Bad hair days – no one wants them, but so many people have them. Did you know you might be able to reduce those bad hair days by learning about the different hair types and which one (or ones) you have? Learning about your hair type can help you choose the best hair care products to help you look your best every day.
There is also more to knowing your hair type to help you select the best products. Many personal care products are loaded with dangerous chemicals that impact the scalp and cause health problems.
Ingredients such as sulfates, formaldehyde, parabens, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, silicones, coal tar, and polyethylene glycols (PEG) can increase the risk of cancer, nervous system disorders, endocrine system problems, infertility, pregnancy problems, skin problems, and more.
Why Do You Need to Know Your Hair Type?
Just as you need to know your skin type to choose the right products, knowing your hair type is just as important. If you have thin, flyaway hair, you want products to help keep it under control. People who live in humid areas and are prone to frizz need to know that to help them choose products that can reduce the frizz.
Think about how you purchase your shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, gel, mousse, hair spray, and other items. When you run out, do you buy whatever is on sale, or are you loyal to the same brand? Are you happy with your results, or could your hair look better?
It can be difficult to know what products to buy when standing in your local store’s hair aisle. Rows and rows of shampoos and conditioners can leave you dazed and confused. There are products for curly hair, kinky hair, thin hair, thick hair, oily hair, dry hair, and more. However, those are only a few hair types to know. You may have dry, curly hair or oily, thin hair.
Moving on from hair care products, there are also brushes to consider. Do you need natural or synthetic bristles, round or flat paddle brushes, exfoliating scalp brushes, or wide detangling combs?
What about choosing the right hair dryer, diffuser, straightener, or curling iron? Then, you also need to know how to style your hair properly for the best appearance. As you can see, knowing your hair type can go a long way to helping you take excellent care of your hair.
Factors That Can Identify Your Hair Type
You can search online for hair type charts and might find that they vary. What one chart calls texture, another may call structure. That can be confusing.
We did the research for you, providing a comprehensive listing of the factors that can identify your hair type.
Often referred to as “hair type,” texture consists of four primary categories: straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Each category has sub-categories that further define hair type.
- Type 1 – Straight hair: May be straight and fine; less straight with a bit of body; or bone straight and curl resistant. Straight hair is often strong, resists damage, and may be prone to oil. Straight hair is often silkier to the touch.
- Type 2 – Wavy hair: May have thinner hair with loose “s-shaped” waves; more defined “s-shaped” waves that are more prone to frizz; or thicker hair with deep, wider waves that can frizz in humidity. Wavy hair is often thicker than straight hair and may feel rough on the surface.
- Type 3 – Curly hair: May have thinner hair that lies flat on the scalp with soft, loose curls that resist frizz; slightly thicker, tighter, and springier curls that are prone to dryness; or thicker, tighter corkscrew curls that can become dry and frizzy. Curly hair also tangles more easily than other hair types.
- Type 4 – Coily hair: May be coiled in a tight “o-shaped” pattern when wet or dry; any hair structure with zig-zag “z-pattern” kinky coils; or coarse, tight “o-shaped” coils that are subject to dryness and damage. Coily hair is typically dense.
Although some websites might list this under texture, it is actually the structure or diameter of the individual hair strands. Thin hair may appear limp, while thick hair may appear coarse.
- Thin (fine) hair: You can barely see or feel one strand of hair between your fingers. Thin hair appears thinner than a thread and is more sensitive and fragile than thick hair.
- Medium hair: You can see and slightly feel a strand of hair, which is about the same thickness as a piece of thread.
- Thick hair: You can easily see and feel one strand of hair, which is often thicker than a thread.
Determining hair density is based on how much of your scalp you can see. You can have thick hair, but it can still be dense. That can often happen during stress, as stress contributes to hair loss.
- Thin or low density: Able to see a lot of the scalp through the hair, not just at the part.
- Medium density: The ability to see partial areas of the scalp through the hair.
- Thick or high density: You can barely see any scalp through the hair.
The porosity of hair is how well it absorbs and retains moisture. Very porous hair absorbs moisture and any hair products you use. Hair with low porosity cannot absorb moisture and products and is more likely to frizz.
You can tell your hair’s porosity by how it acts in water. High porosity hairs sink in water, medium porosity hairs float in the water, and low porosity hairs float on the water’s surface.
- Low porosity: Hair does not absorb moisture well and takes longer to dry. Products do not absorb into the hair strand, and hair may feel sticky. Straight hair is often less porous. Because low-porosity hair resists moisture, it may be less likely to react to humidity. Using heat to style the hair opens the cuticle to help absorb moisture. Product buildup can occur because it is not absorbed into the shaft. Apply products to damp hair for better absorption.
- Medium porosity: Hair absorbs optimal moisture and does not feel sticky when wet. Hairstyles are easy to maintain. Wavy hair often fits in this category.
- High porosity: Hair is easily damaged, dries quickly, and may get frizzy due to having more holes in the cuticle. Using hair products with chemicals can further damage hair with high porosity. Curly hair often has high porosity and requires more products to provide moisture. Avoid styling with heat, which can further damage the hair.
Hair greasiness/scalp condition
Whether your hair and scalp are dry or oily can make a difference in the products you choose and how often you wash your hair. To tell if you have oily hair, wash it at night and do not use any products. Let your hair air dry, and use a tissue pressed against your scalp the following day to determine the amount of oil.
- Dry hair: Lack of oil on the tissue means your scalp does not produce much oil. Your hair needs moisture from shampoos and conditioners designed to lock in moisture. Moisturizing dry hair can help prevent split ends.
- Normal hair: Very little oil on the tissue means your scalp is normal, and you can get away by washing your hair up to twice a week.
- Oily hair: If the tissue shows an oily patch, your scalp produces too much oil and requires more frequent washings, up to five times a week. Oily hair can look greasy and flat the day after washing.
- Combination hair: Sometimes, people have oily scalps but dry hair or areas that are oily while others are dry. You may need to use different products to address those issues.
The stretchability of a hair strand refers to its elasticity. Stretching a wet strand of hair to see how far it goes before breaking will help determine its elasticity.
- Low elasticity: Hair snaps right away and is more often present in dry hair.
- Medium elasticity: Hair stretches a little before breaking.
- High elasticity: Hair strand stretches a long way before snapping and is more likely to be oily.
Signs You Are Using the Wrong Hair Care
If it seems that no matter what you do, your hair never looks the way you want, it could be due to using the wrong hair care. Of course, if your hair type is straight, getting those long-lasting tight curls short of a perm may be impossible. However, remember that the more chemical processing you do to your hair, the more damage there will be.
Check out the list of signs below to see if you are using the wrong products for your hair type:
Increased hair greasiness
Oily hair or scalp can be a problem for some people, especially if they wash their hair too much. While that may seem like it would solve the problem, it is often the cause. Shampooing removes sebum from the scalp, which helps to keep hair clean. Washing away the sebum tells the scalp to produce more. Hormone fluctuations, oral contraceptives, and using the wrong hair products (those with heavy, clingy ingredients) can increase sebum production. Poor dietary choices (excess alcohol, meat, sodas, and dairy), stress, and humidity can increase oil.
If your scalp is oily, but your ends are dry, only apply moisturizing products to the end of the hair, not the scalp. Products with aloe vera, vitamin E, or salicylic acid can help reduce oil buildup on the scalp. Oil buildup on scalps can also increase acne in that area or along the hairline.
Dry shampoo in between washes can help rid the scalp of excess oil. Apply conditioner only to the ends of your hair, if necessary. Be watchful of dry shampoo buildup, which can irritate the scalp.
People with dry scalps may also want to reduce hair washing, which can dry the scalp.
Abundance of flakes
Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (eczema) can cause unwanted flakes. Flaking can happen with dry or oily scalps and hair. Excessive washing and cold, dry air can contribute to dry scalp flaking. Dandruff, tea tree oil, or coal tar shampoos can help. Shampoo less frequently and drink more water to help support healthy skin and hair.
Hair loss or thinning
Hair loss or thinning can affect anyone at any time. While some people are predisposed to hair loss, others experience it from external sources, such as illness or stress. Stress-related hair loss lasts for a few months and then typically regrows. Some hair troubles can be connected to hormonal imbalances, such as HGH deficiency or abnormal HGH levels. HGH plays a leading role in cell regeneration, which is crucial for new hair growth, especially as people age. Normal HGH levels are essential for healthy hair. Get the facts about the role of HGH for hair growth.
If your hair has lost its shine, you probably use a shampoo that removes crucial nutrients. Look for moisturizing shampoos that promote shine. Over-styling, product buildup, dry or cold air, and a nutrient-deficient diet can also cause dull, lifeless hair, as can using harsh chemicals to excessive heat.
Baking soda paste (water and baking soda) can help clarify your hair and remove product buildup. Massage it into the scalp and roots and work it down the hair to the ends. Comb it through with a wide tooth comb and let it sit for five minutes before rinsing and conditioning the hair.
Coconut and argon oils can help revitalize the shine to dull hair. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase helps reduce friction to the hair.
Do you struggle with knots, frizz, or other problems? If so, you are likely using the wrong products. People with hair knots need moisturizing shampoos with natural ingredients like honey, coconut, and oat milk. A good anti-frizz shampoo will help you tame and calm the hair. Look at products containing argon oil. Unmanageable hair can benefit from aloe vera and coconut water products to nourish and refresh it.
If you have normal or dry hair, you may not need to use shampoos at all. Consider conditioner washing to cleanse and condition the hair instead. Detergent-free shampoos free of sulfates are also good for dry and curly hair or frequent washers.
You may also be using the wrong type of brush on your hair. Check out the list below to see what works best for your hair type:
- Soft boar bristle brush: for fine hair, use soft bristles if prone to breakage
- Boar bristle brush: widely spaced boar bristles are good for wavy hair and help boost volume
- Paddle brush: with sparse bristles, paddle brushes are best for thick, coarse hair to detangle and add shine or for fine hair that is prone to breakage
- Vented brush: all hair types, use for quick blow drying to disperse heat
- Round brush: medium to thick hair while blow-drying
- Large, oval brush (mixture of boar and nylon bristles): helps add volume and lift roots during blow-drying
- Thermal styling brush: ceramic and ionic technology helps create sleek curls while blow-drying
- Finishing brushes: widely spaced nylon bristles help curly, coarse hair become smooth and manageable
Your hair type can help you choose the best products to improve your hair’s appearance. Many people have combination hair, a mix of more than one type. The more you learn about your hair, the better care you can take of it.
Research and choose healthy products for your hair, free of harmful chemicals like parabens and silicone.
If your hair looks best the day you shampoo, it may be oily. Normal hair tends to look its best the day after shampooing. Dry hair needs time for natural oils to appear, so it may not look good for a few days.