Typing hair has become confusing. There are several methods out there, and lots of arguments online about which type people have. We’ll do our best to give you a brief overview of the most popular typing systems, and let you know which one we prefer and why. Here are the ones that have become most well known over the years:
- The LOIS Hair Typing System categorizes hair based on shape, size and texture. Latoya Ebony does a great job at demoing this one:
- The Andre Walker Hair Typing System was released in the 90s by Oprah Winfrey's Hairstylist. It categorizes shape from 1 to 4b
- Fia’s Hair Typing System: Categorizes hair based on shape (From 1to 4b), and considers thickness and volume
- Combination: Over time, the natural hair community added a type 4c Texture to these classifications. Another element that has become popular is porosity, which is hair’s ability to absorb water and product.
The trouble with typing visually is that it's easy to get it wrong, especially in a picture. Hair can morph into many different forms. That’s the beauty of naturally curly hair. Also, for the life of me, I still can’t tell the difference between a curl and a coil in real life. If you recall, we also recently covered the 5 things that can affect your hair, which included the weather.
For all these reasons, and because products and styling techniques can radically change the way curls look, it’s best to evaluate curl type by looking at a clean piece of hair that has no product on it, not even conditioner. You can also think about your shed hair, you know the ones you clean off the floor in your bathroom? What does that hair look like? You’ve probably seen those consistently enough to be able to recognize your hair over anyone else’s.
As far as proper typing goes, I want to give you 2 ways to type: A “Sciency” way, and a Quick way. Here is your chance to see why your hair might behave differently than another’s!
For purposes of styling, in addition to the curl pattern(or shape), there are 2 other elements that can make a difference in the types of results you get when you style your hair:
- The level of damage you have, or porosity (Note that this can change)
- The Thickness of your hair (mostly this affects what your curls can look like)
- The density of your hair on your head
If you are looking for style inspiration, try to find someone with a similar hair type and length. This will guarantee that you get better results more consistently.
ok, let’s jump right in!
Here are the ways:
The “Sciency” way
When's the last time you used a ruler? Do you still have one?
If you can find one, take a break from all your serious duties in life and do something you maybe would have happily done in the 3rd grade. We have simplified the best method we have found so far so that anyone can use it.
The method was developed by scientists in a 2007 study published in the journal "human biology" called: "Shape Variability and Classification of Human Hair: A Worldwide Approach" by De la Mettrie et al.
The process is fairly simple. You will need to be patient enough to just take 3 measurements, and you’ll need just a few basic things:
- A clean paper towel
- A piece of paper (A4 or letter size)
- Some tape
- A ruler that measures centimeters
- Hair that is at least 6 cm long
- A pen or pencil
Seeing your curls on a spectrum might surprise you.
When you're done, or if you get stuck. Reach out!
The Quick way
If you want to quickly and visually identify your curls and find tips to style them, head to the Quiz. This method won’t have you measure anything. Just think of your hair in its most natural form, and see if you can recognize it in the pictures. Easy Peasy!
At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind is: The condition of your hair, which includes porosity, will change over time based on your age, hair care practices, the weather, etc. Your hair density could change alongside big life changes like pregnancy and aging, but as far as we know, your curl pattern is less likely to change. Pattern is also one of the biggest contributors to your hair’s ability to hold different styles, so it’s worth getting to know your particular type. Make sure you sign up below to continue to explore these topics with us, and if you really can’t figure out your type, Try our Complete Set. Play with the different products that are included and get to know what works for you!
What did you think? We’d love to hear from you!