What Hair Type Do You Have? Find Out Now
Updated: Apr 29, 2022
Have you invested in pricey hair products and treatments but still can't find something that gives you the style you're looking for?
This might be because your hair type doesn't react well to the products—maybe your hair needs oil control but you're drowning your hair in moisturizing treatments. So, how do you find out your hair type? Read on to learn all you need to know about determining your unique hair type and how it affects your everyday hair care routine.
The first step to finding out your hair type is determining its texture. Your hair texture is the natural shape or pattern of your strands. If you want to discover your hair texture, skip the products and let your hair air dry after your next shower.
Type 1: Straight
If your hair dries straight without a bend or curl, then your hair is straight (this is often referred to as "type 1"). People with type 1 texture often say that they have "stick straight hair".
Type 2: Wavy
If you see a slight curve or “S” shape in your naturally dried hair, then it is considered wavy (type 2). People often see bends or waves in some parts of their hair and not others—for example, the top can dry straight while the bottom layers of hair have more of a curl to them.
Type 3: Curly
If your hair dries with a defined curl or loop pattern, it’s likely curly (type 3). Curly hair is typically a bit looser and has a different shape than coily hair, but looser and tighter curls both fit within the curly type.
Type 4: Coily
Very tight curls, spirals, or zig-zag patterns in your hair are called coily (type 4). Coily hair has a different pattern than curly hair and the coils are generally tighter.
Hair structure is divided into three groups:
Coarse (also called "thick")
Structure tends to be tricky to determine because you can have fine hair but have a lot of it, which can trick you into thinking your hair is thicker than it really is.
When it comes to hair structure, we’re talking specifically about the thickness of each strand. Hair structure determines how well your hair will hold certain styles and react with certain products.
To determine your hair structure, think back to times you've used hot styling tools.
Have you curled your hair only to have the curl disappear after a few hours? If your hair doesn't hold styles for very long, you most likely have a fine structure.
Can you curl your hair once and have the style last for days? You likely have a medium to thick hair texture.
Does it take a lot of heat to style your hair, but the style lasts for a long time? You likely have thick or coarse hair texture.
A test for truly determining your hair structure is to take a single strand of hair and lay it down on a plain, flat surface. Next, cut a piece of sewing thread about six inches long and compare it to your hair strand. If your hair looks thinner than the sewing thread, your hair is fine, but if it seems thicker, it’s likely coarse/thick. Anything in between them would be medium.
Now that you know your hair texture and structure, it's time to figure out your porosity.
Porosity is how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture. You might be wondering why this matters—but if you have hair with low porosity, products tend to sit on top of your strands rather than being absorbed. This is because the cuticle—the outermost layer of your hair shaft—is tightly sealed.
If you have very porous hair, the cuticle is raised and/or damaged, which allows products and moisture to enter the hair shaft easily. But, high porosity hair can also lead to excessive frizz because the hair strands are constantly absorbing moisture from the air.
There are a few ways to test your hair porosity at home. One way is the float test: take a strand of clean, dry hair and place it in a bowl of water.
If it sinks, you have low porosity hair
if it floats, you have high porosity hair
if it sinks and then floats, you have medium porosity hair
If you want to get a little more scientific, the pluck test is for you. Take a single strand of clean, dry hair and gently pluck it from your head.
If the strand easily slides out and doesn't break, you have high porosity hair.
If it takes a little more effort to pluck out and/or breaks easily, you have low porosity hair.
Elasticity is how much your hair stretches before returning to its natural state. This is important to know because if you have low elasticity, your hair is more susceptible to breakage when it’s wet. High hair elasticity is an indicator of how healthy your hair is, and will usually be obvious in how much shine and bounce your hair has.
Take the hair elasticity test:
Take a small section of clean, dry hair and wet it (you can use a spray bottle filled with water).
Gently stretch one hair strand.
If it stretches quite a bit before breaking, you have high elasticity
If it breaks easily, you have low elasticity.
Hair with high elasticity (when wet) can stretch up to 50% of its original length before it breaks. Coarse hair is usually highly elastic.
If you want to improve your hair elasticity, there are a few things you can do. One is to make sure you’re deep conditioning regularly, as this will help to add moisture and prevent breakage.
Reputable salons in your area may offer deep conditioning treatments with high-quality ingredients you can't find at the local drugstore. You should also avoid using heat styling tools too often, as this can damage your hair and lead to breakage.
Since our hair health starts with our scalp, it's essential to be aware of our scalp moisture levels.
Oily: If the hair at your scalp is flat and greasy the second day after a wash, you're probably dealing with an oily scalp.
Dry: A dry scalp can produce more sebum (oil) to compensate for a dry scalp, so you can tell if your scalp is both greasy and itchy or flaky, your body is probably overcompensating.
Using an oil control shampoo for a greasy scalp will help get that excess oil under control. For a flaky scalp, hydrating shampoo is a great choice.
Determining your hair type is the first step to finding the right products and styling techniques for your strands. Now that you know all about the different types of hair, which one do you have, and what's next?
What To Do Now That You Know Your Hair Type
Now that you know your hair type, you can start looking for products that will work best for your strands. Here are a few suggestions based on hair structure:
If you have fine hair, look for volumizing shampoos and conditioners to add some body. Try a lightweight mousse or gel to style your hair and avoid any product that weighs your hair down.
If you have medium hair, you're in luck—most products will work for your hair type! But, to avoid any product build-up, be sure to use a clarifying shampoo at least once a week.
If you have coarse hair, look for hydrating shampoos and conditioners to help tame your mane. Deep conditioners are a must to help add moisture to your strands. And when it comes to styling, try using a leave-in conditioner or cream to help control frizz.
You'll most likely walk away from reading this with a mixture of conflicting structures, porosities, and moisture levels, but don't let it overwhelm you! At Cualtzin Salon, we can help you prioritize your hair goals and put together a plan to get your locks looking and feeling their best. Schedule an appointment with us today!