Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Know your hair series - Part 1
When was the last time you walked into a salon and the stylist recommended a hair care regimen based your hair texture? Even more so when was the last time you bought something for your home hair treatment based on your unique hair. Most often we all go chasing after the next “fountain of growth” miracle product simply based on what worked well for that lady you met at the pharmacy and had a 5 min chat with after you saw how awesome her hair looks. The first step to knowing what will work for your hair is to know your hair.
A lot of us begin our hair journey the same place, with knowledge passed down mostly from our mothers and others that helped take care of our hair in our younger years. We very often take that for granted and continue with these practices into adulthood without ever questioning the underlying properties of our hair. Often by chance or trial and error some of us learn what works for our unique hair but a lot of us stumble through in more or less the same way:
get new hair style,
keep style for a month ( sometimes 3 months),
Most of us do this without ever thinking about what’s best for our underlying hair texture, simply because its the way we have always done it. The first step to knowing whats best for your hair is to know your hair. Join us as we dissect the many nuances of hair texture including curl types density, thickness and Porosity. In this article we will focus on hair types , we shall discuss the other elements, Porosity, Density and width in upcoming articles.
Hair Typing is primarily based on your hair’s curl pattern. There are 4 very broad, very general hair types( straight, wavy, curly, and coily)
which are further divided into sub categories based on the tightness or looseness of the curls and coils. For the purposes of this article we are going to focus on Type 4 hair (the Afro hair texture) and take a deep dive into the kinks and curls of this most versatile of hair types.
All Type 4 hair is thin and coarse (compared to type 1 to 3) as it has the fewest cuticle layers to protect it from dryness which makes it more fragile than other hair types (the cuticle retains hydration and protects hair from damage). Because of the kinks and angles of type 4 hair, scalp oils can’t
easily lubricate your hair strands. A common misconception is that type 4 hair doesn’t grow long, but it actually can, the only difference being that it requires more care to avoid breakage. You can alter your curl pattern with heat or chemicals (relaxing, texturizing, hot combing), and your curl pattern can be changed somewhat by hormones or medication but your basic curl pattern is in your DNA. The top priorities with type 4 hair are maintaining moisture, avoiding tangles and counteracting shrinkage.
4A hair has a clearly defined curl pattern
that is an S-shaped coil which you could wrap around a crotchet needle and looks like springy coils. It has a higher moisture retention capacity than 4B & C hair and usually has a wiry or fine strands. Its naturally defined curls help with moisture retention which makes it easier to have wash and go styles and twist outs especially when you use products like Shea butter.
The strands of 4B hair have sharp z shaped angles that do not have a defined curl
pattern. The curl is tighter giving it a fluffy cotton like appearance and is more prone to shrinkage than 4A it can shrink upto 70% of its actual length. the strands range from fine and thin to wiry and coarse. Due to the sharp bends on the hair strands this hair type is drier than 4a and breaks easily. When you have 4B hair its better to have protective styles such as twists, braids and buns to protect your hair from damage. Since 4b Hair is dry it requires regular moisturizing by
deep conditioning frequently.
Type 4 C
4C hair is more tightly coiled than 4B. It has even less curl definition than 4B hair and experiences more shrinkage, shrinking more than 70%. Even though we call this hair “Hard Kumusha type” it’s the most fragile and breaks the most easily this is partly due to the fact that type 4 C hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type. the strands can be really fine and thin so It requires a lot of care. If this is your hair type you should avoid styles that require a lot of manipulationand stick to protective styles to avoid breakage. You should also protect it when sleeping using a satin or silk cap.
hair curl type is only one part of the texture story. We will look at porosity, density and width to see how they contribute to your hair unique hair texture. Tell us about your hair in the comments below.