When it comes to Natural African/ Black hair, the first thing that most people tend to do at the time that they decide to stop chemically and mechanically manipulating their hair is to find out what category or hair type they have in order to find ways to care for it. Hair is as diverse in the natural hair community as any other physical feature. Textured hair ranges from wavy, curly, coily and kinky. While these categories may negatively engage in the highly controversial argument of texture discrimination, it is also key to categorize your hair so as to find the right information suited to care for your hair type. It is true that not every routine and regimen applies to all similarly textured hair, however one is more likely to find suitable ways to care for their hair from a pool of information from people with similar hair types rather than not.
So here is a brief introduction to hair typing.
A visual reference almost always helps out when trying to figure out what hair type you might have.
We produce naturally occurring oil from our scalp, sebum, which is produced from the sebaceous gland found in our skin. To understand how the health of hair works, visualize a singular hair strand. When this hair is straight, it is easier for the oil to transfer itself through a trickling motion from the root of the hair strand which is attached to the scalp, where the sebum is produced, to the tip, or the ends of the hair. Now visualize a more wavy hair strand, sebum can still be transferred from the scalp to the root, but rather than go straight down the hair strand, the “trickle” path will take a wavy route, following the pattern of the hair strand. Now visualize a curly, or kinky hair strand, the hair pattern is more rounded, and shrunken rather than stretched out, it is much more complicated for sebum to “trickle” down this hair strand in comparison to the first two. Usually, the sebum does not make it to the ends of tightly textured hair.
Now think of these hair strands in thousands on one head, the process of oil transfer from scalp to tip become a little more complicated. Tightly coiled or curled hair tends to wrap around itself and knot much easily than other hair types, making it that oil usually never reaches the ends of the hair. It is for these reasons that coily or tightly curled hair tends to be drier than other hair types and looser or straighter hair tends to get greasier naturally than textured hair, because sebum transfers itself differently from the roots to tips of the hair strand, depending on the hair texture.
For naturally tightly coiled or curled hair, the combination of dryness, and tight texture leaves hair strands more likely to be brittle, more likely to snap with exposure to manipulation (i.e combing and brushing) and overall more prone to breakage. It is for this reasons that tighter textured hair requires that much more external care to ensure optimum moisture (i.e using natural oils to seal in moisture) and more delicate care in keeping strands separated and detangled without breaking them.
This also means that products that tend to have drying ingredients do not work well for curlier or coily hair just as similarly as oils (which lock in moisture) would make straight hair much greasier than it tends to be naturally.
This one was a great compilation of pictures from naturallycurly.com.
TYPE 2 HAIR:
Type 2 hair generally constitutes hair that has more of a wave, rather than a curl to it, can have a tendency to frizz and also constitutes an under layer of straight hair.
TYPE 3 HAIR:
Type three hair constitutes curls that vary from a looser, bigger pattern, to a tighter,smaller curl pattern
TYPE 4 HAIR:
Type 4 hair constitutes more coily texture, varying from a springy, crimped or a more “zigzag” patterned coil.
Naturallycurly.com has more extensive information on the nature of each hair type’s features and hair care. Read more by following this link. What has been your experience with hair typing? Has following hair blogs that feature hair types similar to your own work to help you in your hair journey?