Discover Your Hair Type – Ultimate Guide to Determining Your Actual Hair Type

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 03/07/22

As a professional hair stylist, I have observed many clients not understand their hair type. This has led them to buy the wrong products and style it in ways that could damage their beautiful natural hair. Understanding your actual hair type allows you to find the hair care products and styling tools that will work best.

With that in mind, I have put together the ultimate guide to help you discover your hair type. I cover everything from curl patterns, texture and hair porosity. Reading this guide and understanding your actual hair type, will set you up for success when it comes to healthy, lustrous locks.

What Does Hair Type Mean?

Hair type can be determined depending on the curl pattern of your hair. How curly your hair is will depend on the shape of the hair strand’s follicle. There are four types of hair and these are straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Each type hair has its own styling and caring requirements which is why it is important that you know what your curl pattern is.

Discover Your Hair Type

Like it was mentioned before, each type of hair has its own set of styling and caring methods which I didn’t consider before. I just learned that it does pay to know what type of hair you have especially when buying styling products. So, let’s get started.

What are the 4 Hair Types?

Type 1: Straight

Straight hair is characterized by having a flat hair strand from the root to the tips. You will notice that the texture tends to be soft and smooth, but will produce more oil on the scalp.

Since straight hair tends to produce more oil, you will have to wash it regularly. Using volumizing shampoos and conditioners can give your strands an extra lift. When blow-drying your mane, flip it upside down then use a round brush to lift at the roots.

Type 2: Wavy Hair

When you say wavy hair, it typically falls between straight and curly. You will notice that your hair will have that slight curl at the ends.

Wavy hair tends to have frizz to them which is why shampoos and conditioners with hydrating properties are recommended. To style your wavy hair, apply a small amount of mousse from the roots of the strands to the tips. You can control frizz and lock moisture by applying some oil from the mid-shaft to the tips.

Type 3: Curly Hair

Take a peek at your hair strand and see if it forms an S curl. This type of hair remains curly even when you try to straighten it out. It does have a tendency to become frizzy or get tangled even.

Frizz is just one of the problems that you have to face when your hair is curly, but you can tone it down by keeping your strands moisturized. Look for hair products that are formulated for curly strands as much as possible. Apply a light mousse on your hair to help maintain your curls.

Type 4: Coily Hair

This hair type has a Z pattern to its strands. It does appear to be rough and coarse to the touch. You will find that it has very tight curls to it.

Coily hair needs plenty of moisture so look for a shampoo designed for curly hair and apply heavy conditioner afterward. Towel dry your hair after you take a bath to remove excess water. Apply conditioner after.

Hair Diameter

Hair diameter speaks about the width of each hair strand. You can test the width of your strand by holding it between your forefinger and your thumb.

Hair Texture

Hair texture is more on the circumference of your strands with each type having its own distinct characteristics.

Hair Porosity

Hair porosity simply refers to how much moisture your hair strand can hold. If your hair has high porosity levels, the more moisture it can easily hold and even absorb styling products that you are using. Too much porosity can lead to damage as well. Fortunately, testing your hair’s porosity is possible by placing a strand of your hair in a cup that contains water.

Hair Greasiness

Determining how greasy your hair is can be useful in knowing how often you should wash your hair. This can also tell you what type of hair products will be appropriate for your mane too. To find out the level of greasiness of your hair, wash your hair first and let it air dry before heading to bed. In the morning, press a tissue on your scalp, specifically near the crown of the head as well as behind your ears. How much oil is absorbed by the tissue will tell you how greasy your strands are.

Scalp Moisture

Scalps can vary from one person to the next. Knowing what type of scalp you have can help you determine what type of hair products will work best with you. Ther are two things that determine what kind of scalp you have and these are pH balance and how much oil your scalp produces. When you say pH balance, it determines whether your scalp has too much acid or alkaline in it. The right levels should be at 4.5 to 5 pH. How much oil your scalp produces can also determine how healthy your scalp will be.

Hair Density

This refers on how much hair is present on your scalp. This is quite different from hair diameter so as not to be confused. It is possible that you have fine hair with more density or the other way around. You can determine your hair density by pulling a section of your hair to see how much scalp you can see.

Hair Elasticity

With regards to hair elasticity, it refers to how much your hair strand can extend itself before returning to its normal shape. This is actually a good way to determine whether your hair is healthy or not. How will you know your hair’s density. Get a strand of wet hair from your head and pull at it from opposite ends.

Final Thoughts

Who would have thought that knowing what your hair type is can involve a lot of things? After reading up on these factors, I felt that my hair and I understand each better. Yes, you may find that odd, but as with anything about your body, knowing what works for it and what doesn’t can help you choose better when buying things such as hair products and styling tools.

From what I have learned, my hair falls in the wavy spectrum with thick density and normal greasiness. That said, I can now determine what products will work best for me and what styling tools I can use. I will no longer have to deal with dry and brittle hair because of too much use of styling products. I can already imagine the fun that I will get to styling and caring for my hair now that I know my hair type. You should try to figure out yours as well.

Leah Williams

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.

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