Natural Hair Types 3 Curly, 2 Wavy, 4 Kinky, 1 Straight, Charts,...

Natural Hair Types 3 Curly, 2 Wavy, 4 Kinky, 1 Straight, Charts, Quiz & Tests

What type of hair do I have or what is my hair type? Is it type 1A hair- the naturally straight hair, type 2 hair – the naturally wavy hair, type 3 hair – the naturally curly hair or type 4 hair – the naturally coily or kinky hair? Is there a way to determine your hair type? Are there hair type tests, hair type chart or hair type quiz that can help? Discover more all natural types of hairs and textures.

Knowing the natural hair type you have is important since it has a big influence on your routine care regimens, hairstyling and hair products you can use. Furthermore, knowing it will also give you answers as to why your natural hair behaves the way it does and why it is not like your friend’s yet you have the same hair colors.

In determining the type of hair you have there are a number of factors are often considered. For instance, you need to know your hair density (how much hair you have on your head), your hair texture types (how thick are each individual strands) and your hair strength (gotten from hair porosity and density).

Hair type chart.
Hair type chart.

Furthermore, your hair elasticity (how long can your hair stretch before snapping), porosity (amount of spaces and holes where fluids can pass) oiliness (how much natural oil your hair has) and curl pattern are also very important.

For the sake of this discussion, we are going to dwell on mainly Andre Walker hair typing system where we might mention a few care tips. Later we will briefly look at the L.O.I.S and FIA hair typing systems too. So what are the common natural hair types according to the celebrity stylist Andre Walker?

Type 1 hair– naturally straight hair and types of straight hair

Type 1 hair, often referred as to naturally straight hair, is the most greasy and oily hair of all hair types. This is so because natural oils from scalp (produced by scalp sebaceous glands) can travel easily to the tip of the hair since there are no curls or kinks to disrupt this oil movement. This means it has to be washed more often.

Secondly, inasmuch as some people will refer to it as boring, lifeless and frizzy, this kind of hair has the most sheen, it is resilient to damage,  and it can be often washed or shampooed without being damaged since it does not curl. However, it is also difficult to style.

Due to some variations, type 1 hair is further sub divided into three categories i.e. type 1a, 1b and 1c straight hair types.

Type 1a 1b and 1 c hair types.
Type 1a 1b and 1 c hair types.

Type 1a hair

Type 1a hair is very “fine, very thin and soft with a noticeable shine” [curlcentric.com]. Since it doesn’t hold curls very well, styling is a bit difficult. Furthermore, it’s oily, has a limp look and needs often shampooing.

If you have it, avoid using thick conditioners since they make it look greasy. Some celebrities with type 1a hair include Dakota Fanning, Gwyneth Paltrow

Type 1b hair

The “1b locks tend to have fuller strands with a slight bend at the ends, but no real curl” [popsugar.com] i.e. it has a little more volume and a slight bend at the end. When compared to type 1a, it is slightly coarser i.e. medium textured.

Spraying its hair roots with a texturizing spray and using a flat iron can help this type of natural hair to get some volume. Notable personalities with this type of hair include Lucy Liu, Kendall Jenner and Freida Pinto.

Type 1c hair

Type 1c hair is a bit coarser, thicker and tends to frizz when compared to the other type 1 hair subtypes. According to Wikipedia.org, it is the most difficult to curl and it is common among Asian women. However, popsugar.com contradicts this characteristic by claiming it can hold curls and advises people with this hair to go for smoothing serum together with cool-shot setting while blow drying it. Rachel Bilson and Sienna Miller are among the celebrities with this type of natural hair.

We will not go into details on type 1 hair care, hair dyes, haircuts or hairstyles suitable for it, not even details on thinning or hair loss characteristics of straight hair. This will later be covered separately. See straight hair for more details on how to get straight hair, permanent straight hair, scrunching, products such as shampoos, conditioners, perm, haircuts, ideas, problems and much more.

Type 2 hair – naturally wavy hair and types of wavy hair

This is naturally wavy hair that lies in between straight and curly hair. It has better sheen than curly hair but certainly not more than straight hair i.e. it is midway between straight and curly hair.

Wavy hair tends to stick closer to your head, and girls with this wavy hair should be luckiest, if they know how to style it properly it with the right products. Unfortunately, wavy type 2 hair is prone to frizz and anti-frizz products or humidity protective might be required as part of type 2 hair care routine. Avoid using your fingers on the hair since this will make it frizz more.

We have 3 sub categories of type 2 hair i.e. 2a, 2b and 2c and there people with a mixture of these subtypes or even a of 1c/2a hair mixture.

Type 2a 2b and 2c courtesy of Love your Curls Australia.
Type 2a 2b and 2c courtesy of Love your Curls Australia.

2a hair type

2a wavy hair is a naturally wavy hair with fine or thin hair that has a “definite “S” pattern and is usually receptive to a variety of styles” [en.wikipedia.org]. One thing about 2a hair is that “although it does have a natural sheen, type 2a waves usually lack volume and definition” [naturallycurly.com].

To give it volume, try plopping after freshly washing it. Lightweight sealants, gentle cleansers free of sulfates and a moisturizing styling spritz is recommended for managing it. Alternatively, you can also choose to straighten it.

Type 2a hair is what celebrities such as Amanda Seyfried, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Dormer, Kate Hudson, Sofia Richie, Naomi Watts, Vanessa Hudgens, Cate Blanchett, Minka Kelly and Arizona Muse.

I hope it is clear on what is 2a hair type as well as who has it. Let us move on to type 2b hair.

2b hair type

This wavy hair has a medium texture, tends to frizz more than 2a especially at the crown and it is a slightly more resistant to hair styling. It is the type of natural hair you see on Kate Middleton, Bethany Cosentino, Joss Stone, Charli XCX, Joss Stone, Jasmine V, Nelly Furtado, Jessica Chastain, Carrie Underwood, and Aly Michalka among other celebrities.

To style it, use your fingers with a diffuser and mousse. After styling, avoid touching it completely if you want it to have more waves towards its end since it loses waves easily. Finally, some hair oil drops will be ideal if you opted for a dry hairstyles.

In caring for 2b wavy hair, moisturizing frizz fighting gels, protein treatments, and dry shampoos, among other products are often recommended.

2c hair type

The third type 2 natural hair is the 2c, which is the most resistant to styling and is coarsest of all the wavy type of hair. Furthermore, is very frizzy and has waves that are thicker. Do not be surprised if you see a few curls especially when it is a, 2c/3a hair type mixture. This natural type of hair tends to “lose curl definition more easily than other textures. Bantu knot-outs, roller sets, or twistouts might actually cause the hair to lose definition rather than promote it” [naturallycurly.com].

Addition of moisture, finger styling, deep conditioning weekly, wet diffusion, and use of scrunch styling products will be handy when styling it.

Some of the celebrities with this kind of hair that include Salma Hayek, Shakira, Yasmin Sewell, Naomi Watts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cate Blanchett, Adrienne Bailon, and Scarlett Johansson.

Again, we will not go into details on wavy hair such as wavy hair products such as shampoos conditioners, how to get wavy hair, or wavy hair styling and haircuts. We will cover that while looking at the broader type of wavy hair.

Type 3 hair: 3a, 3b and 3c types of curly hair or naturally curly hair types

For those with curly hair, valid questions such as ‘what is type 3 hair’ or ‘what type of curly hair do i have’ may suffice. By the end of this section, with the aid of pictures, you should be able to tell which type of curly hair you have.

To begin with, type 3 curly hair has S, s or Z shaped has stands, which vary from being lightly curly to very curly one with a clearly defined curling pattern with or without using styling products.  This type 3 curly hair is much easier to style with a blow dryer or while it is in its natural form. It has a lot of body, has some sheen, it is soft and not coarse as it might appear.

Climate, especially humidity can cause type 3 hair to frizz and make it curlier. According to curlynikki.com, “healthy type 3 hair is shiny, with soft, smooth curls and strong elasticity”. There are three main sub-types of curly hair i.e. 3a, 3b and 3c.

Type 3a 3b and 3c hair Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Type 3a 3b and 3c hair Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.

3a hair type

Type 3a hair has well defined spring loopy ‘S’ pattern curls which are pretty lose and have volume or fullness. “The curls are about the same diameter as sidewalk chalk” [wikihow.com]. According to naturallycurlly.com, the 3a hair is much prone to frizzing, losing definition when compared with any of the other hair two type 3 hairs.

When styling 3a hair, for “maximum curl definition, use the scrunch method to style. Apply product to wet hair. Then, use a t-shirt or microfiber towel to squeeze curls while pushing strands up toward the scalp” [popsugar.com]. Although texturizing, styling and even straightening of 3a hair is easy, do not forget that it is easy to be damaged by heat.

Using rake and shake can create frizz free definition and volume. Furthermore, use your fingers to twirl while it is still wet and opt for pomade if you need updos or ponytails to holding it lighting without ruining your curls. Annalynne McCord, Kimberly Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde are just but a few of the celebrities who have this type of hair.

3b hair type

The 3B hair is “stretched-out spirals that cascade down toward the shoulders instead of growing out away from the roots” [popsugar.com]. It is much voluminous than type 3a but has smaller diameter i.e. about the sharpie marker size. It is less shinny, and its texture is coarser when compared to 3a.

On hairstyles and styling, for smooth curls, mix leave in conditioner with light hair gel to make it bouncy and less sticky. Doing this while your hair is still soaking wet and let them dry together. Humidity blocking cream, leave in spray, and sulfate free cleansers will also be handy in car or maintaining type 3b hair.

Some celebrities who have type 3b hair include Anna Shaffer, Halle Berry, Julianna Margulies, Tae Heckard, Jurnee Smollett, and Jasmine Sanders.

3c hair type

Hair type 3c is coarsest in the type 3 hair and most prone to frizz. It has well defined, corkscrew like coils (curly with spiral), whose size range from those of a pencil to a small sized marker. It also has slightly a higher density, and consequently volume.

A cleansing conditioner is important in caring for 3c hair type since it will ensure your curls are shinny and do not fly away i.e. blown away easily. Alternatively, you can use a medium hold hair gel to stop flyaways. To enhance it, use twist-out, flexi rod set, bantu-knot out, or perm rod set, all without heating and avoid scalp massage after washing it so that to avoid volume loss. Finally, deep condition weekly is an important regimen.

Kelis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Thandie Newton, Leela James, Tessa Thompson, and Jurnee Smollett Bell all have 3c curly hair.

This part was not on how to style curly hair or haircuts for curly hair but simply knowing the type 3 hair or the curly hair types. We will discuss more on curly hair including hairstyles and styling guide, transitioning tips, and products such as conditioners, gels, shampoos, and how to maintain curly hair, among others.

Type 4 hair – natural kinky hair or coily hair

The final type of hair we are going to talk about in Andre Walker’s classification is type 4 hair – the coily or kinky hair. This is the coarsest, driest and kinkiest of all the types of hair we have discussed and it has many strands packed together. Furthermore, it has lots of turns and twists and this texture makes it hard for it to look shiny and retain moisture.

Kinky or coily hair has a tendency of shrinking down, hiding its real length. Its appearance can range from being fine to wiry to course. Since it has a lesser cuticle layers, it is very vulnerable and can be damaged with combing brushing, blow-dying, curling or even straightening.

Type 4 hair is the common hair types for African American as well as African but anyone can have this type of hair that is classified into 3 main type 4 hair subtypes, which are type 4a, 4b, and 4c.

Type 4a 4b and 4c hair Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Type 4a 4b and 4c hair Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.

hair type 4a

According to Wikipedia, this type of hair “tends to be very fragile, tightly coiled, and can feature curly patterning”. The spirals are about the diameter of a crochet needle that could be fine or wiry texture with a relatively high density.

Hair type 4a works well with the wash-and-go, twist-outs, bantu-knot-out hairstyles but blow-drying with a diffuser can help in stretching the curls. Try co-washing with a moisturizing cleanser without sulfates, be using clarifying shampoos to cleanse your scalp, and go for thicker emollients, especially natural ones like shea butters and mango.

Syesha Mercado, Teyonnah Paris, Tracie Thoms, Andrea Lewis, Sopie Okonedo and Yaya Dacosta all have the 4a hair type.  The pictures accompanying this section should help you see how type 4 hair looks like.

4b hair type

It is much like hair 4a type but has less of the curly patterns. Kinks form a ‘Z’ shape while coils might form an ‘S’ shape. When one doesn’t follow a good care regimen, the frizz may be more noticeable than defined curls.

In addition, type 4b hair tends to range from being fine to wiry to coarse and it is densely packed and coiled tightly capable of shrinking for up to 75% its length, with its coils able to hold well-altered styles better than 2, 3 or 4a hairs.

To style it, opt for lightweight styling butters and gels especially in twisting it while damp. This will give it a more defined look. Pre poo is recommended, opt for LCO or LOC methods to ensure coils remain moisturized and use microfiber towel or t-shirt in drying since using terry clothing might remove all the moisture. Finally, opt for perm rods, curlformers or flex rods without using hat to help define it and reduce frizz.

Solange Knowles, Chrisette Michele, Janelle Monáe, Syesha Mercado, and Jade Cole and Willow Smith are some of the people with this type 4b hair.

4c hair type

Type 4c hair does not have a defined curl pattern, making detangling very difficult. In addition, giving it any definition is very difficult since it has a dense texture and it will not clump without styling it and it can shrink for over 75%.

To understand it better, you should know that, “type 4c hair can range from fine, thin, soft to coarse with densely packed strands. Some say Type 4c coils look identical to 4b except that the curls are tight kinks with less definition” [naturallycurly.com].

If you want to care for 4c hair texture, always used detangling co-wash and cover it with satin or silk caps while sleeping to avoid hair breakages. To help define 4c, try curl defining products while you use creamy humectants to enhance and protect 4c type of hair.

Some people who have the type 4c hair include Esperanza Spalding, Macy Gray, Lupita Nyong’o, India Arie, Viola Davis, Ajuma Nasenyana and Erykah Badu

If  want to grow long 4a, 4b, 4c hair types, good care regimen, curling and care routines, best products to use, hairstyles and haircuts, and much more, we will are going to have a several articles on coily or kinky hair. For now, we are not going into details of type 4 hair care, products, styling and so on. We wanted you to know what type 4 hair is.

L.O.I.S hair typing system for Natural hair types

Besides the popular Andre Walker hair typing we have seen, there is the L.O.I.S which examines the most common hair strand type that are not damaged, dyed, processed or relaxed and groups it into either L, O, I or S. The hair should be freshly washed without any product applied, rinsed in cold water and the strand allowed to dry without being disturbed.

One good thing about this classification is that it considers the African American hair characteristics and takes into consideration hair pattern, sheen, texture, and strand thickness. On pattern, you will be in any of these L.O.I.S categories depending on how your hair strand behave i.e. you will be:

  • L – “If the hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve” [healthyhairdimensions.com]
  • – Your hair rolls to form one or several O or zero shaped spirals
  • I – lies flat without any curves
  • S – “Strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys” [healthyhairdimensions.com]

Your hair texture types could be classified as thread, wiry, cottony, spongy or silky (see more on each of this textures) while on strand size, it is about the thickness of your hair strand where you could have thin/fine, medium or thick hair strands.

FIA hair typing system for different types of hair

The FIA hair typing system takes into consideration the curl pattern, thickness of hair strands and the overall volume hair has. On curliness, hair is classified as

Classification according to curliness

The FIA hair classification according to curliness has straight (1a, 1b and 1c), wavy (2a, 2b, 2c), curly (3a, 3b and 3c) and very curly classification which has 4a and 4b. If you want to know more about it, visit Wikipedia

FIA classification by strands

This classification has fine, medium and coarse hair strands. The fine strands in almost translucent with an ultra fine and silky feeling strand. It is common among Scandinavian people.

Medium is in between fine and course, it feels like cotton threads and it is common among Caucasians.

Finally, course hair has thicker strands that feel wiry and hard if you rolled it on your finger and it is common among the Asian and native Americans.

Classification by volume

Here full hair pony tail circumference is considered where it could be thin, normal or thick if it is more than 2 inches, from 2-4 inches or more than 4 inches respectively.

Hair type chart for different hair types

For keen and observant people getting a natural hair type chart will help you identify your type of hair easily. Below is one hair typing chart showing the various hair type pictures which will be of much help.

A complete hair type chart
A complete hair type chart

Besides the chart we have provided, another important resource you can use as a hair type chart is The MIZANI Natural Curl KeyTM, which will give you a visual impression of the various types of hair as well as recommended products.

If you want more charts, try this easy to follow chart on how to determine your hair type chat is the one provided by women’s health magazine i.e. the natural hair type chart  as well as the Decode Your Coils: A Simple Guide To Curly Hair Types, which has pictures that can be very helpful.

How to determine hair type and hair type test

An easy way to determine the type of natural hair you have is to wash it and observe its strands without any styling. However, this can be complicated in situations where you could be having a combination of more than one type of natural hair. For instance, there are people who have combinations of 1C and 2A, 2C and 3A or even 3C and 4A. Look at what type is dominant.

Hair typing
Hair typing

Alternatively, you can go and fill the various online tests and quiz sites for hair typing, which will ask you several questions about your hair and give you suggestions.

Finally, to know your hair type, go to an expert hair stylist who will observe and use his or her experience to tell you which type of hair you have. However, do not forget that hair typing might not help you know 100%, which type of hair, but it will be a good guide.

Hair type quiz and hair type tests

An easier way to know the human hair one has is using the various online tests and quizzes. Most of the available online hair type quiz or hair type tests have questionnaires were will be expected to fill a set of question before you get the type of hair you have. Expect questions on your gender, age, and other hair characteristics such as coiling tendency, styling easy, frizz characteristics, dryness or oiliness, celebrities you look like, etc. suggestion of the type of hair you have.

Some of the online natural hair type quiz includes Go to Quiz, which can help males, and females identify their natural hair types, the Hair Type Test and Pro Profs Quiz Maker. Another important hair quiz is the What Kind of Natural Are You.

Is knowing your types of natural hair

Besides knowing your hair type and other factors about your hair such as oiliness, elasticity, porosity, texture and density, ensure you know the best products and styling that works best for your hair type.

If you are looking for hair types for men, black hair types (black natural hair types) or female hair types, they are more or less the same types of hair we have seen. However, in you consider race for instance, you will notice that most afro hair types or African hair types are type 4 hair with some having type 3 hair. This is not the case for all African since some cold be having other types of natural hair.

Note that black hair is just a description of the hair color not type. However, a careful observation will also show you a relationship between hair colors and race.

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Our references and sources
  1. The Only Hair Typing System Article You’ll Ever Need: http://www.curlcentric.com/hair-typing-system/
  2. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Your Hair Type: http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/What-My-Natural-Hair-Type-36337831?
  3. Hair: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair
  4. Type 2 – Wavy Hair: http://www.naturallycurly.com/pages/hairtypes/type2#type-2a
  5. How to Determine Hair Type: http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-Hair-Type
  6. Decoding Hair Texture: Hair Typing Systems 101 http://www.curlynikki.com/2012/08/decoding-hair-texture-hair-typing.html
  7. Hair Types: http://healthyhairdimensions.com/?page_id=71

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