The beauty and glory of natural African hair can never be over-emphasized. While some people choose to relax their hair just to tame the coily locks that are ours, some others choose to sport their ebony ‘fro and look good while doing it.
But then, have you ever wondered why certain hair products work for a friend of yours but not for you? Or why your hair is kind of ‘elastic’, while most people you know don’t have ‘elastic’ hair? Well, the answer is simple: Difference in hair types. In this blog post, I’ll lay out the different natural hair types, which are determined by curl patterns, hair porosity, hair density, diameter and so on, so that finding out the right hair care approaches and products for your hair won’t be so hard anymore.
Your hair density is determined by the number of single strands on your hair. There are three types of hair densities, and to know your hair density, you can carry out this simple mirror test:
Take a section of your hair in your hand and look in the mirror.
If you can see your scalp, you have thin hair density.
If you can see only a little of your scalp, you have medium hair density.
If you can barely see your scalp, you have thick hair density.
Hair Structure or Diameter
Hair structure refers to the thickness or width of your hair strands. Your hair strands can be fine, medium and coarse or thick. The structure of your hair determines the way your hair will hold certain styles or react to certain hair products. You can figure out your hair structure by:
· Considering how well your hair holds a hairstyle.
Fine, thin hair is predominantly delicate and thus cannot hold most hairstyles very well. Medium hair is a lot thicker than fine hair and can hold hairstyles better and longer. And coarse hair can hold styles the longest, but it is the hardest to style among all the hair structures because it is less bendable or flexible than they are.
· Carrying out the thread test.
Take a strand of your hair and a piece of sewing thread. Place them both on a flat surface and observe.
If your strand of hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair.
If your hair is far thicker than the thread, then you have coarse hair.
Medium hair falls between being fine and coarse.
· Checking with your fingers.
This one is by far the simplest. Take a strand of your hair in-between two fingers.
If you can hardly feel the strand’s presence, then your hair is fine.
If you can feel the strand slightly, then your hair is medium.
If the strand’s presence is well-defined and unmistakable, then you have coarse hair.
The porosity of your hair is defined by how well your hair absorbs or retains moisture. The type of hair products you should use will be a reflection of the porosity of your hair. Your hair porosity can be determined by taking a strand of your hair and placing it in a cup.
If the strand sinks to the bottom of the cup, your hair has high porosity. That means that your hair easily absorbs moisture and hair products. Hair is of high porosity because of the high number of pores and rips in one’s hair cuticle. These breaks and tears cause the hair to give off moisture more than usual, thus making the hair often dry, frizzy, rough and never hydrated enough. Hair of this nature is most prone to damage, as it easily absorbs all products and their chemicals.
People with highly porous hair should avoid hairstyles that involve heat (like stretching or hot-combing), blow-drying and products with high chemical compositions, as all these de-moisturize one’s hair. Rather, air-dry your hair, use oils, leave-ins, hair masks and products made with natural ingredients, all to seal the hair cuticle and keep your hair as moist as it can be.
If the strand of hair is submerged in water but does not reach the cup’s bottom, then your hair is of medium or normal porosity. Hair with normal porosity is often wet but not sticky after washing, holds in just the right amount of water, and does not require a lot of maintenance and frequent moisturizing.
If the strand floats above the water’s surface, then your hair is of low porosity and takes very long to dry. For hair with low porosity, the hair cuticle lays flat, has fewer pores and blocks moisture from being absorbed into the hair strands. When you wash or apply products to your hair, the moisture in them does not sink in, but stays on the surface of your hair, thus making your hair often feel wet or sticky.
Your biggest concern in this hair type is product buildup, and that is why you should apply products to your hair while it is still damp, to make sure they are well absorbed and dispersed evenly in your hair.
Each hair porosity type has its own demands, so the moral of this is: if you meet the demands of your hair type, there will be nothing to worry about.
The greasiness of your hair outlines how often you should wash it and whether or not you should use clarifying shampoos and conditioners (for oily hair, which builds up residue faster). So without further ado, you can determine your hair greasiness this way:
Wash your hair and let it air-dry before going to bed. When you wake the next morning, take a tissue and dab it at your scalp (hair at the back of your ears and near the crown of your head are good places to check).
If the tissue picks up a large amount of oil, you have oily hair and an oily scalp. You need to wash your hair 4 to 5 times a week to prevent buildup.
If an oil patch big enough to be barely noticeable is seen, you have normal hair and a normal scalp. You should wash your hair 1 to 2 times a week.
If no oil was noticed on the tissue, then you have dry hair and a dry scalp, your hair lacks moisture. Make frequent use of moisturizers to keep this fact in check.
If oil was only seen in certain places in your hair, then you have combination hair. Hair behind your ears and above your temples secretes high amounts of oil.
The extent to which your hair strands can stretch before they return to their origin length or break describes one’s hair elasticity. Hair elasticity is a superb indicator of healthy hair.
Determining your hair elasticity can be done by plucking out a wet hair strand and stretching it till it reaches its maximum point.
If your hair stretches all-out and doesn’t break immediately, then your hair has high elasticity. Elastic hair is the healthiest and strongest of all the hair types, and it is known fact that when wet, it can stretch up to 50% its original length before breaking. Girls with coarse hair structures often have elastic hair.
If your hair stretches to a point and then breaks, then your hair has medium elasticity. A majority of girls and women have been found to have hair of medium elasticity, but your hair can be strengthened with oils and natural hair masks.
If you hardly even begin stretching your hair before it breaks, then your hair is of low elasticity. Your hair is chiefly bendy and breakable. Choose your hair products wisely, making sure that they are not of harsh chemical composition, but strengthen hair cuticles.
There are basically four types of curl patterns: straight, wavy, curly and coily or kinky, and even these hair types have sub-divisions (as you can see from the diagram above). The tilt of your hair follicle coupled with the way it grows into your scalp all play a role in determining your hair’s curl pattern. Here’s a visual illustration in case you have no idea what I just said means. (You’re welcome):
Now, let’s delve into the types of hair, according to curl pattern, proper.
TYPE 1: Straight Hair
Straight hair does not possess any curls, thus is flat and straight from its roots down. Its texture is predominantly soft and silky, and it is very shiny. Girls and women with straight hair often have fine hair. The super-success of this hair type is also due to the amounts of natural oil secretion it is adorned with.
TYPE 2: Wavy Hair
Wavy hair is halfway between being straight and being curly. Its curls start towards the end of the hair, while the hair is straight from that point up. This hair type has a rough texture, a thick diameter, and is sub-divided into three:
· 2a – THIN WAVY HAIR
· 2b – MEDIUM WAVY HAIR
· 2c – THICK WAVY HAIR
TYPE 3: Curly Hair
Curly hair has s-shaped curls that stay s-shaped no matter the amount of straightening. It is higher in density when compared to straight and curly hair, and is more likely to frizz and tangle easier than they do. It is also sub-divided into:
· 3a – HAS LOOSE CURLS
· 3b – HAS MEDIUM CURLS
3b – HAS TIGHT CURLS
TYPE 3: Coily or Kinky Hair
Kinky hair might look rough and abrasive, but it is actually very fragile and soft. Kinky hair is prone to breakage if not well taken care of. Coily hair is of high density and is made up of tight z-shaped curls. It is as well sub-divided into three:
· 4a – SOFT COILY HAIR
· 4b – WIRY COILY HAIR
· 4c – EXTREMELY WIRY COILY HAIR
And without delay, I think I have the right to lift my fingers from the keyboard at this point. Having read this article, you can now make better hair-care choices in respect to your hair type, so you can keep your ebony locks looking as alluring as they’re meant to be.
Keepin’ it kinky,
(ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MY OLD BLOG)