the curls form a coiled pattern, visually described like the cursive-writing capital letter “E”.
- Type IV: also known as curly-kinky is described by taking 0.125 to 0.5 inches before a curl is formed. In this case, the curls look like a crunched version of type III. Unless the hair is neatly nearly-shaved, you can visibly notice the curls regardless of length.
- Type V: also known as kinky is described by taking up to 0.125 before a curl is formed. In this case, the curls form visually described pattern looking like the letter “Z”. As long as the hair is not fully-shaved, the curls are evident at any length, including near-shaved.
4 hair type: Coily hair type or Kinky hair type
Hair type 4 is common among African American individuals, also being referred to as “black people's hair type”. The difference between this type and hair type 3 is that coily hair presents tight curls and well-defined coils, also known as ringlets. This hair type has a coarse texture, is more sensitive to damage, especially when using styling products with heat, but always maintains its natural shape, even when wet. Because they might seem close in appearance, to understand the difference between the subcategories in this group one could compare their hair to a curl pattern hair type chart.
- 4A hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory has strands that shrink to almost half their length when dry, being tight and springy. Out of all types of kinky hair, hair type 4A presents the clearest curl pattern.
- 4B hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory forms a crimpy pattern, with curls forming a Z-coil. It presents mediumly defined curls, as it is more defined than 4C types but less than 4A types. Like any other coily hair type, 4b hair type wet will tend to straighten to its real length, significantly longer than how it looks when dry.
- 4C hair type
Hair falling under this subcategory presents a not-defined curl pattern, being prone to significant shrinkage. Visually, it is coarse and very densely packed.
- 4D hair type
Despite not being included in all hair type curls charts, some argue that hair type 4D exists and is growing in popularity. It’s described as extremely coarse, with cotton textured tight curls. Due to its high density, individuals with this hair type experience a lot of shrinkages, the hair in its natural position looking short, when in reality it could be stretched out to considerable length.
Individuals with this type of hair traditionally opt for crochet hair type styles. This specialized technique involves adding length or protecting the natural length of the hair. To start the hairstyle, one would go for a base of cornrowed hair into which extensions are attached and braided with the natural hair. The main difference from other similar braiding styles is that the extensions are looped underneath the cornrows, using a hook similar to a crochet needle, hence the name.
If you’ve answered the questions “what is my hair type?” with “coily”, a couple of things you should know when it comes to protecting, caring for, and styling your hair include towel-drying your hair immediately after a shower to get rid of excessive moisture, trying to air-dry your hair to prevent breakage and drying and constantly using moisturizing products designed for kinky hair.
5 Hair myths
1. Pulling out one white hair will get two more to grow instead
White hair starts appearing gradually. It is not the act of pulling a white hair that makes more grow in return, but rather the awareness of grey hair that makes you notice more. The pulled strand is replaced by one single new strand, but existing ones can turn white instead.
2. Men’s and women’s hair are extremely different
The quality of the hair strands is not different based on gender, but it might appear different due to certain factors, including the scalp – men’s scalps tend to be more oily than women’s. Another visible aspect is the length – men appear to have healthier hair because they tend to keep it cut shorter when in reality hair strands are identical.
3. Hair products stop working after a while
Hair has no memory, it is not the frequency of use that makes the products less effective, but rather a change in your hair needs. For example, someone with dry hair that uses moisturizing products will successfully bring their hair to a point where additional moisturizing is no longer needed, meaning the products need to be changed.
4. Oily hair should be washed daily
Regularly washing greasy hair will only trigger the opposite result from the desired result. By washing the hair daily you are removing the sebum from the scalp, to which the body will naturally respond by producing even more, to compensate for what it thinks is missing.
5. Split ends can be repaired
While split ends can be prevented by taking appropriate care of your hair, there is in fact no way to put split ends back together once they separate. The only “remedy” for this is having a haircut – which is also a preventive method, by regularly getting rid of the ends before they get significantly damaged.
People have a specific hair type this is based on their genetics. You cannot change your hair type, but you can change your hairstyle to fit your face and features and can adapt your hair care routine in order to fully nourish your hair.