How to Determine Your Hair Type
BWe’ve talked a lot about how it’s important to find out your skin type before you set out on your skincare journey. Well, the same goes for your hair.
Hair care isn’t one size fits all, and treating it like it is can damage your hair. If you’re looking to improve your hair care routine, knowing your hair type is step one. We’re here to give you some tips and help you get started on the right track.
What Are the Different Hair Typing Systems?
There are a few hair typing systems to help you find your hair type. The Andre Walker Hair Typing System is the best known but not exactly the most inclusive. The LOIS system, which isn’t as well-known, recognizes more and has a broader range of textures and thicknesses to help you figure it out.
The Andre Walker Hair Typing System
The Andre Walker system puts hair into four categories:
- Type 1: Straight
- Type 2: Wavy
- Type 3: Curly
- Type 4: Coily
Among those four types, hair texture ranges from A to C, where A is finer, and C is coarser. For example, if you’ve got super straight hair that struggles to hold a curl even with professional styling, you might have type 1C hair. On the other hand, type 4B has more of a zigzag shape to its strands than 4A with its looser S shape.
The problem with Walker’s system is that it still excludes a lot of hair types, especially when it comes to curly and coily hair. That’s why people in the natural hair community have come up with the 3C, 4C, and 4D hair types, which Walker himself left out. These three types describe hair with more tightly coiled corkscrew shapes.
The LOIS System
The LOIS system allows for more variation and inclusivity. It’s defined by the four letters in its name:
- L: Hair strands that bend without curving in an L or Z shape
- O: Hair that curls in an O shape
- I: Straight hair that doesn’t have any bends
- S: Hair that bends in an S shape
LOIS factors in hair thickness and texture, too. It uses sewing thread as the basis for medium hair. If your hair is thinner than that thread, you’ve got fine hair, while anything thicker means coarse hair. It matches hair to five different textures:
Texture is based on a few criteria, from sheen and shine to how easily your hair gets—and stays—wet. But what if you’ve got more than one hair type? That’s totally okay! It’s also where LOIS kind of beats out Walker’s system. It doesn’t assume any two people have the exact same hair, and it shows that you can have multiple types on your head. That’s why it’s so important to personalize your hair care routine so that it works for your specific needs.
How to Find Your Hair Type
It’s easy to figure out your hair type, and the process is the same no matter which system you use. Before you check out your hair, make sure you’ve either washed it or rinsed it with cold water. You also shouldn’t have any product in your hair, so hold off on styling.
Let your hair dry, and then look at the strands. Are they straight? Have an S-curve? Coil in a tight corkscrew? It might help to stretch the strands a little to check the texture, if you’re not sure.
Once you’ve figured it out, match it to the closest hair type. If you’ve got more than one match, it just means you’ve got a couple of different hair types, and that can do wonders for knowing what your hair needs.
Why Knowing Your Hair Type Matters
Your hair type affects how you care for it. Many products that work for straight hair won’t work on coily and curly hair. If you’ve heard about Black actors in Hollywood getting their hair ruined by stylists who don’t know how to work with it, this is why. For a long time, the industry hasn’t hired stylists who know how to work with curly and coily hair. That approach has damaged actors’ hair, and we’re only now seeing more Black stylists behind the scenes who know how to work with and care for natural hair.
We won’t go into how to care for every hair type. That would take way too long, and everyone’s hair is different even within the same types. But finding yours will tell you what your hair needs, whether that’s a moisturizing shampoo, a repairing hair mask, or a way to tone down the frizz if that’s something you don’t love.
Knowing your hair type, especially when it comes to texture and porosity, can show you if you’re doing something that actually harms your hair. It can also help you figure out how often to wash it, how heat affects your hair, and what nutrients it needs more of.
Remember that no hair type is better or more beautiful than another. Society and the media tell us all the time how we should look, but the important thing is how you feel about it. At Keshoume, we want your hair to bring you confidence, not make you fit prescribed beauty standards. Check out our shop to find something that makes you love your hair even more!
Sarah Wood - May 24, 2021
Amay, Joane. “How to Figure Out Your Curl Type.” Allure. https://www.allure.com/gallery/curl-hair-type-guide. Accessed 10 May 2021.
“Hair Type Guide: The Only Hair Typing System Article You’ll Ever Need.” Curl Centric. https://www.curlcentric.com/hair-typing-system/. Accessed 10 May 2021.