Sarah of Wonderlust writes:
I think hair typing gets a bad rap.
When I started my natural journey, I knew very little about what it meant or what my hair would even look like. It wasn’t as though I started getting my hair straightened really young, but ponytails (two in the front, one in the back) ruled my life back then. In terms of relaxers, I was a stretcher and would notice some curls near my ear right before touch up time, but I never really knew my hair.
When I made the decision to stop straightening my hair, I adopted hair idols and perused hair mag sites for pictures, but it wasn’t until after my BC that I really started to do my research (and if I had, I never would have gotten highlights). It took about 2-3 weeks of being lost and shampooing my hair everyday until I stumbled upon Curly Nikki, Naturally Curly, and the hair typing system. I had found the Mecca. I learned about the CG/no-poo method, wash & goes vs. twist & braid outs, and that I was 3c/4a.
I also learned that many naturals identified themselves as 3c/4a. But what did that really mean? And why was it that some recommendations from people with beautiful heads of hair of my same “hair type” fail horribly for me?
Enter the controversy. Attribute it to hair snobbery or insecurity, but some would have you believe that there is a world of difference between 3c and 4a and that being in the world of 3s means something totally different about yourself than being in the 4s. That 3 = beautiful, silky curls and 4 = dry, damage-prone coils. And there are other deep-seeded issues at hand. The old light-skinned with good hair debate is an old one, so I’ll leave that to Mixed Chicks to solve (side eye). But we all know this isn’t the truth, for the most beautiful head of hair I know belongs to Naptural85, who has the shiniest (4a) curls I’ve ever seen! So, there had to be more to it… even looking at my own hair, it had to be something more to my hair, or else it should have looked like every other head of hair I’ve seen.
Here is where I learned there was a difference between curl pattern and hair type. Don’t get it twisted… there is a difference! Curl pattern is only an attribute to one’s entire hair type. So, learning my curl pattern was only the first step, but I really started to make strides with my hair when I figured out its density, the strand thickness, and its porosity. It was wayyyy more important to know that my 3c/4a hair is a very dense mass of medium to thick strands with low porosity. Because, at the end of the day, thick hair is thick hair and dry hair is dry hair, whether the curl pattern is 3a or 4a.
Apparently there are some who get with the hair typing system and some who don’t. But really, no matter what you call you hair, whether it be by numberletter (slash another numberletter) or highly textured and coily, no matter what you call it, it is what it is!