HAIR and its types

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Throughout history, hair has played a significant role in our society – it is associated with youthfulness and beauty in women and virility and masculinity in men; so it’s no surprise that hair loss can make many men and women feel self-conscious. Hair has long been an indicator of both social and professional status and has also been worn in different styles. It is important to make a great impression. Therefore, we spend, over our lifetime, thousands of hours perfecting how our hair should look. We constantly search for the most suitable haircut, color, and texture. Our moods are influenced by good and bad hair days. Our hair matters more than we think because we use it to express the identity and aura, we desire others to perceive.

Hair is simple in structure but has important functions in social functioning. Hair is made of a tough protein called Keratin.

Hair usually refers to two distinct structures:

  • the part beneath the skin, called the hair follicle, or, when pulled from the skin, the bulb. This organ is in the dermis and maintains stem cells, which not only re-grow the hair after it falls out, but also are recruited to regrow skin after a wound.
  • the shaft, which is the hard-filamentous part that extends above the skin surface. A cross section of the hair shaft may be divided roughly into three zones.

Each strand of hair is made up of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. Hair fibers have a structure consisting of several layers, starting from the outside:

  • the cuticle, which consists of several layers of flat, thin cells laid out overlapping one another as roof shingles
  • the cortex, which contains the keratin bundles in cell structures that remain roughly rod-like
  • the medulla, a disorganized and open area at the fiber’s center

Hair growth occurs in cycles consisting of three phases:

  • Anagen (growth phase): Most hair is growing at any given time. Each hair spends several years in this phase.
  • Catagen (transitional phase): Over a few weeks, hair growth slows, and the hair follicle shrinks.
  • Telogen (resting phase): Over months, hair growth stops, and the old hair detaches from the hair follicle. A new hair begins the growth phase, pushing the old hair out.

Hair grows at different rates in different people; the average rate is around one-half inch per month. Hair color is created by pigment cells producing melanin in the hair follicle. With aging, pigment cells die, and hair turns gray.

Whether fine, thick, long, short, matte, glossy, curly, coily, or straight, your hair deserves respect. Get to know your hair patterns, its porosity, density, and styling needs because healthy self-care includes your hair.


Your hair type is primarily based on your hair’s curl pattern. The amount of curl in your hair is determined by your hair follicle. The shape of your follicle determines whether your hair is:

  • Straight
  • Wavy
  • Curly
  • Coily

The more oval or asymmetrical your follicle is, the curlier your hair will be. Your hair type is determined by genetics. You can alter your pattern with heat or chemicals, and your pattern can change somewhat by hormones or medications you are taking, but your basic pattern is in your DNA. Every time your hair goes through its growth cycle, those genetic characteristics are reasserted.

Andre Walker, known for decades as Oprah Winfrey’s stylist, is credited with devising a system that classifies hair according to one of four curl patterns:

Type 1Straight Hair
Type 2Wavy Hair
Type 3Curly Hair
Type 4Coily Hair

These types are further divided into subcategories based on the tightness or looseness of the curls and coils. It may sound simple, but like most attempts to define human characteristics, it is not.

You could have type 4C at your crown and 4A at your temples. Your hair could be straight at the root and wavy at the ends. The key is to understand what each type needs so you can style it well and keep it healthy.


If your hair has no curl or wave to the strand, you have straight hair. Women with straight hair are more likely to have more “oily” hair since the natural oils can easily coat the whole straight strand of hair. Like all other types of hair, straight hair is beautiful but many straight haired women wish for curls and waves, and the only way to make this happen is with a curling iron or perm. While straight hair is relatively easy to care for, it can lack volume and be hard to style. You may think that straight hair is straight hair, but there are three different types of straight hair.

  • Type 1A

Type 1A straight hair is fine hair. It is soft, shiny, and wispy. It looks and feels “perfect” but often lacks volume. If you have this kind of straight hair, you can follow any of the styling tips for thin hair (such as a layered cut and color.)

  • Type 1B

If you have type 1B straight hair, it is a little thicker than fine hair. It also has more volume and is easier to manage. Women with type 1B hair are good candidates for many of the sleek and sophisticated looks (like an updo or a slicked back look). The hair is not too thick to make it hard to manage and not too thin that you will see a lot of scalp.

  • Type 1C

Type 1C is the coarsest and thickest of all straight hair. It can be difficult to manage, and it is the most difficult to set curls. Layered cuts that are long in length may make styling this type of hair the easiest. Short cuts work well (and feel lighter, too), but require quite a bit of maintenance.


If you have naturally wavy hair, your strands are completely curled, but they form more of an “S” shape than a coil. While many women with wavy hair struggle living in an in-between world of straight and curly hair, wavy hair is typically not too oily and not too dry. Like straight hair, there are different types of wavy hair. What type of wavy hair do you have?

  • Type 2A

If you have type 2A wavy hair, you have got a naturally “beachy hair” look, which many women with straight hair are trying get with curling irons and lots of hair product. Type 2A has a slight bend to the hair shaft, and it does not get as frizzy as other types of hair. Since this type of hair is typically finer hair, a shoulder length cut makes the hair type most manageable.

  • Type 2B

The waves of type 2B hair are a little tighter and more defined than type 2A. Type 2B waves are prone to frizz, but the right hair product can help make this hair type a little more manageable.

  • Type 2C

If you have type 2C wavy hair, it may look like you have curly hair, as you might have loose spiral curls. While your waves probably get a ton of compliments on a “good hair day,” frizz can be your biggest enemy.


Curly hair has more “true” curls than wavy hair. Women with curly hair can have loose ringlets or tight spirals. Like other textures of hair, there are different types of curly hair which are based on thickness and the size of the curl. Even though curly hair can be difficult to manage at times, you do not need (nor should you) wash your hair every day because your hair is drier than straight hair. While there are many styles and cuts you can enjoy when you have curly hair, be sure to visit a hair stylist who has a lot of experience cutting curly hair.

  • Type 3A

Type 3A curly hair is the finest and has the biggest and loosest curls. Due to the size of the curls, it is the easiest to manage even though it’s prone to frizz (like all curly hair).

  • Type 3B

If you have type 3B curly hair, you have the springy ringlets that other women envy. Your curls are not too thick or too delicate. With a proper moisturizing product, you can maintain your picture-perfect curls.

  • Type 3C

Type 3C curls are a bit of hybrid of bouncy and tight corkscrew curls. If you have type 3C curls, you probably notice that your curls are coarse and not as soft as you would like. Using the right product can help soften your curls a bit.


Coily (or kinky) hair is a variation of curly hair and women with coily hair can have a mix of “Z” and “S” shaped curls. Women with curly hair often opt to keep their hair short or have dreads, to make coily hair more manageable, but there are a variety of styles that look great. Like other textures of hair, coily hair has three types.

  • Type 4A

Type 4A coily hair has a fine texture and can often appear “wiry.” This type of coily hair appears thick due to the tightly coiled s-curls. While some women with Type 4A curls may be hesitant let their curls be as is, put away the hair straightener and let your curls do their natural thing.

  • Type 4B

Type 4B coils have more of a Z-shaped pattern (rather than the S-shape). While this type of coily hair is soft to the touch, it is also more fragile and varies in thickness.

  • Type 4C

Type 4C coily hair is very similar to 4B hair, but because there are more z-shaped curls the whole head of hair appears to have a shape (think of an afro). Sometimes, with coily hair, it is best to embrace the natural shape of the curls rather than trying to tame or manipulate them.


Many people assume that if they have a lot of hair, they have thick hair. While this may be true, it is not the same for every woman. Do not know if your hair is thick or thin? One easy way to find out (other than asking your stylist) is to take one strand of hair and put it between your thumb and forefinger, if you feel the strand, you have thick hair. Another quick way of determining if your hair is thick is to grab a section of hair (as if you were preparing to put up a ponytail). If your scalp is barely visible, you have thick hair.

Women who have thick hair can also have straight, wavy, or curly hair. There are no “rules” when it comes to types of hair, and you’ll find that every woman has a different combination of thickness/texture. While thick hair is often the envy of women everywhere, it can be hard to manage and feel pretty heavy. Getting a haircut with layers or getting a bob, can highlight all the best features of thick hair but make your heavy head of hair more manageable.


If you want to determine whether or not you have thin hair (sometimes known as “fine” hair), you can try out all the “test” we mentioned earlier, and if your results are all the opposite of someone with thick hair, you probably have thin hair. Thin hair doesn’t necessarily mean that your hair will fall out or that you’ll go completely bald, it just often looks like you have a lot less hair on your head (even if you have a lot). If you want thicker hair, you have probably noticed hundreds of products and formulas that are designed to thicken hair; use caution with any products that make claims to thicken your hair.

While your thin hair comes from genetics, you may also find some success with thickening your hair if you live a healthy lifestyle and eat a well-balanced diet; vitamins can help, too. If you are eager to try out a few natural home remedies for thickening your hair, go ahead and try them out but remember that there is no guarantee. A layered cut with some added color is a great look for a woman with thin hair as it is a cut that makes the hair look thick.


Let us face it, your hair has a mind of its own and does pretty much whatever it wants on a daily basis. There may be days when you feel like it is completely out of control. But there is one way that you can show your hair who is the boss and gain back control – and that is through a proper hair care routine.

By using chemical-free products created for your individual hair type, eating right, avoiding heat styling, and following all the above tips, you can bid bad hair days a goodbye! But most importantly, if you experience excessive hair fall and damage despite following a good hair care routine, consult your doctor. And hair or no hair, celebrate yourself, nevertheless.

People will stare. Make it worth their while.

– Harry Winston

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