There are many words you might use to describe your hair — is it frizzy? Soft? Sleek? Oily? Thick? Thin? Long? Short?
Whether we like it or not, hair is one of many defining characteristics that contribute to our overall appearance. No matter what you think of your own hair, it’s beautiful in its own way. A lot of the time, it just comes down to knowing how to style and care for your unique hair type.
There are four general hair types, primarily based on curl pattern.
- Type 1: straight
- Type 2: wavy
- Type 3: curly
- Type 4: coily
Each type also has three subtypes, labeled A, B, and C, which are based on the tightness of your waves, curls, or coils.
Different hair textures require different care in order to keep it healthy and strong. The first step in learning how to properly care for your hair is figuring out which hair type you most closely identify with, and then doing what you can to enhance your natural texture — not fight it.
Type 1: Straight
Type 1 hair has no (or very little) natural wave or curl. The main characteristic to be aware of with straight hair is that it tends to get oily quicker than other hair types. If you have Type 1 hair, try these tips:
- Don’t wash your hair too often, as this can cause your scalp to overproduce natural oils. Dry shampoo is a great solution when you’re between wash days.
- Avoid using too many hair products, as they can weigh down your strands and possibly even make your hair appear greasier than it really is.
- Use texturizing spray (not heavy creams or gels) for extra volume when styling.
As far as styling goes, layers are a great haircut option for those with Type 1 hair because they can help add volume and movement to your hair.
Type 2: Wavy
Type 2 hair has a bit more natural texture than Type 1, ranging from gentle waves to more well-defined waves, depending on the subtype. Type 2 hair tends to flatten at the roots but still has body in the rest of the hair, so caring for this hair type means striking a balance between volume and frizz. If you have Type 2 hair, consider these tips:
- Use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner.
- Take care of your scalp with gentle shampooing and the occasional scalp scrub to keep roots lifted.
- Use a light-hold curl cream to add definition to your waves — just be careful not to use too much or it could weigh down your strands.
- Try a hair serum to add moisture and smooth frizz.
Type 2 hair also looks great with layers, which allow your waves to move about freely. You can also try playing with different products to get a tousled, wavy look.
Type 3: Curly
Type 3 hair is curlier than Type 2, and depending on the subtype, can range from loose ringlets to more tightly coiled curls. Curly hair is prone to dryness, so caring for Type 3 hair will involve a bit of extra hydration. If you have Type 3 hair, follow these tips:
- Use sulfate-free shampoo to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils.
- Deep condition your hair regularly and use a leave-in conditioner to combat dryness.
- Try plopping. Flip your head over and gather your hair into a pile, then wrap it on the top of your head with a microfiber towel or T-shirt (not a regular bath towel) to dry.
- Detangle your hair when it’s wet so you don’t have to spend hours working through knots once it’s dry.
Type 3 hair can look fantastic with any haircut, but shorter cuts often accentuate curls and add some extra bounce. Be sure to use a leave-in conditioner before styling to keep your curls hydrated throughout the day.
Type 4: Coily
Type 4 is similar to Type 3, but with smaller, tighter coils. Like Type 3, Type 4 hair is at risk of dryness, so you’ll want to experiment with different moisturizing products to see what works best for your curls. If you have Type 4 hair, try these tips:
- Wash your hair infrequently (every few days to every few weeks) to preserve your natural oils.
- Moisturize generously with a leave-in conditioner, hair oil, and hair cream. Experiment to see what works best for you!
- Wear protective styles at night to avoid tangles and frizz the next day.
Coily hair is beautifully versatile, whether you choose to wear it loose and natural or with a more protective style like braids. Regardless of your style, don’t forget to moisturize!
Your natural hair type is what makes you unique, so spend some time getting to know your hair and how to best take care of it for a healthy, happy you.