TEXTURE TYPING GUIDE: HOW TO KNOW YOUR HAIR TYPE, POROSITY, TEXTURE AND DENSITY


Determining your texture type is way more than just comparing your curls to a chart. This is hair typing and it is just a part of what you need to know about your hair. Texture typing involves other areas like hair density, hair porosity and hair texture or width/thickness.

IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR TEXTURE TYPE
Your texture type is important in determining which products will work best for your hair, the styling techniques you adopt and how you customize your hair care routine.


HAIR TYPE 
Hair typing involves determining your curl pattern. There are different hair typing systems which includes the LOIS hair typing system, FIA's hair typing system, Andre Walker hair typing system, Naturally Curly's hair typing system and others. 

I will focus on the Andre Walker Hair Typing System here not because it is the best but because it is widely used and accepted in the natural hair community. 

The Andre Walker Hair Typing System was created in the 1990s by Oprah Winfrey's Stylist - Andre Walker. The system is split into four types with subtypes labeled A, B and C for some of the subtypes (Source).


As shown in the chart above, the Andre Walker hair typing system did not include type 3C and 4C hair. These subtypes were added by members of the natural hair community who felt these hair types were not represented in the original classification done by Andre Walker. 


Type 1 (Straight Hair) 
Type 1 hair is generally straight. It is subcategorized into 1A, 1B and 1C. 

Type 1A
Type 1A has a fine texture. It is very thin, soft and shiny. It is hard to hold a curl, hard to damage and tends to be oily.



Type 1B
Type 1B hair is medium textured and has more body than type 1A hair.



Type 1C
Type 1C hair is coarse and thick. It has less shine than 1A and 1B. There are slight bends here and there.



Type 2 (Wavy Hair) 
Type 2 hair is wavy with a definitive "S" pattern that lays close to the head. It is subcategorized into 2A, 2B and 2C.

Type 2A
Type 2A hair has a fine texture. It is thin and easy to style (straightened or curled).



Type 2B
Type 2B hair is medium textured, a bit hard to style and tends to be frizzy. The hair appear straight at the roots and become more defined S-shaped waves from the mid-lengths to the ends. The strands are are thicker than type 2A hair strands.




Type 2C
Type 2C hair is coarse and thick. It is prone to frizzing and has more defined waves that start all the way from the roots.



Type 3 (Curly Hair) 
Type 3 hair is curly with a definitive "S" curl pattern. It has less sheen when compared to type 1 and type 2 hair types but more shiny than type 4 hair. The curl pattern ranges from loose to tight and usually have a combination of textures. It is subcategorized into 3A, 3B and 3C.

Type 3A
Type 3A hair has loose curls that tends to be shiny. The curls are thick, about the size of a sidewalk chalk and have a well defined S-shaped.



Type 3B
Type 3B has a medium amount of curl ranging from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews. They have a circumference similar to that of a permanent marker and tends to be coarse and dense.



Type 3C
Type 3C hair has tight curls like corkscrews. The strands are densely packed and has more volume than type 3A and 3B hair. The curls have a circumference similar to that of a straw or pencil. It is often referred to as curly-coily and experiences more shrinkage than the other type 3 subtypes.



Type 4 (Coily Hair) 
Type 4 hair is kinky with densely packed tight coils and ranges from fine, thin and soft strands to wiry and coarse. The coils are very prone to shrinkage. This hair type is the most fragile and is very prone to breakage because of how dry it can get.

Read also: How to moisturize 4b/4c hair - LOC/LCO Method 

Type 4A
Type 4A hair has dense springy coils which are S-patterned just like type 3 hair.  They have a circumference similar to that of a crochet needle.



Type 4B
Type 4B hair is densely packed and the strands bend in sharp angles like the letter Z. It has less defined curls and tighter coils that are similar in circumference to that of a pen.



Type 4C
Type 4C hair is quite similar to 4b but is usually less defined. It shrinks the most and has tightly coiled strands that are very fragile. It has a tight zig-zag pattern that is very hard to see. It ranges in texture from very fine, thin and soft strands to wiry and coarse.



HAIR POROSITY 
Hair porosity is another important factor to consider when choosing hair products. It is the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. The hair shaft is made up of three layers - cuticle, cortex and medulla.

Cuticle: The cuticle is the protective outer layer of the hair made up of flattened cells that overlap each other like the tiles of a roof.

Cortex: The cortex is the second layer of the hair. It is the thickest and contains fibrous proteins and the pigment that gives hair it's colour.

Medulla: This is the deepest layer of the hair shaft.

The Hair Structure 

For the hair to stay healthy, water, oils and other moisturizing products should be able to pass through the cuticle to nourish the cortex inside.

Types of Hair Porosity 
Hair porosity is classified into three based on how tight the cuticles overlap. They are;

Low Porosity Hair 
Low porosity hair has cuticles that tightly overlap.

Characteristics of Low Porosity Hair
  • Tends to be shiny
  • Very hard to absorb moisture 
  • Retains moisture much longer
  • Prone to product build-up as it is hard for products to penetrate 
  • Hard to colour and perm

Medium Porosity Hair 
Medium porosity hair has cuticles that are neither too tight nor too loose.

Characteristics of Medium Porosity Hair 
  • Hair does not take too long to dry
  • Absorbs just ths right amount of moisture 
  • Hair looks healthy and shiny 
  • Easy to style 
  • Can be easily coloured and permed 
  • Retains a fair amount of moisture 

High Porosity Hair 
High porosity hair has cuticles that are loosely bound. 

Characteristics of High Porosity Hair 
  • Easily absorbs moisture 
  • Air dries very fast
  • Hardly retain moisture 
  • Tends to be dry and frizzy 
  • Hair looks dull

Hair Porosity Chart Showing How the Cuticles Overlap in Each Type 


Hair porosity is usually genetic but your porosity can be increased by factors like heat and chemical treatments. Blow drying, bleaching, heat/chemical straightening etc.  can cause damage to the hair cuticles and lead to high porosity.

How to Determine Your Hair Porosity 
You can determine your hair porosity by carrying out any of the following porosity tests.

Float Test



  • Take a couple of hair strands 
  • Fill up a glass with clean, room temperature water 
  • Drop the strands of hair into the glass and observe how long it takes for hair strands to sink. 
Result
If the hair strands floats on top even after several minutes, you have low porosity hair. 

If they float somewhere in the middle or slowly sinks after a few minutes, you have medium or normal porosity hair. 

If the hair quickly sinks to the bottom of the glass, you have high porosity hair. 

Note: The test should be done on freshly washed hair, free of products and dry in order to get an accurate result. 

Slide Test 
Take a hair strand and gently slide your fingers up the strand from the tip to the root. 

Result
If it feels smooth and dense, you have low porosity hair.

If it feels mostly smooth, you have medium porosity hair. 

If it feels bumpy, rough or breaks during the test, you have high porosity hair. 

Spray Test
Take a small section of your hair, spray water and observe how fast it absorbs the water. 

Result
If the water just sits on top of the hair and beads up, you have low porosity hair. 

If your hair slowly absorbs the water, you have medium porosity hair. 

If your hair quickly absorbs the water, you have high porosity hair. 

Note: Always start test with dry hair for accurate results. 

HAIR TEXTURE
Hair texture which is also known as hair width or hair diameter refers to how thick each individual strand of hair is. It is the circumference of your hair. It is important to know your hair texture because it influences the type of care your hair needs and its ability to retain length.  Hair texture is classified into three - coarse, medium and fine based on how wide or thin the hair circumference is.

Hair Texture Illustration 


Coarse Hair 
Coarse hair has strands with a very wide circumference. It feels rough to tough and is the strongest of the hair textures. It is more resistant to heat, styling products, coloring and most importantly breakage. It is easy to retain length. 

Medium Hair 
Medium hair strands have a circumference that is neither too wide nor too thin. The strands are strong and elastic. Medium hair is also resistant to damage but not as much as coarse hair. It is also easy to retain length. 

Fine Hair 
Fine hair strands have a very thin circumference. The strands are fragile and very prone to breakage making it hard to retain length. It is easily weighed down with products. 

How to Determine Your Hair Texture 
Your hair texture can be known by comparing an individual strand of hair to a piece of thread. 
  • If the hair strand is thicker than the thread, you have coarse hair. 
  • If the hair strand is the same size as the thread, you have medium hair
  • If the hair strand is smaller than the thread, you have fine hair. 

Hair Width Chart

You can also determine your hair texture by feeling a hair strand between your fingers. 
  • If you can easily feel the strand and it feels rough, you have coarse hair.
  • If you feel the strand between your finger but it's not too thick or rough, you have medium hair
  • If you can barely feel the hair strand, you have fine hair. 

HAIR DENSITY
Hair density or thickness refers to how closely packed the hair strands are on your head. It is not to be confused with hair texture or width. As explained above, while the hair texture is a measure of the thickness of each individual strand, hair density measures the proximity or closeness of the hair strands. Knowing your hair density will assist you in choosing the right products and even the kind of hairstyles to install. Hair density is classified into three - low density, medium density and high density.

Hair Density Chart

Low Density: The hair strands are widely spaced. It is otherwise known as thin hair. 

Medium Density: The hair strands are not too spaced. 

High Density: The hair strands are closely packed. It is otherwise known as thick hair. 

How to Determine Your Hair Density 
Observe a part of your hair closely;
  • If you can visibly see your scalp underneath, you have thin hair or low density.
  • If you can hardly see your scalp, you have medium density
  • If it is very difficult or impossible to see your scalp, you have thick hair or high density. 

What do you think about this article? Was it useful? What do you think about texture typing? Have you tried finding out your texture type? Please leave a comment and hit the share buttons before you go. 

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