Different Types of Hair Textures
Hair texture refers to the natural shape and pattern of individual hair strands, which can vary widely among different individuals. There are several primary hair texture types, often classified based on their curl pattern or lack thereof. Here are some of the most common hair texture types:
Wavy Hair (Type 2)
Wavy hair strands cascade into distinct “S” shapes and may even have a hint of curl. Because hair strands are still relatively straight, wavy hair tends to have plenty of shine and may be less oily than pin-straight hair. In some cases, less porous wavy hair may even be a little bit dry. In this case, it can benefit from hydrating products such as a moisturizing shampoo or deep conditioner.
However, like straight hair, wavy hair usually lacks volume and lays fairly close to the head. (If you have especially dense hair, volume may not be an issue, especially after washing.)
Wavy hair can be further broken down into three categories:
- 2a – Barely-there 3a waves might show up after a trip to the beach.
- 2b – If your hair has distinct, cascading waves, you’re likely a 3B.
- 2c – Curly/wavy 3c has a mixture of waves and curls, and can easily curl with product.
Wavy hair’s texture can be accentuated and manipulated in both directions—heat tools and blow-drying can yield shiny, straight locks, while texturizing and defining products might allow you to sport legit curls (for at least an evening).
The trick with wavy hair? Walking the fine line with products. Too little, and your hair might be dry and frizzy. Too much, and you’ll weigh down the texture your hair does have.
Wavy hair forms gentle, S-shaped waves that can vary in size and intensity. It has more volume than straight hair and can range from fine to thick.
Curly Hair (Type 3)
Curly hair features well-defined curls that can vary from loose and bouncy to tight and coiled. It tends to be more prone to frizz and requires specific care to maintain its shape.
Curly hair strands have a distinct “S” shape when lightly tugged. Curls come in all shapes and sizes—from curls the size of fat sidewalk chalk to those that could easily wrap around a Bic pen. Almost everyone with curly hair will notice that they have a range of curl widths, although strands tend to clump together in ringlets of a roughly similar width.
Sebum has a more challenging time navigating down the winding road of a curly hair strand. Why? Think of a slide at a park—when you slide down one that just goes straight down, you’ll get to the bottom faster. But a spiral slide may take you slightly longer to reach the end of the journey. That’s why sebum has a harder time making it all the way to the ends of your curly hair.
That means that curly hair is often prone to dryness and, of course, dreaded frizz. Using heat instruments can further damage the hair, creating additional dryness and even breakage. Don't settle for breakage and frizzy hair. Find out what curly hair type you have and get into the perfect hair care routine for your needs!
Do the “strand test” to understand your hair’s porosity. Then, identify which curly subcategory best fits your coiff:
- 3a – 3a girls have loose, bouncy curls that might flatten to waves after a few days.
- 3b – If your curls are about the size of a sharpie, you likely have 3b hair.
- 3c – More closely coiled, pencil-sized curls belong in category 3c.
All hair in the Type 3 category needs moisture to thrive. Most curly girls find that washing twice a week or so is all they need to keep their hair clean and healthy. It’s always key to use a hydrating, organic shampoo, a deep conditioner, and some hair vitamins to help maintain healthy natural hair.
Leave-in conditioner, spray-in conditioner, and hair masks can all be allies when it comes to keeping your locks luxe and smooth.
While your 3B curls may be fairly defined without product, the right styling cream can help combat frizz and provide enhanced shape.
You can also sleep on a silk pillowcase or place your tresses in a protective style to avoid breakage while you toss and turn at night.
Straight hair lacks a noticeable curl pattern and falls flat along the scalp. It tends to be shiny and can range from fine to coarse.
Straight hair has little-to-no wave—even after you’ve applied texturizing sprays.
Straight hair has the following qualities:
- The scalp’s sebum, or oil, is easily able to travel down the hair shaft and hydrate each strand. This makes it shiny and smooth.
- Hair may tend towards limpness and oiliness as sebum builds up between washings.
Some people further break down straight hair into categories:
1a – Limp, fine, and soft, 1a hair has absolutely no wave. It doesn’t readily curl.
- 1b – While 2a is also very straight, it can hold a curl with a little help from products.
- 1c – This hair type may have a hint of a wave, resembling a very long “S” when grown out.
Kinky hair, also known as coily or afro-textured hair, has tightly coiled curls that form a zigzag pattern. It can range from tightly coiled to more loosely curled.
Frizzy hair doesn't have a distinct curl pattern and often appears unruly due to its tendency to puff up and become frizzy, especially in humid conditions. It can be found in various hair types.
Fine hair refers to individual hair strands that have a smaller diameter. It often appears thin and can lack volume, making it prone to breakage.
Medium hair has a moderate strand diameter, often providing a balance between thickness and manageability.
Coarse hair has a larger diameter and feels thicker to the touch. It can be more resistant to styling and may require extra care to maintain its health.
Thick hair has a high density of individual hair strands on the scalp. It can appear full and voluminous but may also be challenging to style.
It's important to note that many people have a combination of these hair textures, and individual strands on the same head of hair can have slightly different textures. Additionally, factors such as genetics, ethnicity, hormonal changes, and environmental conditions can influence a person's hair texture.
Understanding your hair texture is essential for choosing appropriate hair care and styling methods. Different textures require different products and techniques to maintain their health and appearance.
What Goes Into Hair Texture?
When it comes to texture, there are several contributing factors. These include:
Hair texture is primarily determined by the shape of the hair follicles and the structure of the individual hair strands. Several factors contribute to the formation of different hair textures:
Hair Follicle Shape: The shape of the hair follicle, which is the small sac from which each hair grows, plays a significant role in determining hair texture. Straight hair follicles produce round hair shafts, while wavy or curly hair follicles produce oval or elliptical shafts. The more oval the follicle, the curlier the hair tends to be.
Hair Shaft Structure: The internal structure of the hair shaft itself influences texture. Hair is made up of three layers: the medulla (innermost layer), the cortex (middle layer), and the cuticle (outer protective layer). The arrangement of these layers and the relative amounts of certain proteins, such as keratin, contribute to the strength, elasticity, and curl pattern of the hair.
Genetics: The most significant factor in determining hair texture is genetics. Hair texture is inherited from your parents and is influenced by the combination of genes you inherit. People with parents of different ethnic backgrounds may have unique combinations of hair textures.
Ethnicity and Ancestry: Different ethnic groups tend to have specific hair textures that are more common within those populations. For example, people of African descent often have coily or kinky hair, while those of Asian or European descent tend to have straight or wavy hair.
Hormones: Hormonal changes can affect hair texture, especially during puberty and hormonal fluctuations throughout a person's life. Hormones can influence the production of sebum (natural oil), which affects hair texture and appearance.
Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions, such as humidity and temperature, can temporarily alter the appearance of hair texture. High humidity, for instance, can cause curly hair to become frizzy.
Hair Care Practices: The way you care for your hair can impact its texture. Frequent use of heat styling tools, chemical treatments (like relaxers or perms), and harsh hair products can alter the structure of the hair and affect its natural texture.
Aging: Hair texture can change with age due to hormonal shifts, changes in hair follicle activity, and other physiological factors. Many people notice their hair becoming finer or more brittle as they get older.
Density – Some people have more hair follicles per square inch of scalp. Greater follicle density means thicker, more voluminous hair.
Porosity – Different people’s hair strands absorb moisture differently. Do you have low or high porosity hair? Find out by placing a strand in a glass of water. Low porosity hair absorbs less water, and it will float. High porosity hair will sink to the bottom. Medium porosity hair ends up somewhere in the middle.
It's important to remember that while certain factors contribute to your natural hair texture, you can still influence its appearance and manageability through various hair care and styling practices. Understanding your hair's unique characteristics can help you choose the right products and techniques to maintain its health and achieve your desired look.
These factors determine how curly, voluminous, and hydrated your hair will be without any additional aid from products.
We created our Pretty Rooted Hair Collection to fit all hair types.