How do you prefer to style your hair? Do you throw it up, shove it under a ballcap, or leave your locks down in all their glory? No matter your answer, chances are you’ve given much thought to the strands that sit atop your head.
While you might be closely familiar with yours, did you know there are actually 12 different types of hair? Today, we’re sharing a little about each one, from stick-straight to curly and everywhere in between.
Categorizing the Four Main Hair Types
While there are a dozen individual types of hair styles, they’re categorized into four primary groups. Collectively, these groups are called the Universal Hair Typing System or The Hair Chart.
Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist, Andre Walker, developed this system in the 1990s. At the time, he released it to promote his own line of haircare products. However, over the years, it’s been adopted as the universal system for hair type classification.
The four different hair types are:
- Type 1: Straight
- Type 2: Wavy
- Type 3: Curly
- Type 4: Coily
As you can see, this system bases hair type mostly on curl patterns. The shape and composition of your hair follicle will determine how straight or curly your locks look.
Each type has its own set of sub-styles, labeled A, B, C. For instance, within Type 1: straight hair, you’ll also find Type 1A, 1B, and 1C. The same applies to Types 2, 3, and 4.
Let’s take a look at each type in greater detail.
Type 1: Straight Hair
Type 1 hair does not contain any kind of natural curl. If you were to pick up a strand at the base of your scalp and let it fall, it would not be wavy at all.
Despite common belief, someone with Type 1 hair doesn’t necessarily have thin hair. Thick, coarse hair can also be straight. However, Type 1 hair tends to be oily and shiny and can look flat even when heat is applied to it. Though there are minor differences between Type 1A, 1B, and 1C, most hairstylists group them all together and recommend the same haircare techniques for all three sub-types.
If your hair is considered Type 1, steer clear of products that can weigh it down, and consider a shorter, chin-length cut that accentuates your sleek look.
You can also look into different types of hair extensions to add volume. If thinning hair is becoming a concern, then look into hair filler treatments that can boost your confidence and amplify your look.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Wavy hair has that built-in beachy look that can be difficult to replicate from products alone. Type 2A hair is very gently tousled and is usually straight for the first few inches. Then, from the person’s eye level downward, it takes on a natural, loose wave.
Type 2B waves are similar in nature, but tend to be shaped more like an “S”. It’s common to see images of this hair type in beauty industry publications, as it’s the ideal shape and texture for many styling trends, such as balayage.
Finally, Type 2C hair has the most defined waves of all. Compared to the first two types, these waves start closer to the crown. Though gorgeous, this type of hair can also be frizzy without the right product, such as a lightweight gel or mousse.
Type 3: Curly Hair
Wavy hair and curly hair differ in terms of definition. When people refer to ringlets, they’re usually talking about Type 3 hair.
The curl on Type 3A hair will be much tighter and S-shaped than even the curliest Type 2 (2C) hair. While it’s the loosest of the three sub-types, it’s important to note that this hair type can get dry and brittle. This is because the natural oils found on the scalp aren’t always adequate enough to reach all the way down to the tip of each strand.
Type 3B curls are a little springier and slightly smaller in circumference. They tend to have more volume than Type 3A curls, though they will need plenty of moisture to retain their signature shape. Type 3C curls are even tighter and are the springiest of the group.
To keep Type 3C hair in great condition, skip the brush. Use your fingers or a comb to apply a leave-in conditioner, which will nourish your curls from root to tip. Then, skip the heat tools and allow your strands to air-dry to fight frizz.
Type 4: Coily Hair
Type 4 curls are the tightest of all four hair types. The primary difference between Type 3 and Type 4 curls is that the latter aren’t typically well-defined. They might look thick, but that’s often an illusion created when multiple strands group close together.
These curls tend to be fragile and can break easily. They also need an ample amount of moisture, but you’ll need to be strategic. While your first inclination might be to infuse them with oils, opt for something a little creamier that won’t weigh your appearance down.
You can find plenty of butters, creams, and lotions designed to help Type 4 hair look incredible. While Type 4A curls are S-shaped, Type 4B curls have more of a zig-zag design. Then, there are Type 4C curls, which are incredibly compacted and fragile.
Can I Change My Hair Type?
Craving a little hair rejuvenation? First, it’s important to realize that your hair type is determined completely by your DNA. In other words, you were born with it!
That said, you can adjust it a little depending on your preference. There are salon treatments (like perms) that use heat and chemicals to alter your hair’s natural curl structure (or lack thereof). However, the style will eventually grow out without regular refreshes.
All Types of Hair Are Beautiful
Instead of lamenting over what you can’t change about your hair, it’s time to start embracing the aspects that you love. Whether yours is straight as a pin or ultra-curly, there’s plenty to appreciate about it.
Now that you know the 12 different types of hair, how would you categorize your locks? Research the proper haircare techniques that cater to your specific needs, and you’ll wake up to a great hair day every day.
Looking for more advice on how to look and feel your best? Check out our Lifestyle section today!