Natural Hair Types: Curly Wavy Kinky Straight Charts, Test

What type of hair do I have? Is it type 1- the naturally straight, type 2 – the naturally wavy, type 3 – the naturally curly or type 4 – the naturally coily or kinky one? Is there a way to determine your type? Are there tests, chart or quiz that can help? Discover more on natural types of hairs and textures.

Overview

Knowing the natural hair type you have is important since it has a big influence on your routine care regimens, styling, and products you can use. Furthermore, knowing it will also give you answers as to why it behaves the way it does and why it is not like your friend’s yet you have the same hair colors.

In determining the type of hair you have there are a number of factors are often considered. For instance, you need to know its density (how much hair you have on your head), its texture types (how thick are each individual strands) and its strength (gotten its porosity and density).

All hair types
All hair types

Furthermore, your its elasticity (how long can stretch it before snapping), porosity (amount of spaces and holes where fluids can pass) oiliness (how much natural oil it has) and curl pattern are also very important.

For the sake of this discussion, we are going to dwell on mainly Andre Walker hair typing system where we might mention a few care tips. Later we will briefly look at the L.O.I.S and FIA typing systems too. So what are the common natural hair types according to the celebrity stylist Andre Walker?

Type 1 – naturally straight

Type 1 hair, often referred to naturally straight, is the most greasy and oily of all types. This is so because natural oils from the scalp (produced by scalp sebaceous glands) can travel easily to its tip since there are no curls or kinks to disrupt this oil movement. This means it has to be washed more often.

Secondly, inasmuch as some people will refer to it as boring, lifeless and frizzy, this kind has the most sheen, it is resilient to damage,  and it can be often washed or shampooed without being damaged since it does not curl. However, it is also difficult to style.

Due to some variations, type 1 is further subdivided into three categories i.e. type 1a, 1b, and 1c.

Type 1a

Type 1a hair is very “fine, very thin and soft with a noticeable shine” [curlcentric.com]. Since it doesn’t hold curls very well, styling is a bit difficult. Furthermore, it’s oily, has a limp look and needs often shampooing.

If you have it, avoid using thick conditioners since they make it look greasy. Some celebrities with type 1a  include Dakota Fanning, Gwyneth Paltrow

Type 1b hair

The “1b locks tend to have fuller strands with a slight bend at the ends, but no real curl” [popsugar.com] i.e. it has a little more volume and a slight bend at the end. When compared to type 1a, it is slightly coarser i.e. medium textured.

Spraying its roots with a texturizing spray and using a flat iron can help it to get some volume. Notable personalities with it include Lucy Liu, Kendall Jenner, and Freida Pinto.

Type 1c hair

It is a bit coarser, thicker and tends to frizz when compared to the other to we have seen. According to Wikipedia.org, it is the most difficult to curl and it is common among Asian women.

However, popsugar.com contradicts this characteristic by claiming it can hold curls and advises people with this hair to go for smoothing serum together with cool-shot setting while blow drying it. Rachel Bilson and Sienna Miller are among the celebrities with this kind.

We will not go into details on type 1 hair care, dyes, cuts or styles suitable for it, not even details on thinning or loss characteristics. This will later be covered separately.

We will cover more details such as how to get straight hair including permanently, scrunching, products such as shampoos, conditioners, perm, haircuts, ideas, problems and much more.

Type 2  – naturally wavy

It lies in between straight and curly hair. It has better sheen than curly but certainly not more than straight i.e. it is midway between straight and curly.

It tends to stick closer to your head, and girls with this wavy hair should be luckiest if they know how to style it properly it with the right products. Unfortunately, it is prone to frizz and anti-frizz products or humidity protective might be required as part its care routine. Avoid using your fingers on it since this will make it frizz more.

We have 3 subcategories of type 2 i.e. 2a, 2b and 2c and their people with a mixture of these subtypes or even an of such as of 1c/2a hair mixture.

2a wavy hair

It is naturally wavy with fine or thin hair that has a “definite “S” pattern and is usually receptive to a variety of styles” [en.wikipedia.org]. One thing about it is that “although it does have a natural sheen, type 2a waves usually lack volume and definition” [naturallycurly.com].

To give it volume, try plopping after freshly washing it. Lightweight sealants, gentle cleansers free of sulfates and a moisturizing styling spritz is recommended for managing it. Alternatively, you can also choose to straighten it.

Type 2a hair is what celebrities such as Amanda Seyfried, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Dormer, Kate Hudson, Sofia Richie, Naomi Watts, Vanessa Hudgens, Cate Blanchett, Minka Kelly and Arizona Muse.

I hope it is clear on what is 2a is as well as who has it. Let us move on to wavy type 2b

2b hair type

This wavy hair has a medium texture, tends to frizz more than 2a especially at the crown and it is a slightly more resistant to styling. It is the type you see on Kate Middleton, Bethany Cosentino, Joss Stone, Charli XCX, Joss Stone, Jasmine V, Nelly Furtado, Jessica Chastain, Carrie Underwood, and Aly Michalka among other celebrities.

To style, use your fingers with a diffuser and mousse. After styling it, avoid touching it completely if you want it to have more waves towards its end since it loses waves easily. Finally, some hair oil drops will be ideal if you opted for dry hairstyles.

In caring for it, moisturizing frizz fighting gels, protein treatments, and dry shampoos, among other products are often recommended.

2c hair

The third subtype is the 2c, which is the most resistant to styling and is coarsest of all the wavy type. Furthermore, is very frizzy and has waves that are thicker. Do not be surprised if you see a few curls especially when it is a 2c/3a hair type mixture.

Also, it tends to “lose curl definition more easily than other textures. Bantu knot-outs, roller sets, or twist-outs might actually cause it to lose definition rather than promote it” [naturallycurly.com].

Addition of moisture, finger styling, deep conditioning weekly, wet diffusion, and use of scrunch styling products will be handy when styling it.

Some of the celebrities with this kind of hair that include Salma Hayek, Shakira, Yasmin Sewell, Naomi Watts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cate Blanchett, Adrienne Bailon, and Scarlett Johansson.

Again, we will not go into details such as wavy hair products such as shampoos conditioners, how to get it wavy, or styling and haircuts. We will cover that while looking at it in other posts.

Type 3 a, b and c –  naturally curly hair

For those with curly hair, valid questions such as ‘what is type 3 hair’ or ‘what subtype of curly hair do I have’ may suffice. By the end of this section, with the aid of pictures, you should be able to tell which type it is.

To begin with, it has S, s or Z shaped has stands, which vary from being lightly curly to very curly one with a clearly defined curling pattern with or without using styling products.  It is much easier to style with a blow dryer or while it is in its natural form. It has a lot of body, has some sheen, it is soft and not coarse as it might appear.

Climate, especially humidity can cause it to frizz and make it curlier. According to curlynikki.com, “healthy type 3 hair is shiny, with soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity”. There are three main sub-types are i.e. 3a, 3b, and 3c.

3a hair

It has well-defined spring loopy ‘S’ pattern curls which are pretty loose and have volume or fullness. “The curls are about the same diameter as sidewalk chalk” [wikihow.com]. According to naturallycurlly.com, it is much prone to frizzing, losing definition when compared with any of the other two type 3 hairs.

When styling 3a hair, for “maximum curl definition, use the scrunch method to style. Apply product to while it is still wet. Then, use a t-shirt or microfiber towel to squeeze curls while pushing strands up toward the scalp” [popsugar.com]. Although texturizing, styling and even straightening of 3a hair are easy, do not forget that it is easy to be damaged by heat.

Using rake and shake can create frizz-free definition and volume. Furthermore, use your fingers to twirl while it is still wet and opt for pomade if you need updos or ponytails to holding it lighting without ruining your curls. AnnaLynne McCord, Kimberly Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde are just but a few of the celebrities who have it.

3b hair type

This one is “stretched-out spirals that cascade down toward the shoulders instead of growing out away from the roots” [popsugar.com]. It is much voluminous than type 3a but has smaller diameter i.e. about the sharpie marker size. It is less shiny, and its texture is coarser when compared to 3a.

On styles and styling, for smooth curls, mix leave in conditioner with light hair gel to make it bouncy and less sticky. Doing this while it is still soaking wet and let them dry together. Humidity blocking cream, leave in spray, and sulfate free cleansers will also be handy in car or maintaining type 3b hair.

Some celebrities who have it include Anna Shaffer, Halle Berry, Julianna Margulies, Tae Heckard, Jurnee Smollett, and Jasmine Sanders.

3c

Hair type 3c is coarsest in this category and most prone to frizz. It has well defined, corkscrew like coils (curly with spiral), whose size range from those of a pencil to a small sized marker. It also has slightly a higher density, and consequently volume.

A cleansing conditioner is important in caring for 3c hair type since it will ensure your curls are shiny and do not fly away i.e. blown away easily. Alternatively, you can use a medium hold gel to stop flyaways. To enhance it, use twist-out, flexi rod set, Bantu-knot out, or perm rod set, all without heating and avoid scalp massage after washing it so that to avoid volume loss. Finally, deep condition weekly is an important regimen.

Kelis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Thandie Newton, Leela James, Tessa Thompson, and Jurnee Smollett Bell all have it.

This part was not about how to style curly hair or haircuts but simply knowing how it looks like or the and its subtypes.  We will discuss more in other posts including hairstyles and styling guide, transitioning tips, and products such as conditioners, gels, shampoos, and how to maintain curly hair, among others.

Type 4 hair – natural kinky or coily hair

The final we are going to talk about in Andre Walker’s classification. This is the coarsest, driest and kinkiest of all the types we have discussed and it has many strands packed together. Furthermore, it has lots of turns and twists and this texture makes it hard for it to look shiny and retain moisture.

It has has a tendency of shrinking down, hiding its real length. Its appearance can range from being fine to wiry to course. Since it has lesser cuticle layers, it is very vulnerable and can be damaged by combing brushing, blow-drying, curling or even straightening.

Type 4 hair is the common for African American as well as African but anyone can have it. It is classified into 3 main subtypes, which are 4a, 4b, and 4c.

4a hair type

According to Wikipedia, it “tends to be very fragile, tightly coiled, and can feature curly patterning”. The spirals are about the diameter of a crochet needle that could be a fine or wiry texture with a relatively high density.

It works well with the wash-and-go, twist-outs, bantu-knot-out hairstyles but blow-drying with a diffuser can help in stretching the curls. Try co-washing with a moisturizing cleanser without sulfates, be using clarifying shampoos to cleanse your scalp, and go for thicker emollients, especially natural ones like shea kinds of butter and mango.

Syesha Mercado, Teyonnah Paris, Tracie Thoms, Andrea Lewis, Sophie Okonedo and Yaya Dacosta all have it.  The pictures accompanying this section should help you see how type 4 hair looks like.

4b

It is much like 4a but has less of the curly patterns. Kinks form a ‘Z’ shape while coils might form an ‘S’ shape. When one doesn’t follow a good care regimen, the frizz may be more noticeable than defined curls.

In addition, it tends to range from being fine to wiry to coarse and it is densely packed and coiled tightly capable of shrinking for up to 75% its length, with its coils able to hold well-altered styles better than 2, 3 or 4a hairs.

To style, opt for lightweight styling butter and gels especially in twisting it while damp. This will give it a more defined look. Pre-poo is recommended, opt for LCO or LOC methods to ensure coils remain moisturized and use microfiber towel or t-shirt in drying since using terry clothing might remove all the moisture. Finally, opt for perm rods, curlformers or flex rods to help define it and reduce frizz.

Solange Knowles, Chrisette Michele, Janelle Monáe, Syesha Mercado, and Jade Cole and Willow Smith are some of the people with this kind.

4c hair

It does not have a defined curl pattern, making detangling very difficult. In addition, giving it any definition is very difficult since it has a dense texture and it will not clump without styling it and it can shrink for over 75%.

To understand it better, you should know that, “type 4c hair can range from fine, thin, soft to coarse with densely packed strands. Some say Type 4c coils look identical to 4b except that the curls are tight kinks with less definition” [naturallycurly.com].

If you want to care for 4c hair texture, always used detangling co-wash and cover it with satin or silk caps while sleeping to avoid breakages. To help define 4c, try curl defining products while you use creamy humectants to enhance and protect it.

Some people who have it include Esperanza Spalding, Macy Gray, Lupita Nyong’o, India Arie, Viola Davis, Ajuma Nasenyana and Erykah Badu

If want to grow long 4a, 4b, 4c, good care regimen, curling and routines, best products to use, hairstyles and haircuts, and much more, we will are going to have several articles on coily or kinky hair. For now, we are not going into details on products, styling and so on. We wanted you to know and be able to identify it.

L.O.I.S natural hair typing system

Besides the popular Andre Walke, there is the L.O.I.S which examines the most common hair strand type that are not damaged, dyed, processed or relaxed and groups it into either L, O, I or S. It should be freshly washed without any product applied, rinsed in cold water and the strand allowed to dry without being disturbed.

One good thing about this classification is that it considers the African American hair characteristics and takes into consideration pattern, sheen, texture, and strand thickness. On pattern, you will be in any of these L.O.I.S categories depending on how your hair strand behave i.e. you will be:

  • L – “If the hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve” [healthyhairdimensions.com]
  • O – It rolls to form one or several O or zero shaped spirals
  • I – lies flat without any curves
  • S – “Strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys” [healthyhairdimensions.com]

Textures could be classified as thread, wiry, cottony, spongy or silky (see more on each of this textures) while on strand size, it is about its thickness where you could have thin/fine, medium or thick strands.

FIA hair typing system

The FIA system takes into consideration the curl pattern, strand thickness and the overall volume hair has. Here is the FIA classification.

Classification according to curliness

The FIA hair classification according to curliness has straight (1a, 1b, and 1c), wavy (2a, 2b, 2c), curly (3a, 3b, and 3c) and very curly classification which has 4a and 4b. If you want to know more about it, visit Wikipedia

FIA classification by strands

This classification has fine, medium and coarse strands. The fine strands in almost translucent with an ultra-fine and silky feeling strand. It is common among Scandinavian people.

Medium is in between fine and course, it feels like cotton threads and it is common among Caucasians.

Finally, coarse one has thicker strands that feel wiry and hard if you rolled it on your finger and it is common among the Asian and native Americans.

Classification by volume

Here full hair ponytail circumference is considered where it could be thin, normal or thick if it is more than 2 inches, from 2-4 inches or more than 4 inches respectively.

Natural hair type chart

For keen and observant people getting the chart will help you identify yours easily. Below is one hair typing chart showing the various pictures which will be of much help.

Besides the chart we have provided, another important resource you can use, The MIZANI Natural Curl KeyTMwhich will give you a visual impression of the various types as well as recommended products.

If you want more charts, try this easy to follow the chart on how to determine your hair type chat is the one provided by women’s health magazine i.e. the natural hair type chart as well as the Decode Your Coils: A Simple Guide To Curly Hair Types, which has pictures that can be very helpful.

How to determine hair type and test

An easy way to determine the type you have is to wash it and observe its strands without any styling. However, this can be complicated in situations where you could be having a combination of more than one type. For instance, there are people who have combinations of 1C and 2A, 2C and 3A, or even 3C and 4A. Look at what type is dominant.

Alternatively, you can go and fill the various online tests and quiz sites, which will ask you several questions about it and give you suggestions.

Finally, to know your type, go to an expert hairstylist who will observe and use his or her experience to tell you which one you have. However, do not forget that this might not help you know 100%, which type it is but it will be a good guide.

Natural hair type quiz and tests

An easier way to know the human hair one has is using the various online tests and quizzes. Most of the available online quiz or tests have questionnaires were will be expected to fill a set of questions before you get the type you have. Expect questions about your gender, age, and other characteristics such as coiling tendency, styling easy, frizz characteristics, dryness or oiliness, celebrities you look like, etc. in helping you identify yours

Some of the online quizzes include Go to Quiz, which can help males, and females identify their natural hair types, the Hair Type Test, and Pro Profs Quiz Maker. Another important quiz is the What Kind of Natural Are You.

Is knowing your types enough?

Besides knowing your type and other factors such as oiliness, elasticity, porosity, texture, and density, are important in ensuring you know the best products and styling that works.

If you are looking for hair types for men, black, or those for female, they are more or less the same types we have seen. However, in you consider race, for instance, you will notice that most afro or African hair types are 4 with some having 3. This is not the case for all African since some could be having other types of natural hair.

Note that black hair is just a description of the color not type. However, a careful observation will also show you a relationship between colors and race.

Our references and sources
  1. http://www.curlcentric.com/hair-typing-system/
  2. http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/What-My-Natural-Hair-Type-36337831?
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair
  4. http://www.naturallycurly.com/pages/hairtypes/type2#type-2a
  5. http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-Hair-Type
  6. http://www.curlynikki.com/2012/08/decoding-hair-texture-hair-typing.html
  7. http://healthyhairdimensions.com/?page_id=71

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