PDA

View Full Version : How important is hair typing, really?



chen bao jun
January 19th, 2016, 11:07 AM
I know in a WHOLE lot ways, hair is just--hair. Human hair. And in spite of what people tend to think, you CAN get good hints from people of hair types, often very good hints, which is why I sort of troll around the whole forum, I've gotten good stuff from (almost) everywhere.

But I know it does make a difference with some things. We all know (and I think a lot of probably WERE) that person who thought their hair was completely unmanageable and then found out that a large part of the problem was that we were doing something that's well suited for another hair type, but not for our hair. Like this friend I have, who is a type 1a, possibly 1b and has 5 daughters and 4 of them are the same hair type as her and always have smooth, sleek shampoo commercial hair. Then there's number 5. The one her mother is always following around with a brush, telling to take better care of her hair. the girl is clearly some kind of wavy, somewhere in the type 2's and the more she brushes, the more unkempt she looks, and the more her mother tells her to brush--you get the cycle.

We all certainly know the curly girl who discovered no poo washing one day and has never looked back since.

I sort of straddle hair types as a type 3c (the type Andre Walker didn't even notice existed, it had to be added in) I've characteristics of both type 3 and type 4 hair. I always knew I had spiral curls (spent a lot of time trying futilely to get rid of them back in the day when they weren't the thing to have). But I cannot treat my hair as if it were 3a or even 3b (though I've got a big patch of that up on top)--Curly Girl does not work for me at all. Not just because my curls are smaller, either. They have simply got to be stretched when they are wet, or they tangle and snarl and its hell. On the other hand, my hair gets destroyed, literally, whenever I try to behave as if its type 4, even though 3c is definitely also an afro hair type--I've always gotten worse damage from methods meant for type 4 hair, even than from heat and chemicals. (though my hair is really VERY like type 4a)

I had the same problem as my friend's daughter, with my type 4 mother confused and angry as to why my hair would never 'behave' (that is, react to things like her hair), a problem multiplied because she had (she's changed, I must say) that old mindset about looser curls being 'good hair' and thus supposedly 'easy'--and she was not having an easy time with my (very mistreated) hair. And I'm sure there are many examples of this, that have nothing to do with curl size, but with other characteristics--I'm shuddering, for instance, imagining someone who was the only person in their family with fine, fragile hair, having it treated as coarse--or vice versa (you wouldn't get the breakage then, but you'd always have people wondering why your hair was not soft--something I experienced for a lot of my life, also--)

So what do you guys think? How much is it really an important thing to know? Especially considering that, as we all know, many many people are incapable of realizing that something has differences without immediately starting to rank and decide this is better than that, instead of just different (something I must say that I have found LHC to be remarkably free of--)

yahirwaO.o
January 19th, 2016, 11:49 AM
I think it comes very important to curly hair types, actually changes the whole vision to them. We kinda live in straight-wavish normativity society that pretty much any curly or kinky girl can feel bad and mistreat their gorgeous hair with so much crap really!

I actually learned to embrace my own texture, because some made comments like: "Your hair is so limp and flat". And then I saw a bunch of people with thick glorious curly hair getting it perm straight and thinning the hell out just to get my natural look.

So then I decided to take care of it more, some things from you curly-kinky things works for me, most of them not, but we all can learn from different hair types and the most important one I believe is TO EMBRACE YOUR NATURAL HAIR!!!

chen bao jun
January 19th, 2016, 12:20 PM
I think it comes very important to curly hair types, actually changes the whole vision to them. We kinda live in straight-wavish normativity society that pretty much any curly or kinky girl can feel bad and mistreat their gorgeous hair with so much crap really!

I actually learned to embrace my own texture, because some made comments like: "Your hair is so limp and flat". And then I saw a bunch of people with thick glorious curly hair getting it perm straight and thinning the hell out just to get my natural look.

So then I decided to take care of it more, some things from you curly-kinky things works for me, most of them not, but we all can learn from different hair types and the most important one I believe is TO EMBRACE YOUR NATURAL HAIR!!!


So true.

Its always fascinating to me to go on youtube and look at (non-LHC) people doing updoes. By the time they finish backcombing, using a curling iron, adding dry shampoo and hairspray and sometimes even extensions to get an approximation of the pouf and texture I have naturally, before they even start the actual hairstyle, I'm like, well, maybe pouf isn't so bad after all.

Embrace your natural texture is so true and its also true we can learn from each other to some extent. :)

lauren_alia
January 19th, 2016, 12:38 PM
I think it's an important factor, but it's not the be all and end all when it comes to how you handle your hair. Like you said, how fine or course it is will make a difference in how your hair needs to be handled. Also, how thick or thin your hair is, how your scalp reacts to things, how you like to wear your hair, how easily your curls are weighed down or stretched out. Two people can have curls of a very similar size and look at shorter lengths, and one of them might have curls that gets very weighed down and stretched out as their hair gets longer and the other still retains a lot of root curl at longer lengths (not sure what to call that quality? strength of the curl pattern maybe?). I too have gotten useful tips on here from people with a very different hair type than my own, and a lot of the regular curly girl tips just don't work for me for various reasons.

CoveredByLove
January 19th, 2016, 12:41 PM
I tried no poo...multiple times...because my hair is indeed curly. So, I thought this is what is supposed to be "best" for my hair type. I realized I was forcing my hair to accept something it simply does not like.My scalp either. I would shed like a maniac and end up with pimples all in my head. My hair would look limp and dull no matter how often I cowashed with the popular suave and vo5 conditioners. I tried other brands. Same thing. I finally realized that level of curliness (straight to kinky) has little to do with hair type. My hair behaves like the stereotypical straight hair...but it's curly. It loves shampoo. It gets build up easily and quickly. It can be slippery and hard to fix. Even though it looks thick it condenses down to nothing. It loves silicones. Once I stopped doing things I thought I was "supposed" to do for my hair, it started to look and behave so much better. However, there are straight haired folks who love cowashing and do great with silicone free- a stereotypically curly hair routine. That's why you have to do what works for YOU. Hair is so individual...

lapushka
January 19th, 2016, 12:42 PM
So what do you guys think? How much is it really an important thing to know? Especially considering that, as we all know, many many people are incapable of realizing that something has differences without immediately starting to rank and decide this is better than that, instead of just different (something I must say that I have found LHC to be remarkably free of--)

I think it is important to know what you identify with. There's no rule against adopting customs and rules from another type (take the rinse-out oil method for example that comes from a tightly curly and I have adapted it to "most" hairtypes by starting a thread on it). I still do think it's an important starting point, though.

LongCurlyTress
January 19th, 2016, 01:04 PM
I tried no poo...multiple times...because my hair is indeed curly. So, I thought this is what is supposed to be "best" for my hair type. I realized I was forcing my hair to accept something it simply does not like.My scalp either. I would shed like a maniac and end up with pimples all in my head. My hair would look limp and dull no matter how often I cowashed with the popular suave and vo5 conditioners. I tried other brands. Same thing. I finally realized that level of curliness (straight to kinky) has little to do with hair type. My hair behaves like the stereotypical straight hair...but it's curly. It loves shampoo. It gets build up easily and quickly. It can be slippery and hard to fix. Even though it looks thick it condenses down to nothing. It loves silicones. Once I stopped doing things I thought I was "supposed" to do for my hair, it started to look and behave so much better. However, there are straight haired folks who love cowashing and do great with silicone free- a stereotypically curly hair routine. That's why you have to do what works for YOU. Hair is so individual...

I very much agree with CoveredByLove's comment above. As a curly 3b with fine hair, I probably have different issues than someone with 1a coarse hair for example. We each have our nice qualities, but also our difficulties too. Everyone's hair is so unique and should be treated as such.

Hairkay
January 19th, 2016, 01:08 PM
I think noticing that there is a variety of hair out there is helpful. You don't have to put hair in types but you do have to learn how to manage your own particular hair and be aware that relatives may not have hair that behaves like yours. My mother and grandparents approached each of us hair differently because they knew we all weren't the same. Having said that we didn't have a lot of heads with 100% fine hair to deal with.

Anje
January 19th, 2016, 01:13 PM
It seems like it's especially helpful for folks with curlier hair. (As yahirwaO.o put it, US society at least is very straight-hair normative.) It seems important at least as a starting-off point for people who are struggling to make their hair look and feel its best.

But no, it doesn't seem like what works for some people with your hairtype is necessarily the best thing for you, or at least the only thing that could work. One of my favorite hair oils, sesame, was suggested to me by Mira-chan as one that worked well for her 2c/C hair that's so different from my fine straivy locks. It's all about ongoing experimentation, I suppose, but hair types seem useful as a place to start.

Eastbound&Down
January 19th, 2016, 01:46 PM
I feel like I'm so lucky, my mother has curly (probably 3a-ish range) hair naturally, so when I came out with my "unmanageable hair" as my grandmother put it, she knew how to make it "behave", wet it, oil it, let it go. Not everyone has that and I think the abuse that comes from people telling you at a young age how unruly, or even sometimes ugly, can be really damaging to a young person. My hair has lost quite a bit of it's curl now that I'm older, it sits right around 2b now, but if I ever have a child with curls, I will tell them to embrace them.

Robi-Bird
January 19th, 2016, 02:02 PM
I do think it is important to not lock into a type. There are variations in everyone's hair that will set them apart and it is important to experiment until you find what works for you; which might not be curly girl or WO or whatever.

I know I need to remember that my coarse/wirey hair is never going to feel or behave like fine hair and my naturally oily scalp does not tolerate much oil and I have to adapt any technique or routine I try accordingly.

Islandgrrl
January 19th, 2016, 02:18 PM
I think hairtyping is only important insomuch as it gives you a starting place for things that typically work for others with your hairtype.

My daughter has 1a/f-m/ii hair that is ridiculously shiny and slick. It's very different from my own hair, which is 1c/m-c/iii. Things that work for me absolutely do not work for her - in fact, the things I've learned here have helped me better understand her hairtype and what she needs, so YAY!

rhosyn_du
January 19th, 2016, 03:44 PM
As others have said, I think hair type is a good place to start, but, it's definitely not everything. My own 2c hair is happiest with some methods (LOC) and products (you can pry my Kinky-Curly products from my cold, dead hands) designed for type 4 hair. However, if hair typing weren't a thing at all, I'd probably still think I just had "unmanageable" straight hair that was forever dry and poofy.

school of fish
January 19th, 2016, 05:27 PM
As others have stated, I've found hairtyping to be a helpful starting point as I've worked through to establish my haircare routine, but the more useful information for me has been the *behaviour* of peoples' hair. The best discoveries for me and my routine have come learning the solutions that have worked for people whose hair *behaves* like mine - often it's people with similar hairtypes but not always. For example I've picked up a surprising amount of useful info from people with hair in the fine 4s, even though I'm the 1s myself. By keeping my mind open I've been able to pick up some invaluable tips, which would have eluded me had I stuck strictly to my own hairtype.

As a result I've actually come to think of the 1/2/3/4 texture classification as a sort of continuum, rather than a line, like the four points of the compass. I've found my hair shares more behavioural characteristics with the compass points on either side of me - so the 2s and the 4s - than with the 3s across from me :)

But certainly identifying with my own hairtype was very helpful at the beginning of the hair journey when the vast wealth of seemingly contradictory info on this forum felt overwhelming... ;) :)

missrandie
January 19th, 2016, 05:50 PM
I see hair typing as a good tool and a great place to start, but not end. It made me realize that I don't have "straight hair with frizz," I have delicate waves that fall out easily, but baby hairs that tenaciously wave at eachother when they are fresh and clean.

Beborani
January 19th, 2016, 06:46 PM
I learnt my hair could be worn curly by leaving in products and letting it dry several years ago thanks to a perceptive stylist but did not think of my exact hairtype until I had to fill in the box in lhc. The exact number means less to me but knowing my hair wasn't just frizzy/unmanageable was a huge help. My daughter has straight fine hair--probably lhc 1b or c. She has not needed to know her hairtype as she can pretty much wash and go and get compliments. I have shown girls in my family with non-straight hair my method of styling--it is always a revelation. Knowing there are more options for styling the hair is important--exact hairtype is more for hair forum folks to identify each other.

Entangled
January 19th, 2016, 08:16 PM
Hairtype gives me a term for my hair other than saying medium thickness, enough wave to cause grid but not enough to actually wear waves, and normal thickness. Basically my hair is in the middle of average and acts roughly the same whatever I do to it. I know I shouldn't comb it if I want any wave, but it already take six hours or more to dry, so I need to break it up if I want any time clean and dry. I get very little time where my hair is both clean and dry. Usually it's one or the other. For me, what's been a lot more important is scalp, as mine is very greasy. So I dissolve my waves, but at least j know why I have crazy frizz.

Daydreamer.
January 20th, 2016, 03:42 AM
Hair type isn't the most important thing, but it can help others to visualize how your hair looks like.

lapushka
January 20th, 2016, 08:44 AM
As others have said, I think hair type is a good place to start, but, it's definitely not everything. My own 2c hair is happiest with some methods (LOC) and products (you can pry my Kinky-Curly products from my cold, dead hands) designed for type 4 hair. However, if hair typing weren't a thing at all, I'd probably still think I just had "unmanageable" straight hair that was forever dry and poofy.

Yep, I have learned a lot from tightly curlies around here and on YT (I am subbed to so many). With a little adaptation (far far far less product), it can work in my wild hair... yeah, happy because I did look beyond my hair type. I spent years looking at straight hair and that never worked for me. As soon as there is some wave to your hair, look beyond your hair type. Best tip ever, rhosyn_du!

Brunettebybirth
January 20th, 2016, 08:57 AM
A starting point, I'd say. I always assumed my hair was curly until I began to research on the Internet.

Finding out more about my hair type (2a/2b) definitely helped me in how to best care for my hair. Also, discovering that the hair in the front/sides is a different hair type than the hair in the back was helpful too in terms of styling options.

Most people that don't understand what hair typing is, still tend to classify my hair as curly albeit a very loose curly even though it's actually...wavy. :neutral:

chen bao jun
January 20th, 2016, 12:13 PM
As a result I've actually come to think of the 1/2/3/4 texture classification as a sort of continuum, rather than a line, like the four points of the compass. I've found my hair shares more behavioural characteristics with the compass points on either side of me - so the 2s and the 4s - than with the 3s across from me :)

But certainly identifying with my own hairtype was very helpful at the beginning of the hair journey when the vast wealth of seemingly contradictory info on this forum felt overwhelming... ;) :)

I like what you said here. I do think that curl pattern is a continuum, a spectrum where one type slowly segues into another type, rather than classifications which are strictly divided from each other.

I know my 3b/3c hair has a lot of characteristics in common with 4a hair, and also a lot of characteristics in common with 3a hair, though it behaves exactly like neither.

Where I have been able to get a lot of help from other hairtypes is when they share some other characteristic of mine (which is why I know curl pattern isn't everything). I have extremely coarse hair which is low porosity and I have learned an incredible amount about how to deal with it from considering what is called 'coarse, resistant Asian hair'. The people who have this are most often 1a, the straightest of the straight, but my hair behaves and reacts so much more like this than it does like fine, fragile 4b or 4c hair. It was a real revelation for me to go to Taiwan and go to hairdressers there. For years and years I could never figure out (not until I came to LHC) why people used to dealing with completely straight hair had no problem with mine, while people used to dealing with tightly curly hair (which mine IS) couldn't do anything with me, to our great mutual frustration.

It's because the coarseness and low porosity trump the curliness.

I'm always talking bad about hairdressers and my experiences with them, but I'd go to Chinese hairdresser again in a New York minute, nothing but good experiences there. Or another East Asian. The only decent (for me) hairdresser that I've had in the US was Korean and I've been through the spectrum and most of the time paid a LOT of money.

lapis_lazuli
January 20th, 2016, 12:19 PM
I see it as nothing more than a guideline. There will be no perfect fit for everyone because hair can be strange and we're all so different. It's somewhere to start... if it's any consolation, I still don't know for certain what my hair type is! :laugh:

chen bao jun
January 20th, 2016, 12:32 PM
I see it as nothing more than a guideline. There will be no perfect fit for everyone because hair can be strange and we're all so different. It's somewhere to start... if it's any consolation, I still don't know for certain what my hair type is! :laugh:

I don't really know what mine is either... I say 3c because that seems the closest, it seems like 60-75% of my spirally curls are pencil sized most of the time, which is 3c but I do have a lot of sharpie sized in there too. Most curl pattern charts say 3c is pencil sized so that's what I go with.

I don't think its a very exact science. NOt only IRL but also on the web I see very very different hair being called '3c' so I feel a bit clueless.

If it was really important to describe my hair for some reason to someone who couldnt see or feel it, I'd say 'some sort of afro curly on the looser side, very coarse strands, very high density, silky in feeling but not soft, with a whole lot of natural curl definition (natural spiral curls) and a lot of shrinkage (though not the most possible)." I don't know if that would give them a picture or not, though. And it doesn't sound 'technical'.

lapis_lazuli
January 20th, 2016, 12:50 PM
I don't think it's an exact science either and yeah, it can be really confusing to see the diversity in specific hair types. So in that regard, hairtyping can be a good place to start but there's a lot more to your hair that you need to find out for yourself. :)