“What is my hair texture?” Most naturals new to the game ask this question and then become confused from the different classifications. Having an idea of your hair texture is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be your only measure of figuring out your hair. When you first go natural, you literally are learning a whole know method to your hair as opposed to when your hair was relaxed. You soon discover that you have 2 – 3 (even 4) different textures on your head.
What the heck is a hair type? This was a classification system created by Andre Walker, Oprah’s hair stylist. He distinguished between straight, wavy, curly and kinky textures. He then broke it down even further for the different types of curly & kinky hair. The pro to this method of classifying your hair is that it lets you look at how your strands curl. The drawbacks is that it doesn’t take into consideration the hair’s density or thickness. For instance, I consider myself to be Type 3b/3c however, my hair is also thick, dense and has high porosity – whoa what is porosity? We’ll get to that later.
Hair density and volume. First, let’s discuss the difference between density and thickness. Density comes to mean the diameter of your hair and can be either fine, medium or coarse. I remember when I was younger, my sister and I looked at our individual strands under a microscope. My sister’s strand was at least 3x as dense as mine. While you don’t need a microscope to look at your strands to determine how dense they are, there are other ways to figure it out:
- Fine hair: you can just look at a single strand in the light: if it’s translucent or hardly noticeable, then it’s fine.
- Medium hair: this hair tends to feel soft and cottony
- Coarse hair: Coarse is usually more wiry and hard. This type can also be low porosity (promise we’ll get to this later)
Volume is all about how many strands you have per square inch. You can easily figure this out when you put your hair into a ponytail.
- Thin (less than 2 inches/5 centimeters)
- Normal (between 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters)
- Thick (more than 4 inches/10 centimeters)
Hair porosity simply means how easily water is able to get into your hair. You can test to find out your hair’s porosity by placing a shed strand of hair into a glass of water and watching to see if it floats or sinks. If your hair takes a long time to sink to the bottom, then you have low porosity hair.
When I explain low porosity to my customers, I liken it to the back of a duck and how water just rolls off of it. Low porosity hair tends to have a harder time to get water into it and is usually dryer as a result of this. I’ve also noticed that the women who I’ve met with low porosity have thicker hair that doesn’t have a normal curl patter, but is more ‘wavy’ and coarse. High porosity, on the other hand absorbs water quickly because the cuticle is raised, it can also lose water quickly because the strands stay raised.
I hope this helps you to learn more about your hair on your journey. Feel free to post questions or your hair texture in the comments below.