Essentially, the hair typing system is a 4 point scale, further divided into letters a to c. Type 1 hair is the straightest hair and most common, naturally, among Asians. I have yet to see a black woman born with bone straight hair, so that's all the reference I am going to make to Type 1 hair. Type 2 hair is wavy hair. The hair is neither straight nor curly but floats in the middle ground. This look and straight hair have become the most sought after hair types in recent years.
|The four hair types from left to right: Type 1 (straight), Type 2 (wavy), Type 3 (curly) and Type 4 (coily). At the very least, you should know what number you fall into.|
Finally, there is Type 4 hair. It's basically the coily hair. This is the hair type that is most common (though not exclusively) seen on black people. The term "kinky" was coined for it several years ago, and it has been branded by many as dry, wild, stunted, undesirable and unmanageable. Turns out it's not any of those things but dry. Your hair type is determined by the shape of your cuticle, which is why it's congenital. The shape of Type 4 cuticles results in tight coils, which are more prone to shrinkage and make it difficult for the sebum from sebaceous glands on the scalp to reach the tips of a hair strand. Why is that problematic? Well, sebum is a waxy substance every human being produces to lubricate the hair and keeping hair lubricated strengthens the entire shaft of hair. The result of poor sebum distribution on hair is the hair ends up dry and fragile. That is why people with Type 4 hair struggle to retain length. The hair grows just as rapidly as other hair types but the older, dryer ends of the strand break off. It's a vicious cycle that many are unaware of. You may be surprised to find that Type 4 hair can even be found naturally on white people. It was more common to see a white woman with a frizzy head of hair decades ago, simply because, like black women today, they go to incredible lengths to hide it.
|Finding a white person with afro|
textured Type 4 hair is possible,
but rare. White women with this
hair type go to extreme lengths
to change it.
|It's important to use this illustration when determining your|
Now, back to the crux of the issue: what's the difference between 4a, 4b and 4c. They are basically a scale. Type 4a are the loosest coils and closely resemble curly hair but tighter. An afro of 4a hair will look like curly hair with a lot less definition and more frizz. Type 4c are the tightest coils. I am 4c. To determine that I looked closely at a strand of hair near the crown of my head after I had deep conditioned and had a damp head of hair. I didn't strain the strand since that would lead to a looser coil than I naturally have. It is important to note that some people have two types of hair on one head. The hair type on the crown of their head differs from that on the edges of their head. If that's the case for your, accept that. You are Type 4b/4c or whatever the case may be.