Know your hair pattern

No two curly heads are same. Curls offer a great amount of variety in their shapes and forms. In India, if you don’t have straight hair, you have either wavy or curly hair.

The widely used classification of hair is defined in terms of combination of a numeral and an alphabet. The numeral defines the degree of turns your hair makes and the alphabet defines the thickness of hair.

This classification was given by the hairstylist of Oprah Winfrey, Andre Walker.



Type 1: Straight: This hair type reflects the most sheen and also the most resilient hair of all of the hair types. It is hard to damage and immensely difficult to curl this hair texture because the sebum easily spreads from the scalp to the ends without curls or kinks to interrupt its path. It is the most oily hair texture of all.

  • 1a Straight (Fine/Thin): Hair tends to be very soft, shiny, oily, poor at holding curls but difficult to damage.
  • 1b Straight (Medium): Hair characterised by volume and body.
  • 1c Straight (Coarse): Hair tends to be bone-straight and difficult to curl. Common in Northeast Asian women.

Type 2: Wavy: This hair type has texture and sheen which ranges somewhere between straight and curly hair. Wavy hair is also more likely to become frizzy than straight hair.

  • 2a Wavy (Fine/Thin): Hair has definite “S” pattern and is usually receptive to a variety of styles.
  • 2b Wavy (Medium): Can tend to be frizzy and a little resistant to styling.
  • 2c Wavy (Coarse): Frizzy or very frizzy with thicker waves; often more resistant to styling.

While type A waves can easily alternate between straight and curly styles, type B and C Wavy hair is resistant to styling.

Type 3: Curly: This hair type is known to have an S-shape. The curl pattern may resemble a lowercase “s”, uppercase “S”, or sometimes an uppercase “Z”. This hair type is usually voluminous, “climate dependent (humidity = frizz), and damage prone.” Lack of proper care causes less defined curls.

  • 3a Curly (Loose): Curly hair that usually presents a definite “S” pattern and tends to combine thickness, fullness, body and/or frizziness.
  • 3b Curly (Tight): As 3a but with tighter curling like a spiral. This type is what is people try to achieve with normal thickness curling wands.
  • 3c Curly (Very Tight): Very curly hair that look like a corkscrew.

Type 4: Kinky: This hair type features a tightly coiled curl pattern (or no discernible curl pattern at all) that is often fragile with a very high density. This type of hair shrinks when wet and because it has fewer cuticle layers than other hair types it is more susceptible to damage.

  • 4a Kinky (Soft): Hair tends to be very fragile, tightly coiled and can feature curly patterning.
  • 4b Kinky (Wiry): As 4a but with less visible (or no) curly patterning.
  • 4c Kinky (Wiry): As 4a and 4b but with almost no defined curl pattern.

In India, most of the curly heads fall in the category of 2c to 4a. Your hair type is not necessary to fall in one of a specific category. It can be a combination of two close hair patterns. My hair type is mostly 3a but sometimes (if weather permits) they fall in 3b curl type.

Basic hair wash routine is same for all the curly hairs but knowing your curly hair type can help you identify with other curly heads because the process of identifying your ideal curly hair routine is pure experimenting.


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