How To Determine Your Hair Type: Four Factors To Consider
When it comes to finding the best hair care routine for you, determining your hair type is crucial. Many hair problems may be prevented from simply using the right products, and choosing the right hair products starts with knowing your hair needs.
Turning a bad hair day into a good hair day requires care and knowledge of your hair type. The most important characteristics to determine your hair type are diameter, density, texture, and shape. “Depending on your hair type, your needs will change. You may need more or less hydration or reconstruction,” says Marcela Buchaim, a pharmacist-trichologist.
This will determine whether the hair needs more active ingredients as proteins or maybe more moisture. Some types of hair are stronger than others — a thick strand of hair is harder to penetrate than a thin one. Straight hair is usually less breakable than curly hair.
As a result, not all types of hair will be strong enough to face decoloring or straightening techniques. But all hair types need to be washed not only with shampoo but also with a conditioner or cream to keep the cuticles in good shape, at least in the tips of the hair.
Pollution, sun, use of heat (blow dry, flat iron, etc.) and chemical processes can damage the hair structure. Adding products with proteins, vegetable oils, and butter to your hair care routine can help prevent damage.
A healthy scalp can be the starting point for healthier hair. Taking good care of the scalp is important for maintaining the natural hydration that protects it from daily damage.
"The hair is naturally hydrated by our sebaceous gland, which produces sebum," says Buchaim. “When the hair is straight, this oil goes all the way down to the end more easily. In curly hair, it needs to go through the curves to get until the end.” That means the time between washes might not be enough for the oil to get to the end of the curves and curly hair can become dry, sensitive and frizzy.
Because of this important hydration role, it’s essential to keep the part of the scalp where hair grows clean and not blocked by oil or excessive skin. Sometimes it's even necessary to wash the scalp with a type of shampoo that is different from the one used for the hair strands. Or it might be necessary to wash them gently with sulfate-free to preserve the oil.
If the hair is too oily, consider smooth exfoliation and avoid shampoos that contain hydrating ingredients such as oil, wax or butter, or even two-in-one shampoos (shampoo plus conditioner).
Since every aspect of the hair matters and knowing your hair type helps understand its needs, learn which needs and care you need to start doing!
How to Determine Your Hair Type
Determining your hair type is the first step to take really good care of it. So let's get started:
The width of your individual strands can be thin, thick or medium-sized.
The thinner the hair, the more sensitive. If this hair goes through any processing such as dying, highlighting, or a chemical relaxer, it’s more likely to break. If you notice breakage while combing or pulling it into a ponytail, it means you have to avoid strong chemical products.
Hair is made mainly of keratin, a protein comprising amino acids. Shampoos, conditioners, and creams with proteins help strengthen the hair strain.
On the other hand, if your hair is thick, it might not retain water as the other types. This will require more moisturizing products to avoid frizz.
Can you see your scalp when separating your hair? If yes, it might be because your hair density is low. Density is basically how much hair you have, it doesn’t matter if your hair is thin or thick.
Knowing your hair density will help you decide if you need a product that will enhance the volume or not. Low-density hair usually needs more volume to not look greasy or lifeless. High-density hair and curly hair need thicker creams. Medium-density hair works well with light leave-ins.
Here we are talking about hair cuticles — the external layer of the hair strand. This will determine how easily your hair will absorb moisture, oils, creams or other products.
Coloring and other processes make strands rougher or less smooth to touch. That’s because the coloring process actually opens up the cuticles so the dye can penetrate the hair. Cuticles can get damaged and require some reconstruction, texturization. But too much reconstruction products may cause hair to become heavy and dull, leading to a build-up process on the hair. In such cases, it’s important to alternate reconstruction and hydration.
While reconstruction is usually done with keratin, proteins, ceramides and essential amino acids, hydration can be done with products with butter and vegetable oils. These compounds are film-forming, promote lubrification on hair surface, and prevent hair from losing its natural “moisture”.
Another important thing about texture is that less rough hair cuticles are better sealed and products won’t penetrate the hair shaft. For this hair type, products with oils and creams won’t penetrate the hair as much. But that doesn’t mean the strands don’t need it.
High rough or texture is usually found on curly and coiled hair, white hair and chemically processed hair. Strands become more prone to frizz because it has less protection to the water in the environment. This type needs products to repair the “cement” among cuticles, which is the ceramide.
Let’s understand how to determine your hair type once and for all while looking at the different hair shapes?
Type 1: Straight Hair
It’s the oiliest hair texture since the sebum produced by the glands on the scalp tends to go all the way to the end of the hair with no “obstacles,” helping it stay hydrated. This type of hair usually requires more washing.
For all types of hair, wash a minimum of two times a week - oily hair can be washed every day. After drying, spritz a liquid anti-pollution spray that doesn’t weigh the hair down.
Type 2: Wavy hair
It’s not straight but also not curly; it’s somewhere in the middle. Your waves might be:
- 2A (loose wave)
- 2B (moderate wave, roots are straight)
- 2C (defined wave, which starts at the roots and has shorter intervals)
It’s usually more prone to frizz than straight hair, but less prone than curly hair. Avoid touching your hair too much as it increases the frizz. They need hydration and products with murumuru butter. To finalize, a cream containing chestnut seed oil is enough for the hair - but don’t use in the roots.
Type 3: Curly hair
A small or large S shape is found in this type divided into:
- 3A (loopy curl)
- 3B (rounded curl)
- 3C (tight curls with volume)
Curls need vegetable oils like Bertholletia Excelsa seed oil or products with those ingredients to keep the hair hydrated. Buchaim proposes leave-in products. If you should oil, Buchaim recommends to not blow dry or iron your hair after applying any oil as this can severely damage the hair. Instead, use these products after your hair is dry to define the curls.
For this hair type, it's interesting to use sulfate-free shampoos since they are extra gentle on curly hair, but still, get strands clean. Shampoos with sulfates tend to remove not only dirt but also strip the cuticle off of the oils it needs to stay hydrated. Conditioners and masks with amino acids also keep hair strong.
Type 4: Coily hair
Tightly coiled, or kinky hair is sensitive and delicate. It’s divided into:
- 4A (short S pattern)
- 4B (Z pattern)
- 4C (little or no curl pattern)
Because this is the driest type, it needs more hydration, care, and gentle touch. This type requires sulfate-free shampoos, or “low poo” products to help retain the scalp’s natural oils.
If you have coiled hair, steer clear of harsh chemicals as much as possible use comb-in and leave in creams in the length of the strands. When using them make sure to apply it to the strand only and avoid the scalp. These products in excess can plug up the scalp and inhibit natural hydration.
Our tip here is taking into consideration products containing proteins and vegetable oils, which will help your hair get healthier and stronger. Along with these products, try thick creams, and products that prevent evaporation.
Now, with all this information, we hope you find it easier to identify your hair type. Tell us which hair type is yours and if you know how to take care of it, we are here to help you on this journey! And, if you want to stay up-to-date on similar subjects, don’t forget to follow this blog and our social media.