Know Your Hair Type: 6 Tips on How to Determine Your Hair Type

Do you know your hair type?

Identifying which type of hair you have makes a huge difference when it comes to washing and choosing products for your locks.

So if it seems that you’re never able to get your hair “right,” it may be that you’re not giving your hair the proper care based on its unique needs.  

To determine your hair type, there are six main questions you need to answer.

1. Curly, Straight, Wavy, or Kinky? 

The obvious first step is to simply look at your hair. It’s going to be one of four types of patterns: curly, straight, wavy, or kinky. 

While your hair follicle and shaft dictate the look of your hair, it’s the tilt of the follicle and the way it grows that determines your hair pattern. 

Curly

The best way to determine if you have curly (versus kinky) hair is to check if your hair strand follows an “S” pattern.

When you have truly curly hair, you can only straighten it temporarily. Unless you frequently straighten it, it doesn’t take long before it begins curling again.

Curly hair tends to be dense and is more prone to frizz and tangling.

Within the category of curly, there are three sub-groups: loose, medium, and tight curls. 

Straight 

Straight hair is curly hair’s polar opposite.

Rather than the S curve, it lies flat from the root to the tip. It has difficulty holding a curl, and it tends to be fine in texture.

Bone straight hair is typically soft and silky. And because it tends to be more oily, it also has a shine. 

Wavy

Wavy hair is smack dab between curly and straight. As such, it holds hairstyles well.

With wavy hair, there’s a slight curl pattern at the lower end of the hair and the texture of the hair is rough.

Wavy hair is divided into three sub-types: thin, medium, and thick. 

Kinky 

Kinky hair is deceiving. It might be mistaken for curly hair, but the strands have more of a “Z” shape, even with extremely tight curls.

It looks coarse and rough, but it’s actually fragile and soft. If not cared for properly, it’s prone to breakage and damage. 

Kinky hair can be soft, wiry, or extremely wiry. 

2. Oily, Normal, or Dry?

Knowing how greasy your hair is is crucial in understanding how frequently you need to wash your hair and which products are most appropriate.

Some people believe they have oily hair when they don’t. Fortunately, determining the level of greasiness is easy.

Simply wash your hair thoroughly before you go to bed and then let it air dry. When you wake up, do a patch test on your scalp by pressing a tissue against your scalp near the crown of your head and behind your ears.

The amount of oil left on the tissue will tell you how oily your hair is.

If there is a heavily greasy patch on the tissue, that means you have oily hair and will need to wash your hair 4-5 times per week.

Light evidence of oil means you have normal hair and 1-2 washing per week should suffice.

If there’s no oil, then you have dry hair. You can get away with washing once per week, but you’ll also want to use products that add moisture to your hair as well.

3. Thick, Medium or Thin?

When it comes to saying one’s hair is thick or thin, there is some confusion.

The thickness of one’s hair is determined by the actual diameter of the strand. So if you can firmly feel a strand of your hair between your fingers, then you have thick hair.

If you can feel it slightly, then you have medium hair. And if your hair is thin, you’ll barely feel the strand at all between your fingers.

But these measures also apply to a hair’s density, which we’ll look at next. 

4. What Is Its Density?

Rather than the measure of an individual strand, density relates to the number of individual strands you have on your scalp.

To determine your hair density, pull aside a big section of hair.

If you can hardly see your scalp, you have thick density. The ability to see partial scalp beneath your hair means you have medium density. If you can easily see your scalp, you’re looking at thin hair density.

The density of your hair is not necessarily proportionate to the thickness of your hair. You could have thin hair with medium density or thick hair with thin density. 

5. Does It Absorb and Retain Moisture?

Each individual hair type has some level of ability to absorb and retain moisture. This is known as porosity. 

You can determine the level of porosity by submerging a single hair strand in a cup of water. 

If it sinks to the bottom, you have high hair porosity. That means it’s never hydrated enough and there are many pores in the hair cuticle making it prone to damage

A strand floating balanced at midlevel of the water indicates normal porosity. It’s able to take in and retain the correct amount of moisture and is, therefore, less prone to damage.

Finally, if the strand floats on the surface, you have low porosity. Your hair cuticles have fewer pores and this minimizes your hair’s ability to absorb water. Deterred by water, products also end up sitting on the surface rather than getting absorbed. 

6. How Strong Is It?

The strength of your hair is based on its elasticity.

Hair with high elasticity has shine and bounce and is considered the strongest. Low elasticity hair has little to no stretching ability and is brittle and easily damaged.

To determine the elasticity of your hair, do a stretch test. 

If you’re able to take a single strand of hair and stretch it a long way before it breaks, this is high elasticity. Medium elasticity is when there is some ability to stretch the strand, but it breaks sooner.

If the hair snaps almost immediately upon stretching it, then you have low elasticity. You should be avoiding harsh chemicals that can diminish it further and look for products that strengthen cuticles. 

Embrace Your Type of Hair

Every type of hair comes with its own set of challenges. But determining your hair type goes a long way toward knowing how to care for it.

Contact us today if you’d like more information on maintaining and managing your gorgeous locks.

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