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Curly Nikki

Decoding Hair Texture: Hair Typing Systems 101

By January 27th, 202140 Comments

by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals

Now that hair texture and type are established, we can take a closer
look at some popular hair typing systems. These are used by textured
women to help identify their hair and communicate with other curlies or
product choice and hair care methods. Some of these systems are
simple, some more complex. In my opinion, I believe they should be used
as a general guide to better understand your hair, which products will
be beneficial for it, and how to take care of it.

Andre Walker’s Curl Typing System
Possibly the most popular and used by mainly curly girls is the Andre
Walker system. Many systems are based on this one. In 1997 he took the
standard hairdresser texture classes and expanded it into curl typing. 
He classified hair into four main categories: Straight – Type 1, Wavy –
Type 2, Curly – Type 3 and Kinky – Type 4. Andre created and defined
subcategories – a, b, c – within the texture classes.

Type 1
Type 1 is straight hair and is further subcategorized:

•Type 1a – Straight (Fine/Thin) – Hair tends to be very soft, shiny
and difficult to hold a curl. Hair also tends to be oily, and difficult
to damage.
•Type 1b – Straight (Medium) – Hair has lots of volume & body.
•Type 1c – Straight (Coarse) – Hair is normally bone straight and
difficult to curl. Asian women usually fall into this category.

Type 2
Type 2 is wavy and tends to be coarse, with a definite S pattern to it. There are three Type 2 subtypes defined below.

•Type 2a – Wavy (Fine/Thin) – Hair has a definite “S” pattern. Normally can accomplish various styles.
•Type 2b – Wavy (Medium) – Hair tends to be frizzy, and a little resistant to styling.
•Type 2c – Wavy (Coarse) – Hair is also resistant to styling and normally very frizzy; tends to have thicker waves.

Type 3
When this type of hair is wet, it appears to be pretty straight. As it
dries, the hair goes back to its curly state. When curly hair is wet it
usually straightens out. As it dries, it absorbs the water and contracts
to its curliest state. Humidity tends to make this type of curly hair
even curlier, or frizzier. Type 3 hair has a lot of body and is easily
styled in its natural state, or it can be easily straightened with a
blow-dryer into a smoother style. Healthy Type 3 hair is shiny, with
soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity. The curls are well defined and

Andre defines two subtypes of curly hair. First, there is type 3a and
3b. The longer the hair is the more defined the curl. Then there is
type 3b hair, which has a medium amount of curl to tight corkscrews.
It’s not unusual to see a mixture of these types existing on the same
head. Curly hair usually consists of a combination of textures, with the
crown being the curliest part. Lastly there is a type 3c. This is a
hair type that is not in Andre Walker’s book. This type of hair can be
described as tight curls in corkscrews. The curls can be either kinky,
or very tightly curled, with a lot of strands densely packed together.

Type 3a – Curly (Loose Curls) – Hair tends to be shiny and
there can be a combination of textures. It can be thick & full with
lots of body, with a definite “S” pattern. It also tends to be frizzy.
The longer the hair the more defined the curl becomes.
Type 3b – Curly (Tight Curls) – Also tends to have a combination texture, with a medium amount of curl.

Type 4
According to Andre Walker, if your hair falls into the Type 4 category,
then it is kinky, or very tightly curled. Generally, Type 4 hair is very
wiry, very tightly coiled and very fragile. Similar to Type 3 hair,
Type 4 hair appears to be coarse, but it is actually quite fine, with
lots and lots of these strands densely packed together. Healthy Type 4
hair typically has sheen rather than shine. It will be soft and silky to
the touch and have proper elasticity.

There are two subtypes of Type 4 hair: Type 4a, tightly coiled hair
that, when stretched, has an S pattern, much like curly hair; and Type
4b, which has a Z pattern, less of a defined curl pattern. The hair
bends in sharp angles like the letter Z. Type 4a tends to have more
moisture than Type 4b which will be wiry.

•Type 4a – Kinky (Soft) – Hair tends to be very fragile, tightly coiled, and has a more defined curly pattern.
•Type 4b – Kinky (Wiry) – Also very fragile and tightly coiled;
however with a less defined curly pattern -has more of a “Z” pattern

L.O.I.S. African American Natural Texture Typing System
This popular curly typing system basically deals with Straight, Wavy,
Curly, Kinky and Nappy categories. Compared to the Andre Walker system,
it also takes strand thickness into account and assesses how hair
texture (thin/fine, medium, thick, very thick) can impact the various
top categories.

This system which is very comprehensive and somewhat complex is based
around the letters L. O. I. S. which stands for L = Bend, O = Curl, I =
Straight and S = Wave.  In addition to Bend, Curl, Straight and Wave is
the texture or strand thickness, including the categories of
thin, medium and thick.

Additional detailed definitions of natural textured hair include –

Thready: low sheen, high shine, low frizz
Wiry : sparkly sheen, low shine, low frizz
Cottony: low sheen, low shine, high frizz
Spongy: high sheen, low shine, high frizz
Silky: low sheen, high shine, low frizz
Shine is defined as hair that reflects light along its surface. Sheen is a sparkle to the hair.

Textured hair is extremely difficult to classify due to the
complexities of this hair type in terms of texture and curl pattern.
Despite their limitations, hair typing systems do a great job at
giving a general idea of categorizing hair to help guide product choice
and hair care. One of the best examples of this is the Naturally Curly Hair Finder which
does an excellent job of expanding on the major hair typing systems,
providing images of these hair types and giving hair care tips to bring
out the best in each type.

What Type are You?
Select a single strand of the most common type of hair on your head.
Aim for the most common texture on your head if you have different hair
textures. The hair should be freshly washed without products applied to
it and rinsed in cold water. Place the hair on a piece of white paper.
To determine texture, compare your hair to a piece of thread. If you
hair is thinner than the thread it is fine. If it is the same thickness
then you have medium hair. If your hair is thicker than the thread then
you have thick hair.

Find Your Pattern
The bends, kinks and coils of your hair will resemble one of more of the letters L, O, I or S.
L – If the hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve then you are daughter L.
O – If the strand is rolled up into the shape of one or several zeros like a spiral, then you are
daughter O.
I – If the hair lies mostly flat with no distinctive curve or bend you are daughter I.
S – If the strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys then you are daughter S.
You may have a combination of the L,O,I,S letters, possibly with one dominant.

Determine if your hair is:
Thready – Hair has a low sheen, with high shine if the
hair is held taut (as in a braid), with low frizz. Wets easily but water
dries out quickly.
Wiry – Hair has a sparkly sheen, with low shine and low
frizz. Water beads up or bounces off the hair strands. Hair never seems
to get fully wet.
Cottony – Hair has a low sheen, a high shine if the hair is
held taut and has high frizz. Absorbs water quickly but does not get
thoroughly wet very fast.
Spongy – Hair has a high sheen with low shine with a compacted looking frizz. Absorbs water before it gets thoroughly wet.
Silky – Hair has low sheen, a very high shine, with a lot or low frizz. Easily wets in water.

What is your hair type and texture according to the above systems?
Are there similarities or differences among the various systems?
CN Says:
I totally understand, on some real levels, the importance of categorizing to aid in recommending appropriate styling techniques, products and things of that nature, but yeah, beyond that, I’m good. 
For me, I’ve found that describing the hair (s waves, cottony, high porosity, thin density, fine texture etc.) helps, so with that, I would have to say, of the two, the L O I S system makes a bit more sense, but neither are ‘complete’.


  • Natarsha Miller says:

    Thanks I couldn't agree with you more. I look as the hair type system as a way to identify my styling and beauty needs of my hair to guide me. People tend to make products specifically for hair needs of the consumer, so they advertise what the product can do for you ie mostorize, conditions, detangle etc, To me its no devisive, and its only meant as a tool not the end all and definitely not the bible to define everyone and their hair. I'm a 4b.

  • JoAnn Nash says:

    Typically hair type in it's entirety – means density, hair texture, and curl pattern has all of the in between curl patterns, hair textures, and densities. So there is a reason to look at this as a general guideline knowing all the while that there are those of us who do fall in between.

    Why on earth would we feel that this system or any other system is a bad thing. It is not perfect, but at least it gets us thinking about the hair on our heads and what it likes and needs based on the tactile and visual nature of our hair.

    No matter what kind of hair a person has on their head – they should always accommodate their hair by doing and giving it what it wants – and for us it is usually moisture on a daily basis. And please note that moisture is not oils and butters – which seal in moisture. Moisture comes from water. So stay under the shower or sink and condition the hair!

  • Maggie says:

    I like the typing systems to help with styling as I am new to learning how to deal with my hair. I was natural before, then permed, now I am 1yr natural again. Third cycle actually but this time I feel super confident due to learning more about my hair and most importantly: styling. ^_^ I'm a happier camper than before.

    I see no harm in the typing nor is it entirely incomplete. What makes a measuring system complete anyway? One's BMI is not the same as weight, nor can you measure 8oz with a ruler. They measure only one thing with varying degrees. Different systems to measure different aspects of hair is only natural and obvious. One for appearance, one for sheen or whatnot.

    Neither would I say they reinforce negativity such as good vs bad hair. Just like a stick lying on the ground is not in itself bad, but if someone uses it as a weapon then it can do harm and be bad. But bad-ness is not built into the stick nor the hair typing. People thought of hair as good vs bad long before someone stated that they were a 4c. Just like saying I'm 5ft 8, 21yrs old, 5 inch hair, 4b gives you some visual idea of appearances, the systems are just a device for talking about our lovely diverse hair but we still have to add some details to get a full picture. Smooches!

    Great site! I'm much happier with my hair now with some help from the natural hair community. (ps. I'm not 5ft 8 etc etc… just an example)

  • roo08 says:

    now that's just sad….well she has the rest of her life to be comfortable with her hair if she wishes. must not be fun to not like a feature of herself so much…

  • SavanahRae says:

    Still confused about hair typing but can't say it really matters to me. I have hair that coils and curls and for the most part is highly porous and makes a nice little afro.

  • SavanahRae says:

    Too complicated, but I guess one is more vibrant that the other *scratches head*

  • NubianPrize says:

    I'm another one who's not into hair typing. First off, it can easily become divisive…an update of the old good hair/bad hair thing. Second of all, there are waaaaayyyyyy too many textures among black people !!!! Even on one person's head !! Plus the type it looks like can depend on what you put in it. I look at my hair & it's fine & all "O" & "S" according to LOIS & 4a according to Andre. No "Z" anywhere. I get great wash n go curl definition with KinkyCurly/Knot Today…strings of little penspring sized curls of different sizes.I have 3 different texture-feeling curl areas on my head. The front area has always grown longer,feels smoother & has more "hang" in its curl definition. The sides above my ears are tighter coils, not as "floppy" & feel more wiry. The back is in between the 2, with a quarter sized area in mid nape that's very fine & silky feeling & almost a 3c. It used to grow almost to my lower back whan I was a kid. Since the Big Chop & getting rid of all scab hair in past 2 years, there's another surprise…at the crown there's a largish round patch full of looser floppy coils that sticks up like a cowlick in my wash n goes. It's not the same as the other areas. They look very similar but feel & sometimes behave differently. UH OH…I said 3 texture areas & what I just wrote implies 5. Then there are the occasional straight & wavy strands. Isn't this nit picking fun? You can go crazy ! Then there are the photos of the different types on different websites. Some folks are labeled one type on one site & a different type on another site.Different products or hairstyles were used in the photos.
    I'm another one who's not into hair typing. First off, it can easily become divisive…an update of the old good hair/bad hair thing. Second of all, there are waaaaayyyyyy too many textures among black people !!!! Even on one person's head !! Plus the type it looks like can depend on what you put in it. I look at my hair & it's fine & all "O" & "S" according to LOIS & 4a according to Andre. No "Z" anywhere. I get great wash n go curl definition with KinkyCurly/Knot Today…strings of little penspring sized curls of different sizes.I have 3 different texture-feeling curl areas on my head. The front area has always grown longer,feels smoother & has more "hang" in its curl definition. The sides above my ears are tighter coils, not as "floppy" & feel more wiry. The back is in between the 2, with a quarter sized area in mid nape that's very fine & silky feeling & almost a 3c. It used to grow almost to my lower back whan I was a kid. Since the Big Chop & getting rid of all scab hair in past 2 years, there's another surprise…at the crown there's a largish round patch full of looser floppy coils that sticks up like a cowlick in my wash n goes. It's not the same as the other areas. They look very similar but feel & sometimes behave differently. UH OH…I said 3 texture areas & what I just wrote implies 5. Then there are the occasional straight & wavy strands. Isn't this nit picking fun? You can go crazy ! Then there are the photos of the different types on different websites. Some folks are labeled one type on one site & a different type on another site.Different products or hairstyles were used in the photos.

    ⬇ Drag and drop your images here to upload them.

  • nicthommi says:

    People just get upset b/c they have more or less assigned (in their own heads") the label "good" to the lower numbers, and the label "bad" to the higher numbers, so they've managed to turn an system that has no "judgements" into a hierarchy. And they don't even realize that it is their own internal issues that makes them say "oh no, I'm a type 4, I'm bad." So sad.

  • nicthommi says:

    I didn't know what any of that meant. I have thick afro-textured hair. Full stop. I don't need to worry about the rest.

  • nicthommi says:

    I don't think there is a benefit. I don't follow the "rules" for my hair type b/c I already knew how to do my hair, and didn't need anyone else to tell me. Plus, the same things don't work for different people even if you do have the same hair, mainly b/c you aren't the same person.
    My hair loves shampoo, with sulfates, and combs. A lot of people insist it is verboten but since my hair grows like weed, I don't care.
    What you should do with your hair is in the end, a matter of opinion and personal preference. And the proof is in the pudding.

  • nicthommi says:

    Yeah, that argument is pretty stupid and quite facile. Adjectives to describe hair aren't the problem, and these were, while woefully simplistic, an attempt to take the "good" vs. "bad" that SO many black people use out of the discussion. But the problem is that a few numbers and letters of the alphabet cannot remove the internalized racism that infects some black people. Pointing out that someone else has curly or wavy hair when my hair is an afro is like pointing out that someone has light skin when mine is dark. It's a statement of fact. I'm not calling my hair if I say, oh, that girl has wavy hair.

    So these are physical traits, and acknowledging them is not problematic. It would be stupid to pretend that we all look the same. What is problematic is the number of women who go natural hoping to have Tracee Ellis Ross or Corrine Bailey Rae or Curly Nikki hair, and then are upset when they perhaps have Yaphet Kotto hair . Examine WHY you think you are "unlucky" or somehow THINK you can't visit a blog b/c the owner has straighter hair then you…that's the problem. Not the descriptions. Too many people still create a hierarchy in their heads that things must be whiter, lighter, smoother, and straighter or they are inherently ugly. You have to learn to stop doing that even if the people around you do it. It's kind of the same way you can be dark-skinned and still know you are pretty even when you hear lots of ignorant comments about that in 2012. Society doesn't TELL anyone who isn't white that they are worth much. So it's not like we don't know how to feel good just b/c others don't want us to.
    What should happen is that people should examine their own personal feelings about it. So if YOU think that hair is nicer when it is curly and not kinky, or if you think that all light-skinned people are pretty and all dark-skinned people are ugly, then you need to examine that. Some Black people do use terms like kinky, nappy, and dark to denote everything that is ugly. But the fact that these adjectives exist is not the problem. Whether you call your hair type 4 or AFRO, it is still the same thing.
    While I enjoy seeing the way other people style their hair (whether it is like mine or not), and have always liked watching others get their hair done, it does make me very uncomfortable and a bit sad that whenever a picture of curly or long hair pops up, 100s of women pop in to gush over it. So you see where a lot of people's heads and hearts lie when it comes to what kind of hair is pretty. Any kind of healthy, well-maintained hair can be lovely. And you don't need to take a vote on who agrees with you. Not everyone is going to have long hair. Not everyone is going to have thick hair. And everyone is definitely not going to have curls, so I think you need to learn to love what you have and maybe not worry about what is gorwing out of someone else's scalp. And maybe not worry about what to call it since it makes so many people feel bad. I'm not even sure how people decide "type 4 is the bottom" or "type 4 is the least coveted." Says who? A lot of the people everyone flocks to on You Tuber are kinkier hairs ladies, just LONG-HAIRED kinkier haired ladies (another think black women are too fixated on)…so their hair has a lot of weight but is still kinky or afro-textured.

  • Ashes says:

    on another note, for me personally, I think the hair typing system is very good when you are just starting out, and you have NO IDEA what you are doing. The typing system can help you find others with hair like yours, ones you may learn from. After trial and error, you know what you hair likes and doesn't like, and there you go!

  • Ashes says:

    I actually have a friend (who may kill me later for this) who blows out her "4b" hair, then curls it to look 3a/b/c like, and when people compliment her on it, she tells them that's how it grows out of her head. I called her on it, and she says she can't stand the thought of having that type of hair-(ahem, 4a/b like mine), and let people know it. She says that i am "braver" than she is, because, you know, most people don't really like "super kinky" hair. Please keep in mind that this came out of left field for me,I consider her a good friend, and she basically told me during the course of our convo that she feels that the looser curl patterns are "better". yes she said "better" She said that if type 4 hair was so great, why is it at the bottom of the hair typing systems?I was a bit angry at first, but then i felt bad for her. Really bad. Like really? I wonder what she is really thinking when I am rocking my fierce frohawk or poofy bangs? smh. sorry for the book.

  • Davina916 says:

    I think I'm a 4b. Not really sure.

  • Jessica Coletrain says:

    I think I might be a 4A….hmmmmm……..?

  • Derika says:

    I agree! I'm transitioning and I find that some naturals bash the hair typing system. It is helpful to some people and some people gave it a bad rep. I wish it wasn't looked down on so much.

  • Derika says:

    Hair typing systems confuse me because I am transitioning and I think I may have a mixture of 4a, 4b, and 4c. What has been most helpful to me was finding out that I have low porosity hair because it tells me why my hair does not absorb product easily. This to me was more important than my curl pattern.

  • FinVoilaQuoi says:

    Pretty sure my hair has neither sheen, nor shine.

  • Abstract says:

    IMO, typing is for descriptive purposes only. I personally don't see them as divisive. I think people take offense to them when none is intended (at least on sites like this that celebrate kinky, curly, and coily hair). Are they all inclusive? Of course not, how can they be? There are too many patterns on one person's head let alone all over the world for that. Does Andre Walker's system take density and porosity into account? Nope. But if I told you via an online forum that most of my fine hair falls into 4a category, I bet you'd get a good visual of what I'm working with.

  • Earthtones Naturals says:

    I'm not sure how it really divides. I would love to know exactly why people feel this way. Does it classify? Of course! Is one classification better than the other? That's not the purpose of these systems at all. They are descriptive based on the appearance of one's hair and how it tends to behave. Even if you don't subscribe to a formal hair typing systems per se, you do have a hair type based on texture and curl pattern and this determines how you care for your hair.

  • nononsense57 says:

    Agreed-Hair typing is confusing and divisive. There are nuances to every
    natural's hair and we should just enjoy the journey to discover what's
    best for our individual hair.

  • Gwenn4ya says:

    I know that in some parts of my hair I have no curls and in others I have obvious curls, but to me it's more coily all over instead of curly. They look like tight coils. I am used to them now so I don't worry. So I tend to say that I'm 4b/c. Not sure who invented the "c" part to it, but it's still cool with me.

  • Fadekemi says:

    I loved this article but i must say that sheen and shine means the same thing to me.. hard to tell the difference.. I guess it takes time to understand these things

  • TheCurlyChris says:

    Huh…? Well written but hair typing is getting way too complicated IMO. Sheen vs. shine? Compacted frizz? Not sure what the point is…

  • Megan M. says:

    Still confusing! I like the systems for helping with finding products and establishing a regimen for naturals who need guidance like me lol! I almost dropped my laptop from my lap when I saw the LOIS system. I was like who made this? What is this? I was amazed to see this.

  • Alexandra says:

    I'm starting to get annoyed with the naturals who constantly complain about the hair typing system. I knew as soon as I saw this article the negative comments were going to roll in. I always see a new natural post in the Curly Nikki Forum "What's my hair type" and all of a sudden the natural hair police attacks them for asking the question. If you think it's pointless that's fine, but some naturals do find it beneficial.

  • Foxyrou says:

    I find the LOIS system to be confusing! Andre's system is easier to understand, because there are plenty of pictures to refer to. I think I would understand the LOIS system better, if I saw more examples of each pattern and texture. Overall, I haven't found any hair typing system to be very useful to me.

  • Reese says:

    The hair classifications always confused me. Frankly I have no idea what "type" of hair I have besides the fact that ít is curly. It has a mind of its own. Sometimes it's tightly curled other times it's wavy depending on how much it detangle it. Oh well, i guess that streses the point all the more that you have to do what is right for your own head and not so much keep yourself in a type box.

  • roo08 says:

    i still don't see the benefit of knowing your hair type apart from just knowing it.

  • nicthommi says:

    I just think the the genetic diversity that exists among black people all over the worlds makes it hard to capture with just a few categories. I mean, I have afro-textured hair but I cannot really find much in these lists that fits. I never cared, but my point is that you could have afro-textured hair that is easy to comb, soaks up water easily, or afro-textured hair that hates combing, doesn't soak up water. You could have wavy hair that tangles like mad, or kinky hair that never tangles.

    And my mom has straight hair for all intents and purposes and her hair can easily be done by non-black stylists yet her hair is huge and fluffy and very shiny. So from a distance, you might think her hair is similar to mine but so much about it is so different…how it looks when wet (pin straight vs. curly, yet my hair is part afro and a bit of frizzy curls when dry).
    And even though my hair is pretty long, the hair on top still sits up pretty high rather than hangs, so I just have this gigantic fro that seems like it is just going to keep getting bigger in diameter, not hang, despite the weight of it. But I see other people whose hair seems like mine whose hair does not stand high on top and kind of makes a big triangle instead of a big almost round afro.
    So it's kind of why you can look at someone whose hair looks like yours but you could do the same things as them and get a different result. I see people whose wet hair is cottony and undefined but whose dry hair has waves and curls. My hair is very curly when wet but it seems as if I'd have to use a lot of product to keep them(which I'm not going to do), and they only naturally remain in the back half my head. So I just think the typing doesn't tell enough of the story and is far too simplistic.
    I only look at other women's video's for entertainment, b/c some of the people are charismatic and funny, but there isn't a person alive whose hair tips hold water for me. And I'm fine with that. My hair is totally unique, and so pretty much is everyone else's.

  • Earthtones Naturals says:

    I agree with some of the points you make. In my opinion, these systems can be helpful for women to determine how they can take care of their hair, and guide product choice. I tend to describe my hair based on texture and curl pattern. My hair is thick and kinky-curly. According to the systems above I'm a mixture of 4 a, b and c! My hair is cottony with sheen instead of an outright shine. On my hair if I want to do a wash n go style I require first of all, a lot of product because of the thick texture, and heavy gels. Creams don't do anything to define my curls. Gels clump my curls together best and allow my hair to hang since I'm prone to shrinkage. My hair responds best to deep, moisturizing conditioners with a lot of slip to detangle my hair and my best styles are twist outs, bantu knots, kinky twists and braided styles. If I want to do a wash n' go the raking techniques doesn't work for me at all! I would have to smooth the product through my hair or use another technique for the best curl definition.

    Contrast my hair to my youngest daughters. Her hair is fine and curly. She would be a 3b or 3c. It's silky and shiny. All she really requires is a light moisturizing lotion and in addition to moisturizing her hair, this type of product defines her curls. Twist outs don't work on her because her hair is so fine and silky.

    The intent of this article was to educate women with textured hair on the systems that are out there so that they can understanding what the numbers and letters mean. Additionally, if they're on forums and blogs they can communicate with other women. These systems were meant to classify hair based on APPEARANCE; texture (fine, medium, thick) and curl pattern, silky, shiny, cottony. These are all adjectives to describe how the hair looks. I understand how the systems can be used but they shouldn't be used to divide and allow one hair type to be superior to another. I feel as though we need to be educated on what is out there in terms of hair classification systems, ingredient information etc. That's is always my goal – to educate – so that women can make the best decisions for themselves about how they will best care for their hair. I understand the systems have their limitations and are often incomplete. But I'll tell you that by understanding them better and through my own experience taking care of my own hair and consulting with other women, the general idea of these systems is accurate in guiding hair care regimens and product choice.

  • Earthtones Naturals says:

    I tend to agree with you in certain respects. When it comes to hair typing I don't really use them to describe my hair. I deal more with my hair texture (thick) and curl pattern or type (kinky-curly). However I do find that understanding the various systems that are out there is using them as a general guide to assess your hair can help naturals determine what types of products will work best on their hair. For example, my "type" would be 4c and the texture is thick or coarse. It is cottony with sheen instead of an outright shine. Typical wash n' go techniques don't work on my hair because they don't cause my curls to clump. So I need to use different techniques than raking product through my hair if I want to wear my hair is this style. Additionally, creams don't work on me at all to define my curls. They'll contribute to me having an afro if that's the style I'm going for. I need gels, and pretty thick gels to clump my curls and bring out any definition. As a result, my hair looks and feels its best with thick conditioners, heavier cream based moisturizers and styles such as twist outs, bantu knots, kinky twists and corn rows.

    Contrast my hair to my youngest daughter's hair who would be considered to be type fine hair, 3b or 3c silky with shine to her hair. I can put a light moisturizing lotion in her hair and it will bring out her curls.

    I understand hair typing can be controversial and the comments about the systems perhaps be divisive and classifying individuals into having "good hair" compared to another hair type but these classifiers are more descriptive of the hair's appearance, curl pattern and texture and were not originally created to put one hair type above another. They were intended to describe based on appearance.
    This post was intended to educate women on these systems in order to understand what other women may be talking about on various blogs and forums when discussions of their hair types and textures arise when communicating about hairstyles, product choice and hair care. It's important for textured women to be educated on all matters concerning their hair so that they can make informed decisions about the best care of their hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I hate the hair typing system, hair typing debate or the question of "whats you hair type". To me it all leads back to the "good hair" discussion, which was referred to those in the lower number hair types.

  • BrwnSkinnedLoca says:

    I applaud the person who wrote this – it's complicated! Lol. The hair typing thing confuses the heck out of me!! Haha, i have a brain cramp.

  • Earthtones Naturals says:

    Thanks Nai for your comments. Keep in mind that the mentioned above was the one developed by Andre Walker and he didn't originally include a 4c in his system. Through the years many other individuals have added onto his system and this is likely how the 4c subtype developed. The LOIS system mentioned above is a little more comprehensive and the Naturally Curly Hair Finder is also valuable.

  • Pennie Cuevas says:

    Well now I know what hair type my daughter's hair falls into; that 3a description is her hair exactly.

    Like Miss Anne, I think hair typing systems are beneficial if you've never seen your natural curls before and you're just learning what YOUR hair is going to be like. Not Eva's, not Tracee Ellis Ross' 😛 (my first hair crushes). But boy can this stuff get involved lol

  • Che says:

    I'm not a fan of hairtyping. I feel like it's divides people.

  • Esther Komolafe says:

    I would say that I am a 4c wiry

  • Nai says:

    Hey you got to mention 4C when you did the typing system…coarse hair doesn't stop at 4b

  • Miss Anne says:

    I think that the typing system is great as a 'guide' for learning how your hair will tend to behave. I'm currently transitioning (7 months…yay!) and although my hair is maybe type 4, fine, cottony/spongy and an O in the L.O.I.S system, I think that ultimately, we will learn how our hair behaves by listening to it and using the 'guides' to care for it in the proper way.

    There's so much resource out there and I must admit, in the first 3-4 months… I was overwhelmed! But after a little trial and error, I then started seeing the results and still am! My hair still finds it hard to retain moisture but it'll get there… I hope!

    Awesome post CN!

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