So much drama:
Be it blogs, vlogs or websites, hang around any natural hair forum long enough, and you'll hear some level of discussion/debate on the topic of hair typing. Whether describing the different types, debating the pros/cons to the system, or cliqueing up by type; the whole topic can be a bit overwhelming.
Like so many things coming off the natural hair bandwagon, when it comes to hair typing, I find that there is a pinch of good info and a pile of hype.
What is it?
Hair typing is a system used to classify or define the shape of the hair; straight, wavy, curly, or kinky.
I think it is WAY WAY WAY over-hyped. I think it's good for giving us a common language to compare our hair by but other than that, I don't see what it's really good for. I think its' more important to understand the physics behind curl. If you understand that basic science, you can better understand why curly hair is harder to keep shiny, or moist. I discuss all of this...including my opinion on hair typing in my video series on the topic.
So what 'Type' am I?
There are two common classification systems for hair typing; the LOIS system and the Andrew Walker System (yep, Oprah's personal stylist Andre Walker!)
- L.O.I.S. defines hair based on shape.
- L: Like the letter, L-shaped hair is kinky.
- O: Like the letter, O- shaped hair is curly
- I: Like the letter, I, shaped hair is straight
- S: Like the letter, S-shaped hair is wavy
Easy peasy, right? No? Check this out:
- The Andre Walker System to Hair Typing is a much more detailed (read complex) system that defines the hair's shape and the DEGREE of it's shape. In other words, not only is your hair curly but HOW curly, HOW wavy, HOW straight, etc.
- You'll know it's the Andre Walker system being referred to when hair typing is being discussed because the classification is two-part, a number that defines the shape of your hair followed by a letter defining the degree of shape.
- Like the L.O.I.S. system, the Andre Walker system breaks hair down into 4 shapes. The greater the number, the greater the curl pattern.
- Type 1: Straight
- Type 2: Wavy
- Type 3: Curly
- Type 4: Kinky
- Once you've determines the shape and thus number, the next step is to attempt to assess the degree of curl. Personally, I find this a bit much and an area that people can easily get bogged down and confused. I'll let the pictures do the talking but basically, you can think of the letter as a measurement of circumference in the curl (I know, I know!). I don't bother assessing the degree of straightness or waviness but for curly and kinky hair, the degree or letter assesses how wide (or not) the curl is. I think this picture explains better than my rambling can ever do.
The one thing I can say about the Andre Walker system is that for those truly delve into learning the science of hair, it helps one to understand why the shape of your hair's curl pattern determines other properties such as shine, ability to maintain moisture, etc.
Got it? Check out my two-part video to get even more on hair typing. Remember, knowledge is the key to healthy hair and health is the key to growth
One last thing....it's VERY common to have more than one type of hair on your head. While coarse, my crown is probably a coarse type 2b while the rest of my hair is closer to a type 3a/b. I WISH I had tight, boingy curls like type 3c to type 4a/b/c but God decided against it. It can be frustrating but frustration can be the mother of innovation. I've come to LOVE perm rods. They give my straighter hair the curl that I have in some areas but want all over.
So what 'Type' are you? Share in the comments and come on over to the chat room to gab, gripe, glorify, and share your journey. See you there!
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