There are three major factors to consider when formulating a natural hair regimen; your natural hair type, hair porosity, and hair texture. These three factors will not grow your hair or keep it healthy, but they are what you need to know to make that happen. Solid knowledge of them will guide you in picking the right products, using the right methods, and understanding how best to care for your hair.
So lets talk about hair types!
Hair type is a classification of the curl pattern of hair strands. The classes span from type 1 to type 4 with sub-classes spanning from A to C for each hair type. Type 1 hair is generally described as straight hair since it has no evident curl pattern, while type 2 hair is described as wavy (waves are extremely loose curls and can easily be straightened). Type 3 hair is curly hair with obvious curls that are visible to the naked eye, and finally type 4 hair is coily (think about a spring). Types 3 and 4 are what are generally classified as “natural hair”, and are going to be the focal points of this article.
Discerning you natural hair type
Type 3 hair
Type 3 hair has a definitive “S” shaped curl pattern. It is prone to frizz and quite delicate to handle. Type 3 hair is common among people of mixed races and is sometimes referred to as “desirable hair” (all hair types are beautiful so this shouldn’t be something you pay attention to). This hair type has 3 distinct sub-divisions:
Type 3A hair is the shiniest in the type 3 family. It has the most defined curl pattern too (S shaped) and it is usually soft and loose to the touch.
Here the curl pattern is a bit less obvious but still visible. You will be able to see very tight curls in some areas and looser ones in other areas. Although it can be frizzy and less shiny, type 3B hair is still quite soft to the touch.
This type is a lot more deviated from the paths of types 3A and 3B. It is a mane full of tightly curled hair strands that look somewhat like corkscrews. It does carry a lot of frizz and is not as shinny as 3B hair. You should note that 3B hair is very delicate because of its tight curls as they can easily get tangled up and break when manipulated, so try to be gentle.
Type 4 hair
Type 4 hair is tightly coiled (spring-like), not as reflective (shiny) as other hair types, is more prone to excessive shrinkage than other hair types, and generally has a fluffy, cottony apprearance. Apart from type 4A hair, it is a bit more difficult to discern between type 4B and 4C hair, so a lot of naturals just take whichever is convenient and run with it. After this though, you should be able to tell decisively which type you actually carry.
This type is tightly coiled and reveals an S shaped pattern when stretched out. It clumps together easily to form a springy appearance. It is very easy to break this hair type with poor/improper manipulation.
Type 4B hair has a curl pattern that looks more like a Z when stretched out. It is characterized by sharp edges and sudden bends, and is highly prone to shrinkage.
4C hair in its natural dry state has no evident curl pattern, although when moisturized, braided or twisted, a pattern can be revealed (usually the strand is S shaped in some places and Z shaped in others when stretched). 4C hair is most susceptible to tangling and can shrink up to 70% or more. It is very tightly coiled and so is usually very dense. It can also look more spongy than cottony when dry. For these reasons it was generally believed that 4C hair could not grow very long. This has long been disproved since a lot of 4C naturals have successfully grown hair down to their waists.
It is possible to have two different hair types and textures on your head. The crown of your head could carry 4C hair, while the nape carries 4B, that’s perfectly normal and is a result of genetics.
Finally, all hair is good hair -you just need to know what works for yours. Hair type is a key factor to consider when building a natural hair regimen, but it does not work alone. Combined with hair porosity and accurate knowledge of your hairs texture, you will be able to formulate a regimen that keeps your hair healthy, and promotes growth.
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