Hello again folks! So last time we began our lesson on understanding “our” hair and how to take proper care of it. We went a bit into a common misconception about black hair, which is whether or not black hair is different from hair of other ethnicities. We found out that it’s not, and in fact all hair is made up of the same exact components. This week, I’ll be discussing the different hair types and textures we as black women possess. So let’s get started, shall we?!
Part of learning how to take better care of your hair is understanding what type of hair you have. All Black/African or mixed race hair is naturally curly. The difference is in the size of the curls. This is where we find that there are different types of black hair. Fact: Curly hair is fragile and needs lots of moisture. When wet, the curls stretch out, but as the hair dries it absorbs the water and contracts to a tight curly state. This is how you distinguish what your hair type is.
One of the most popular methods of classification of black hair types and textures was created by Andre Walker, a stylist and author, who also happens to be Oprah’s personal hair stylist. And we all know if you never ever believe what any other expert says, you damn well can believe whatever Oprah’s stylist says…we did all see the “Good Hair” Oprah episode right?! If you happen to be living under a rock and didn’t get to watch it, I suggest you YouTube ASAP…moving on…
Let’s begin with the most common type of hair that black/African women have: Type 4 hair – if your hair falls into the Type 4 category, then it’s most likely kinky, or very tightly curled. It’s the most highly textured of all the black hair types and the driest. Usually, Type 4 hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled and very fragile. Similar to Type 3 hair (keep reading), Type 4 hair looks to be coarse, but it is in reality fairly fine, with tons of these strands thickly jam-packed together. Type 4 hair that is healthy won’t shine, but it will have luster/sheen. It feels soft when you touch it, in fact, it will feel silkier than it looks shiny.
Type 4 hair appears strong and resilient, but appearances are a mofo…aren’t they?! If you have Type 4 hair, you already know that it is the most delicate and fragile hair around. There are two subtypes of Type 4 hair:
Type 4A, tightly coiled hair, however, has a looser coil that, when stretched, has an S pattern or a spiral shape, much like curly hair; and Type 4B, has a tighter coil which has a Z or zig-zag pattern. It has less of a defined curl pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter Z. Type 4A tends to have more moisture than Type 4B, which will have a wiry texture.
The second most common black hair type/texture is Type 3. When this type of hair is wet, it appears to be pretty straight. As it dries it absorbs the water and contracts to its curliest state. Humidity tends to make this type of curly hair even curlier, or frizzier. Type 3 hair has a lot of body and is easily styled in its natural state. It can be easily straightened with a blow-dryer or flat iron into a smoother style. Healthy Type 3 hair is shiny, with soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity. The curls are well-defined and springy.
Unlike Type 4 there are 3 subtypes of curly hair. First, there is type 3A hair which is very loosely curled and usually very shiny with big curls. The shorter the hair is, the straighter it gets. The longer the hair is the more defined the curl. Then, there is type 3B hair which has a medium amount of curl to tight corkscrews. It’s not unusual to see a mixture of these types existing on the same head. Curly hair usually consists of a combination of textures, with the crown being the curliest part. Lastly there is a type 3C, this type of hair can be described as tight curls in corkscrews. The curls can be either kinky, or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together.
(Corrine Bailey Rae looks gorgeous with her Type 3 hair)
(Beautiful singer Nneka wears her natural Type 3 hair with pride)
Now we get to Type 2 hair. This hair is more commonly found on mixed race ethnicities. It has a definite wavy S pattern that tends to be a bit coarse. Like Type 3 hair, there are also three Type 2 subtypes: 2A tends to be fine /thin, 2B is more of a medium texture, and 2C is most likely thick and coarse. Type 2A is very easy to handle, blowing out into a straighter style or taking on curlier looks with ease. Types 2B and 2C are a bit more resistant to styling and have a tendency to frizz.
(Alicia Keys wears her hair Type 2 in a variety of styles)
(Mariah Carey has transformed her look with her Type 2 hair over the years)
The final hair type according to Andre Walker is Type 1 which is naturally straight hair. This would be found on most Caucasians and Asian ethnicities.
Whew! *wipes forehead* That was quite a lot to cover, right? Please keep in mind that all these hair types apply to natural hair so all you relaxer folks will not know your true hair type/texture until all the chemicals are completely out of your hair.
Another good bit of information to know is that any 1 person can definitely have a combination of any of the above hair types/textures. Whether it be all over your head or at different areas of your head. I personally have a mixture of 3C and 4B. Hopefully this will help you determine what type of hair you have. Then we can move on to what products and regimens work for our different hair types…
Until next week, this is Debola signing off! xoxo