Friday, January 7, 2011

Hair Myth #2

"She's mixed...that's why her hair is so long" - LIE

A lot of people believe that the only reason a black woman can have long hair is because she's mixed with Indian, part Spanish, Asian, White...blah blah blah. This is NOT TRUE! Everyone can grow their hair. Like I've preached in previous posts...EVERYONE'S hair grows. It doesn't matter what race you are (unless you have a disease that's preventing your hair from growing). The problem with us black women is that we are blessed with unique tresses. Unlike Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian cultures (i might be missing some other races but you get the point); African Americans tend to have drier strands. African American women have to put oils in their hair while other races wash it out. Because of this, our hair is more prone to breakage. Below i've listed the Hair Type Classification System. This will give you a better idea on what hair types we and others have.

Hair Type Classification System

Type 1: Straight Hair
This type of hair is straight with no discernible curl or wave pattern. This type of hair tends to get oily and is usually shiny.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
This type of hair typically is more coarse than Type 1 hair and will cling to the scalp in long "S" shaped waves. The hair sticks close to the head; it won't bounce up, even when layered.

There are three Type 2 subtypes:
  • Type 2a: Fine, thin and very easy to handle; easily straightened or curled
Type 2b: This type is medium-textured and a little resistant to styling; has a tendency to frizz
Type 2c: This type of hair is thick and coarse and more resistant to styling and will frizz easily
Type 3: Curly Hair
This type of hair has a more definite "S" pattern to it with the "S" being more tightly formed. The S may be a lower case s or upper case S, or it may even resemble a Z on some occasions...however, there is a definite curl pattern in place, with or without products. It will typically be relatively soft and will have less shine than type 1 or 2 hair. It will straighten out or form ringlets when wet but will draw up into a curlier pattern when it dries. This hair type is typical of biracial people and of Blacks of a more mixed heritage. Persons with this hair type has body, climate dependent (humidity = frizz), and damage prone. Lack of proper care renders dull curls.

There are three Type 3 subtypes:

  • Type 3a: Curls are naturally big, loose and usually very shiny. Circumference: sidewalk-chalk size
  • Type 3b: Medium amount of curl, from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews. Circumference: Sharpie size
  • Type 3c - This type of curl has more of a kink to it which means that the curls are more tighter...sort of like a corkscrew curl. The curls can be either kinky, or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together. This type of hair can be more challenging than a person with 3a or 3b hair to blow dry straight, but it usually can be done. This type of curl can be fine in texture. Circumference: Pencil or straw
Type 4 - Kinky Hair
This type of hair will have kinks and twists and possibly coils but does not form an "S" shape. It may be "L" shaped with bends in it. It may form tight coils or "O" shapes (not really the same as the "ringlets"formed by Type 3 hair. This tightly coiled hair is quite fine and fragile. It is wiry, and delicate by nature. Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, which means that it has less natural protection from the damage you inflict by combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it. It tends to be drier than other hair types because the bends and twists not only provide points that are more fragile, they actually make it hard for the natural oil (sebum) produced by the scalp to reach the ends of the hair shaft. Because the cuticles do not lay flat on Type 4 hair, the hair tends to be less shiny than Types 1, 2 and 3 and people will often think natural Black hair is dry or dull looking. Most African-Americans have Type 4 hair. Kinky hair grows at the same rate as other texture, however, if not treated properly it breaks more than other textures. Treat this hair type like a fine silk blouse – cleanse gently, detangle softly, and avoid harsh chemicals. Type 4 hair is also known to shrink up to 75% of the actual hair length. Circumference: Crochet needle or even smaller.

There are two Type 4 subtypes:
  • Type 4a: Tightly coiled hair that, when stretched, has an "S" pattern, much like curly hair. It tends to have more moisture than 4b; has a definite curl pattern
  • Type 4b: Has a "Z" pattern, less of a defined curl pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter "Z"; has a cotton-like feel
For more information about hair types and styling tips for your type visit