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Identifying Your Hair Type

Everyone's hair reacts differently to different products and environment, but hair of the same type generally responds in similar ways. There are two especially popular systems of classification; Andre Walker's classification system and Fia's Hair Typing System.

Walker's system is geared specifically toward African-descended hair types, so this is based on finding your hair type using Fia's Hair Typing System because it applies to everyone who has hair regardless of heritage. There are three main classifiers for hair type that tell the amount of wave or curl, the thickness of each individual strand, and the thickness of all the hair put together. If you find someone who matches you on all these classifiers, you've found a valuable "hair twin" whose experiences can help you determine how your hair will respond to various elements.

The First Hair Type Classifier

The first classifier determines how much body wave or curl your hair has. To determine this, take a shower and then allow your hair to air dry flat (not in a towel or styled in any way). Once dry, take a close look at your hair. Is it absolutely flat and straight? You're a 1a. If there's a little bit of body to it but no discernible wave, 1b; two or three slight waves but still straight overall, 1c; has some loose waves, 2a; fairly distinct waves, 2b; very distinct waves, possibly with a few spiral curls, 2c; lots of loose spiral curls, 3a; tighter, bouncy curls, 3b; really tight spiral curls all over, 3c; tight S-curls, 4a; really tight S-curls falling in odd, zigzag patterns, 4b.

Now you know the first part of your hair type. Some people fall between the classifying categories and that's fine, it just means that your hair will be defined by both categories that describe it. For instance, if you have some body to your hair but only one visible wave, you're a 1b/1c. The third classifier is the only one that can not have split categories.

The Second Hair Type Classifier

The second classifier denotes the thickness of individual strands of your hair. Take a single strand of your hair, make sure it's clean (if it's been through a brush or comb it might not be) or the type may be skewed. Fine hair is barely visible if you hold it in front of your eyes, hardly shows up against a contrasting background and can barely be felt if you roll it between two fingers. Medium hair is easily visible, easily felt between the fingers, but still feels will feel similar to cotton thread when you roll it. Course hair is thicker, much easier to see against a background and may feel wiry but rarely ever slippery.

The Final Hair Type Classifier

The third and final classifier determines the overall thickness of your entire head of hair. This one is very difficult to measure if your hair is too short to gather into a ponytail, though a guess can be made by how thick your hair is against the scalp. If it's long enough, gather all your hair into a ponytail and measure around the circumference. Thin hair, or i, measures less than two inches around. Normal hair, ii, measures between two and four inches. Thick hair, iii, is anything measuring over four inches around.

Take all the classifiers together, and you have your hair type. It will look something like 1c/F/iii (substituting your own categories) when you're finished. You can now compare your hair to others using hair type as a reference; some websites also sell hair products based on hair type, so keep this as a handy reference so you can always know what kind of hair is being referred to.

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