A key step to understanding how to take care of your hair is learning about the cast and crew that define your hair strands. Determining your hair type or curl pattern will help you fine tune your product and style selection to those that work best given your hair composition. It will save you time and money from doing things that just won’t work for your hair.
Admittedly, I’ve never taken the time to understand this prior to cutting my hair. Therefore, I went through a variety of products before I found a regimen that seemed to work. Now I’m wondering am I doing what’s best for my hair with the products and styles I’ve currently selected without knowing my hair type or porosity. I figure what better way to understand my hair’s character than to explore it through this blog.
To determine my hair type I had to wash my hair and let it air dry without adding products. I started my research on hair typing and porosity while I let my hair dry. There is literally an ABUNDANCE of information about these subjects on the Internet. I found some really good articles from Naturally Curly, Curly Nikki, Curl Centric, and Healthy Hair Dimensions just to name a few. I settled on merging information from the Curly Nikki and Healthy Hair Dimension articles to better understand how to classify my hair.
Andre Walker system
The Andre Walker system is most widely used to classify hair type. Hair types are categorized into 4 main categories and 3 subcategories based on curl patterns as follows:
- Type 1: Straight
- 1a: Straight fine; 1b: Straight Medium; and 1c: Straight coarse
- Type 2: Wavy
- 2a: Wavy fine; 2b: Wavy Medium; and 2C: Wavy coarse
- Type 3: Curly
- 3a: Loose curls; 3b: Tight curls; and 3c: corkscrew curls*
- Type 4: Tightly Curled (kinky)
- 4a: Soft tight coils; 4b: wiry tight coils; and 4c: z patterned tight coils*
*Note: Subcategory c was defined after the Andre Walker system was published.
The L.O.I.S. system is a comprehensive classification that takes in consideration curl pattern, strand size, and texture. The pattern is categorized based on if your hair strands most resemble one or more of the letters L, O, I, or S.
Strand size is determined by comparing a strand of hair to a thread size. If your strand is smaller than the thread, then your hair is thin or fine. Your hair is considered medium size if it’s the same size and thick if it’s larger than the thread.
Texture is defined as being either “thready”, “wiry”, “cottony”, “spongy”, or “silky”. Your texture is defined by how much shine, sheen, and frizz can be found in your hair.
Source: Natural Hair Mag
Other hair typing systems
I decided to classify my hair using the Andre Walker and L.O.I.S systems, but there are others like F.I.A and Mizani hair typing systems that you can use to determine your hair’s character. Black Hair Information.com challenges you to ditch the complicated hair typing systems and define your hair based on if it’s fine, combination, or coarse.
It is also important to discuss hair porosity. How porous your hair is refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you choose the right products to maintain moisture in your hair. You can do the Float or Slip ‘n’ slide test to determine if your hair has low, medium, or high porosity. I decided to do the Float test. My hair will have low porosity if my strands float in the water after sitting in a cup for about 2-4 minutes. It will be of normal or medium porosity if it sinks mid-way and high porosity if it sinks to the bottom of the cup.
Source: Kriya Botanicals
What cast & crew make up my hair’s character?
My hair type and porosity are as follows:
- Andre Walker: Combination 4b/4a
- L.O.I.S: Combination O & L; thin strand size; and cottony texture
- Porosity: My hair took a while to sink under the water; therefore, my hair has low porosity
Determining my hair type was a little more challenging than I expected especially when trying to define texture under the L.O.I.S. System. I’m glad that I completed this activity so I can be more mindful when selecting new products and styles in the future. Classifying your hair type is a useful exercise but don’t fret if you can’t define your tresses to one type. Just like my hair, most women have blended strand composition. If you don’t know your hair type or porosity, next time you wash your hair, examine a few strands using one or more of these typing systems and porosity tests to begin the journey of learning about your glorious crown in its natural state.
What is your hair type? Which hair typing system and porosity test do you prefer?