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How to Love Your Hair Type (No Matter What It Is)

 

It’s a universal truth: when you have curls, you long for straight hair. When your hair is stick-straight, you just want waves. But you can learn to love your hair type – no matter what it is.

We’ve pulled together a primer on identifying your hair type, what kinds of challenges you can expect when styling, and how you can learn to relax and love the hair you have.

Hair Type 101

Straight, curly, coarse, fine, thin, heavy – hair comes in a multitude of textures. And once you know a little bit more about your hair’s type, life gets a whole lot easier.

“A lot of women hate their hair because they don’t understand how to style it,” suggests stylist Michael Crispel at Best Health. “It’s about managing the frizz, the curl, whatever.”

But when you understand how to work with your natural texture, your morning routine snaps into place – and you get to start having lots more fun.

Here’s a closer look at basic hair types. Where do you fit on the scale?

Straight

You may think you know plenty about straight hair already, but the differences between 1A and 1C locks are vast.

Despite having a similar makeup, straight hair can vary in thickness and coarseness, which will totally change how you cut and style your hair.

“Straight hair, also known as Type 1, develops its structure from the shape of the cortex,” explains Shilpi Tomar at the Madison Reed blog. “The fibers of the hair are round, making it drop evenly on all sides of the scalp.”

But that’s where the similarities end!

Here’s how to determine your type:

1A: Think fine, wispy, or thin hair. This type of hair may have the most trouble with maintaining volume after styling – or feel a little greasy at the end of the day.
1B: This type of hair is medium-bodied, with a little bit of heft and weight that makes it easy to style. You never have trouble putting your hair up – it always stays exactly where it’s supposed to.
1C: Thick, coarse and perhaps a little wavy, you probably can’t easily convince your hair to curl – or fully straighten. On the plus side? Your hair is crazy strong and resilient.

Wavy

Wavy hair is much heavier and thicker than straight hair. And while it may look pretty, all that texture makes these hair types extra temperamental.

“[It] can be tough to get waves to behave,” acknowledges Jessica Cruel at Popsugar. “Without the right combination of products, the winding strands can fall flat.”

Need to learn how to create some volume? Check out more of our styling tips below.

Here’s how to determine your type:

2A: This hair has just enough of a wave that it probably looks constantly mussed – and you may spend lots of time trying to straighten it. Since this hair is on the fine side, you should be careful with heat styling.
2B: Think lots of S-shaped waves, but without defined curls. You probably fight your frizz halo on the regular.
2C: If you have a mix of S-shaped waves and curls that only want to do their own thing, you probably have 2C wavy hair.

Curly

As any curly-haired gal knows, there’s a pretty big difference between type 3A and 3C. From spiral curls to tight corkscrews, curly hair is prone to breakage and frizz – but when it behaves, it’s gorgeous.

“Curls need special attention because the follicle is generally more fragile and drier than other hair types,” explains Tracey Wallace at Refinery29. “In curly girl salons, brushes are a no-no, products boast sulfate-free on their labels, and scissors snip off bits of dry hair to lessen shrinkage.”

Here’s how to determine your type:

3A: These springy, S-shaped curls have lots of bounce, but might get frizzy. If you use the right kind of heat styling, they straighten out nicely.
3B: These curls are bigger and more well-defined and typically have lots of volume and feel coarse to the touch.
3C: Think “corkscrew.” Type 3C curls are tight and coarse – though they can also be fine and delicate.

Coily

If you have tight, tiny curls and coarse, dry hair, you probably fall somewhere between hair types 4A and 4C (think about the curls Solange Knowles and Macy Gray rock).

As the natural hair movement gains momentum, women with kinky, coily hair are embracing their natural textures – even if it means a lot of extra work moisturizing dry strands.

“Don’t be afraid to use everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to oils and moisturizers,” hairstylist Jon Reyman told Refinery29.

Your hair type needs it!

Here’s how to determine your type:

4A: These tight, S-shaped curls are delicate – even if they’re coarse and tight. They’ll be more tightly wound than type 3C.
4B: Type 4B curls often have a Z-shape curl pattern, meaning they’re the definition of kinky. Because the kink is so tight, these curls shrink up
4C: These dense curls are tighter and kinkier than Type 4B. It can be hard to distinguish a specific curl pattern because your hair is so tightly packed together.

Learning to Love Your Type

Now that we know what we’re working with, it’s time to get real: no matter what type you have, hair isn’t easy to take care of. It requires a lot of love and TLC.

Here’s how to address the most common styling challenges – and how you can work with your hair, rather than fight its natural texture.

Challenge #1: Falling Flat

Old-school Hollywood glamor and major volume may sound appealing – but has it met your hair? Every time you opt for a cute bouffant, your hair falls flat within the hour.

The fix:
In addition to cleansing your scalp well with a sulfate-free shampoo to remove dirt, oil, and product build-up, change the way you dry your hair.

“After hair is 60 percent dry, flip your head upright and continue to blow-dry while picking up the roots,” advises Julianne Carell.

This will create a lot of lift from the roots – which should help your hair hold its style all day long.

Challenge #2: Freaked-Out Frizz

Let’s face it: the weather is your frenemy. On a hot and humid summer day, you can just forget it – your hair does whatever it wants. And it usually opts for a frizz halo.

The fix:
If you have curly hair, you could be shampooing too frequently, sapping your hair of its natural moisture.

That means when humidity is high, your hair will try to soak up all the moisture in the air. Presto chango: frizz city.

“While you can’t prevent humidity, you can manage the impact it has on your hair,” maintains stylist Edward Tricomi.

Tricomi recommends looking for serums that “moisturize the hair and prevent frizz by repairing and sealing dry, porous strands that soak up excess water from the air.”

Challenge #3: Dry, Brittle Hair

Anyone with coarse or kiny hair knows how difficult it is to keep your tresses hydrated – especially in the winter time. Before you know it, you’re facing breakage and dull, lifeless hair.

The fix:
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. But don’t overdo it.

“Hair is basically porous and will absorb what it needs,” explains stylist Diane C. Bailey at Bustle. “If the conditioner is too heavy, it will just lay on top without absorption.”

Need more tips for striking the right moisture balance with your kinky, curly hair? Check out Bustle’s helpful how-to for working with natural hair.

Do you struggle with styling your hair type? Tell us what tips or products have helped make your morning routine a breeze in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Pexels, Pexels, Unsplash

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