When you think of the different types of hair, the first thing that probably pops into your mind would be the simplest hair terms — either straight or curly. The different characteristics of our individual hair types call for different hair care routines to bring out our hair’s fullest (and shiniest) potential.
In addition, learning your hair type is only half the battle. It is also just as important to understand how the right hair products can help you to achieve the best hair care routine. Not every product will work for every hair type, so correctly identifying your hair type is key to determining the best care routine for your hair.
Your hair density pertains to how much hair (the number of individual strands) you have on your scalp. Hair density differs from hair diameter. You can have thin hair with more density, and vice versa. There are three levels of hair density, any of which can be determined with the mirror test.
Grab a big section of your hair and pull it aside. The extent to which you can see your scalp determines your hair density.
Thin Density: If you can easily see your scalp, you have thin hair density. That means your hair is scantily placed.
Medium Density: If you can see your scalp partially from underneath your hair, you have medium hair density.
Thick Density: If you can hardly see your scalp, you have thick hair density.
Let’s start with your hair appearance. To accurately determine your hair type, let it dry naturally after your next wash. Once your hair has air-dried without product being added, is it:
- Straight? (with no curls)
- Wavy? (s-shaped curves)
- Curly? (prominent and defined loops)
- Tight Curls? (includes spirals and coils)
- Undefined coils? (varied curls and coils)
Most people are able to easily recognize these hair types to identify which main category they fall into.
Each category of hair has subqualities that help define each hair type. In fact, there are many different types of curls or coils and it can be hard to pinpoint where you fall exactly. Some people even have multiple curl patterns. If you’re someone who has multiple textures, choose the one that is most prominent throughout.
Once you know your primary hair type, it’s time to identify your hair structure. This is usually done by a strand test, which can be conducted by either sight or touch. For this hair type quiz, we’ll use the touch method, since it helps to more accurately determine the diameter of your hair. Take a piece of hair in between your fingers and rub it back and forth.
- If you don’t feel anything, your hair type is considered fine.
- If you can feel the hair in between your fingers your hair type is medium.
- If your hair feels thick in between your fingers , then your hair type is coarse.
Type 1 (Straight)
Straight hair (Type 1) lies flat, or straight on the scalp. As the hair’s natural oils are able to travel from the scalp to the ends, Type 1 hairs reflect the most sheen. There are three subcategories for straight hair:
Type 1A: hair is very straight and fine, with no hint of wave or curl. As it is so straight and fine, when the natural oils travel to the ends, it tends to cause it to look like oily hair. It is the rarest hair type and is common among women of Asian descent.
Type 1B: hair is straight, but has more volume than Type 1A. Its medium texture can generally hold curls giving the hair more texture and movement.
Type 1C: hair is straight and is usually coarse and thick, which can result in frizzy hair depending on the environment or climate. When air-dried, this hair type can achieve a tousled look, while still lying flat on the scalp.
Type 2 (Wavy)
Type 2 waves are bendable, can be fine to coarse, and have a definitive S pattern that lays closer to the head.
Version 2A: Those with hair type 2A have a fine, barely-there tousled texture that’s very easy to straighten. People with this texture have to be wary of using heavy styling products that can easily weigh their strands down, rendering them limp and lifeless. If you’ve got this hair texture, be sure the products you’re looking for are formulated with a lightweight consistency.
Version 2B: hair lies flatter at the crown with defined S-shaped waves starting from the midlength, like Salma Hayek’s here. Strands are thicker in diameter than a 2A, and you’ll have to put a bit more elbow grease into getting it straight. To enhance your natural surfer-babe waves, use a texturizing mist like the Ouai Wave Spray, enriched with rice protein for hair that is never crunchy or stiff.
Version 2C: waves are thick and more susceptible to frizz. The S-bends are well-defined and begin at the roots. Shakira is the perfect example of this hair type. In between shampoos, use a non-lathering, sulfate-free co-wash so as not to strip essential moisture from strands, like the Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Hydrating Co-Wash. This particular product was formulated to work beautifully on all curl textures.
Type 3 (Curly)
Curly hair can range from loose, buoyant loops to tight, springy corkscrew-shaped curls. There is one main trait that most curly-haired people have — they are prone to frizz so sulfate-free products and moisture are key.
Type 3A: large, loose curls that are the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk.
Version 3B: spring ringlets similar to the circumference of a marker.
Type 3C: tight corkscrews that range from a circumference of a straw to a pencil; densely packed together, giving way to lots of natural volume; frizziness can be a popular trait.
Type 4 (Coily)
Coily hair can be a mix of textures that range from tightly coils, spring-like S-patters, to zig-zag patterns (so many beautiful shapes!). Because of the hair shape angles, scalp oils can’t easily lubricate your hair making type 4 most fragile, dry, and damage-prone of all hair types. Sulfate-free products and super-duper moisturization are important.
Model 4C: similar to 4B but the tightly coiled strands are more fragile and have a very tight zig-zag pattern; can experience the greatest amount of shrinkage than any other textures.
Model 4A: dense, spring S-patterned coils that are the circumference of a knitting needle.
Model 4B: densely packed and can bend in sharp angles with Z-patterns.