Explanation of Hair Typing & The Case Against It!
What’s your hair type? Are you a 3b or 4A hair type?
We’re asked very often about hair typing systems. More specifically – many naturals are interested in how to determine their hair type. Generally speaking – we don’t discuss hair typing very often because there are many things that each person must do to care for their hair regardless of their individual hair type.
Having said that, we do recognize that there are some differences associated with caring for certain types of hair. Furthermore, many women utilize hair typing systems to describe the way their hair looks.
Now look, we recognize that the system created by Andre Walker (Oprah’s stylist) is popular and so we talk about it. This doesn’t mean that Andre Walker’s system is necessarily the best or most accurate.
Disclaimer: It’s very easy to incorrectly determine your hair type if you only look at the pictorial representations that have been provided. Please don’t rule out a particular hair type simply because your hair doesn’t look like the pictures below.
Andre Walker’s Hair Typing System
Andre Walker is famously known for creating a hair typing system or infamously known depending on your perspective. Andre reveals his hair typing system in a book titled Andre Talks Hair!
Andre makes it very clear in his book that everyone has good hair regardless of ethnicity. He was hoping to immediately debunk the often ridiculous good hair vs. bad hair debate prior to diving into a discussion about hair typing.
Even if you have a negative opinion of Andre Walker, I encourage you to read the book yourself and develop your own opinion of his hair typing system in Andre Talks Hair!. Andre’s system isn’t communicated accurately on many popular blogs that have written articles about the system. Having said that, let’s discuss the hair types defined in Andre Talks Hair!
Type 4: Kinky Hair
Type 4 Kinky Hair: Type 4 is “kinky” or more appropriately full of tight coils (tightly curled hair). Typically, Type 4 hair is also extremely wiry and fragile. Often times, it appears to be coarse, but it is actually really very fine, with several thin hair strands densely packed together. Note that type 4 hair is one the most common hair types found in black hair (African American hair).
- Type 4A hair is full of tight coils. It has an “S” pattern when stretched, much like Type 3 curly hair.
- Type 4B hair has a less defined pattern of curls and looks more like a “Z” as the hair bends with very sharp angles.
- Type 4C hair isn’t a part of the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. Please see the “what’s missing” section below for more information.
Type 3: Curly Hair
Type 3 Curly Hair: Curly hair textures have a definite “S” shaped curl pattern. Since the cuticle doesn’t lay flat, you will notice that curly hair isn’t nearly as shiny as Type 1 (straight hair) or Type 2 (wavy hair) hair types.
- Type 3A hair is very shiny and loose.
- Type 3B hair has a medium amount curls, ranging from bouncy ringlets (spiral like curls of hair) to tight corkscrews (spiral-shaped corkscrew curls).
- Type 3C hair isn’t a part of the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. Please see the “what’s missing” section below for more information.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Type 2 Wavy Hair: Type 2 is wavy hair that usually isn’t overly oily or very dry. The thought is that Type 2 hair falls right in the middle of Type 1 and Type 3.
- Type 2A hair is fine and thin. It is relatively easy to handle from a styling perspective because it can easily be straightened or curled.
- Type 2B hair characteristically has waves that tend to adhere to the shape of your head.
- Type 2C hair will frizz easily and it is fairly coarse.
Type 1: Straight Hair
Type 1 Straight Hair: Generally speaking Type 1 hair is straight; this hair type into three very specific segments – Type 1A, Type 1B, and Type 1C.
- Type 1A hair is described as fine, very thin and soft with a noticeable shine.
- Type 1B hair is medium-textured and has more body than Type 1A hair.
- Type 1C hair is the most resistant to curly styling and relatively coarse compared to other Type 1 hair types.
What’s Missing? Now, Let’s Discuss Hair Type 3C and Type 4C
You’ll notice that Type 3C and Type 4C hair types aren’t mentioned in the discussion above, that’s because they were not included in the original Andre Walker system.
Type 3C was created after Andre Walker released his hair typing system by a community member at NaturallyCurly.com. The prevailing thought was that the original hair typing system left this hair type out. Consequently, Type 3C hair has been defined as tight curls or coils that look like corkscrews.
Type 4C, like Type 3C, isn’t an actual hair type according to Andre Walker’s Hair System. His comments are actually very simple regarding Type 4 (Kinky) hair – if you can see a definite curl pattern, then you have Type 4A hair. If you can’t identify a defined, specific curl pattern, then your hair type is 4B. I would imagine that the Type 4C hair type was created by a member within the natural hair community – just like the Type 3C hair type.