At the end of the day, what your hair likes or doesn’t can only be figured out through trial and error, your hair type could be a mixture of more than one of the below, and is likely to change throughout your life, throughout the year and from wash to wash. There is also some disagreement about how the types are defined.
But if you want to seriously get into hair care, being able to quickly describe your hair in two characters is helpful when asking for advice, and being able to read reviews from people with your hair type is helpful in finding the right products.
Type 1 – Straight Hair
Your hair has absolutely no curl pattern, it responds just fine to sulfates, has little to no frizz and is naturally quite shiny. You have problems like getting greasy too quickly and wanting more volume and I don’t know how to talk to you. You don’t belong here.
Type 2 – Wavy Hair
Your hair falls in s-waves, as opposed to full loops. Wavy hair is usually straighter at the roots, with the real curl starting around the mid lengths.
The slightest of waves, basically anything off pin straight. Still probably not having too much issue with sulfates.
More defined waves than with 2A, hair is coarser and from this level down is where the frizzening really begins
The coarsest wave, this time the curls can start at the root. With more shape, comes more frizz.
Type 3 – Curly Hair
Your hair forms full loops in the majority of your hair. When acting right, the curls are springy and have a lot of volume at the root. When not acting right, this translates to big. Just big.
Big loose spirals, less elongated than type 2, but not quite the ringlets in curlier hair.
Corkscrew curls, the circumference of the curls can be compared to a sharpie.
Very tight curls with significant shrinkage. The circumference here can be compared to a pencil.
Type 4 – Coils
Your hair forms tight, densely packed coils with a lot of shrinkage and a lot of volume up top. It is absolutely spectacular when taken care of, but the most difficult to handle.
The tightest curls, the last on this list where the s-shape is visible.
Rather than curling, the hair bends back and forth like the letter Z. The individual curl is not defined.
Densely packed hair, shaped like 4b, but with less definition and maximum shrinkage.
A quick test for hair thickness (of individual hairs, not density) is to take a single strand and hold it between your finger tips. If you cannot feel it, you can class it as fine. If you can feel when you think about it but it’s not obvious, that’s a medium. And if there’s no ignoring the fact that there is a hair there, that hair is coarse.
If you have decided to embark upon a curly journey, you may find you move down the line as frizz finds its home. The best measure of natural hair texture is right after it’s been washed and allowed to dry without styling.
My hair floats around the 2C/3A area, the under layers being curlier than the top. My hair straightens out after bleach, obviously enough, and higher humidity robs it of all definition.
So now you know everything I do about curl types, may it occupy as much of your brain-space as it does mine. Because if I can’t break the habit I’m going drag as many of you down with me as possible.