Following on from our gift guide according to hair types, this blog post delves a bit deeper into the subject of how to define a head of hair. In the last post we divided hair into 3 very broad categories to make it easier to choose a gift for someone. They were straight hair; wavy, curly and coily hair; and coarse hair.
But when it comes to choosing hair products for your specific hair type and any problems you may be having with your hair, it’s helpful to expand the number of categories of hair from just 3 up to 12.
How to define your hair type
Trying to figure out your hair type is not always straight forward. Hair types refer to the hair's natural texture and not to the style or the length of the hair. No two heads of hair are exactly the same though, as we are all unique. Every head of hair has different hair growth patterns and a variety of textures, sometimes even different hair textures on the same head. And hair textures change over the span of a lifetime, the hair you have as a child is probably very different to the hair you have as an adult. So while it’s not easy to define everyone’s hair type exactly, but we can narrow it down to one of 12 hair types.
Start with 4 categories – straight, wavy, curly, coily
Naturally straight hair strands generally has no kinks in it, which means straight hair is generally shinier than the other 3 types of hair. This is because the natural oil from the scalp can easily travel down the lengths of the strands to keep the whole length of the hair moisturised and healthy.
Wavy hair has multiple bends in the shape of an S from roots to tips, meaning the kinks are more 2 dimensional than 3D. Curly hair strands are 3D and are shaped like a spring that grows in a round pattern.
Coily strands have a range of tightly coiled patterns. They range from spring-like to flat zigzag patterns that don't actually curl around. Because of the numerous kinks and angles in coily strands, the natural scalp oils can’t easily lubricate them, making them more fragile and prone to dryness.
Break into 3 subcategories – fine, medium, thick/coarse
These 3 subcategories generally relate to the thickness of the actual strands of hair on the head, not the number of strands. The average number of hairs on a person's head is 100,000. A more specific number of hairs can depend on a person’s hair colour – natural blondes have an average of 150,000, brunettes 110,000, black hair 100,000 and redheads around 90,000.
Although natural blondes have a lot more strands of hair, the actual width of each strand is thinner than brunette or red hair, which is why more strands can physically fit on their head. So technically, blondes do actually have more hair but their hair is generally defined as fine, red hair is generally thought of as thick or coarse, and black and brown hair is usually medium to thick.
But of course there are always exceptions to these rules! Age can play a part in it, too, as well as genetics so just going by the natural hair colour isn’t fool-proof.
And for coily textures, the ’thickness’ is to do with the shapes of the strands as well, as rounder coils tend to create visually 'finer' hair than z-shaped coils, even though technically both heads of hair may have equally fine strands.
The 12 general hair types
So, as you can see it can be a little complicated. However, here are our 12 general types of hair with a brief description of each one and any potential problems that they come with. We hope it helps you pin-point which one is closest to yours!
We’ve included a suggested product after each one too that might just be your hair saviour.
Fine Straight: The flattest, thinnest, and silkiest of the hair types. Scalp gets oily easily. Maintaining hairstyles all day is tricky (forget the curling tongs).
We recommend: Dry Shampoo as a styling aid.
Medium Straight: Mostly straight strands, but maybe some bendy ones and a few coarser ones. Greasy roots tend to be the biggest issue, rather than dry ends.
We recommend: Dry Shampoo for the between-wash days.
Thick/Coarse Straight: Even though it’s not kinky, getting a comb through it takes a while. Humidity makes it poofy and big. Prone to static frizziness and dry ends.
We recommend: Treatment Conditioner as a leave in mask, once a week.
Fine Wavy: Flat waves that are more visible through the ends than at the root. Can still be easily be blow-dried straight but hard to get volume in.
We recommend: Light Conditioner.
Medium Wavy: A slightly more defined S-shape in the waves. A bit more prone to frizz and poofing, especially if it’s damaged by colouring.
We recommend: Cream Conditioner.
Thick/Coarse Wavy: Mostly S-shaped waves, but with a few loose curls and coarser strands mixed in. Frizzes or goes fluffy easily and loses definition fast.
We recommend: Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil, a couple of drops on the ends as a leave-in.
Fine Curly: Mostly loose, delicate curls with a few waves mixed in. Curls affected by windy or humid conditions. Easily blow-dried straight, but then loses all it’s volume.
We recommend: Hair Perfume, which works as a very light de-frizzer.
Medium Curly: The curls are usually finger width sizes and are tighter and springier than fine curls. Prone to dryness and frizz, depending on the conditions.
We recommend: Cream Conditioner.
Thick/Coarse Curly: Tighter pencil-width curls that are packed together, creating a lot of volume. Prone to dryness and breakage, benefits from moisture and protein boosts.
We recommend: Treatment Conditioner as a regular conditioner.
Fine Coily: Small coils in an S pattern about the width of a knitting needle. They can be wiry, can lose definition easily and lose moisture fast.
We recommend: Conditioner Bar, the mango butter helps with definition.
Medium Coily: Bends sharply in a thin zigzag shape rather than coil around like a spring. More prone to shrinkage than fine coily hair, so it appears shorter than it actually is.
We recommend: Pre-shampoo Treatment Oil to maintain the natural hair and scalp oil.
Thick/Coarse Coily: A really tight Z-shape pattern, the strands are densely packed which means a lot of volume without much definition. Very delicate and prone to breakage because of the number of kinks along the strands.
We recommend: Treatment Conditioner as a regular conditioner and leave in treatment.
You may also find this chart handy when choosing a conditioner for your hair type:
We hope that helps you to find your hair type and the best products for it. Your hair might sit somewhere between 2 (or maybe 3!) categories so it's not always easy to get it spot on. Every single one of us is unique, but it's a great staring point.