How To Figure Out Your Hair Type

Doing your hair can feel like an absolute nightmare if you don’t really understand it. Each hair type has to be treated accordingly. By getting to know your hair better, you’ll have more confidence when you color, cut, and style it.

By Hannah Leah3 min read
shutterstock 2146366035 (1)

Figuring out your hair type so that you have better control over it isn’t difficult. There are four basic hair types – straight, wavy, curly, and coily – but each basic type has several subcategories

You probably have a good idea which main category you fall into if your hair is one extreme or the other, but it can feel a little trickier if your hair has some movement to it and falls somewhere in the middle. Also, your hair might be a mix of more than one type. So let’s get into the details of each type and the best way to manage and style it. 

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Type 1: Straight Hair

1a Hair

If you have the straightest, smoothest, flattest hair, then this is you. You can let your hair air dry after the shower, and it’s silky and straight. There is little to no bend in this hair type. 

If this is you, then it might feel frustrating to style your hair, especially in curls. Most likely, your curls tend to fall out quickly after styling. Your best styling products will be texture spray and hairspray. To get maximum lift and hold, spray a volumizing blowout spray onto damp hair, then blow dry your hair with a round brush. Then, when styling with curls, use the texture spray and curl, and seal with hairspray. 

1b Hair

Maybe you have mostly straight hair, but there is a bend in the hair here and there. This hair type might also be less fine-textured than type 1a hair. It has a bit more depth, but it's still pretty straight. To make the most of styling this hair type, use the same tools and products as type 1a hair. 

1c Hair

This hair type has a totally different texture. It’s coarser than the other types and is able to frizz more. Though still straight, it can feel poofy without a little help.

To tame this type of hair, you can use a heat serum and smoothing agent before styling. After styling, finish it off with a smoothing cream and hairspray. 

Type 2: Wavy Hair

2a Hair 

Unlike type 1 hair, there will be a noticeable bend in this hair type. It will be root to end. This hair type is still generally fine hair, and doesn’t take much effort to smooth it out when styling. 

A volumizing spray will be great on your damp hair, then use the round brush and hairdryer to smooth it out. To curl it, a texturizing spray is still useful to help hold the curl. 

2b Hair 

The S-shaped wave will look more defined with this kind of hair and it could have a mix of different shaped waves. You might be combating frizz with this natural hair type. 

You can either use a mousse or a curl-defining cream to enhance your natural curl, then diffuse it out, or smooth it out. If you’re smoothing it out, use a smoothing agent when damp. Use a texture spray before styling it with a curling iron. 

2c Hair 

Similar to 1c hair, this type has some coarseness. It might feel thicker than the previous types and has more wave to it. It's not quite like type 3, which will be more spiral, but it's got definite S-waves to it. 

Use the same technique to enhance your natural curl as 2b hair. But when smoothing it out, use your smoothing product before blowing it out, and then after styling, finish off with a smoothing balm or oil. 

Type 3: Curly Hair

3a Hair 

You will see a mix of waves and curls for this hair type. It won't be complete spiral curls from root to end, but you will still see defined curls rather than just waves. This hair tends to be fine and easily smoothed out. But take note – it will be frizzy. 

Use a mousse to enhance your natural curl, then diffuse. When smoothing, use an anti-frizz product, dry it, and use a texture spray before styling. Hairspray when finished. 

3b Hair 

If your curls have a bit more pep in their step than type 3a, you might have 3b hair. The curls will be more spiral and defined. The texture might be a medium-fine type. This hair type does frizz easily and can be dry. 

If you’re wanting to wear your natural curl, use a curl-defining cream or some leave-in conditioner. But to smooth it out, add your smoothing balm before blowdrying, style it with a round brush, and when finished, use an oil to smooth it out. 

3c Hair

These curls will be much more noticeable than the other types. The actual strands of hair will be thicker and coarser. Your hair will be naturally dry and the overall hair will be curly rather than waves and curls, so it will have lots of volume. 

You’ll style this similarly to 3b hair, but you will definitely need more oil at the end to smooth it out. Also, use a holding product afterward to combat frizz and define the diffused curls. 

Type 4: Coily Hair

4a Hair

These will be much tighter and smaller curls than type 3 hair. If you have 4a hair, you might see a mix of type 3 curls with these tighter curls. You'll want products that help keep the definition of your curl. 

A product great for this is curl gel that can be used to coil your hair. When smoothing it out, use a smoothing product when damp and a hair oil when styled. 

4b Hair

This is also a hair type that needs extra product to combat dryness. It will have curls with the circumference of a ball-point pen, and the curls will be sharper. 

Since your curls are going to be tightly wound together, you'll want a gel for elongating the curls. For smoothing it out, use your smoothing product before drying, round brush it when drying it for a smoother canvas, and use a flat iron around the hairline to fight those curly baby hairs. Finish with an oil.

4c Hair

This Z-shape pattern-type hair needs lots of moisture to keep it from frizzing. It will be thick and tighter than 4b. 

For your natural curl, use an emollient-rich cream. And for smoothing, follow steps for 4b, but take very small sections when blowdrying, as the heat will help smooth it out better.  

Closing Thoughts

Though it might seem intimidating at times, you probably know your hair better than anyone else. Hopefully, this guide can direct you to better understanding your hair type so that you can gain more control over it. Finding the right products for your hair will make a world of difference when styling it, so be encouraged that you don’t need to be a hair wizard to make your hair look nice!

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