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How to Determine Your Actual Hair Type

7 mins

Tyler Teresi

It is hard to keep up with a range of information about hair types if you don’t know which is yours. That’s why is important to read on and find out about your hair type.

If you have a hard time finding a hair care routine that works for you, you may be missing some valuable information. An important factor in deciding how to care for your hair is recognizing your hair type. However, determining your hair type is not always a straightforward process, and it is important to take several things into account.

At WOW Skin Science, we believe the first step to caring for your hair properly is understanding it. Therefore, we have compiled the following guide to help you determine your hair type and give you some insight into how you can craft the right hair care routine.

Table of Contents:

  • What Factors Determine Your Hair Type?
  • Hair Structure
  • Hair Texture
  • Hair Density
  • Hair Absorbency
  • What Are the Different Hair Types?
  • Type 1 Hair
  • Type 2 Hair
  • Type 3 Hair
  • Type 4 Hair
  • Why Is It Important to Know Your Hair Type?
  • How To Care for Your Hair

What Factors Determine Your Hair Type?

Figuring out your hair type is not always a simple black-and-white solution, and there are multiple factors to take into account when trying to get a full picture of how your hair is structured. There are three key factors that influence and determine your hair type.

  • Hair Structure

Hair structure refers to the pattern of your hair and the shape of your hair strands from the root to the ends. Examples of hair structure include straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair.

The best way to determine your hair structure is to wash it and allow it to air dry without any product in it. If your hair dries and falls straight without any curls or curves, then you have straight hair, also known as type 1 hair.

how to find your hair type

If your hair dries to create a form that starts straight from the root and then blends into an S-shape form toward the middle of the strands, then you have wavy hair, also known as type 2 hair.

Hair that shrinks when it dries and forms tight S-shaped strands is known as curly, type 3 hair. When the hair forms even tighter curls that resemble springs, it is known as coily hair. Coiled hair is also known as type 4 hair.

  • Hair Texture

Hair texture refers to the thickness and form of the individual strands of your hair. Your hair strands can range anywhere from fine and thin to coarse and thick. Hair texture ultimately determines how easy your hair is to style and, in many ways, how durable it is.

Thicker hair is generally easier to style as it is more likely to hold curls, but too thick hair is less likely to cooperate. Thick strands of hair are also more resilient to damage than thinner hair textures.

thick hair, how to tell what type of hair you have

Fine hair is less likely to hold a hairstyle, but it offers other benefits. Thinner strands of hair are more easily coated by natural sebum, so it has a natural shine and is less susceptible to dryness. However, this also means that the hair is more likely to become overly oily.

In order to tell what texture your hair is, compare a single strand of your hair against a sewing thread. Hair that is thinner than a sewing thread is considered to be thin hair. Strands of hair that are thicker than a sewing thread would be considered coarse hair. Meanwhile, hairs in between would be defined as medium hair.

  • Hair Density

Another key part of your hair type is how tightly your hair is packed together. You may have wavy hair, but not all wavy hair is the same. Some people may find that they just have more hair than others and have a higher hair density.

Hair density is one of the few factors of your hair type that can be measured. This measurement refers to the number of hairs on your head per square inch. However, very few people are going to start counting the hairs in one square inch on their heads. Fortunately, you can typically tell whether you have dense, tightly packed hair without too much research.

understanding curly hair, how to tell hair density

If you have dense hair, you may find it harder to style and brush through your hair. It also takes longer to dry. Dense hair may mean that you also need haircuts more frequently to tame the large amounts of hair and maintain control over your styling. Ultimately, density plays an important part in your decisions regarding how to style and care for your hair.

Some hair types, like curly hair, are naturally denser, while others, like straight hair, are thinner and typically less dense. However, there are exceptions to this.

  • Hair Absorbency

This factor is not often included on hair type charts, but it can tell you a lot about your hair. Some products work better with absorbent hair than low absorbency hair. Absorbent hair responds better to thicker products, while non-absorbent hair should use lighter and lesser amounts of product. It also helps to add hair care products when the hair is wet in order to maximize the amount absorbed.

You can do an accurate test to determine how absorbent your hair is with a single strand of hair and a bowl of water. Simply place the strand in the bowl and watch how it reacts. If the hair sinks down to the bottom of the bowl, then it absorbs a large amount of moisture, while hair that floats absorbs only small amounts of water.

determining hair with bowl, bowl hair method

Absorbency can also demonstrate how resistant or vulnerable your hair is to damage. Hair that absorbs a large amount of water signifies that the cuticle is torn or damaged in a way that allows moisture to enter. As a result, absorbent hair often correlates with easily damaged hair, demonstrating that you should be more mindful of your routine and the products you use.  

What Are the Different Hair Types?

For the sake of understanding your hair structure and texture more easily, hair type categories provide clearer definitions of different styles of hair. Hair types are divided into one of four categories.

  • Type 1 Hair

If you have type 1 hair, then your hair is straight and free from bends or curves. This hair type is the most resistant to damage.

Straight hair is also the oiliest hair type since the natural sebum is able to move easily from the scalp to the ends of the hair strands. The benefit of this is that straight hair is more resistant to dehydration. Those with type 1 hair should plan on having a daily or near-daily shampoo routine.

understanding Type 1 Hair

Type 1 hair is broken into three subtypes:

1a- Thin, fine hair that stays completely straight from the roots to the ends.

1b- Medium textured hair that is more voluminous than type 1a hair.

1c- Coarse, thick hair that falls predominantly straight. This hair may have some slight wave to it.

  • Type 2 Hair

Anyone with wavy hair has type 2 hair. This hair type is one of the most versatile, as it can both be straightened and curled with relative ease. Similar to type 1 hair, type 2 hair can be broken into three subtypes:

2a- Fine and thin hair that starts straight at the root and starts to bend into a clear S-shape as it moves closer to the ends. This subtype is typically the easiest to style of the three subtypes.

2b- Medium-thickness hair with a more defined “S” pattern. It can be frizzy and difficult to style.

2c- Coarse hair that creates thicker waves. This subtype is often frizzier than other types two hair and can present some challenges when styling.

2a- Fine and thin hair, hair type
  • Type 3 Hair

Type 3 hair is clearly identified by its springy curls, making it very distinct from wavy hair. Those with type 3 hair often experience more dryness and can wash less often. This hair type is also vulnerable to breakage. Type 3 hair also has three defined subtypes:

3a- Loose curls that form a very clear “S” pattern and are usually far more voluminous than wavy type 2 hair. Usually, they are straight when wet but shrink to curls when dry.

3b- This subtype curls even tighter than 3a hair and has a more significant spiral pattern.

3c- Hair that presents the tightest curls of the three subtypes. Type 3c hair is not always listed by hair charts, but it helps to differentiate between very tight curls and coily hair.

Type 3 Hair type
  • Type 4 Hair

Type 4 hair is referred to as coily, kinky, or Afro-textured hair. Although type 4 hair is very voluminous, it can be fragile and is often more susceptible to damage and breakage. As a result, it is important to use caution when detangling and styling type 4 hair.

The tight coils of this hair type mean that sebum has difficulty moving through the hair strands, which can lead to dryness. The three subtypes of type 4 hair are:

4a- Soft hair that remains in tight curls. This subtype resembles type 3c hair but with narrower curls that form spiraled coils.

type 4 hair type, understanding your hair

4b- Narrower coils that bend in different directions, creating more of a Z-shape than an S-shape. This subtype is also relatively soft.

4c- Coily hair with even narrower coils. This subtype is usually not as soft as 4a or 4b hair. Hair strands move in sharp angles with an even more defined Z-pattern.

Why Is It Important to Know Your Hair Type?

Knowing and understanding your hair type is crucial for treating it properly. Your specific hair type is a key factor in determining how to properly care for your hair.

For example, hair type and structure play an important part in how sebum moves from the scalp through the strands of hair. Oil production defines hair care in many ways. For example, denser curly hair structure makes it difficult for this natural oil to coat the strands of hair. As a result, hair types 3 and 4 require more careful attention in order to keep the hair hydrated and healthy.

Hair structure and texture also matter in determining how strong or fragile each strand of hair is. Once you know what your hair type is, you know what risk factors to look out for and can make further considerations when determining how to care for your head of hair.

How To Care for Your Hair

Once you understand your hair type, you will have a better understanding of how to take care of it. Different hair structures and textures respond differently to various products and treatments, so it is vital to know yours. 

Hair types that tend to be drier need deep moisturizing products, like powerful conditioners. A great option for managing dry hair types is WOW’s Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, including jojoba oil, coconut oil, and castor oil to deeply hydrate and nourish your hair.

Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner

Dry types also benefit from additional treatments like hair masks and hot oil treatments to add hydration. Although any hair type can benefit from these products, they are especially helpful for thicker hair structures.

WOW’s 10-in-1 Hair Oil provides you with more nutrients than you can imagine. This hair oil is packed with powerful nourishing ingredients like almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil. Altogether, this formula is full of vitamins A through E, natural antioxidants, and healthy fatty acids that keep the hair soft and flexible while helping to repair the damage.

Fragile hair types require more caution during styling and deserve nourishing hair care products to reinforce the hair strands and follicles. A hair mask like WOW’s Coconut Milk Hair Mask can help nutrients absorb deep into your hair strands and scalp in order to repair damage and prevent further damage.

WOW’s Coconut Milk Hair Mask

For a wide selection of natural products that are great for any hair type, explore WOW’s complete collection of hair care products, from shampoos to leave-in treatments. No hair type responds well to harsh chemicals like sulfates or parabens, which is why all of these products rely on natural formulas.

Keep in mind that everyone’s hair is unique, so not everyone with the same hair type will have the exact same hair care routine. It also may take some trial and error for you to find the best system for you.

Once you assess your hair type, you can have more insight into the best practices for taking care of your hair. As you search for the right ways to care for your hair, WOW Skin Science is here to help.

To learn more about how to care for your hair type and gain advice on how to address specific needs of your hair, seek the help of WOW’s expert advice page. If you are looking for ways to revitalize your hair, browse all of our 100% natural hair care products to see all of the ways you can nourish and support your hair.

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Tyler Teresi

Tyler is a content writer specializing in blog writing, landing page content, and website copy. He is passionate about health and wellness, travel, and B2C content. When not writing, Tyler is riding his bike, playing his guitar, or hiking in the mountains.

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Author: Tyler Teresi

Latest posts:

Tyler Teresi

Tyler is a content writer specializing in blog writing, landing page content, and website copy. He is passionate about health and wellness, travel, and B2C content. When not writing, Tyler is riding his bike, playing his guitar, or hiking in the mountains.
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