Those of us blessed with naturally textured hair know that it definitely has a mind of its own. While a gorgeous cascade of curls can be incredibly swoon-worthy, an untamed “bird’s nest” is decidedly less so. Textured hair requires its own unique care that starts with the cut and extends through everyday styling.
By embracing curls with the proper treatment, they will embrace you right back. The key is understanding your hair type and texture and adjusting your approach to highlight your hair’s unique attributes, rather than trying to fight against them. Go head-to-head against a curl pattern and you’ll come out the loser, every single time.
Textured hair cannot be defeated, but it can be worked with and its powers used for the greater beauty good. Here, we will get into the different types of textured hair and how to care for them properly, so that we can all stop working against our natural curliness and learn to embrace it.
These two terms are often used interchangeably by the beauty layperson, but they do not mean the same thing. Most people get confused with where hair type ends and hair texture begins and how density plays a part. Put very simply, your hair type is whether it is straight, wavy or curly. Your hair texture is whether it is fine, medium or coarse, and your hair density refers to how many hairs are actually on your head.
To give you an idea of the starting point for determining whether you are “normal density,” natural blondes tend to have an average of 130,00 total hairs on their head, redheads about 80,000 and brunettes roughly 100,000. Therefore, it’s completely possible for hair to be fine, curly and thin, straight, coarse and thick, or wavy, medium and normal–or any combination of those.
If that has your head (and hairs on it) spinning, you’re not alone. One of the most widely recognized ways of “typing” hair was developed by Andre Walker in 1997 and it has been widely credited for the majority of subsequent hair typing systems. Walker’s system consists of breaking hair down into several categories and subcategories based on curl pattern, texture and density combinations. You start with:
From there, each type has a defined set of subcategories, for example:
Another popular, and slightly more complex method of “defining” your curls is the L.O.I.S. system, which stands for:
Hair is further classified by texture (which, remember, means the thickness of each individual strand). Beyond the curl pattern and texture, natural textures can also be classified by how prone they are to frizz and the level of sheen (light reflection). Typically, these classifications are broken into five types:
Let’s start with curl pattern. Here’s what you’ll need to determine your curl pattern:
First things first, take a good, long look at your hair and determine if it’s a uniform type throughout. It’s very possible to have different curl types in different areas of your head. If that is the case, select a good length strand from the type of curl most prevalent across your head. Pluck the hair out and lay it on the paper, next to your piece of thread (which should be stretched out straight).
Comparing your hair strand to the thread, here is a quick guide to bend, using the LOIS method:
Next, we will move onto the frizz assessment. These two barometers will play the biggest parts in determining the best care and styling routine for your hair type. For example, the amount of frizz your hair is prone to balanced with the level of natural sheen is highly indicative of your hair’s moisture levels. Knowing this will help you adjust your care and styling routine accordingly for the best possible results.
The next time you wash your hair, pay close attention to the following:
Now that we’ve taken some time to asses those points, let’s get the breakdown:
Getting to know our hair on a slightly more intimate level makes it easier to determine the proper cutting, styling and care techniques to employ in order to get the best possible results. Each of our hair is utterly unique and it’s not until we begin to understand it a little better that we can learn to embrace it.