Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Hair type and curl pattern describe the specific shape of your hair strands, the way it naturally grows. Your hair type is actually dependent on the shape of the hair follicle on your scalp.
Similar to pores in the skin, hair follicles are the holes from which your hair grows. The more oval shaped your hair follicle is, the curlier your hair will be!
While we can manipulate our hair into different shapes with methods like chemical or heat straightening, your DNA and genetics is the most prominent factor in hair texture.
“Hair types”, or the classification of each hair texture, is most often broken down into four main groups (1, 2, 3, and 4), with each group further divided into three subcategories (a, b, and c).
Hair Type Myths and Misconceptions
"If you know your hair type, you'll know how to take care of your hair." This is a myth. While knowing your curl pattern can point you in the right direction, it’s actually less important than other hair properties like hair porosity. And while learning your hair type can be helpful for establishing rules of thumb about your hair regimen, your hair is unique. What works for one person with your curl pattern might not work for you. Learn the best ways to care for your UNIQUE hair by experimenting and noticing what your hair likes best.
“Most people have just one curl pattern." The truth is the opposite- most people have two (or even three) curl patterns. This is completely normal! Just as the skin on your face is different from the skin on your leg, your scalp’s hair follicles can vary significantly around your head.
“Certain hair types are more manageable.” Every hair type has the possibility of becoming damaged or otherwise unhealthy, and requires maintenance. Some hair types might seem to have an easier time detangling, achieving certain styles, or maintaining moisture, but the truth is that every hair type is beautiful in its own way with all of the benefits and complexities that make it so.
You may have multiple hair types throughout your head. So choose what looks most similar to the larger portion of your hair. For example, if your hair is mostly 4c, but the front is 4b then you can consider yourself 4c/4b. Remember that hair typing only serves as a guide for hair care, and not a prescription for what your hair can and will always do or look like.
Type 4: Coily to Kinky Hair
Shampoo infrequently: no more than once a week, and as little as once every 2 weeks. Experiment with your regimen to see what works for your hair.
Avoid sulfates at all costs, along with any other ingredients that dry out your hair
If your hair feels dirty in-between washes, wash with a conditioner instead
Moisturize your hair daily by using a lightweight product that does not contain harmful ingredients that can dry out your hair.
Moisturize every day with a leave-in conditioner, moisturizer, or steam.
Use oils to seal moisture into your hair (roots and ends).
Deep condition every 1-2 weeks with any solution or product.
Always wet the hair when you detangle, and look for products that provide a lot of slip.
Limit the use of heat on your hair as it can cause irreparable damage.
Fight frizz by using a light gel or styling custard to define your curls.
Always remember that your hair is fragile and prone to dryness and breakage, so make use of protective styles to give your hair a chance to rest and avoid over manipulation.
Type 3: Curly
Avoid sulfates and other ingredients that can dry out your hair. Choose a gentle shampoo that won't strip your hair of oils.
Shampoo once a week, or even less often if your hair can manage. If your hair gets oily mid-week, swap shampoo for conditioner and do a co-wash.
If you notice your ends are dry, apply a conditioner meant for daily use
Seal in moisture, by applying a lightweight oil when hair is wet.
Deep condition your hair every 1-2 weeks.
Layer a light gel or custard over moisturized curls to define them.
Stay away from heat tools as much as possible.
Type 2: Wavy
You don’t have to stay away from sulfates, but be careful. 2c hair in particular can still benefit from sulfate-free products.
Shampoo every 2-3 days (2a and 2b) or 3-5 days (2c).
Natural oils (coconut oil, Jamaican black castor oil, olive oil, etc). are great for your hair and scalp, but they can make your hair look and feel greasy. Try using them as a pre-poo treatment, washing them out afterwards.
Deep condition your hair every two weeks.
Use a mousse or leave-in serum to style your hair. Creams and gels will probably be too heavy and weigh your hair down.
Your curl pattern is less sensitive to heat, but less is always better.
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