What Type of Hair Do I Have: 6 Best Ways to Determine an Individual’s Hair Type

How to determine an individual’s hair type: Determining an individual’s hair type is essential not only to figure out how to handle, cut and style the hair more effectively but also aids in choosing the right hair care products. By knowing the hair type, one can find the proper balance that the hair needs and this will end the bad hair days many of us suffer from. This article enlightens factors that can help a person determine what type of hair they actually have.  

Hair type involves understanding different qualities of one’s hair, including density, texture, porosity (the ability of the hair to hold moisture), elasticity, and curl pattern. With the hair type analysis, a hairstylist will be able to recommend the best hairstyles, colors, and styling products that will suit an individual.

What are the Factors or Methods That Help in Determining The Hair Type?

The following factors help an individual to analyze his or her hair type.

Method 1: Hair density determination

The hair density refers to the number of individual hairs on a person’s head. The following steps help in determining the hair density.

#1: Part the hair in the middle by looking into a mirror.

Use the fingers or a comb to part the hair into two separate sides. Pinning down one of the sides is seen to aid in keeping it out of one’s way.

#2: Hold a chunk/section of hair on one side of the part.

Rotating this chunk around a little will aid a person in seeing the roots of his or her hair from various angles.

Note: Having a sufficiently bright bulb in the bathroom will aid in getting a better vision of the hair. Alternately, take the help of a friend or family to hold a lamp or flashlight above the head to give a person enough light.

#3: Hair density estimation.

Look at the hair roots and the scalp. Measure the amount of scalp that a person can you see in a square inch size area. One need not count the individual strands, but one can get a sense of how dense the hair is by estimating the amount of skin that is visible on the scalp. Based on the skin that is visible on the scalp the hair density is classified as:

Hair density
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a) Thick density: If not much of scalp is visible, then an individual is considered to have a thick hair density.

b) Medium density: If one see some scalp, then they have medium density.

c) Thin density: If one sees a larger portion of the scalp, they have thin hair density.

#4: Choose to test another spot on the scalp.

Go through the above-mentioned procedure for another spot on the scalp as the hair densities may be different at different spots on an individual’s head. Get a friend to help in looking at the back of the head. Ask them to take a picture so that one can have a better and clear vision.

Method 2: Hair texture or diameter determination.

Another way to discover what hair type an individual possesses is by determining the diameter or width of the hair strands. The hair’s diameter is no way linked to the amount of hair one actually has. It’s all about how wide the individual hair strands are. The following steps help in analyzing the hair diameter.

#1: Wash the hair.

Wash the hair using the regular shampoo and conditioner regimen, as normally one would. Rinse the hair such that the excess shampoo and conditioner is washed out.

Note: The best time to determine the hair texture is a time when one will not be exercising or creating a lot of extra sweat in the hair, as these are seen to alter the results.

#2: Let the hair dry naturally.

Using a hairdryer is seen to change the way the hair reacts in a certain amount of time, hence it is generally advised to use a towel or air to dry the hair.

#3: Chop a sewing thread of about 6-8 inches long.

Choose a regular sewing thread over the thicker thread that is intended for sewing heavy-duty fabrics.

#4: Pull out a strand of the hair when completely dry.

Choose or try to get the full strand, rather than having it break in the middle. As we are going to analyze the hair thickness one needs to choose a strand of hair that is most representative of the entire head of the hair. The crown of an individual’s head is the best area to select the strand from.

Note: The hair should be completely dry and no styling products need to be in it, as these products are seen to alter the authentic outcomes.

#5: Place the thread and hair strand side-by-side on a sheet of white paper.

Use a sheet of clear paper to help one clearly see the hair strand and the thread so that the comparison process is simplified.

#6: Hair strand and sewing thread comparison.

Take a close look at the hair with the aid of a magnifying glass or mirror. Stretch the hair a bit before the comparison procedure. It is predominantly advised to tape down the strand and thread ends so they stay at the designated position.

Hair texture
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Based on this  comparison process the hair diameter/ texture is classified into:

Thin/ fine hair: Here the hair strand’s thickness is thinner than the threaded piece.
Medium hair: The hair strand is about the same thickness as the thread.
Thick/ coarse hair: The hair strand, in this case, is thicker than the threaded piece.

An important point to ponder is that hair diameter and density aren’t necessarily related. One could have fine hair with thick density or coarse hair with thin density or any combination in between.

Method 3:  Porosity determination.

Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb moisture or styling products. Knowing the hair porosity can not only help a person analyze the kind of chemical treatments one’s hair can withstand but also aids in choosing the hair products that will suit his or her hair type. The following steps enlighten the porosity determination procedure.

#: Hair wash regimen.

Using the regular shampoo and conditioner regimen, wash the hair as one would normally do. Rinse the hair clean of shampoo and conditioner and check that all chemicals and products are rinsed thoroughly out of the hair.

#2: Partially dry the hair out with a towel.

Initially comb through the hair and later gently squeeze the hair with the aid of a clean t-shirt or microfiber towel. Refrain from drying it too much or else one may not be able to determine the porosity or moisture retention capacity.

#3: Feel the hair in the hands.

Take a thick hair section in the hands and feel them from the roots down to the hair ends.  It is generally advised to gently squeeze the hair to feel the moisture.

Hair Porosity
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Based on this procedure the hair porosity is grouped into:

a) Low porosity: Here the hair tends to feel almost dry and fails to retain much moisture.
B) Medium porosity: The hair is pretty wet but not sticky and is seen to retains a medium amount of moisture.
C) High porosity: In this case, the hair feels sticky as though the water will take a long time to leave the hair and is seen to retain a lot of moisture

#4: Float the hair in a large bowl of water.

Alternatively, the hair porosity can also be estimated by floating the hair in a large bowl of water. Here a strand of hair is pulled out and is allowed to float in a large bowl of water. The bowl should be large enough such that the hair strand should not touch the sides.  Based on the observation of the strand of hair in water the hair porosity is determined and classified into:

Low porosity: Here the strand floats and does not sink in the water bowl.
Medium porosity: Here the hair strand is seen to sink after a while.
High porosity: Here the strand is seen to sink quickly to the bottom of the bowl.

#5: Repeat the hair test again on a different day.

The weather may affect the hair. For instance, the hair may show a different outcome on a humid day than on a drier day.

Method 4: Elasticity check.

The following details will aid an individual in checking the elasticity of their hair.

#1: Pull out one strand of dry hair.

A strand of freshly washed, towel-dried full strand (rather than having it break in the middle) hair will give an individual the best outcomes. The point to be pondered here is that the hair needs to be dry and it can or cannot have styling products in it.  However, it is generally recommended to leave out styling products of the hair to obtain authentic results for any hair test.

#2: Stretch the hair strand.

Hold the strand of hair with the hands on both ends and pull gently to stretch it. Refrain from stretching it quickly or else the hair tends to break too soon. The strand of hair is seen to snap eventually, but one here would want to see how much it will stretch before it breaks.

#3: Observe the hair strand during the stretching process.

One needs to pay attention as for how the hair strand begins to stretch like a rubber band and also needs to pay close attention as to when it breaks. Highly elastic hair is seen to stretch up to 50% its original length before it snaps, when wet. Based on the stretching process the hair strands are classified as:

Hair Elasticity
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High elasticity: If the hair strand stretches a long way before it breaks, then one is said to have high elasticity and a very strong hair.

Medium elasticity: If the hair strand stretches somewhat before it snaps, an individual is said to have a medium elasticity hair.

Low elasticity: If the strand tends to break almost immediately when stretching it, then a person is said to have a low elasticity and weak hair. Here the strand is also seen to stretch like a bubble gum which at times curls up post snapping.

#4: Take a hair strand test from another spot on the head.

The hair is seen to have varied elasticity on different parts of the head. Hence it is advised to pull hair strands from different sections of the head to obtain accurate outcomes.

Method 5: Hair oiliness determination.

The following steps help in determining the oil-producing capacity of the hair.

#1: Wash the hair.

Use a regular shampoo and conditioner regimen and wash the hair as one normally would. Rinse the hair clean of shampoo and conditioner.  t is always recommended to choose a time when one will not be exercising or creating a lot of extra sweat in the hair, as these tend to alter the outcomes of the hair test.

#2: Allow the hair to air dry.

A hair dryer might change the way the hair reacts in a certain amount of time, hence it is predominantly advised to use a towel and air dry the hair. Refrain from adding any products to the hair, as this can alter the authenticity of the results.

#3: Allow the hair to sit overnight.

Give the head and hair about 8-12 hours to produce oils, later one will then be able to check the oil-producing capacity of the hair.

#4: Check for the oiliness.

In the morning, press a tissue to the scalp at the crown of one’s head. Refrain from rubbing the tissue around; just a gentle press against the scalp will suffice. Press it against the head behind the ears as well, as it’s possible to have oily hair in some places on the head and not others.

Based on the oiliness check the hair is distinguished into the following types.

a) Oily hair: If there is oil residue on the tissue, then the hair type is grouped as oily hair.

b) Medium hair: If a person notes a trace of oil on the tissue, then they have a medium oily hair.

c) Dry hair: If there is nothing at all on the tissue, then the individual is said to have a dry hair.

d) Combination hair: Here a person is seen to have oily residue only from certain parts of the hair, but not others.

#5: Test the hair again on a different day.

The weather may affect the hair; hence the hair may behave differently on each day. Hence the to obtain authentic results one needs to repeat the oiliness determination test on different days.

Oiliness determines how often one needs to wash the hair. Although products like dry shampoo can refresh the hair between washes, as a general rule, people with oily hair will need to wash their hair more often.

Method 6: Curl/ Shape Pattern Determination.

The shape refers to the amount of bend or curls in an individual’s hair. The following steps help in determining the shape pattern of an individual’s hair type.

#1: Wash the hair.

Using the regular shampoo and conditioner regimen and wash the hair. Rinse the hair clean of shampoo and conditioner.

#2: Let the hair air dry.

Using a hair dryer might change the way the hair reacts in a certain amount of time, so using a towel and air drying the hair is the most preferred mother.

#3: Determine the hair’s curl/ shape pattern.

Based on the curl size and pattern, a hairstylist for Oprah Winfrey, Andre Walker determined a system to determine the hair type primarily  This includes a range of hair types from straight to curly or coiling.

Based on this system the hair is classified into the following types.  

a) Straight hair: No curl or bend is observed in this hair type. and is usually shiny and impossible to curl. But this hair is the oiliest hair type because the oils from the scalp are seen to easily travel down the shaft.

b) Wavy Hair: This hair type has some bends but no curls and is typically more prone to frizz because when it’s brushed out or over-styled it usually develops more split ends and dryness.

c) Curly Hair: The hair has S-shaped curls and is seen to be curly even when not styled and is prone to damage.

d) Kinky hair: Hair is tightly coiled or kinky and is often seen as a definite Z pattern. It can be stretched out but is seen to return to its curved shape when released. This hair type is seen to shrink up to 75% of the actual length.

#4: Hair subtype determination.

Types of Curly Hair
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Observing a representative chunk of the hair for its thickness and pattern of the curl if any can aid in categorizing the hair into four types and three subcategories per type.

Hair Type: Straight hair
1A: The hair is soft and cannot hold a curl.
1B: The hair does not curl but has immense volume.
1C: The hair does not curl and is very coarse.

Hair Type: Wavy Hair
1A: Hair is seen to be wavy, resembling the letter S and is coarse.
2B: Hair is often seen to be frizzy with a definite wave.
2C: The hair is extremely frizzy with thick waves and is the coarsest of the Type 2 category.

Hair Type: Curly Hair
3A: The curls are about the same diameter as a sidewalk chalk or are even seen to have pretty loose curls.
3B: The curls are about the same diameter as a medium-sized curls or a sharpie.
3C: The curls are about the same diameter as a pencil or corkscrew curls.

Hair Type: Kinky hair
4A: The curls are very tight and resemble about the same diameter as a needle.
4B: The curls tend to resemble a zigzag pattern just like the letter Z.
4C: This hair type does not have a definite curl pattern. But is seen to have a tight zigzag with an uneven pattern, making it harder to define.

#5: Compare the hair to the LOIS system.

The LOIS system is the curl typing system that predominantly also considers the strand texture and thickness as well.  It compares the hair strand to the letters L (Bend), O (Curl), I (Straight), and S (Wave). This test is performed by taking a single strand and holding it up with one hand. Later the hair is compared with the shapes of the letters L, O, I, and S.

Final thoughts

Most hair products in the market are produced to promote certain hair types. Once an individual determines the hair type, they need to keep their eyes peeled for products that will work for them. Alternatively, sharing the hair type with the hairdresser will also aid in selecting styling and product and an online community of women interested in hair happily share their styling tips.

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