What is Your Hair Type? Figuring it Out, to Take Better Care of Your Hair
Do you know what your hair type is? It can feel like more attention is given to the type of skin type we have, while largely neglecting the type of hair you have. You wouldn’t use a skincare product that has been designed for oily skin if your skin is on the dry side. But many of us do make the mistake of using the wrong type of haircare products on our hair.
Determining your hair type is an essential part of understanding which haircare products will work best for your hair. You may even find that the majority of your hair concerns stem from using the wrong products on your hair. By determining the type of hair that you actually have, you’ll be able to find the right balance between what it is that your hair needs and the products that you use. You can finally put an end to those bad hair days, for good.
Misconceptions about hair type
There are so many misconceptions surrounding hair type. Many people often think that their hair type falls into one of two categories: dry or oily. While this typically works for skin types, hair types are more complicated than that. What are the most obvious categories of hair that spring to mind when you think about it? Thin, thick, curly or oily? While these are hair types, they barely scratch the surface of the types of hair that exist.
Generally speaking, there are six factors that can help you to determine your hair type.
- Hair density
- Curl pattern
1. Understanding hair density
Hair density typically refers to the amount of hair that you have. To determine the density of your hair, pull aside a front section of your hair. If there are visible sections of scalp, then you have thin hair. If there is barely any visible scalp, then you have thick hair. If it falls somewhere between the two, then you have medium density hair. The density of your hair is dependent on the number of hair strands that you have, not how thick they are. This means that you can have fine yet thick hair or have thin and coarse hair, or any variation in-between.
2. Understanding hair diameter
Determining the width of your hair strands is an important part of working out your hair type. Hair diameter focuses solely on how wide each individual strand of hair is. Take a single strand of your hair and lay it out flat. If you struggle to see the hair or find it hard to feel when rolled between your fingertips, it’s likely very fine hair. If your hair strand is visibly thick and has a texture to it, you have coarse hair. If your strand of hair falls between these two, you have medium-width hair.
Determining the diameter of your hair will help you to best determine the hair products that you should be using. Coarse hair, as an example, can be prone to frizz and doesn’t retain moisture as well as other types of hair might. If you have coarse hair then you’ll want to use products that have a higher moisturizing factor to them, in order to keep your hair frizz-free and hydrated.
3. Understanding hair porosity
The porosity of your hair refers to the ability of your hair to absorb moisture or the products that are used on your hair. Understanding the porosity of your hair can help you to better understand the type of chemical treatments that your hair can go through, as well as allowing you to best understand the types of products that you should be using on your hair.
The best way to determine how porous your hair is, is to place a single strand of hair in a bowl of water. If your hair immediately sinks to the bottom of the bowl, then your hair should be considered to have a high porosity level and readily absorbs moisture and product. If your hair doesn’t sink but simply floats on the surface of the water, your hair should be considered to have a low porosity level. Your low porosity hair won’t absorb moisture easily.
If, on the other hand, your hair strand floats in the middle of the bowl and water, it should be considered to have a normal porosity and a well-balanced ability to absorb moisture and product.
Porosity level can indicate your hair’s ability to dry well. Products can build up on your hair instead of being absorbed by the hair, which can lead to greasy looks by the end of the day.
4. Understanding hair greasiness
Having an understanding of the level of greasiness of your hair can help you to better know how often your hair needs to be washed, as well as allow you to select the right haircare products to keep your hair from building up more of an oil residue between washing.
To determine the oil-level of your hair, wash it completely and allow it to dry. Don’t use any conditioning products or treatments on your hair. When you wake up, do a patch test using a piece of tissue pressed against your scalp. The amount of oil that you see on the tissue will indicate the oiliness level of your hair.
5. Understanding hair elasticity
The elasticity of your hair refers to just how far a single strand of hair can stretch before it returns to a normal shape or breaks. This can be used as an indicator of your hair’s health. Hair that has high elasticity will have a good amount of bounce and shine, and is considered to be the strongest type of hair. To determine your hair’s elasticity, you should pluck a strand of your hair when it’s wet. Stretch it out as far as you can. The elasticity of your hair can be categorised as follows.
Low elasticity. If your hair snaps almost immediately when you stretch it, your hair should be considered to have low elasticity. Harsh chemicals should not be used on this hair type. Focus on shampoos and other haircare products that can strengthen hair cuticles.
Medium elasticity. If your hair stretches out about 25% of its original length without breaking, it’s considered to have medium elasticity. You can use hair oils and natural hair masks to strengthen your hair.
High elasticity. If your hair can be stretched out a fair bit, without breaking, it’s indicative of a high elasticity. Hair that has high elasticity can be stretched out as much as 50% of its actual length before breaking. Coarse hair is very often seen to have high elasticity levels.
6. Understanding curl pattern
The shape of your hair refers to whether your hair has any noticeable bends or creases. If it does not, then you have straight hair. This may seem obvious to some, but the confusion often comes when determining the type of hair beyond stick straight. If there are slight s-shape bends in your hair, you have wavy hair. Tight curves in the hair would indicate that you have curly hair. Spiral curls are often easy to identify as the hair will have obvious ringlets.
Armed with the information that you need to determine your hair type, you can now pick out haircare products that will address the specific needs of your hair. Read the labels of the products that you are shopping for and look for products that will meet the needs of your hair so that your tresses always look their healthy best.