Whether you’re a self-love veteran or just starting your natural hair journey, understanding the different types of Black hair can help you learn how to care for yours. Whether you have short hair, Afro-textured hair, wavy hair, or straight, finding out what works for you and your hair is important for maintenance and your own confidence. You’ll want to choose natural hair products based on your hair type to give every single strand the love it deserves.
Read on to learn more about the different African American hair types, how to determine your own, and how to keep your hair gorgeous and healthy.
A Brief History of Hair Typing
The first step to determining your hair type is first to ask yourself: what type of curls do I have? But before we dive into the curl patterns that have long separated different types of Black hair, we first have to uncover the origin of hair typing.
As with some of the best things in life, hair typing started with Oprah. More specifically, Oprah’s hairstylist, Andre Walker.
He wanted to come up with a simple way to describe and appreciate natural hair so naturalistas everywhere could learn how to better take care of their curlsand coils. So, how did he do it? He came up with the first hair type chart. This chart separates hair into four types of curl patterns, each with their own unique characteristics.
So, where does your hair fit in?
Whether you see yourself in Solange, Zendaya, or Lupita, you can find your beautiful hair in one (or more) of these curl pattern types:
1a –Straight as an arrow.
2a, 2b, 2c – Just a little wavy.
3a – Loose curls with large diameters, falling into an ‘S’ shape.
3b – Medium curls with slightly smaller diameters.
3c – Curls become slightly tighter spirals but still maintain somewhat of an ‘S’ curl shape.
4a – Curls begin turning into coils and interlocking more.
4b – Coils are even tighter, wirier, and resemble a ‘z’ shape. This isn’t the most coily hair type, though, which leads us to the important distinction between 4b hair vs. 4c.
4c – So, what is 4c hair in comparison to 4b hair? Coils are even kinkier, tight, and spring-like. With this hair type, shrinkage is real.4c hair holds styles for a long time and truly defies gravity.
(Pssst: by the way, shrinkage is a sign of healthy hair. Embrace your springy, gorgeous locks!)
Natural Black hair texture types usually fall within the 3 and 4 ranges, as seen on most Black hair type charts. Remember, you might not always have a single hair texture on your head. You may have a mix of type 3 and type 4 hair all over.
No matter what, defining your hair from different types of hair is not about judging, fixing, or changing your texture—it’s about understanding what it takes to enhance the natural beauty of your hair and curl type.
Hair Porosity, Density, and Width
Although curl pattern is a reasonable place to start when defining your hair texture, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of hair typing.
There is much more to Black hair texture than just its curl pattern.
When determining your hair type and, therefore, how to take care of it, you should also find out where your locks fall in terms of these three categories:
Porosity –Porosity describes your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. The higher a hair’s porosity, the more moisture it absorbs, and the more it requiresto maintain healthy hair. Lower and medium porosity hair is easier to keep hydrated. However, you can always improve your hair’s porosity by reducing heat and chemical treatments and keeping it moisturized with the right products.
Density –Hair density describes the relative number of hair strands you have per square inch of your head. When we think someone has a lot of hair, we’re thinking of hair density. Higher density hair defies gravity, holds styles easily and requires a heavier hair product, like MIELLE’s Hawaiian Ginger Hair Butter. For lower density hair, use lighter products that won’t weigh it down, like moisturizing rice water for hair from MIELLE.
Width – Hair width describes the thickness of each strand of hair. Separated into coarse, medium, and fine, different thicknesses require different care. For example, fine hair is more delicate than thick hair, so if you have fine hair, stylists would recommend avoiding excessive heat treatment, brushing, combing, or putting it in a high-tension hairstyle too often.
Embrace Your Uniqueness With Mielle Organics
Remember that no hair is the same—even the individual hair strands on your head may have various curl patterns and characteristics. That’s why you have to match this uniqueness with products that are as versatile as they are high in quality to help you achieve healthy hair and maintain your perfect natural hairstyle. But the products in your medicine cabinet or your shower caddy may be doing your natural locks more harm than good. Harsh chemicals can kill curls and waves faster than you can say, “Andre Walker!”
So take a good look at those bottles—are they made for yourhair health? For yourunique locks?
Instead of frying your hair with excessive heat or chemical products, embrace its natural texture with organic, curl-defining hair care products by MIELLE.
For less breakage, more growth, and endless confidence, give MIELLE a try.