It so happens often that we are not aware of our hair type. Whether it is shopping for hair care products or trying out hair styling tools, most of us face some difficulty in determining the hair type we have.
There are many factors that determine your hair type. These include hair density, diameter, porosity, greasiness, elasticity, and curl pattern. In this post, we will shed more light on the different hair types, and how you can identify yours.
1. Hair Density
Your hair density pertains to how much hair (the number of individual strands) you have on your scalp. Hair density differs from hair diameter. You can have thin hair with more density, and vice versa. There are three levels of hair density, any of which can be determined with the mirror test.
Grab a big section of your hair and pull it aside. The extent to which you can see your scalp determines your hair density.
- Thin Density: If you can easily see your scalp, you have thin hair density. That means your hair is scantily placed.
- Medium Density: If you can see your scalp partially from underneath your hair, you have medium hair density.
- Thick Density: If you can hardly see your scalp, you have thick hair density.
2. Hair Diameter
The diameter of your hair refers to the width of an individual hair strand. This is the most accurate way to determine your hair type. Do the strand test to understand if your hair is fine, medium or thick.
Hold a single strand of your hair between your thumb and index fingers.
- Thin Hair: If you can barely feel the strand between your fingers, you have thin hair. In some cases, the hair strand can be so thin that it is not even visible.
- Medium Hair: If you can feel the hair strand slightly, you have medium hair.
- Thick Hair: If you can distinctly feel the hair strand, you have thick hair.
You can also compare your hair strand to a sewing thread. Place a hair strand along the length of a thread. If it is just as thick or even thicker than the thread, you have coarse or thick hair. If it is more or less the same thickness as the thread, you have medium hair. If the hair strand is significantly thinner than the thread, you have thin or limp hair.
Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. The higher the porosity, the more moisture and product it will absorb. High porosity may cause damage to hair (1). This also extends to its ability to absorb products.
Knowing the porosity of your hair can be helpful in choosing the right products for your hair. Submerge a single hair strand in a cup of water to determine the level of hair porosity.
- High Porosity: If the hair strand sinks to the bottom, you have high hair porosity. Hair with high porosity is more prone to damage as it can readily absorb the chemicals from products. It also gets frizzy and rough easily. Your hair may also dry up quickly after you wash it. A high number of pores in the hair cuticle results in high porosity. It is often caused due to frequent application of chemical-filled products or treatments. When you have highly porous hair, it is never hydrated enough.
- Medium Or Normal Porosity: You can find the strand floating in between the water and rightly balanced if your has normal porosity. This hair type takes in the correct amount of moisture. After washing it, your hair feels wet, but not sticky. It does not require a lot of maintenance and can hold any hairstyle effortlessly. Hair with normal porosity is less prone to damage.
- Low Porosity: If you have low porosity, your hair strand will float on the surface. This means, your hair takes a long time to dry. Your hair cuticles have fewer pores, which minimize your hair’s capacity to absorb water. The water tends to remain on the surface of the cuticle, and products used often get settled on top of your hair rather than sinking in. After a hair wash, your hair stays wet for long hours and feels sticky.
4. Hair Greasiness
Knowing how greasy your hair is can help you understand how frequently you need to wash it. You will also be able to pick the right products, like clarifying shampoos and conditioners, as oily hair tends to build residue faster.
Wash your hair thoroughly before hitting the bed and let it air dry. Once you wake up, do a patch test on your scalp. You can press a tissue against your scalp, especially near the crown of your head and behind your ears. The amount of oil deposited on the tissue will determine how oily your hair is.
- Oily Hair: If there is a heavily greasy patch on the tissue, you have greasy hair and scalp. This means you need to wash your hair 4 to 5 times a week.
- Normal Hair: If there is very light evidence of oil, you have a normal scalp. You can wash your hair 1 to 2 times a week.
- Dry Hair: There is no oil deposited on the tissue. This indicates a lack of hydration. Use products that can add and retain moisture in your locks.
- Combination Hair: If there is oil deposited on the tissue from only specific regions of your scalp, it indicates combination hair. Often, the hair behind your ears and over the temples secretes a high amount of oil.
5. Hair Elasticity
Hair elasticity refers to the extent to which a single hair strand can stretch before returning to its normal state (1). It is a strong indicator of hair health. Hair with high elasticity has a good amount of shine and bounce and is regarded as the strongest of all hair types.
To find out the elasticity of your hair, you need to pluck a wet hair strand and stretch it as much as you can. Depending on the results, your hair elasticity can be categorized into one of three types.
- High Elasticity: If your hair strand stretches a long way without breaking immediately, it indicates high elasticity. This means stronger hair. Hair with high elasticity (when wet) can stretch up to 50% of its original length before it breaks. Often, coarse hair is highly elastic.
- Medium Elasticity: If your hair stretches to some extent before breaking, it indicates medium elasticity. Most women have medium hair elasticity. You can strengthen your hair using natural hair masks and hair oils.
- Low Elasticity: Hair that snaps almost immediately after stretching has low elasticity.
This hair type tends to be limp and brittle. It requires special attention with respect to the products used on it. Harsh chemicals can diminish hair elasticity. Hence, it is essential to choose shampoos that strengthen hair cuticles.
6. Curl Pattern
Observe your hair. Is it curly, wavy, straight, or kinky? There are four types of hair patterns. Your hair follicle and hair shaft decide how your hair will look. The tilt of the hair follicle and the way it grows into the scalp decide your hair pattern.
In the following section, we will look at the different hair types. Try identifying which of these define you.
Type 1: Straight Hair
This hair type stays straight irrespective of any amount of curling (2). It typically lies flat from the roots to the tips. Its texture is soft and silky, and it is extremely shiny. It does not possess any curls. Often, women with straight hair have fine hair. Besides being soft, you can also see a high amount of oil secretion in this naturally straight hair type.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Wavy hair type is neither straight nor curly. It falls somewhere between the two. In wavy hair, you can observe a slight curl pattern at the lower end of your hair (3). It can hold hairstyles very well. Its texture is quite rough, and its diameter is thick. Type 2 is divided into three sub-types:
- 2A is thin wavy hair
- 2B is medium wavy hair
- 2C is thick wavy hair
Type 3: Curly Hair
The best way to determine if you have type 3 curls is to check if your hair strand follows an ‘S’ pattern (3). This hair type has definite curls that stay curly irrespective of any amount of straightening. It has higher density compared to wavy and straight hair. It is more prone to frizz and can get tangled quickly. Type 3 is again divided into three sub-types:
- Type 3A has loose curls
- Type 3B has medium curls
- Type 3C has tight curls
Type 4: Kinky Hair
Kinky hair looks coarse and rough but is actually quite fragile and soft. It is easily prone to breakage and damage if not cared for. Kinky hair has high density with extremely tight curls. The curls resemble a ‘Z’ shape (3). This hair type is divided into three sub-types:
- Type 4A is soft
- Type 4B is wiry
- Type 4C is extremely wiry
Now that you are better informed about your hair type, go on and explore the right kind of products and hair care routine for your locks. Identifying the right hair type is half the battle won. Once you do that, taking care of your hair becomes easy.
- Hair Cosmetics: An Overview, International Journal Of Trichology, US National Library of Medicine.
- Towards Creation of a Curl Pattern Recognition System, International Conference on Image Processing, Computer Vision, & Pattern Recognition, Semantic Scholar.
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