Types of Hair – A Beginner’s Guide to Hair
Hair, though an almost always expected part of the body, is sometimes not given as much thought to as it should be. Healthy hair is an indicator of a healthy body, and having what people call “a good hair day” boosts self-esteem in many.
In order to get these desired effects, it is important to know what hair actually is, what types of hair you have, such as its classification and volume type, as well as the products that work for you.
So, what is hair? Hair, as well of fingernails, is made of a protein called keratin. Keratin is produced by follicles, which are found in the dermis (or the skin). The scalp has about 100,000 hair follicles in total, and there are more than 5 million covering the human body.
The shape of hair follicles plays a huge factor into the type of hair one will have, including its texture and thickness (more on that later).
Hair is actually made of dead cells. These cells were alive at one point, that point being when they were inside the follicle. The follicle, a bulb shaped structure within the skin, produces a live keratin protein, which is then covered in sebaceous oil.
Too much oil in the hair is a bad thing, as well as too little. Sebaceous oil is what makes the hair soft and shiny, as well as protects the hair from the environment.
After a complicated bodily process called keratinization, the live hair cell will die and turn into what you know to be your hair.
The purpose of hair is to keep the body warm, and to protect the skin from the weather. As well, the smell of hair plays an important role in dispersing pheromones into the air.
There are many different types of hair, and many different ways to classify them. One of the most popular classification methods for types of hair is called the “FIA” system, which classifies the hair by how curly it is, as well as the thickness of the hair and its associated volume.
In total this system classifies 12 different types of hair. There are four categories (straight, wavy, curly, coily/kinky) combines with one of the three corresponding strand types (fine, medium, and course).
Strand thickness and volume is based on DNA; you are very likely to inherit the type of hair and thickness that your parents possess. This is due to the inheritance of the DNA that shapes the hair follicle.
A rounder hair follicle will produce straighter hair, while more ovular ones will produce more curly hair. However, hair follicle shape can change over time.
Here is a rundown of the FIA Hair Classification System:
Types of Hair as per Hair Strand
Fine – The strands are very thin and may even be translucent in the light. Fine hair is very soft and even silk-like.
Medium – In between the feeling of being fine and coarse. The hair does not feel like silk, yet does not feel rough like coarse hair. Has a similar texture of a cotton thread.
Coarse – Coarse hair is wiry, and may even feel hard. When shed, these hairs are very easy to see.
Types of Hair as per Orientation of Hair
Straight Hair : the hair is not curly at all. Straight hair becomes oily more easily than curlier hair. To avoid extra production of oil, try washing the hair less as the excessive use of shampoo causes the hair to produce more natural oil. As well, find hair care products that will not add excess oil to the hair.
Type 1A – Straight + Fine: The hair is silky soft, very strong, yet becomes oily very easily and does not hold curls.
Type 1B – Straight + Medium: Straight hair, yet has a bit of volume.
Type 1C – Straight + Coarse: Falls very straight, difficult to curl, has the most body compared to other type 1 hair.
Wavy Hair: Not bone-straight, has a bit of wave to it. The roots tend to be straight. While from the middle down there is a defined wave pattern. If a wave is desired, avoid oil-based hair care product and instead opt for something lighter to define those waves.
Type 2A – Wavy + Fine: Hair falls in a loosely defined ‘S’ shape, and is very easy to style curly or straight. Salt spray can help create a “beach wave” look with this type of hair.
Type 2B – Wavy + Medium: Hair falls in a loosely defined ‘S’ shape, but has more body. Compared to Type 2A, Type 2B hair is harder to style and may resist being made to be straight or curly.
Type 2C – Wavy + Coarse: Has the most defined ‘S’ shape, however has much thicker waves. Can become frizzy very easily, and is harder to style. May have some spiral curling in some places.
Curly Hair: Type 3 hair is characterized by a distinctive ‘S’ shape to the hair. The roots also tend to be curly as well when compared to wavy hair, which has straight roots. Curly hair should not be combed as it will lead to the hair being either frizzy or damaged (or both!).
Type 3A – Curly + Fine: Out of the Type 3 hair types, these curls will be the loosest, having a loosely defined ‘S’ shape. This type of hair should not be brushed as it will lead to frizz and damage.
Since the hair is thinner, people with this hair type should avoid putting their hair in ponytails for prolonged periods of time because it can lead to hair loss. This is because the weight of the ponytail is too heavy for the hair follicle.
Type 3B – Curly + Medium: This type of hair shows curls that can be about as thick as a finger that fall in bouncy ringlets. This type of hair also has a lot of volume coming straight out of the roots. To make sure that the hair stays curly a lot of moisture is required to maintain their shape.
Type 3C – Curly + Coarse: Type 3C hair falls in tight corkscrews and is very thick. Brushing this type of hair is never advised. Rather, use leave-in conditioner on the hair and comb the hair using the fingers.
Coily or Kinky Hair: This type of hair falls in tightly coiled ‘S’ or ‘Z’ patterns depending on the strand type.
Type 4A – Coily + Fine: These ‘S’ shaped curls would be able to wrap around a pencil perfectly as ths type of hair is characterized by tightly coiled curls. This type of hair is also very delicate, so be sure to give it some love and keep it very moisturized.
Type 4B – Coily + Medium: Instead of a ‘S’ shaped curls that define type 4A hair, type 4B hair is characterized by ‘Z’ or zig-zag shaped hair that is tightly coiled and sharply angled. One of the best ways to help style this type of hair is a technique called shingling.
Shingling involves taking pre-wet hair and detangling with the fingers with lots of leave-in conditioner. Afterwards, the hair is separated into 4 sections and curling cream is applied to these sections. This way moisture is locked in, and it keeps the curls bouncy and healthy.
Type 4C – Coily + Coarse: This type of hair is the most fragile, and is characterized by very tight z-patterned coils. Combing the hair can break it. Conditioners are a must for this type of hair; they keep it nourished and healthy.
Types of Hair as per Volume
Along with strand and hair types, there is also classification for volume types. Here is a rundown of all three volume types. These types are based on the circumference of the hair when in a ponytail.
Thin: The circumference of the hair in a ponytail is less than 5 centimeters thick.
Normal: The circumference of the hair in a ponytail is between 5 to 10 centimeters thick.
Thick: The circumference of the hair in a ponytail is more than 10 centimeters thick.
From this article, we hope that you gained a better understanding of the type of hair that you have, and how to care for it better. Though there are a lot of different classification types that may be confusing, it is important to know what type of hair you have in order to keep it healthy and prevent damage.
Investing in some time in order to think about the type of hair you have is a very worthwhile endeavor!
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