Newly Natural is a series of post for newbies. Check out the first post on how to set SMART Goals for your hair, the second post on 3 ways to go natural and the third post on 10 key topics to research about your hair. This fourth post is on the basics of hair typing.
Natural hair typing is a controversial topic in the natural hair community as many believe that it’s divisive and discriminatory. I disagree with this opinion because the hair classification system has helped me to understand my hair much better than before. For example, I use to describe my hair as “tough African hair”, and other hair type as “mixed hair” or “Caribbean hair” or “nice hair”. However, after doing some research about my hair, I came to realize that these descriptions are vague and somewhat discriminatory. Since the African hair texture is so complex, describing one’s hair as being kinky, tightly coiled or curly can be subjective because someone’s tightly coiled hair might be another person’s curly hair. So instead of describing my hair in a negative and vague way, I have come to realize that assigning a letter and number to my hair has helped me to target my search efforts online, for instance, searching for 4c hairstyles generates more results online than searching for “tough African hairstyles”.
What is Hair Typing?
Like any classification system, the hair typing system isn’t discriminatory. Since there are multiple variations of curly hair and coily hair, the hair classification system puts a number to every hair type so that it’s easier for members of the same group to relate to each other.
Why do we need to hair type?
The variation of Black hair texture is very vast and can be too complex to understand. So the hair typing system is useful for these 5 reasons
- It helps us to better describe our hair texture without sounding too vague/broad
- It helps us to target our research efforts when typing keywords online
- It helps us to better identify with others who falls under the same hair category and to seek hair advice which will benefit our hair type
- It helps us to select hairstyles which are more suitable for our hair type
- It help us to select products that will work best for our hair. Tightly coiled hair tends to dry out more easily and can be a task to detangle, meaning that moisturizing conditioners will be a staple for someone with such a hair type.
How to classify your hair
To get an accurate result, examine freshly washed and naked (free of products) hair. If transitioning, you will need to assess the hair at the roots to get a more accurate result. If you just did a big chop, you should wait for more hair to grow out, so that you can get the right results. Please note that it’s common to have multiple hair textures on one head, so it’s not unusual for you to fall under multiple hair categories. The hair type which is more visible on your head will be your dominant hair type. For example, if 75% of your hair is type 4c, 10% 4b and 15% 3c, then your hair type will be considered type 4c. The hair classification system can be confusing to some people due to the alphabets, so you can just group your hair as either being type 3 or type 4.
For more details and a close up picture on each hair type, simply visit Naturally Curly where you can also find tips on how to care for your individual hair type.
What to do after this assessment?
Knowing your hair type is most useful for making hairstyle choices and hair manipulation techniques.To avoid many hair woes, it might help to search for hair tips which are geared towards your hair texture. Technically, if you follow a blogger or vlogger with a similar hair texture, they will share their hits and misses when it comes to natural hair products, hair styles and any other hair related tips.
This isn’t to say that you can’t learn from bloggers with a different hair texture, the hair fiber is made up of the same chemical component and so it will require similar hair care practices. It’s just that the different curl and coil formation of our hair requires that we treat it in a unique way.
The next post in the Newly Natural Series will talk about hair habits you should stop doing when transitioning and after you’ve gone natural. This post will be published next Tuesday, February 24th.
Do you hair type? What is your hair type?