Hair Types

Main Types of Hair and Hair Styling Tips. The four main hair types are straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Learn about the different attributes of hair types and hair care tips.

What Does Hair Type Mean?

Hair type refers to the attributes that make up your natural hair’s appearance and feel. Your hair type depends on genetics, which dictates the following factors:

  • Dryness: As with skincare, moisture is essential for your hair’s health. Dry hair produces less oil on average. Some hairs might be greasier than others, especially after physical activity, and produce more natural oils. Special shampoos and deep-conditioning products can help with oil buildup to dry out and temper your hair’s oil production. You can also use serums or leave-in conditioners to boost hydration.
  • Texture: In terms of hair texture, the four main hair looks are straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Genetics can determine the shape of your hair follicles, which results in one or a combination of these different textures.
  • Thickness: Thick hair means your scalp produces hair in a higher density, while thin hair means there is more significant negative space between each hair follicle. Thin hair is not always a sign of hair loss or unhealthy hair; some people naturally have fine hair.

4 Types of Hair

The hair care industry categorizes hair into four types plus additional subcategories. Knowing your hair type can help you choose mousses, hair masks, and other care products that can help strengthen your cuticles and improve hair strand health to prevent breakage. Learn what defines each type and how they differ from one another:

  1. Type 1: Straight hair, type 1, features round follicles, grows flat, and lies flat on the scalp. Type 1A hair is straight and fine, while type 1B has more volume and might hold more curls. Type 1C is thick and coarse, which can lead to frizzing.
  2. Type 2: Wavy hair, type 2, has oblong follicles and grows in a slight zigzag pattern. Wavy hair can frizz in heat and humidity, making it look even curlier than usual. Type 2A wavy hair is fine and forms an “S” shape when it’s dry. Type 2B features waves at the mid-length, while type 2C is thicker and prone to extreme frizziness.
  3. Type 3: Curly hair, type 3, has oval-shaped follicles that produce tighter curls than those of wavy hair. Curl patterns will vary in shape and size. Type 3A hair features loose, spiral curls, whereas type 3B has slightly tighter springs. Type 3C describes tight curls with a thicker texture.
  4. Type 4: Coily hair is Type 4. Coily hair features coils, a tightly packed curl type resembling ringlets or corkscrews. These tight curls lend a heavier density to hair. Type 4A has defined coils, while type 4B has a crimped pattern. Type 4C is coily hair with a thick texture.

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity describes hair’s ability to absorb moisture. The float test measures this porosity. After brushing your hair, remove a single strand and place it in a bowl of warm water to see if it has low, medium, or high porosity:

  • Low porosity: If the hair strand floats in the water, it has a low porosity level, meaning it does not retain moisture well and needs hair care products for extra care. Avoid using oils, which will sit on top of the strands and not absorb well.
  • Medium porosity: If your hair sinks to the bottom, it has medium porosity. It takes in moisture easily and retains it fairly well. Your hair could benefit, if you desire, from the use of medium-weight products that will help it better maintain moisture.
  • High porosity: If your strand of hair sinks to the bottom of the water, it has high porosity. It takes in moisture easily but might not be able to retain it for long. Use deep conditioners and repair treatments, such as hair masks.

3 Tips for Styling Different Hair Types

Each hair type requires special hair care and styling products. Ask your hairstylist for their recommendations, and follow these tips:

  1. Dry your hair type correctly. If you have straight hair, dry it before bed and use natural hair products to keep frizz at bay. You can blow-dry wavy hair to give it a fuller look and style it in the direction of your natural wave pattern. For curly hair, avoid heat-styling methods as they can damage the hair cuticles. Towel-dry coily hair after showering to remove excess water. Since this hair type is already dry, avoid using blow dryers—air-drying it reduces the risk of breakage.
  2. Keep a hair care routine. Different types of hair require different schedules of care. For example, straight, thin hair requires more frequent washing—about three times a week—than other types to control oil production. People with tight coils can wash their hair once a week to prevent breakage.
  3. Use the right products. Using the best products for your hair type is essential to maintain hair health. For example, coily hair is the driest type of hair. Apply deep conditioners weekly. Curly hair has less natural oil and benefits from the use of a sulfate-free shampoo, which moisturizes the hair.