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Your Natural Hair Type and How to Manage It

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Knowing your hair type can aid you in finding the right products, but it’s nothing to obsess over.

By: Amanda Anderson

Natural hair is a fabulous thing, but to get the most out of your hair, you’ll need to learn your hair type, and choose products and hairstyles that work for your particular curl pattern. For the newly natural, it can be a confusing ordeal to learn your hair type, but once discovered, it can make your life as a natural diva fairly easier. There are several hair types of natural hair, and all are classified by curl pattern and texture.

This type system was created by hair stylist to the stars, Andre Walker, but I suggest you don’t get too obsessed with this system or your particular hair type.

Here are the types of natural hair.

Type 4


Type 4 hair is considered kinky hair. This particular hair type is tightly coiled and extremely delicate. It requires lots of care, and is known to lack in shine, even though it may be in a healthy state, but it does have a natural sheen. This kind of hair is usually soft, and fine by nature.

Although described as kinky, do not be mistaken, as this hair type has curls. These particular curls are very tight, and require much attention. The majority of African American women have this hair type, or at least some patches of it.

The are two subtypes of type 4 hair: A and B.

4A hair is tightly coiled. When stretched, it has a S pattern, which is very resembling of curly hair. 4B hair is less defined than 4A hair, and resembles a Z when it is stretched. It doesn’t bend or actually curl in traditional forms, but instead bends in very sharp angles similar to the letter Z. It also has less moisture than 4A hair, hence, it has a more wire like texture.

Type 3


With this particular hair type, when wet, it will appear straight. Once the hair dries, a curl pattern will become visible. Humidity seems to make this kind of hair curlier, and in most cases, frizzier. When it comes to body, this hair has lots of it, and tends to be pretty easy to style. It can even be easily straightened with a blow drier; and is shiny, with small curls and plenty of elasticity.

This hair type has three subtypes. 3A type hair is very loosely curled, and usually shiny with bigger curls. Length is a factor in its curl definition, as shorter hair tends to be straighter, and long hair tends to have a tighter curl pattern. 3B type hair has medium sized curls to tight corkscrews. It is usual to see a mixture of both in one head full of hair. 3C is the final subtype, which is usually described as tight curls in corkscrews. These curls can be tightly curled or kinky.

Type 2


This type of hair is described as the more wavy hair type, and usually has a definite s shaped pattern. It also has three subtypes, with 2A usually described as easy to manage. It can be straightened with a blow dryer relatively easy. Types 2B and 2C are harder to style and tend to frizz a lot easier than 2A hair.

Caring For Your Hair Type

Every hair type has different needs. When selecting a product, keep a couple things in mind.

Type 4

If you’re a type 4, you’re looking for moisture and curl definition. Any product you select, should help with either or both. If not, you’re wasting some serious money.

For Moisture, I suggest the following products:

Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding
Organic Jojoba Oil
Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter
Shea Terra Certified Organic Shea Butter
Water

Tip: Look for products that contain glycerin, honey, shea butter, and propylene glycol. Some naturals have even created their own mixture of oils and water to create the perfect moisturizer. Try water and coconut oil if  you’re on a budget.

For Curl Definition, I recommend:

Oyin Handmade Style & Define
Eco Styler Gel with Olive Oil (Use an additional moisturizer)
IC Fantasia Gel (Use an additional moisturizer)
Kinky-Curly Curling Custard
Beauty Blended Curl Styling Butter

Type 3

If you’re a type 3, you’ll need to focus on tackling dryness and frizziness. So you’ll need products that moisturize, as well as products that manage friziness.

For moisture, I recommend:

Oyin Handmade Frank Juice
Oyin Handmade Honey Wash
Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk
Kinky-Curly Curling Custard
Curl Junkie Coffe-Coco Cream

For frizziness, I recommend:

Blended Beauty Curly Frizz Pudding
CURLS Curl Souflle

Type 2

If you’re a type 2, you’ll need to tackle frizziness, as it will be your greatest obstacle.

I recommend:

 

Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution
MOP C Curl Defining Cream

While it’s good to know about your hair texture and type, it’s definitely not an issue for you to obsess over. The reality is, we all have a combination of different hair textures, and we all have unique hair in some shape or form. No hair type is better than the other, since every hair type is God given.

Personally, I’m not big on the hair type method, but I do think it’s important to learn what your hair likes and despises product wise. When you learn about your hair, it’s easier to find products and ingredients that will work. I’m a type 4, and my hair loves moisture. Moisture alone will define my curls, so I seek products that have lots of moisture. To lock in the definition, a light gel works well for me. Some need expensive products to get the results they desire, while others do not. Trial and error will be your very best friend when it comes to natural hair.

[showmyads]

9 Comments

  1. Vicky

    October 19, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Hey Amanda, I noticed that you are a type 4. I am as well. What do you use for moisture and styling? I've heard that Ms. Jessie's is good, so what do you think about it?Thanks.

  2. Amanda

    October 19, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Vicky,Yes I am a type 4. For moisture, I actually use Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding. It smells amazing, and leaves my hair soft and moisturized for days. My hair just loves it.For styling, I've tried a series of products. But currently, I'm happy with Eco Styler with olive oil gel. It defines my curls quickly, and doesn't make my hair crunchy since I use the Whipped Pudding before applying the gel. Works wonders, and leaves my hair luscious and defines. As far as Ms. Jessie's, I will be real honest here. I can't stand that line of products. For one thing, it's not all natural–and it includes Mineral Oil which is very bad for your hair and skin. While it may define curls, it leaves a nasty residue on your hair, which makes it greasy. I also don't like the smell or the cost. You'll end up paying over $50 for one product. Ms. Jessie's is just one of those lines that you either love or you hate, but I suggest you try it and see for yourself. I'm just not a fan.Hope this helps.

  3. Anonymous

    October 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hey Amanda,I know you don't like the whole hair type system, but why do so many people frown upon type 4 hair? It's like everyone wishes they had Chilli's hair, or 3C type hair. Is type 4 just harder to manage, because I think it's beautiful, and I can't see why people don't want that particular hair type.

  4. Amanda

    October 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Anon,The people that hate type 4 hair, hate it for three reasons: insecurity, ignorance, and self-hate. I've even ran across type 4s asking how they could become type 3s. All I can do is shake my head, and hope they mature and become grateful for what God saw fit for them. But hey, some naturals aren't any better than sisters who are afraid to forsake the relaxers. Run from them when you meet them, because they have a poisonous mentality that goes totally against the natural hair movement.Is Type 4 hair harder to manage? I can only answer for myself, but to me, managing my hair has not been difficult. I keep my hair moisturized, detangle every other week, and style it in a variety of ways, with my favorite style being the braid out. So for me, it's not hard at all and I love my hair. It's beautiful and fits me.Type 4 hair has attitude, and those that rock it best are those who have the confidence and the understanding that 3c and wavy hair is NOT superior hair. To think so, is the equivalent to thinking that straight hair is superior. I can't get down with the ignorance.Whatever your hair type is, embrace it because it's yours! Love it and take good care of it, and you'll enjoy your time as a natural.

  5. Anonymous

    November 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Amanda,I hve type 4 hair & I'm trying to define the curls in my hair can u please tell me where can I get those products from please?

  6. Amanda

    November 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    @ AnonSorry for the late reply, but I've been out of town.We have the same hair type, and I find that Eco Styler gel with olive oil is amazing for defining curls. The trick is to pair the gel with a great moisturizer. I use Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding or SheaMoisture Curl Smoothie. Both are great with the gel. The gel is cheap, and you can get it from Sally's. Oyin can be purchased online, SheaMoisture can be purchased at Target and some grocery stores.I also recommend Kinky Curly if you are looking for a shampoo and conditioner combo to define your curls. It can also be purchased at Target. Hope this helps.

  7. A

    May 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Interesting. Do men have the same hair types?

  8. Types-hair

    April 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Thank you beautiful on this topic

  9. April

    November 23, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Hi Amanda, I have a 3b/c curl pattern but the hair at my nape is super loose like
    3a and sometimes the curls go straight and loose their curl.Is this normal ??

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