Our hair is our body’s debonair superhero. It can endure two tons of weight, and is stronger than copper of the same diameter.
So how do you care for this debonair superhero? Well, the first step would be to know your hair type.
What is Hair Made Of?
Hair grows from follicles in the skin (the dermis, to be exact), and its shaft is made up of three layers – the cuticle, cortex and medulla. The outer layer, medulla, prevents damage and controls water content. The middle part – the cortex – provides strength. The final layer is called the medulla and it only exists in thick hairs.
The color of the hair actually depends on the middle layer, i.e. the cortex. Two types of melanin are to be found in the cortex. Eumelanin is connected to brown and black hair, while pheomelanin produces blonde and red hair. The color of your hair actually depends on the ratio of these two types of melanin. Grey hair means that there is no melanin pigment. That is, when your hair turns grey, that means that melanin production has either decreased or altogether stopped.
Although the main purpose of hair nowadays is to help us look stylish, it did maintain its primary function. You hair does all of these things on a daily basis – it insulates, cools and protects the scalp from UV rays.
Factors that Determine Hair Type
The factors that actually determine a person’s hair type are traditionally divided into six categories – curl pattern, diameter, density, porosity, elasticity and oiliness. With such an extensive categorization, there is no way you won’t be fully acquainted with your hair type in the future.
However, take note that it might not be that cut and dried. It would be perfect if hair strands were to fall neatly into categories, but that is a bit unlikely. That is why all this talk of hair type should be used as a reference point to determine approximately your hair type. But, remember, your hair type might overlap in some categories.
Fun fact – Oprah’s stylist Andre Walker came up with the hair typing system that is widespread today. And, he created it as recently as less than 30 years ago! According to his system of classification, there are four hair pattern types. These include:
- Straight hair (Type 1) – According to Walker’s system, straight hair is the shiniest and the most resilient of all types. That is, it is difficult to damage it. But, as many of you who have straight hair already know, it is also difficult to curl it! This type is also oily, since the sebum can spread easily throughout the strand with no curls to hinder it. It is usually divided into 1a, 1b and 1c.
- Wavy hair (Type 2) – Wavy hair is also divided into a, b and c types. While the first type is easily styled, the same cannot be said for the other two. Also, 2b and 2c types tend to get frizzy aside from not being incredibly conducive to styling. On the other hand, 2a can switch easily between straight styles and curly ones.
- Curly hair (Type 3) – The foolproof way of discerning whether your hair is curly or, let’s say, wavy, is to test whether it follows the standard “S” shape when it is not styled at all. If it does, then it is curly. Curly hair is only divided into two types, depending on the tightness of the curls.
- Kinky hair (Type 4) – Kinky hair is incredibly soft to the touch even though it may seem coarse. The curls are really tight and look like the letter “Z.” Even if you stretch the strands, they will always return to their natural shape. Kinky hair is also usually quite thick. It can be easily damaged with improper care. That is why it is extremely important to take care of type 4 hair properly.
You’ve most likely already noticed whether you have fine, medium or thick strands of hair. How many times have you heard someone complaining how nothing can be done with their thin hair?
There are many ways of determining the diameter of your hair. But you should remove all “distractions,” so to speak. Wash your hair before checking to be certain that it’s not oily or filled with that lovely city air grime that is often to be found on hair. Take a piece of string to compare it to.
Just note that it is not uncommon for one person to have hair strands of various diameters on their heads. Some people have thinner hair, as well as thicker hair strands at the same time.
Some people have hair so thin that it is difficult to sometimes see it, while others can possibly pull a truck with their type of hair. It is usually in line with the color – darker hair usually has thicker strands.
And, as we all know, we associate hair thickness with strength. That is why it is not surprising that many people are looking for ways to make their hair thicker.
Hair density pertains to the number of hair strands that cover your head. But, did you know that this number often depends on the color of your hair? The densest hair is usually blonde, and the number of hair strands decreases the darker the hair is.
This has to do with the fact that the main function of hair is to protect and, since blonde hair is also thinner, there needs to be more strands in order to effectively protect the scalp.
Since you cannot determine the density of your hair by counting every strand, there are other ways. Pull one strand of hair to the side and check how much scalp is visible.
If you can see it clearly, you have fewer strands. On the other hand, if you can’t see your scalp, that means that you have plenty of strands of hair. That is, you have thick density of hair.
This involves your hair’s ability to absorb water. There are three types of porosity – low, medium and high.
- Low porosity means that your hair does not retain moisture that well. If your hair is almost dry after you’ve toweled it off, that means you have low porosity.
- Medium porosity means that your hair retains moisture relatively well. Your hair won’t be dry after coming out of the shower, and depending on hair length would take anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours for hair to be completely dry.
- High porosity means that your hair is super efficient at retaining moisture. The difference between medium porosity and high porosity is that medium porosity hair is usually not sticky to the touch, while the other is.
How can you determine your hair’s porosity? Well, there are two different ways…
The first way would be to use your regular shampoo and conditioner, and do everything like you usually do. However, make sure that you’ve rinsed it well. Don’t use a hair dryer, because you won’t be able to check the porosity if it’s too dry. It’s best to gently comb your hair while it’s wet and then to simply squeeze it with a towel.
The second way of checking the porosity of your hair is to put a hair strand in water. If it sinks, your hair porosity is high. If your hair absorbs water easily, that means that it can absorb chemicals easily, as well. That is why you should be extra careful when using products. Take care of your care in line with its porosity.
Now, hair elasticity depends a lot on the actual health of the hair. Healthier hair will be more elastic than unhealthy hair.
To check elasticity, take a single strand between your fingers and pull. If it stretches and doesn’t break right away, that means it is quite elastic and strong. Most women, however, have medium elasticity. But, don’t despair, this can be amended using hair oils and masks. The Argan Oil Hair Mask can be quite useful for this. If your hair breaks right away, that means it has low elasticity. And it is usually brittle. In line with that, take good care of what products you use.
With a lot of these factors, it seems that you may not be in the know. Especially if you’ve never even considered it.
However, some things are so blatantly out in the open, that you know right away.
That is true for hair oiliness.
But, this is also one of the most important things you need to pay attention to when deciding on hair products. In fact, shampoos are often divided in line with hair oiliness. In addition, you need to be aware of the oiliness of your hair to know how often to wash it.
If your hair is oily, you have to wash it a bit more frequently. On the other hand, dry hair does not have to be washed all that often.
To determine whether your hair is oily, medium or dry, here’s what you need to do:
- Start by washing your hair.
- After you’ve washed it, don’t dry it, simply let it air dry. Using a hair dryer can alter the natural reaction of your hair for some time, which is why it is best to simply let it dry.
- Leave your hair for about eight hours, since that’s how long it takes for it to start producing oils.
- After eight hours, take a tissue and simply press it to your scalp. Make sure to press it at the crown. Alternatively, you can press it behind your ears for another indicator of oiliness.
If there is already oil on the tissue, well, you have oily hair. If it’s only in traces, then you’re in the middle. But, if there is nothing on the tissue, you have dry hair.
But, be careful, there is also a chance that you may have combination hair. That is why it is important to check several parts of the scalp. Your hair may be oily in one part, but completely dry in another.
Now That You Know Your Hair Type…
All of these little tests and checks that were presented only have one goal – to help you treat your hair the way it’s supposed to be treated.
So many times we make mistakes in choosing products without even knowing until it manifests in some way.
But, no more.
After defining your complete hair type, it will be easier to take care of your hair properly.
So, with all the knowledge that you’ve acquired, go to the store/hair stylist and demand the best for your hair!
Your hair deserves it!