Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/18/2020
For many women, their hair is their pride and joy. From straight and fine to voluminous and curly, every woman’s hair is different and beautiful in its own way.
The way you style your hair is a matter of preference, but you probably already know that your hair has some limitations. Perhaps it tends to frizz easily or doesn’t want to hold a curl. These are qualities that you can’t control, but you can learn how to work around them.
Knowing your hair type and how to care for it is the key to healthy and beautiful hair.
Let’s take a look at the different hair types and textures and explore the best products, styling techniques, and haircuts for each of them.
When you think about different types of hair, you probably think in simple terms like curly or straight.
What you may not realize is that there are actually a dozen different subcategories of hair types, each fitting a very specific description. Knowing your hair type is the key to caring for it properly.
Type 1 – Straight
Type 2 – Wavy
Type 3 – Curly
Type 4 – Kinky
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these hair types and the subcategories for each.
Type 1: Straight
If you have hair of this type, it is straight and may have a tendency toward becoming greasy and shiny. Straight hair becomes greasy faster than curly hair because oil from your scalp travels down the hair shaft more quickly. There are three subcategories for straight hair:
Type 1A – Most common in women of Asian descent, type 1A hair is very straight and fine.
Type 1B – Still very straight, type 1B hair is thicker with medium texture and more volume.
Type 1C – While still straight, this type of hair is very thick, coarse, and shiny.
Type 2: Naturally Wavy
Hair of this type has a natural wave, and it tends to be thicker than Type 1 hair. The subtypes are divided by the thickness of the hair and the shape of the waves. There are three subcategories for wavy hair:
Type 2A – This type of hair is very fine and thin with S-shaped waves – it is also easy to style.
Type 2B – A little frizzier than type 2A, this type of hair is wavy and medium-thick.
Type 2C – This hair type is wavy, thick, and coarse – it is prone to frizz and difficult to style.
Type 3: Curly
This type of hair is definitely curly – usually the kind of curl that goes straight when the hair is wet but goes back to being curly as it dries. Curly hair has clearly defined, springy curls and it tends to be easy to style. There are three subcategories for curly hair:
Type 3A – This hair has defined curls with a thick texture and a lot of shine but can be frizzy.
Type 3B – Hair of this type has tighter curls and may have a combination of textures.
Type 3C – This type of hair has very tight curls or kinks and is generally easy to style.
Type 4: Very Curly or Kinky
Hair of the very curly or kinky type has very tight, sometimes well-defined curls. It tends to be fairly coarse in texture but is also sensitive and prone to damage by heat and product. There are three different subcategories for kinky hair:
Type 4A – This hair is soft in texture with tight, well-defined curls or kinks.
Type 4B – Hair of this type has very tight curls, but they are less defined, soft, and fragile.
Type 4C – This type of hair has such tight curls that it may not even look curly at all.
In addition to different types of hair, there are also different textures to think about. The texture of your hair is typically a description of its circumference or thickness.
Fine hair tends to be thin and fragile. Each hair has two layers, the cortex and the cuticle. Because fine hair is very thin, it can become oily or greasy very quickly. It also tends to become weighed down by product and breaks more easily than thicker hair.
Medium hair is thicker than fine hair, and it is what most women have. Hair with this texture still has two layers – the cortex and cuticle – but some women may have a third layer to their hair called the medulla. Medium-thickness hair tends to hold hairstyles better than fine hair and has more volume. It is also less prone to breakage.
The third option for hair texture is thick or coarse. Thick hair has three layers – the cortex, cuticle, and medulla – and it looks fuller than fine or medium hair. Coarse or thick hair holds hairstyles well and is more tolerant than other textures to things like heat, product, and hair dye. It is also less prone to breakage, but it can become frizzy in humid weather and takes longer to dry.
Now that you have an understanding of the different hair types, do you know which type of hair you have? Keep reading to find out how to care for your hair based on its type.
When it comes to caring for your hair, there are a number of different factors to consider.
First and foremost, you need to know what products to use.
Shampoo and conditioner may seem straightforward, but there are myriad different types. The best shampoo for straight hair may not work as well for curly hair and vice versa. Other products like hair oil, hair masks, heat protectors, and others also work differently for different hair types.
Another difference in caring for the various hair types is in recommended techniques for drying and styling your hair. There are also certain ways to cut hair of different types.
Straight Hair – Keep it Clean
Many women with this hair type find it easy to grow out, and it often has lots of natural shine. The problem is that straight hair becomes greasy very quickly, so you may need to wash it more often and use products like dry shampoo on the days in between.
Recommended Products: Look for volumizing shampoos and conditioners to give your straight, fine hair a little more life. Avoid products that are too heavy or that have too much hold. A good dry shampoo is a must as well, even right after you’ve showered and blown your hair dry.
Styling Tips: When blow-drying your hair, flip it upside down and use a round brush to give it more volume. After drying, spritz a little dry shampoo on the roots to soak up excess oil – you can also do this before bed on days when you don’t wash your hair. If you want to take things up a notch, try using a texturizing product and spread it from root to tip.
Haircut Tips: A blunt haircut is going to give your hair the appearance of being a little thicker. If you have medium or thick straight hair, add some layers to give your hair movement.
Wavy Hair – Keep it Light and Easy
The main problem with wavy hair is that it tends to frizz. The key to caring for wavy hair is to control frizz without weighing down your natural curl. Your primary concerns are adding moisture and volume without losing that wave.
Recommended Products: Look for shampoos and conditioners designed to hydrate and moisturize your hair. To help lock in hydration and reduce frizz, try using a moisturizing hair mask once a week.
Styling Tips: To keep your natural waves from becoming frizzy, apply a little styling mousse from roots to tip while your hair is still damp. To lock in moisture and control frizz, apply a little hair oil starting at the middle of the shaft and working it to the ends (avoid the scalp or your hair might end up looking greasy). When drying your hair, use a diffuser and rest the ends of your hair on the attachment to dry it. For added frizz control, turn off the heat when your hair is 90% dry and apply a finishing cream.
Haircut Tips: If you have fine wavy hair, a layered haircut can give you some much-needed volume. For thicker textures, wearing your hair long will keep your waves more relaxed. The shorter you go, the curlier your hair is going to look because there is less length to weigh it down.
Curly Hair – Focus on Moisture
Nobody likes frizz but, unfortunately, it’s a constant battle you’ll have to fight if you have curly hair. The key to controlling frizz is to keep your hair moisturized. The right shampoo and conditioner can hydrate your locks while mousses, creams, and jellies can add control and definition.
Recommended Products: The foundation of your hair care routine should be a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner – you might even find one designed specifically for curly hair. You may also want to experiment with mousse, hair oil, or curl jelly to control frizz and to define your curls.
Styling Tips: If you want to embrace your curls, apply some light mousse or hair oil from root to tip – just make sure it’s nothing heavy. As soon as you get out of the shower, use a wet brush to detangle without pulling out your curls then blow-dry using a diffuser.
Haircut Tips: The haircut you choose will determine how curly your hair looks. Similar to wavy hair, the shorter you go, the curlier your hair is going to look.
Very Curly or Kinky Hair – A Little Bit of Everything
If your hair is very curly or kinky, it may be a bit of a tossup which products do and don’t work for you. It all depends on the length and texture of your hair, so talk to your stylist if you need help choosing the right products or hairstyle.
Recommended Products: The key to caring for very curly hair is moisture – start with a shampoo for curly hair and a heavy moisturizing conditioner. You should also use a moisturizing mask, as often as every time you wash your hair. Other products like hair oils and finishing creams can lock in moisture and add definition to your curls while a light pomade will help with styling.
Styling Tips: Right out of the shower, you’ll want to towel-dry your hair to remove excess moisture. Very curly hair tends to do best with air-drying because the blow-dryer may cause excessive dryness and increase the risk for breakage. After towel drying, use a hair oil or leave-in conditioner for added moisture and to define your curls.
Haircut Tips: Many women with this type of hair avoid haircuts because the shorter you go, the curlier your hair gets. Even if you don’t want to remove length, you should still get regular haircuts to keep the ends healthy.
These styling and hair care tips are simple to follow, and they will help keep your hair healthy and looking its best. If you want lovely locks, these are the tips to follow.
If you find yourself dealing with excessively dry hair or heat damage, you may need to add additional products to your lineup. Your hair is as unique as you are, so you’ll need to spend some time getting to know your hair to learn how to best care for it.
With the right products and a healthy dose of TLC, you’ll enjoy luxurious and luscious locks, regardless of your hair type.
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