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.


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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

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264 Responses to Know Your Hair Type

  • I have type 4B & 4C hair.. I am completely white. IRISH/English/and some American Indian. I am fair skinned and blonde hair.. My hair is soft and dry and breaks fairly easy. My hair is short and I have Never really had a hair cut. Nobody and nothing has ever been able to help it to grow, not break, etc and now that I am menopause age it is thinning.. I have tried hundreds and hundreds of products.. I cannot do anything with it as there is no rhyme or rythym to it so straightening is all I can do at the salon. Yes I know this is hard on it but going natural is NOT an option.. you would have to see it to know.. hoping to try Monat products for growth and more next.. any experience with that?

    • See my post about Qhemet Biologics. It’s for very dry Afro hair type but it should work well for you. I’m post menopause African American & have had some thinning. I use MEN’S ROGAINE on my way temples &nape. My dermatologist says my hair is very healthy but gave me a steroid cream for those thin spots. Try seeing a dermatologist; some menopauseal women have thyroid issues & that affects hair. Make sure you eat well with lots of veggies & REAL FOOD not processed stuff. Vitamins with essential fatty acids are good.I’ve also been using PuraD’Or hair loss shampoo I get from Rite Aid.

  • I guess Dee has a point which Margot explained quite diplomatically. An article on kinky hair should at the very least portray a range of our darkness and where our darker shades are ignored, it could alienate and prevent us from identifying with the content. I went further than the images just because I like reading. And the content was good. Thanks.

  • I know this sounds weird but my hair has the 3b curl pattern but my hair texture is similar to the one of 4a. What hair regimen should I follow as I’m not sure what to do? Majority of my hair length shows, it doesn’t shrink much.

  • The models featured all look mixed, so their hair types do not represent the whole spectrum of black women and your article does not show anyone of true African American heritage or the whole spectrum of black women hair textures which make up a more accurate representation of hair types. I personally do not see my own hair type represented here, which is very fine hair with a very soft baby texture, which is flyaway and flat with no body or much curl definition and I can’t identify my hair type from your article or photos.

    • This page is meant to give a basic overview of ALL curly hair types using the Andre Walker hair typing system as a basis. This system includes type 3 hair, which are women with looser curls(mixed, latina, or white women) and type 4 hair which most African American women have. Hair typing is not the end all be all, as it is limited. There is so much variation in our textures that is simply not represented with this system. What hair typing is useful for is giving a basic guide on what types of products may be best and how to treat your hair.

    • Based on my understanding of your comment, I think the complexion of the models is a different issue than their hair texture type. It seems that the hair types represented are a variance of all possible textures. Perhaps there could have been a darker complexioned model with 3b or 3c textured hair and like the 4b model featured, someone who has a fairer complexion with a more kinky hair texture. However, the description of hair textures would have remained the same, but your perception of the hair types featured may have been viewed differently.

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