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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Everything You Need To Know About Hair Typing

Everything You Need To Know About Hair Typing

Hair typing is the easy way to determine what type of curls you have. Although it is obvious enough that natural hair varies in texture, hair typing is a system that makes it easy to point out what category your strands fall in. Hair typing is a big thing in natural hair and while the verdict is out on whether it truly figures it all out for you, many still subscribe to it in aiding in hair product purchases and how to care for one's own curls.

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There is more than just one hair typing system and while many may favor one over all the others, all bring some very vital information to the table. I've listed a few that you should get to know and you can then figure out which best suits your hair's needs. 


Andre Walker Hair Typing System

Andre Walker Hair Typing System
Photo courtesy of Andrewalkerhair.com


In his book, Andre Talks Hair!, Andre Walker divides hair into these categories: type 1- straight hair, type 2- wavy hair, type 3- curly hair and type 4- kinky hair. Each of these categories also have sub-categories that divide them into different segments depending on texture and curl pattern.  This is probably the most popular hair typing system that most naturals gravitate to. 


Naturallycurly.com
Photo courtesy of Naturallycurly.com

This is Naturallycurly.com's adaptation of the Andre Walker method and many are very familiar with this and find it quite helpful. 


LOIS Hair Typing System

LOIS Hair Typing System

This typing system determines hair type depending on its pattern, strand size and texture. If your hair falls in right angles with no obvious curve, it is considered an L. If your hair forms tight curls resembling an O, it is considered as O. If your hair has no bend and lies flat on the head, it is considered an I. If your hair has S shaped curls, it is considered an S. 


Fia’s Hair Typing System

This typing system is an upgraded combination of the two previous ones. It defines hair type using three classifiers: definition of curls, visible moisture content and volume of the hair. The second classifier (moisture content) helps to determine if the hair is Fine; smooth and silky, Medium; a texture between fine and coarse, and Coarse; thick and wiry feeling strands. It seems a tad tedious but here's the breakdown:


FIRST CLASSIFIER – Your curliness
The straight ones
1a – stick straight
1b – straight but with a slight body wave, just enough to add some volume, doesn’t look wavy
1c – straight with body wave and one or two visible S-waves (e.g. nape of neck or temples)
The wavy ones
2a – loose, stretched out S-waves throughout the hair
2b – shorter, more distinct S-waves (similar to waves from braiding damp hair)
2c – distinct S-waves and the odd spiral curl forming here and there
The curly ones
3a – big, loose spiral curls
3b – bouncy ringlets
3c – tight corkscrews

The really curly ones
4a – tightly coiled S-curls
4b – tightly coiled hair bending in sharp angles (Z-pattern)
SECOND CLASSIFIER – What (most of) your individual strands look like

F – Fine


Thin strands that sometimes are almost translucent when held up to the light. Shed strands can be hard to see even against a contrasting background. Similar to hair found on many people of Scandinavian descent.
You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Fine hair is difficult to feel or it feels like an ultra-fine strand of silk
M – Medium


Strands are neither fine nor coarse. Similar to hair found on many Caucasians.
You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Medium hair feels like a cotton thread. You can feel it, but it isn’t stiff or rough. It is neither fine or coarse.
C – Coarse
Thick strands that where shed strands usually are easily identified against most backgrounds. Similar to hair found on many people of Asian or native American descent.
You can also try rolling a strand between your thumb and index finger. Coarse hair feels hard and wiry. As you roll it back and forth, you may actually hear it.

THIRD CLASSIFIER – Your overall volume of hair

Put your hair in a ponytail with as much hair as possible in it. Don’t bother with the way it looks – the goal is to have most/all of your hair in there. If it means it sits smack dab on top of your head, put it there.
Measure the circumference of the ponytail. If you have bangs and/or you can’t get all of your hair in there adjust according to how much of your hair you have measured.
i – thin (less than 2 inches/5 centimeters)
ii – normal (between 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters)
iii – thick (more than 4 inches/10 centimeters)           The Wavy Library


Mizani’s Curly Typing System

Mizani Curly Typing System

Photo courtesy of Mizani.com

According to Mizani their hair typing system is a "reference guide that allows you to identify your hair type and determine its key characteristics and special needs, as well as the most beneficial care and product suggestions." After years of research and testing, MIZANI defined global hair types based on specific-shape criteria. They took into account curve diameter, curl index, number of twists and waves.

Lorraine Massey’s Curl Typing System
Curly Girl Method Hair Typing System
Photo courtesy of Luckyvitamin.com

This method is unofficially called the Curly Girl Method or CGM and was invented by renowned hairstylist Lorraine Massey. Her amazing book, Curly Girl, the handbook became a curly girl's bible with a new concept of eliminating shampoo, washing with conditioner, and learning about the specifics of our curly,  coily and kinky strands. 

curly girl, The Handbook


As a huge fan of the CGM, what helped me more than anything else was the  Curly Girl, the handbook and with the identification of your coil, curl or wave that came with specific instructions on washing, conditioning and overall care for your tresses. I started in back in 2013 and have a modified version that can be found here on my other blog Seriously Natural.


There are a few smaller or less known methods but these are by far the most popular, followed and helpful. Hair typing is still quite controversial as many find it classifying hair types with black women being on the bad end of the spectrum. I find them somewhat helpful but know they are just one determinant of hair classification. There is also hair porosity, density and width and all help to figure out what you may need for products, and styling options. 

What method do you best feel is suitable?
Sabrina

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