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Hair Type: Everything You Need to Know

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: What the Heck is My Hair Type?

We spend a tremendous amount of time identifying our skin type, analyzing t-zones, and sifting through a sea of products and ingredients… Our face is the first thing people see, you know. We allocate far less time, however, to assessing our hair type, hair thickness, and hair porosity. Our face and our hair are a total package deal. 

This ends now! We created a detailed, one-stop guide to help you identify your hair type. Once identified, you have a stepping off point from which to choose the right product and treatments, the right way to care for your hair, and even the best haircut for your hair. 

Hop straight to the hair type you think you have OR read through each section to identify the main hair category and subcategory that best aligns with your unique locks. 

The Major Categories

Hair type has 4 major categories: straight hair (type 1), wavy hair (type 2), curly hair (type 3), and coily hair (type 4). These 4 types of hair are further categorized into A, B, and C subtypes creating 12 total categories:

  • Type 1A Straight Hair
  • Type 1B Straight Hair
  • Type 1C Straight Hair
  • Type 2A Wavy Hair
  • Type 2B Wavy Hair
  • Type 2C Wavy Hair
  • Type 3A Curly Hair
  • Type 3B Curly Hair
  • Type 3C Curly Hair
  • Type 4A Coily Hair
  • Type 4B Coily Hair
  • Type 4C Coily Hair

In the following sections, we will discuss each type of hair in general and delve into the details of each subtype. 

Straight Hair Type

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Straight hair or “Type 1” hair is straight, fine and completely devoid of kinks, curls, and frizz. Straight hair is soft to the touch and super shiny as a result of the straight shoot of natural oils from the root to the tip of the hair shaft. Conversely, the lack of barriers from the scalp to the tip of the hair shaft can result in an oil buildup that makes type 1 hair appear greasy and weighed down if not properly treated.

The subcategories of type 1 hair are: type 1A, type 1B, and type 1C. Type 1A hair is pin straight, wispy, and particularly shiny with an inability to hold curls or waves. While type 1B hair has more body than type 1A hair, it remains straight and shiny. Lastly, type 1C hair has body with a slight bend and less wisp and shine than type 1A and type 1B. 

Wavy Hair Type

Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash

Type 2 wavy hair is often mistaken for type 3 curly hair, but these two hair types are vastly different in appearance and structure. Wavy hair is most easily identified as “mermaid hair” or “influencer hair,” with loose “S” waves that cascade from just under the roots to the tip of the hair shaft. Type 2 hair is largely influenced by temperature fluctuations; the heat of the summer may emphasize your waves and enhance frizz while the cold, dry temperatures of the winter months can leave your waves flat and tamed. In addition, wavy hair is often balanced with regards to oil production making it neither too oily nor too dry; this characteristic, paired with the natural bend in the hair shaft, allows for easy styling with all type 2 hair. 

Type 2A hair has a “barely there,” tousled “S” wave with fine strands that are easy to straighten. As with type 1 hair, type 2A hair disperses oil more efficiently from root to tip, which requires more frequent washing to avoid a greasy look. Type 2B hair is slightly more tousled with a more defined “S” wave and medium thick hair structure. This subtype has more frizz by nature and more body for a beach wave aesthetic. Type 2C hair is most often confused with type 3 curly hair; this wavy hair subtype is coarse with thick structure and defined “S” waves that closely resemble a loose curl. Type 2c hair is more difficult to style than other type 2 hair. 

Curly Hair Type

Photo by pouriya kafaei on Unsplash

While type 2C wavy hair and curly hair are often confused, curly hair and coily type 4 hair are also incorrectly grouped together. Type 3 curly hair is a category of its own with its individual characteristics and styling challenges. 

Type 3A hair features loose “S” shape curls that may appear flatter than its other type 3 subtypes. Similarly to type 2C hair, type 3A is difficult to style and straighten with distinct frizz and a coarse texture. Type 3B hair is dense and coarse in structure with tight “S” shape curls or corkscrew curls that appear more voluminous than type 3B hair. Type 3C hair is a distinct corkscrew with a circumference of either a straw, a pencil, or a thin marker. This curly hair subtype is prone to dryness and damage; oil from the root is unable to efficiently reach the tip of the hair shaft as a result of the obstruction created by the ringlet curl. 

A Quick Test

If you are a kinesthetic learner, you may find it easier to identify your curly hair subtype with the following test. 

First, grab a toilet paper roll (type 3A), a thick Sharpie (type 3B), and a straw (type 3C). Wrap one of your curls lightly around each of the items. Whichever item your curl best fits around, determines your curly hair subtype. 

Coily Hair Type

Photo by Ronise Da Luz on Unsplash

Coily hair has densely packed, wiry coils. Type 4 hair is often lacking in moisture, fragile, and prone to breakage. The most common complaint with coily hair is styling: type 4 hair is often undefined and relies on dense product to improve coil definition. 

Type 4A hair has wiry, “S” shaped coils with minimum shrinkage. This coily hair subtype has dense, springy coils that can comfortably surround a crochet or knitting needle. Type 4B has a “Z” shaped coil that bends sharply into various angles with up to 70% shrinkage from wet to dry hair. When it comes to definition, type 4B hair has less definition than type 4A hair without specialized products and has the circumference of a pen or pencil. Type 4C has a tight, undefined coil with a sharp zigzag pattern and the highest shrinkage from wet to dry. 

There’s Much More to Learn… 

Identifying the type of hair you have is just the beginning of your hair journey. There are far more hair features that can dramatically impact how you care for your hair, style your hair, and what products you need to create the maximum “maybe she’s born with it?” reaction. 

With Avenue Five Institute’s Cosmetology program, you can expand your knowledge of haircutting, hair styling, hair coloring, color theory, makeup application, blowouts, skincare, manicuring, and so much more. If you have even the slightest interest in haircare, hair styling, or anything related to cosmetology, why wait to pursue a potential passion? 

Our 1,000 hour hybrid cosmetology program features a flexible YourTime™ schedule. This flexibility creates the perfect opportunity to pursue your passion while maintaining your daily responsibilities. Our unique, hybrid learning style combines online learning with hands-on training to equip you with the knowledge and skill set you need to pave the path to a career in cosmetology.