Know Your Hair Type

Know Your Hair Type


Not sure what your hair type is? Take our Quiz!

Read about all the hair types below.


Kinky hair types (type 4 hair)

4a hair type4a hair has a defined curl pattern almost like a “s” shape. Generally speaking it retains moisture fairly well, but as with most curly hair types can still be prone to dryness. Being that this hair type has a naturally defined curl pattern wash n’ go styles may be a great option as it can be easily achieved with the right product and technique. Gentle sulfate free shampoos, conditioners and rich creamy products or butters will be helpful for keeping hair moisturized.

 
 
 
 

4b hair type4b hair has a “z” shape pattern and has a more fluffy cottony appearance. Due to the bends and curves in the hair strand it is highly susceptible to dryness and breakage. This hair type shrinks up to 70% so without stretching out the hair it will appear shorter than it actually is. Naturals with this hair type will benefit from protective (buns, twists, braids)  and low manipulation styles (roller sets, ponytail puffs, twist outs) to protect the hair from damage. A lot of moisture, gentle cleansers and frequent deep conditioning will be helpful for naturals with 4b hair.

 
 
 
 

4c hair type4c hair looks similar to 4b hair type only it is more tightly coiled. In its raw state (no products added and freshly washed) it does not have a defined curl pattern. Coils have to be defined by either twisting, braiding, or shingling through the strands. Many 4c naturals have shrinkage up to 70% or more. So while your hair may be 10 inches long it may appear like you only have 3 inches of hair if you do not stretch your hair out. It is the most fragile hair type, so if you desire to grow your hair long protective styles like twists, braids, or buns should be your go to style choice. These styles do not require daily manipulation (combing/brushing) giving hair less chances to break off.  You can then wear your hair out for a couple of days in a low manipulation style (puffs, roller sets, twist outs) and then repeat the cycle for a balanced routine.

Curly hair types (type 3 hair)

3a hair type3a hair has well defined loopy curls. It may be prone to frizz, so it is best to use light products that will give you a nice hold. To avoid dryness for daily cleansing of the hair try cleansing your hair with conditioner only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

3b hair type3b hair curls are well defined with less space between each bend and curve than 3a hair. The texture may be coarse and dense. To prevent buildup use light products and use cleansers that are sulfate free and silicone free.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3c hair type3c hair as a defined corkscrew shape and has the smallest space between the bends in the hair strand of all the type 3 hair types. Avoid heat use when possible by instead using stretching techniques: braids, twists or bunning your hair. Cleanse and deep condition once per week and moisturize often with light botanical gels free from harsh ingredients.

 
 
 
 

More than one hair type?

Curly-Hair-Type-ChartIt’s quite common for us to have more than one texture in our hair. Your edges may be 4b while the majority of your hair is 4a type. Or you may have 4a hair with some 3c strands for example. Remember no two heads of hair are alike. Hair type systems are good for learning about your hair or what could potentially be best for it, but they are by no means an absolute standard. Use it as guidance and always go by what you know works best for your hair.

Next we are going to talk about porosity. Knowing this will help you to understand how to keep your hair moisturized.

What’s In the Guide

#1 Why to Go Natural
#2 What You Should Know About Natural Hair
#3 How to go from Relaxed to Natural Hair
#4 Know Your Hair Type
#5 What’s Your Hair Porosity Type
#6 What Products Do I Need?
#7 How to Create a Natural Hair Regimen
#8 Natural Hair FAQ

254 Responses to Know Your Hair Type

  • Thank you so much for this website! This is a new journey for me…I tried to go natural in college (too many moons ago) and gave up because I just didn’t know what to do with it. There was no internet full of info nor the wide array of products to use like today. Plus I was living far north where the few around were hard to come by. So I appreciate the information on this site that not only provides answers to the “what can I do with it” questions but also makes me feel more secure about my decision. I’m transitioning with braids and last relaxed it in March 2015. I’ve developed a lot of breakage and only ever relaxed it just so I could comb it. It’s very coarse and extremely thick. But why should I fight this anymore. My biggest challenge will be learning a whole new set of care and maintenance techniques. And getting used to seeing myself with a mass of hair. Just wondering what the actual texture will be… 🙂

    • I am assuming, of course, that you want to grow your natural hair to a anglo-socially acceptable length since, no matter how hard we try, we cannot let go of “length obsession” and the satisfaction it brings us when we prove to other humans that we can, indeed, grow hair.

      When we women of African Descent make an attempt at living in our natural state we tend to fail psychologically because we insist on bringing things over from our relaxed past. The concept of combing as you know it is one of those habits of which you will have to let go. Your hands are your new combs.

      You must rethink haircare in a new context. What do I do with my hair? I wash it, deep condition it–the only time I comb/brush my hair out with a paddle brush–spray it with a water/coconut oil/olive oil/nature’s gate herbal conditioner concoction to moisturize it and plat it. I PLAT IT EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Why, because that is how you maintain a stretched coil, keep it moisturized and braided. If, when I am ready to style, I unbraid it and there is a section that feels as if it is getting tangled, I either use my hands or the end of a rat-tail comb to break it up.

      The thing I hear the most when women ask me about my hair are complaints about natural hair taking too much time/work and they went natural not to have to do anything. No one said natural hair was easier! It is simply you being you! It still takes, as you’ve discovered, imagination, self-acceptance, perseverance and self-esteem. Go forth and discover how to be who you are and if you’re not ready for that, go watch a youtube video of others who have learned to be who they are until it clicks…and let go of that crutch a.k.a relaxer.

      Hair Is. That is all.

      • I just wanted to give you a quick update! As I said in my original post, your site has been such a help and very encouraging! The photos, the Facebook updates, the reference material, all got me through the frustrating times while trying to get cope with my transition when I thought, “should I just get a texturiser?” Well I persevered! It took a while but I’ve gotten quite good at two strand twists and corkscrew knots. My father even declared he preferred it to the long straight hair! LOL

        Well the relaxed bits were cut off in January and now a year later after starting in March 2015, I LOVE rocking my afro on days I want easy and twist outs when I want stylish. I’m amazed how many compliments I get on it and even told it makes me look younger! (Important at nearly 50! LOL)

        To answer your question in your reply, I’m not sure how long I want to go. As an older woman, shorter hair may look better – and less work maybe. I feel like I’ve joined a club with my mother and the other ladies in my family who went natural years ago.

        So thank you again and I look forward to the Facebook updates every day. A truly great resource!!!

  • Can some one please help me to find out my hair texture im transitioning from relax to natural so i only got like a 1 inch and a half of new grown hair

  • my hair is so confusing it mainly has a 4a curl pattern with my edges towards the front of my hair being a mix between a 4a and 4b but some of my strands are more of a 3c pattern and i have yet to find good styling products that work well for my hair.

  • The hair typing or rather curl pattern system is not the best, I feel it could be improved but it helps when ur a newbie . I say this because I have a type 4a curl pattern but my hair has all type 4c hair characteristics. This was confirmed when I tried the revised MHM , so far the only method that has and is working for my low porosity kinky hair. My curls are defined, soft, smooth ,hydrated and manageable!

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