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An Alternative to Hair Typing

Avatar • Aug 23, 2013

toni

Style Icon Toni

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

While on Pinterest one day, I came across a photo of a new “Hair Type Chart” developed by the lovely Alma Ruddock of Blackhairinformation.com.  The chart is not what you think, though.  It is not another chart attempting to dissect hair “types.”  Rather, this chart is pretty innovative in that is tosses out the hair typing system and defines hair by “texture”, that is, on the spectrum from fine hair to coarse hair.  The logic behind this new chart is that our strand thickness is what truly matters when it comes to hair care.  So, today I pose the following questions:

Does hair typing have its benefits in hair care?

Well, I think so … but to an extent.  At what point does hair typing matter in hair care?  For one, it matters during the washing process.  While many type 3’s can wash their hair loose with little to no problem, most type 4’s can forget about it or deal with major tangles and knots.  Then there is the styling process following a wash.  Many type 3’s can retain length perfectly fine with a regular wash-n-go routine.  In contrast, most type 4’s will experience breakage with such a routine, and thus benefit from regular protective styling. Whether our hair has tiny coils that go every which way or whether it has larger curls that clump together determines how we care for our hair, especially in terms of washing and manipulation.  This all being said, though, is hair typing the ultimate way to “type” our hair?

Or is looking at texture more beneficial in hair care?

The reality is that there are some hair care practices that work perfectly well on those with coarse hair that would wreak havoc on those with fine hair and vise versa … regardless of hair type.  For example, frequent heat usage at medium temperatures may have no adverse impact on coarse hair but severely damage fine hair.   For another example, light oils may be sufficient for sealing fine strands but heavier oils and butters are necessary for coarse strands.  So, if we use our strand thickness (that is, fine vs. coarse) to guide our hair care practices, is there any reason to continue using the hair typing system?  What say you?  Check out the innovative hair “texture” chart below and share your thoughts:

bhi_hairchart

(Image Source)

Does it make more sense to have a hair type chart based on strand thickness?

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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Miss T
Miss T
7 years ago

I swear I have the thinest, kinkiest, most tangly 4b/c hair ever, and this chart is pretty much how I have to deal with my hair, with the exception that my hair loves shea butter and heavy oil because its also extremely porous. And the longer it gets, taking care of these ends is no joke.

Kurly Klips
7 years ago
Reply to  Miss T

Girl, I’m right with you! I have incredibly fine, kinky hair too and my hair says NO to coconut… Shea butter is the only sealant I’ve found on planet earth my hair seems to love. People are always going on about coconut oil. It does nothing for my nails and nothing for my hair.

Zoopath
Zoopath
7 years ago

The table suggests texturizing for combination or coarse hair? I’ll pass.

Kim
Kim
7 years ago
Reply to  Zoopath

i think it meant that if you was to texturize combination hair to texturize it lightly, as opposed to coarser hair where you have to use stronger chemicals (the coarse ones) for longer periods.

khanyi
khanyi
7 years ago
Reply to  Zoopath

Thank you,like that type has to do something to “correct” its tighter curls..I;ll pass too.

Stace
Stace
7 years ago
Reply to  khanyi

Coarse as in thickness of the hair strand not as in tightness of curl.

MissTopTier
MissTopTier
7 years ago
Reply to  Zoopath

It definitely said “or”. What is most important take away from the so called suggestion is that people with fine hair should not texturize because their thin strands may not be able to handle the harsh chemical process. If someone with combination or coarse hair decided that they want to texturize, they may have more success with it because their strands are thicker thus more resilient.

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago
Reply to  MissTopTier

CHEMICALS ARE DAMAGING REGARDLESS

Antrelise
7 years ago

I wish we wouldn’t get so uptight about the hair typing system. I think that most people realize that it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It is useful and should be used in combination with your other hair qualities. It helps us compare apples to apples. There are some things that type 3 hair can and can’t do and the same thing goes for type 4 hair. Period. There should be no judgement about that. I have found both systems in this article valuable in some ways.…and not so much in other ways.

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago
Reply to  Antrelise

YOU NEED TO GET A CLUE

AC
AC
7 years ago

Uh oh this system tells coarse curlies to texturize.. Well, that’s over lol

Arielle
7 years ago

Isn’t this website all about loving your natural hair texture? Why in the world would this chart suggest a texturizer for coarse hair? That so hypocritical- so basically, if its coarse, change it if you can?

Leighton
Leighton
6 years ago
Reply to  Arielle

If i’m not mistaken, I think the chart is from another website that focuses on both natural and relaxed hair. That’s why there’s mention of texturizers. But you can ignore it, like I did.

Valerie
Valerie
7 years ago

I think its addressed as an option rather than a suggestion

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago
Reply to  Valerie

IT SHOULDN’T BE A SUGGESTION AS IF OUR HAIR IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED

Ekene
7 years ago

Hmmm
I don’t think we need ONE typing system
Our hair has quite a few features that matter
People say fine hair is super fragile (yes) but my very fine strands are of pretty low porosity. Even when I was relaxed, it was pretty resistant to the relaxer.

So, I don’t think we need hair typing charts. I think people need to be encouraged to consider ALL the features of their hair in deciding what’s good or what to do or how to style- porosity, density, texture and curl pattern.

Hahahaha
Hahahaha
7 years ago

I thought we were good between Andre and LOIS?

Nappy4C Rocks
Nappy4C Rocks
7 years ago
Reply to  Hahahaha

this seems like a politically correct version of Andre Walker original chart

Hyspin
Hyspin
7 years ago

For hair typing system I find they are only good for styling purpose not for care because they describe the look of the hair therefor they’re only truly good for helping in how you make the hair look. They never taking in account how dry your hair is, protien level, it porosity or how well it keeps moisture, scalp issues, and the environment in which you live in. It like try take cosmetics systmes and using them to determin skincare; using ones face shapes, colour and and texture won’t tell you their moisture level, there sensitivities, best ways to clean, or… Read more »

Courtney
Courtney
7 years ago

Hair typing is seriously getting overrated.

zuena
zuena
7 years ago

I don’t think she meant for u to texturize ur hair. same way it doesn’t mean to use only olive oil. it simply means, that its okay to put relaxers in ur hair if u have that type of hair thickness. not everyone is natural or wants to be natural. it is simply a guide for all women of colour who choose to wear their hair however they wish.

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago
Reply to  zuena

I HAVE THICK HAIR AND RELAXERS KILLED IT. BUT FOLLOWING THE CHART I SHOULD BE OK RIGHT LMAO SMH

Leighton
Leighton
6 years ago
Reply to  zuena

If i’m not mistaken, I think the chart is from another website that focuses on both natural and relaxed hair. That’s why there’s mention of texturizers. But you can ignore it, like I did.

Aourie
Aourie
7 years ago

DO NOT USE HENNA. Once you put that in your hair, that’s it, there’s no going back. Henna dyes are the worst on any hair type and does a lot more damage to the hair than you would think. I really wish this website had actual Cosmetologists and Trichologists writing articles.

Ify
Ify
7 years ago
Reply to  Aourie

What have been your experiences with henna?

VirtBles
VirtBles
7 years ago
Reply to  Ify

I had pretty good experiences with henna. The initial application does leave your hair dry, but a good moisturizer and heavy sealant (my hair is 4c) resolves the dryness. My hair felt stronger and the color was pretty, too.

Carol
Carol
7 years ago
Reply to  Aourie

Why experience have you had with henna? I started using it while I was transistioning and have continued since becoming 100% natural and I’ve never had a problem with it. My hair is healthy, thicker and I don’t have problems with it being dry.

clar esa
clar esa
7 years ago
Reply to  Aourie

I use henna often and never had any problems. In fact it has help with length retention. Just cause henna didn’t work for you other people doesn’t mean it won’t work for other people. And btw cosmetologist don’t know everything.

Huh
Huh
7 years ago
Reply to  clar esa

Wouldn’t mind hearing from dermatologists and trichologists though but that kind of person is more likely to be found on the other hair blog for curly haired girls.

Stace
Stace
7 years ago

Decent chart. I think its a good idea because on this site you can you that there are icons with the same type hair but different level of coarseness that alters the appearance and care practices from one another. Like one person could be a 3b fine and have hair that looks silky, thin, and smooth with another could be 3b coarse and have hair that looks more in the type 4 texture and have fuller fluffier looking hair. Then the you’re not this type war breaks out.

Stace
Stace
7 years ago

I have combination hair and its very apparent. The finer hairs are reddish brown and the thicker hairs a black and dark drown. People always think I dye my hair or put in highlights because of this.

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
7 years ago

Exluding the suggestion to texturize, the chart isn’t bad at all.

Sharon Sims
Sharon Sims
7 years ago

I like this chart. As it really gives insight on how to care for my hair. My hair is extremely kinky and/or has excessively over curly coils. Also it grows at a rate of say 1 mm every 6 months. I know it is hard for people to believe this but true. So I wear my hair naturally but it is very short (not the lots of natural hair worn by the women in some of these ads this website & others). I did try one product, a hair creme & instantly my tight coils loosened up to get my… Read more »

ya
ya
7 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Sims

1mm every 6 months? Are you sure?

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linnie
linnie
7 years ago

I like this. It defines the hair type and how to best take care of it. Simple. Thank you.

treece12
treece12
7 years ago

Henna really dried my hair out. Despite all the deep conditioning, I don’t think it is meant for my low porosity hair

Kim McFadden
Kim McFadden
4 years ago
Reply to  treece12

I have found out after using Henna over a multitude of times, if you use a proper amount of very hot distilled water (12oz in my case) to mix it with along with an oil such as olive oil; which works for me and add an egg and stir it for about 3 to 5 minutes before you apply it to your hair, you will end up with much better results. My hair always turns out shiny and soft. Tip; You have rinse your hair thoroughly also with a mixture of cheap conditioner and water to remove the Henna after… Read more »

JENNID
JENNID
7 years ago

I don’t see the point in all these charts and systems to catagorize our hair. Its all so silly. Hair care is all about trial and error. Especially if you are choosing the DIY approach. Just because home girls hair on a chart or youtube are similar doesn’t mean what they do will work out for your hair. Why in these comments alone a few of youvsaid coconut oil sucks even though the chart says it works! It doesn’t need to be this complicated. Hair care is very personalized as we all live in different enviornments/ temperatures/ different lines of… Read more »

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

I TOTALLY AGREE

Ariel
Ariel
7 years ago

No matter how many charts there are made„ it will never describe everyone’s hair. Trial and error is basically what we all will have to do

Leighton
Leighton
6 years ago
Reply to  Ariel

Right!I have very fine hair and I find that finger detangling doesn’t help me at all. To the contrary, I have to use multiple combs in my regimen to ensure that my hair is tangle free. Further, my hair and skin hate coconut oil, and I’ve been wearing my hair straight for most of my life, and have had no heat damage. In fact, I’ve just embraced my curly texture recently, and only after having learned how to take care of it. But I do agree that texture is very important because in the beginning, I was coating my hair… Read more »

O
O
6 years ago
Reply to  Leighton

I have fine hair also.

The first time I made the mistake of using a “hard” protein I ended up with straight hair. I did it twice and both times my hair ended up straight. My hair doesn’t need these “special” protein treatments it’s happy with me using a rinse out conditioner with hydrolysed wheat or silk protein in it.

Also sealing with oils is another no no unless I want to wash my hair everyday.

O
O
6 years ago
Reply to  O

I forgot to say even when I was relaxed the proteins and oils did nothing but muck up my hair.

TINA SMITH
TINA SMITH
7 years ago

THIS CHART IS NO BETTER IT ADVISES FOR COMBINATION OR COARSE HAIR SEW INS. EXCUSE ME I DON’T NEED OR WEAR SEW INS AND NEVER HAVE. SMH!!! AND REMAIN NATURAL OR TEXTURIZE YOUR HAIR?????? WHAT KIND OF CRAP IS THIS

mlank64
mlank64
7 years ago
Reply to  TINA SMITH

I have to say I agree. Sew-ins? I think it is trial and error as well. I have fine but dense hair. I only finger detangle, use almost no heat except when I steam my hair. I use oils and rarely use shea butter unless it is utra whipped and mixed with other oils, glycerine, and aloe vera. But, this may not work for another fine hair girl. I think porosity is one element that determines products and technique on how to treat your hair as well as density. Strand diameter like hair pattern is not all encompassing on how to… Read more »

Heather
Heather
7 years ago
Reply to  mlank64

Off topic a bit but are u able to share the Shea aloe vera butter recipe please?

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  TINA SMITH

Calm down Tina. The chart is clearly an attempt to bring together the world of naturals and relaxed hair. Not everyone wants to go natural surprise surprise hence the advice to either remain natural or texturize.

The sew ins suggestion is for those who WANT to wear sew ins. It is not to say that you should wear sew ins if you don’t want to.

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Alma

Wow. That’s all I can say.

Roberto
6 years ago
Reply to  Alma

Learning a ton from these neat artsilec.

Yeashan
Yeashan
7 years ago
Reply to  TINA SMITH

Sew in is only one of the protective styles listed & it’s also on another hair type. At least it mentions mixture hair. Lots of times were left out the equation. Not everyone is natural so for those still on the creamy crack its good for them to know they can do those hard perms.

Ann-on-y-mous
Ann-on-y-mous
7 years ago
Reply to  TINA SMITH

I agree with your comment for the most part too (FYI, you may not know this but typing in all capital letter is internet-speak for “yelling”, which I don’t think is what you intended to do).

Charisse
Charisse
7 years ago

You can learn something from everything. I try not to get caught up in the characterizations and the hair profiling. I just want to master my own hair. That’s it.

Jas
Jas
7 years ago

The “new” hair chart presented in this article is great but as other people have stated, it’s still broad and general. Hair is very personal and people have to take the time to learn about their hair. I read so many comments on various sites where people are looking for someone with similar hair textures to them so they can mimic the hairstyles and products that particular person uses. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see someone who’s hair is similar to yours to get some ideas and recommendations but one must just get out there and figure out… Read more »

Vonnie
Vonnie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jas

I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the business of paying X amount of dollars for a product that won’t do diddly squat for my hair. I have had my heart broken spending money, only to give away products that did nothing for me. The question “would it work for type X hair” is legit, but research perhaps via YT for people with similar hair textures & porosity to see if one has a fighting chance…

geeleeyaw
geeleeyaw
7 years ago

her hair is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  geeleeyaw

Thanks!

xyzebra
xyzebra
7 years ago

I didn’t mind the oringinal hair chart because it was clinical and detached. What I do have a problem with is words like “fine” and “coarse,” both loaded with cultural biases that come from the English language. “Fine” also means refined, of top quality, excellent. “Coarse” also means rough, prickly, vulgar, unrestrained. Sad but true. We need to be mindful of words and their connotations. I prefer words like silky, wooly, cottony, fluffy, crimped, elastic, fibrous, textured. Not to come off as a walking dictionary, lol. Just trying to use words to be accurate and loving to our psyche!

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  xyzebra

In the context of hair I use fine and coarse to refer to the width of the hair strands. Something I talk about quite often on my website even going as far as to look at hair under the microscope to see the different widths on a single head.

It’s not meant as a negative thing.

xyzebra
xyzebra
7 years ago
Reply to  Alma

I understand that it’s meant to be postitive but words enforce value judgements. If a person with straight, yellow hair calls it silken and blonde, then why can’t a person with hair that’s spongy when damp and wooly when dry, whose strands are wide and coiled-shaped use words that are descriptive and uplifting as well? A coiled hair strand is shaped like a DNA molecule, the helix…how cool is that. It has a texture, and doesn’t need to be texture-ized. There’s nothing wrong with loosening the coil or straightening it, mind you. But the word choice needs to be thought… Read more »

Antrelise
7 years ago
Reply to  xyzebra

I agree completely with you xyzebra, although I’ve never thought about it that way before (coarse vs thin). I also refuse to use the word nappy!! I know some people won’t agree, but I,too, am tired of hearing “negative” words used to describe ourselves. And what’s worse (to me) is our acceptance of it.

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Antrelise

Totally agree, Nappy is an awful word but I just don’t know that ‘coarse’ falls into the same category. How else would one describe their hair when it has become dry after years of neglect?

Also I don’t see how one could reasonably describe those with very thick hair strands with lots of torsion twists. Cottony, or fibrous doesn’t quite capture it. Read ‘Help I don’t know what to do my hair feels really fibrous in spite of moisturizing’.

Perhaps we ought to come up with new words that accurately describe the texture of our hair without offending anybody.

HeavnsGirl
HeavnsGirl
7 years ago
Reply to  Antrelise

Nappy means it has “nap” like highly-textured fabric.

People can give any word a negative connotation, but once you educate yourself regarding the actual meaning of the word, it won’t get to you.

Tel8
7 years ago
Reply to  xyzebra

I think I get what you’re saying xyzebra, and it makes sense- we do tend to absorb ‘negative’ words and make them badges of honor… especially words that probably wouldn’t even be used anymore in today’s “PC” world if it wasn’t for us going around screaming I’m ____ and proud! Still, ‘coarse’ and ‘fine’ don’t bother me as much as Nappy. I hate hate HATE the word Nappy. I don’t think my thick cottony spongy hair EVER needs to be described as nappy. If it’s dry, it’s dry. If it’s moisturised, it’s moisturised. If it’s big and full, it’s big and… Read more »

D.K.
7 years ago

Eh, I don’t think I like this chart. The other one was pretty accurate, although of course allowing for variation. Type 1A-4C is really all I need. And if it ain’t broke…

vertmoot.blogspot.com

Yeashan
Yeashan
7 years ago

I have combination hair I have a mixture head. I have a hard time with styling and products because of it. So I appreciate this. Some parts of my hair look nice with a wash in oil & just oils, some need creams & are shrunken instantly, other parts look greasy if I use olive oil. It’s a struggle trying to distribute the right product throughout my head.

Alwina
Alwina
7 years ago

No lie, I think this is a sensitive topic and folks are making much ado about nothing. It’s just hair. It’s dead. The minute it leaves our scalp, it is no longer living. Therefore, how we describe it really shouldn’t matter. Take good care of your hair the best way you know how and keep it moving. Thank you Alma for sharing your chart. I follow your website and the posts are very informative. God bless all!

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Alwina

Thanks girl!

Antrelise
7 years ago
Reply to  Alma

Oh hi Alma!!! I didn’t realize it was you. I’ve recently subscribed to your site (a few weeks ago).…Lots of good info and I like the way you organize it.

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Antrelise

Glad you are enjoying the site Antrelise. We link to a lot of stuff from BGLH too. It’s just great to be part of the hair community. Lots of debate and controversy as you see. lol

Tel8
7 years ago

Interestingly enough, I am a type four that can wash my hair loose and benefit from wash ‘n gos. I tend to section my hair for combing in the shower after I’ve washed it because it’s easier to reach my scalp with my hair out. I’ve also found that I’ve experienced more breakage since staring with protective styles then I have ever had simply washing and leaving my hair loose. Other posters have mentioned that no chart is ever really accurate for everyone, and I agree, especially when people with my hair-type are made to feel almost neglectful if they’re… Read more »

shelikes
shelikes
7 years ago

just no

HeavnsGirl
HeavnsGirl
7 years ago
Reply to  shelikes

Seems accurate to me!

I’m a 3b/c with coarse hair. People see that my hair isn’t “nappy” and call it “fine,” when in reality my hair laughs at any “light” or “mild” treatment. If I hold up a “light” conditioner, my hair will straight ask me “who gon’ check me, Boo??”

This chart, used in conjunction with Andre Walker’s hair-typing system seems like it covers all bases.

Abeena
7 years ago

This chart is very handy!!
We should appreciate and congratulate sisters trying to help other sisters with their hair type/texture.
God bless Alma! I am going to subscribe to your site in a min 🙂

Lola
Lola
7 years ago

I find that this chart is dead on for me. I have fine strands and only light oils work for me. I was using olive oil and a Shea butter mixture to moisturize and seal and it felt as though they just coated my hair and left an oily film but never moisturizing it. However, when I started using coconut oil & a light cream to seal my hair it was extremely moisturized. Sometimes I did not even need to use anything besides water and coconut oil. The whole knowing I’m a 4a thing really didn’t do much to help… Read more »

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Lola

So glad it’s helped you Lola!

Viola
Viola
7 years ago

The chart is not telling use to do sew-ins, it’s suggesting that those with Combination hair and Coarse hair have a thicker strand which can withstand the tightness of a sew-in. Now I do disagree with the use of a “texlaxer” I don’t understand the use of those as the point of of having natural hair is to be re/texlaxer free.…right? How can a person embrace their natural hair texture, if they use chemicals to alter it??

Alma
7 years ago
Reply to  Viola

A lot of people are not getting that the chart comes from a natural AND relaxed hair website that’s why the texturizer stuff is there. Remaining natural should always be the first choice but some people will relax their hair come what may so the advice is to remain as close to natural as possible.

Leighton
Leighton
6 years ago
Reply to  Alma

Very true. We will always decide what’s best for our hair. Relaxed for natural. And it’s not a crime to relax one’s hair. I have one friend who tried being natural for over a year and she never found a regimen that worked for her hair. She eventually texlaxed her hair and it’s much healthier than it has ever been.

jasmine
jasmine
7 years ago

bam! love it! but boo to texturizers.
the protien thing is soo true; my hair is coarse and my hair doesn’t like the extra protien.

simplezzzzs
simplezzzzs
7 years ago

I didn’t find this chart to be enlightening at all. It seems pretty basic common sense stuff. If you have thick hair- you should already know to use a heavier products to ensure hair is thoroughly moisturized. If you have thin/fine hair, then you should already know that thicker creams/butter would be too oily and heavy for your hair. I have to agree w/ the other poster. This whole hair journey stuff is pretty much trial and error. I couldn’t definitively tell you what grade or class of hair I have. All I know is jojoba oil is too heavy and… Read more »

TWAtl
TWAtl
7 years ago

I have very fine “4c” hair but it is still very dry. Light oils will definitely not moisturise it. Am still learning but am having moderate success with sparingly applying heavier products, washing frequently to avoid build up and of course protective styling. Still a challenge though!

Kashmere
Kashmere
6 years ago

I prefer the original personally. The original chart doesn’t actually type hair texture it types curl pattern so if it’s used properly and objectively it’s a useful tool in helping us curlies find out what is most beneficial for our curl pattern, like detangling methods, clumping methods, and which products/oils agree with the curl pattern in terms of slip and encouraging clumping. Using it has helped me to learn other things about my hair like porosity, density, and strand width. And learning this has also made me realise that many people who share a curl pattern, share other features. No… Read more »

Nina
Nina
5 years ago

I disagree with this. My hair is fine, but prefers heavier oils. Everything else was alright. Except I’m unsure about the whole protein thing, being that I don’t really do those.

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