The first step in determining the best possible haircare regimen for yourself is properly identifying what hair type your strands fall under. There are so many ways to care for hair, but each regimen should be specific to the pattern and texture of your hair. In the process of learning about your hair, there will be tons of trial and error, failures and successes. This is totally normal! Each head of hair is unique and you may even have more than one texture on your head at once. There are a few key elements you can use to narrow down your hair type and get closer to identifying the best maintenance and styling products for you. Here are three quick steps:
Step 1: Hair Type
The widely-used hair typing system that groups hair into four with the straightest hair strands falling into Type 1 and the curliest hair strands in Type 4, is the best place to start in the identification process. Developed by stylist Andre Walker, this system is controversial to some, but it is a great place to start especially for people who need a quick and easy way to determine what types of products cater to their hair specifically. Wavy hair falls generally under Type 2. Curly textures fall between Type 3 and Type 4. Within each of these types, is a more specific category from A through C. For example a looser more rounded S-curl can be found in Type 3C while a super tight z-patterned curl would be found in Type 4C. Type 4 textures are most popular among women of color and this particular type has the least cuticle layers, making moisturization and gentle care incredibly important to preventing breakage.
Step 2: Hair Density
Though you and a good friend could fall under the same Hair Type, such as 4A or 4B, you may end up using different products to achieve the same hairstyle depending on how fine or thick your hair strands are. Normally you can do this by simply comparing one of your hair’s individual strands to a standard piece of thread. The hair strand should be freshly-washed without any product, dried and laid flat on a piece of white paper. In general, if your hair strand is thinner than a piece of thread it is categorized as “fine”. If it is around the same, your hair is “medium” and if it’s wider than the piece of thread, you have “thick” hair. The thicker your hair, the less challenges you’ll face with maintaining length. Fine-haired beauties have to take extreme caution when caring for their strands in order to retain length as fine hair breaks more easily.
Step 3: Hair Porosity
One final element in determining the best products for you is your hair’s porosity level. Porosity is your hair’s behavior as it pertains to water and moisture. Low porosity hair is hair in which penetration of moisture and water is most difficult. If your hair has low porosity, you’ll fare best with products that are lighter and water-based as they won’t simply sit on top of your hair shaft and build up. High porosity hair loses moisture at the fastest rate, making it hard to keep hair moisturized for long periods of time. Hence, highly porous strands need products that seal in moisture. A great way to test for hair porosity is to take a clean hair strand and drop it into a glass of water. If your hair sinks to the bottom, it has high porosity and if it floats squarely on top it has low porosity. It’s best to be somewhere in the middle and perfectly balanced.
We hope this quick guide helped! Check out our Must-Haves tab to determine the right styling products for your hair type.