The beautiful thing about hair is that there are so many different types of it! Each type is gorgeous in its own right, adding massively to the character, look, and style of the person sporting it.
However, though most folks think they know their own hair, the chances are that they’re mistaken. It may come as news, but there’s more to hair than just being straight, wavy, curly, or coily! If you don’t know what hair type you have, even the best hair products aren’t going to be of any help to you, just as it is with skincare routines.
But how do you figure out your hair type? That’s exactly what we’re here to tell you! Your hair’s features are best identified by using a hair chart, or a system that categorizes different natural types of hair.
Read on to know everything you need to about hair charts and all things hair types, textures, and structures!
Knowing your hair type will help you give your hair the right kind of care, especially if your hair is a mixture of different types, textures, and structures. This will not only help your locks grow healthily but also help you figure out how to style your hair and keep it styled.
A hair chart will help you figure out what your hair type, texture, and structure are. This will lead to better and easier decision-making when it comes to your hair care, leaving your tresses feeling and looking their best!
Here’s a breakdown of what each term means.
Your hair type is defined by how curly or straight your hair is. The shape of your follicles determines how straight, curly, wavy, or coily your hair is, with an increase in the follicle’s asymmetry leading to an increase in the curliness of your hair.
Hair types are purely determined by genetics. However, advancements in fashion have made it possible to bypass your natural hair type and get the hair type you want—medications, hormones, heat treatments, and chemical treatments can alter your curl pattern.
However, when your hair grows out, it’s going to grow out in its natural pattern, which is in your DNA.
Hair can be one of four types—straight (type 1), wavy (type 2), curly (type 3), and coily (type 4). Each type is further divided into subtypes, depending on how tight the curls are.
While this sounds simple enough, the human body, as always, loves to complicate things! While some people have only one hair type, many people have more than one hair type on their heads. For example, you could have wavy ends and straight roots, or wavy roots at the back and coils in the front.
Here’s the rundown on each type and subtype.
Type 1 refers to straight hair. Whether thick, thin, coarse, or fine, this hair type has absolutely no curl or wave and falls straight from the roots to the tips.
This hair type tends to become oily, so if you have this hair type, avoid products that add extra moisture, such as hair butter and heavy serums, and stick instead with texture sprays. You’ll also want to reduce the number of wash days, as washing your hair often can instigate the overproduction of natural oils—dry shampoo is a boon, in such cases!
Wavy hair makes up type 2. There are three subtypes in this category—2A, 2B, and 2C.
- 2A: This hair type has a naturally tousled, gently disheveled look, with the hair fully straight from the roots to eye level, and undefined, loose waves flowing from eye level to the ends.
- 2B: Type 2B also flows in waves from eye level to the ends, but the waves have an “S” shape that’s more defined than type 2A waves. 2B is the ideal canvas for balayage. However, unless you’re using sea salt spray, straightening this hair type can require quite a bit of effort.
- 2C: Those with type 2C hair have the most defined S-shaped waves, with tresses that are quite thick. The pattern typically begins close to the roots and continues to flow downwards.2C hair can be a pain in damp weather, though, frizzing up like a cloud! Because of this, and the daily tussle of finding ways to control and enhance their ways, most people with 2C hair tend to straighten their hair daily, setting the stage for significant hair damage.
Luckily, many lightweight, anti-humidity mousses are now available and can get the job done.
Type 3 refers to curly hair, which is further broken down into subtypes 3A, 3B, and 3C.
- 3A: 3A hair is characterized by S-shaped curls that form loose loops. Typically, the circumference of these curls is only slightly wider than the larger end of a taper candle.The worst nemesis of 3A hair is a hairbrush, ironically! Brushing your hair breaks up curls and leads to frizz. Additionally, tying such hair back tightly, such as in a ponytail or a bun, can cause the curls to lose their shape and also cause hair loss and thinning at the hairline, because of the weight of the ponytail pulling against these parts for long periods.
- 3B: 3B curls are thinner than 3As, with a circumference as wide as a marker’s. Such hair is voluminous, with curls that start from the roots and extend all the way to the tips. Because of its curly nature, such hair can get dry and requires additional moisturizing to maintain its shape.
- 3C: 3C curls are the tightest and springiest of the lot, with the width of a drinking straw! These curls, if broken up, can lead to breakage of hair and frizz, so they’re best treated with leave-in conditioner, finger-combing when wet, and then air drying.
Rounding off the list are type 4 coils, further subdivided into types 4A, 4B, and 4C.
- 4A: 4A coils can wrap around a chopstick. These S-shaped coils are the most delicate hair type, requiring very gentle treatment and lots of moisture from deep conditioning, creams, and butter.Avoid tight, protective styles such as braids and weaves if you’ve got this hair type, as they can completely destroy the curl pattern and dry up your hair.
- 4B: Type 4B curls zig-zag. The best way to keep these curls well-defined is to shingle them, which involves detangling wet hair with your fingers using a leave-in cream or conditioner. Then, section your hair into four parts, working gel or curl cream down each curl and twisting/coiling it with your finger once done.
- 4C: 4C curls are the most delicate and lightest, prone to breaking with frequent or rough brushing. These curls require nutrition in the form of rich conditioners, oils, and hair butter, and are healthiest when co-washed.
Hair structure (also known as hair texture), contrary to popular belief, is not how your hair feels but how thick each individual strand of hair is. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if your hair is greasy, oily, or dry, but whether it’s thick, medium-thick, or fine. Everyone has textured hair.
Coarse or thick hair gives your head a full look and can pull off any hairdo. Unlike fine and medium-thick hair, thick hair has three layers—the medulla, the cuticle, and the cortex.
Thick hair can withstand styling, breakage, coloring, and heat treatments better than fine or medium-thick hair, but it can be prone to frizziness in humid weather and take ages to dry!
Medium-thick hair is thicker than fine hair and may contain all three layers that thick hair contains, or it may miss the medulla. Most people have medium-thick hair, and while not as thick or strong as thick hair, medium-thick hair can also hold hairstyles and resist breaking to a great extent.
The most delicate of the lot, fine hair has only the cuticle and cortex. Such hair is hard to style into hairdos and is prone to getting oily. Using too much product can also weigh the hair down and result in breakage.
Figuring Out Your Hair Structure
Figuring out your hair structure is pretty easy with this test.
Take a strand of your hair and lay it on a flat, plain surface. Lay a piece of sewing thread (about six inches long and preferably in a color that’s the same or as close to your hair strand) next to it. If your hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair, and if it’s thicker, your hair is coarse/thick. If it’s about the same size, it’s medium-thick.
Another great way to tell your hair structure is to see how well it can hold a hairstyle. Fine hair is abysmal at holding up hairdos without styling products, unlike thick hair.
Hair charts and knowing your hair type and texture/structure will help you nurture your natural curl patterns and give them the right TLC, letting you flaunt shiny, healthy, smooth tresses all the time.