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12 Jun

- 2020 -

WHAT’S YOUR NATURAL HAIR TYPE?

Hair types (created by hairstylist Andre Walker) are the foundation for many in the Natural Hair world to determine their curl pattern.

When I went back to my natural hair, my first point of call was finding out what mine was. It really helped in giving me the foundation of what my kinks liked and disliked (Yes to heavy based moisturizers and No to wash n go’s in my case). I’ll forever be grateful.

Nowadays, I personally don’t go by hair typing (others call it Curl Pattern) because it doesn’t really tell you what your natural hair’s needs are. It didn’t take me long to find out that someone who has the same hair ‘type’ as me won’t  guarantee the same response to the same product  (cue my early days product-junkieism). To add to the confusion, I (as well many others I believe) have different hair types on my head!

However, I appreciate that people follow hair types for their own respective reasons – plus you need to know what people mean when they go on about 4a, 3c etc. so I’ve detailed them for you. Use these Types as a guideline, but ALWAYS go for what works best for your hair. Remember, your hair journey is a personal one. 

First, let me answer a few FAQs:

How many types are there for women with curly and coily hair?

Good question.

There are two groups: Type 3 and Type 4. Within these two groups, there are three types: ab and c. For the curious among us, Type 1 is for straight hair and Type 2 is for wavy hair but I’ll just focus on Type 3 and 4 here.

What do the numbers 3 or 4 mean?

Type 3 hair typically means the woman has looser, curly hair. Despite its’ large volume, the hair tends to be fine and fragile and is prone to dryness.

Type 4 hair represents ladies with naturally more afro-textured, kinky hair. This is the driest hair type due to its’ many bends and kinks, as well as the most fragile. The texture ranges from fine and thin to wiry and coarse. It is also known to shrink the most – up to 75% – so if this is you, EMBRACE THE SHRINKAGE!!

The one thing both types have in common is: every hair strand needs moisture to thrive!

What do the letters mean?

This is more specific and refers to the width of the curl and how it lays in its natural form. It’s different for both Types 3 and 4, as each has its own characteristics.

How can I find out what mine is?

  • Firstly, your hair needs length (at least 6-8 months of growth) for your true curl pattern to show up. You’ll also find around this time that your hair will behave differently than it did in the first few weeks.
  • Secondly, look to see how your hair is just after you’ve washed it – with no added products. Women you see with afro textured curly hair may have manipulated the shape of their curls with a protective style method, a blow out or particular products.

Right, that’s the questions out of the way, let’s get to it!

TYPE 3A

https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/3a-Jennie-Mcalpine_0.png?itok=w-URg6rq
Jennie Mcalpine
https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/3a-Nadia-Sawala_0.png?itok=QfebBwAW

                  Nadia Sawala     

Description:  Curls with a loose pattern. They are naturally defined and have large “S” shapes. These tresses can SHINE!

Dislikes: If you’re one to not like frizz, then humidity is not your friend.

Product Tips: *This hair type only needs light moisture and optional added definition e.g. Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk, Coconut Oil and Gels deliver well.

*Heavy products such as Butters and Moisturisers weigh the hair down, so is not recommended.

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

 *Clarify hair once every 4-6 weeks.

 *Deep condition at least once a fortnight.

 * When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

 *Leave to air dry or use a diffuser.

 *Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.       

*Rub a small amount of a light carrier oil e.g. Coconut or Argan Oil/Leave-in Conditioner/Serum over your hair when your hair is dry if you’re not a fan of frizz.

  *Keep heat styling to a minimum e.g. blowdrying, flat irons.

  *Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

  *Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

TYPE 3B

Corinne Bailey Rae
https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/3b-Thandie-Newton_0.png?itok=jlP4tg47

       Thandie Newton

Description:  These curls are still loose, but the shape is slightly tighter. The shape between each curl is reduced, appearing more like medium corkscrews. It tends to be an effort to straighten the hair due to its more compact curls. Although it looks silky, it can surprisingly feel quite coarse.

Dislikes: Again, if you’re not one to like frizz, you and humidity are not buddies.

Product Tips: *Light Leave-In Conditioners such as Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk or Elasta QP Olive Oil & Mango Butter Leave-In Conditioner are brilliant for daily moisture and erase frizz.

*Due to the more compact curls, you may find you need products that will give you more hold. Heavier moisturisers such as:

Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter or Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie are great for moisture & hold.  

*Pomades (sparingly) and Gels perform well too for added definition.

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

*Clarify your hair once every 4-6 weeks.

*Deep condition at least once a fortnight.

* When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

*Leave to air dry or use a diffuser.

*Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.

*Rub a small amount of a light carrier oil e.g. Coconut or Argan Oil / Leave-in Conditioner / Serum over your hair when your hair is dry.

*Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

 *Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

TYPE 3C

https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/3c-Angela-Griffin_0.png?itok=3U_yy4-D
Angela Griffin
https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/3c-Danielle-Brown_0.png?itok=E15mO5as
Danielle Brown

 Description: This type is the most varied of all as the textures greatly vary from very tightly curls to kinky-coily strands. The similarity is that the curls are as big as your pinkie finger. Again, the hair is usually fine in texture, despite its voluminous nature. Heat applied methods (e.g. blow drying and pressing) can prove to be more time consuming. As the hair has the most bends in this group, applied moisture methods needs to be more regular. In addition, hair naturally doesn’t have as much shine.

Dislikes: *If your hair is afro-textured, infrequent moisturising and too light moisturisers do nothing for you and your hair will just feel coated but not moisturised.

*If your hair isn’t afro textured, lack of moisture also applies and – you got it, humidity.

Product Tips: *If you find that using a light Leave-In Conditioner does not add enough moisture, either add or replace it with a heavier moisturiser like Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Hair Butter e.g. BeUnique Mango Butter and ALWAYS seal with a Carrier Oil.

*Pomades and Gels perform well too for added definition, moisture and shine.

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

 *Clarify hair once every 4-6 weeks.

 *Deep condition at least once a fortnight.

 *When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

 *Leave to air dry or use a diffuser.

 *Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.

*Rub a small amount of Carrier Oil / Leave-in Conditioner/ Serum over your hair when your hair is dry.

*Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

 *Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

 *If you find Coconut oil is too light, use a heavier oil e.g. Olive Oil, Argan Oil, Castor Oil etc.

*Heavier products mean more build up, so make sure to cleanse at least once a week and Clarify once a month.

TYPE 4A

https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/4a-Esperanza-Spalding_0.png?itok=UgRA_LHI
 Esperanza Spalding
https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/4a-Perrie-Diversity2_0.png?itok=ubDoaKxa
Perrie Edwards (Diversity)

Description: This curl pattern is very tightly coiled with a definite curl pattern. When it’s pulled slightly, it has a small “s” shaped pattern. It retains the most moisture out of the Type 4 group. Despite its’ volume, the hair can be fine. 

Dislikes: *Hair friction: Be it when you are drying your hair after the shower, against your clothes, playing with your hair – the ends of your hair are the oldest, therefore the most fragile. The more you rub it against each other roughly/ against a rough surface – especially without moisture, you are creating a higher chance of breakage.

*Dryness: Moisture is key.

Product Tips: *Stay away from harsh chemicals on a regular basis e.g. Mineral Oil, SLS, Petroleum.

*Use a rich Deep Conditioner e.g. Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque to boost your hair with the added moisture it needs.

*Use a water based Leave-In Conditioner.

*For added moisture, you may need to add a rich moisturiser on top of your Leave In Conditioner such as Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter or Shea Butter to name a few brilliant options. 

*SEAL, SEAL, SEAL your moisturiser with a carrier oil. Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Almond Oil are all extremely good.

*Gels occasionally bode well with this hair type. If desired, use with a moisturiser – but make sure the gel agrees with the moisturiser by rubbing a little of each on the back of your hand. If you see small white balls, those same white balls will be all over your hair… Not a great look!

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

*Clarify hair once every month.

*Deep condition at least once a fortnight.

*When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

*Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.

*Moisturise at least once every 2-3 days starting with water, Leave In Conditioner / Moisturiser and Oil to seal.

*Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

*Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

*When re-styling hair, always slightly dampen first.

*Leave to air dry. Reduce heat appliances to a minimum.

*If you want to retain length, wear protective styles such as twists, braid outs, updos.

*Do not wear protective styles such as braids/weaves longer than 2 months. Your hair needs to breathe!

TYPE 4B

https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/4b-Shingai-Shoniwa_0.png?itok=3R_mndXf
Shingai Shoniwa
Joelle & Afua Williams

Description: This curl pattern has a more “zig-zag” definition. Meaning instead of curls, the edges have sharper angles, resembling the letter “Z”. Texture can range from fine to thick.

Dislikes: *Hair friction: Be it when you are drying your hair after the shower, against your clothes, playing with your hair – the ends of your hair are the oldest, therefore the most fragile. The more you rub it against each other roughly/ against a rough surface – especially without moisture, you are creating a higher chance of breakage.

*Dryness: Moisture is key.

Product Tips: *Stay away from harsh chemicals on a regular basis e.g. Mineral Oil, SLS, Petroleum.

*Use a rich Deep Conditioner e.g. Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque to boost your hair the added moisture it needs.

*Use a water based Leave-In Conditioner.  

*For added moisture, you may need to add a rich moisturiser on top of your Leave In Conditioner such as Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque, Shea Butter to name a few brilliant options.                         

*SEAL, SEAL, SEAL your moisturiser with a carrier oil. Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Argan Oil are all extremely good.

*Gels don’t often bode well with this hair type. If desired, use with a moisturiser – but make sure the gel agrees with the moisturiser by rubbing a little of each on the back of your hand. If you see small white balls, those same white balls will be all over your hair… Not a great look!

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

*Clarify hair once every month.

*Deep condition at least once a week or fortnight.

*When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

*Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.

*Moisturise at least once every 2-3 days starting with water, Leave-In Conditioner / Moisturiser and Oil to seal.

*Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

*Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

*When re-styling hair, always slightly dampen first.

*Leave to air dry. Reduce heat appliances to a minimum.

 *If you want to retain length, wear protective styles such as twists, braid outs, updos.

*Do not wear protective styles such as braids/weaves longer than 2 months. Your hair needs to breathe!

TYPE 4C

https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/4C-Nelda-Robinson-%28Instagra%20%281%29_1.png?itok=JCls8RYs
Nelda @NeldaRobinson (Instagram)
https://naturalbarnet.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/4C--Morgan-Natural-Hair_0.png?itok=pNCBhaic
Morgan @the4cproject (Instagram)

Description: This hair type is so tightly coiled that it seemingly has no definition. It retains the least moisture so needs moisturising the most often. Texture can range from fine to thick. This is one of the most talked about hair types, as many Naturalistas debate if it even exists. Many of my friends have this texture, so I for one know that it does!

Dislikes: Friction: Be it when you are drying your hair after the shower, against your scarf, playing with your hair – the ends of your hair are the oldest, therefore the most fragile. The more you rub it against each other roughly/ against a rough surface – especially without moisture, you are creating a higher chance of breakage.

*Dryness: Moisture is key.

Product Tips: *Stay away from harsh chemicals on a regular basis e.g. Mineral Oil, SLS, Petroleum.

*Use a rich deep conditioner e.g. Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque to boost your hair the added moisture it needs.

*Use a water based Leave-In Conditioner.

* For added moisture, you may need to add a rich moisturiser on top of your Leave In Conditioner such as Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter or Shea Butter to name a few brilliant options.                          

*SEAL, SEAL, SEAL your moisturiser afterwards with an carrier oil. Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Argan Oil are all extremely good.

*Gels don’t often bode well with this hair type. If desired, use with a moisturiser – but make sure the gel agrees with the moisturiser by rubbing a little of each on the back of your hand. If you see small white balls, those same white balls will be all over your hair.

Styling/Maintenance Tips: *Use a sulfate-free shampoo/gentle cleanser once a week.

*Clarify hair once every month.

*Deep condition once a week.

*When moisturising, pay careful attention to the ends.

*Regular dusting/trimming to avoid split ends.

*Moisturise at least once every 2-3 days starting with water, Leave In / Moisturiser and Oil to seal. Sometimes spritzing with water and sealing with an Oil is enough.

*Sleep on a satin pillow case and/or with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet.

*Brushing/combing hair when dry = less definition, bigger hair and possible breakage.

*When re-styling hair, always slightly dampen first.

*Leave to air dry. Reduce heat appliances to a minimum.

*If you want to retain length, wear protective styles such as twists, braid outs, updos.

*Do not wear protective styles such as braids/weaves longer than 2 months. Your hair needs to breathe!

Remember: Most women have more than one texture and porosity levels in their hair so check to see which the most of your hair resembles and use this as your foundation.

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