African American and Black Hair Types
Trying to figure out which of the black hair types you have?
Learning more about your unique hair type helps guide you to the products, tools and techniques that work best for your hair.
Before you do anything to your hair you should know exactly what you're working with so you can make the best choices for styling and treatment.
What are the different black hair types?
Most African American and black hair types fall under type 3 and 4 with a minority being type 2. Here is a chart that lists the different hair types used in Andre's hair book along with the descriptions of each.
African American and Black Hair Types Chart
Here's my take on hair typing chart.
Type 1 (Straight)
This hair is bone straight and not typical of black people or those with mixed African ancestry. The only way to achieve this look is by having a relaxer, pressing your hair straight or wearing a weave with straight hair.
Type 2 (Wavy)
This type has soft, deep waves with little to no curl. The hair tends to be coarse, stays close to the scalp in long 'S' shaped curves and doesn't usually have a lot of body.
Type 3 (Curly)
This texture is unique in that it's fine and soft with a 'Q' shaped pattern. This hair doesn't tend to have a lot of sheen but has tons of body. It tends to look straight when wet but curls as it dries.
Type 4 (Coily|Kinky)
This group is the most highly textured of all the black hair types. It's very tightly curled and tends to be wiry. Some 4's have a looser coil with spiral shaped strands while others have a tighter kink with a zig zag letter 'Z' formation. The curl pattern makes this the driest and most fragile of all the hair types.
Black Hair Typing with the MiZani Curl Key
So, What's Your Type?
Have you looked at the characteristics of the black hair types and figured out which one you have? Hair typing is about natural black hair types,
The shape of your hair follicles is what determines how much or how little curl your hair has. The rounder the follicle, the straighter hair grows; while the flatter the follicle, the curlier hair grows.
A single head can have several different textures in it. Always use tips and products designed for the dominant texture you have.
Hair Care Tips by Type
I've learned a lot about caring for black hair types and what stands out to me the most is the fact that all of them don't thrive on the same things. A product that works well for one hair type might be the downfall of another.
After years of reading what black women have said about what does and doesn't work for them, here's a summary of top tips I've seen for each category and how you can use them to care for each of the black hair types.
Type 2 - Wavy Hair
On the surface Type 2 hair seems easy to handle and care for but it comes with its own set of issues.
Clients of mine have this texture and there biggest complaint is puffy, frizzy and flyaway hair. Other issues too like the dull look and coarse feeling the hair gets sometimes.
The remedy I found that really works is to hydrate each strand properly and manipulate the hair as little as possible. If you have wavy hair these tips should work for you too.
Styling Tips for Wavy Hair
• Use moisturizing shampoos, deep condition and use a leave-in to infuse moisture regularly.
• Invest in a good boar bristle brush to keep your waves smooth.
• Use a light moisturizing hair gel or serum to add definition to your waves.
• After washing don't comb or brush your hair as it dry's to keep frizzing down.
• Gently scrunch your hair with product as it dries to encourage wave formation.
• If you need to dry your hair quickly use a blow dryer on a low setting with a diffuser attachment.
• Get trims regularly because split and damaged ends prevent wave patterns from forming properly.
Type 3 - Curly Hair
A healthy head full of big soft curls just screams fun to me, but based on what I've observed first hand it can be a real challenge.
Most of my clients has this hair type and is always upset about dryness, breakage and problems with humidity puffing their hair out after spending an hour straightening it.
In my opinion, committing the number one sin for Type 3's which is constantly fighting the natural curl pattern. Wearing it sleek and smooth, straightens it regularly and staying away from water to keep it from reverting. The combination of heat and infrequent washes and deep conditioning is a big no-no for curly heads.
Curly hair has a tendency to grow 'up and out', and if you're not careful will turn into a huge poufy afro. Nothing's wrong with that unless it's not exactly the look you're going for.
Products for Curly Hair Control
The key to taming your curls is going heavy on the moisture.
Hair puddings, custards, butters, crèmes and gels work wonders for this hair type (and sound delicious if you ask me).
These products not only hydrate the hair making it smooth, shiny and soft, but it also help to weigh it down so that it hangs and stretches instead of puffing up.
Styling Curly Black Hair
If you're a lady with curls use these tips will revive those soft pretty ringlets.
• Only use wide tooth combs, in fact the wider the better.
• Use a moisturizing shampoo, deep conditioner and heavy leave-in every time you wash your hair.
• Use conditioner only washes regularly to keep your hair properly hydrated without stripping it.
• Always apply styling product to soaking wet hair for defined curls.
• Never use a towel to dry your hair. For the best curls allow your hair to 'drip dry' or blow dry on a low setting with a diffuser attachment instead.
• To reduce frizz don't brush your hair and be sure to moisturize daily.
• Get your hair cut by a curly hair specialist. The right shaping technique brings this texture to life and makes the curls really pop.
Type 4 - Coily and Kinky Hair
Even with the variation in this group there are certain shared features as well as tools, products and styling tips all of them can benefit from.
Type 4 textures tend to be dull with very low sheen and can amazingly shrink up to 80% of its true length. It's notoriously known for being the driest and most delicate of all hair types.
A common myth is that this hair type can't grow very long. Well, I'm here to tell you that it not only is it possible, it's actually not hard to do.
How do I know? I'm a 4 and I've grown my hair to mid-back before.
Hair Products for Type 4's
This texture tends to be on the dry side, so focus on infusing and retaining moisture.
Moisturizing shampoos, deep conditioners and leave-ins aren't only good but essential for this type. Any product that hydrates and seals the hair is a must have. Hair butters, natural oils and moisturizing hair gels are popular for maintenance and styling.
Hair Tools and Styling Techniques
This hair is easily damaged by rough handling, heat and chemical applications. It might look like it can stand up to anything but one wrong move can set you back months or even years from damage.
A few invaluable tools for caring for this hair type are seamless combs, a soft boar brushes and a satin bonnets and pillowcases.
When it comes to styling this hair type less is always more.
• Always use a wide tooth comb, your fingers or a hair pick to detangle.
• Always detangle from ends to roots, preferably with wet hair coated with conditioner.
• Wash and deep condition once every week or two and bathe your hair and ends in hydrating moisturizers daily.
• Handle your hair gently and always put aside enough time so you don't have to rush.
• Keep the use of heat styling tools down to a bare minimum.
• Wear protective styles where you don't have to comb or manipulate your hair for a week or more at a time.
An Important Fact about Black Hair Types
A question I see a lot is "Can I change my hair type?"
If you've been wondering the same thing the answer is no. Hair type is a genetic trait and your DNA is something that can't be changed.
That's the reason why when you get a relaxer you have to get touch ups every so often. You can change and alter the hair that's already grown out as much as you want but it always grows back the way your DNA programs it to.
Your Hair Type is: Type 4 - Coily and Kinky Hair
Here is a list of tools and hair care products I recommend you get to begin the care of your hair.
Wide toothed & fine toothed comb
Wide toothed combs are usually used to detangle hair; they are also a handy tool for those who have medium to thick hair. If your hair is on the thinner side then a fine toothed comb is your best ally.
Rat tail comb
The rat tail comb is used to part or style hair neatly. You must have seen your hairdresser use it deftly when you go for haircuts. The hair brush gives a smooth gleam to the hair, it is also used to add volume and detangle, and comes in a variety of options.
What is the best hair brush to smooth the edges of curly, kinky hair?
The best type of brush to smooth curlier edges (hairline) is a boar bristle brush, “The bristles are soft enough to where it won’t damage the hair, but dense enough to smooth short hair,” she explains.
I recommend applying a small amount of a styling cream to your edges and then use a bristled brush to smooth.
Create your perfect style with the Wahl Power pik hair dryer. It is ideal for drying Afro Caribbean hair types as the pik attachment allows the hot air to be distributed throughout your hair. With 3 heat and speed settings and a cold shot button, this dryer has all the settings you could need for amazing results and healthy looking hair.
HYDRATE HAIR WITH SULFATE-FREE GENTLE CLEANSING
This sulfate-free formula hydrates hair and adds Exotic Shine™, while gently cleansing without harsh moisture stripping agents.
• Helps to detangle, soften and boost Exotic Shine™
• Strengthens hair while optimizing the moisture balance of the hair and scalp
• Infused with Argan Oil from Morocco
REVITALIZE WITH INTENSIVE CONDITIONING
Intensive Conditioning Treatment is an intensively deep conditioning treatment that strengthens and helps prevent damage. Ideal for all hair types, this treatment can be used after every shampoo as a quick conditioner or every week as a reconstructor.
• Deeply infuses moisture with Exotic Shine™
• Strengthens and prevents hair breakage
• Leaves hair soft, silky and full of body
• Infused with Argan Oil from Morocco
SEAL IN THE STRENGTH & SHINE
Strength & Shine Leave-In Conditioner is a unique two-phase formula that combines Argan Oil liquid shine and a strengthening protein complex that improves hair strength, protects against damage, and adds moisture and Exotic Shine™.
• Moisturizes hair, adds Exotic Shine™, detangles and provides protection
• Strengthening protein complex to protect against damage and heat styling
• Infused with Argan Oil from Morocco
DAY & NIGHT, HAIR & SCALP CONDITIONER HAIR DRESS
This oil-rich formula restores moisture, softens and hydrates dry hair and scalp. Gives hair long-lasting Exotic Shine™ and incredible softness for improved manageability. Great for all hair types, natural & relaxed.
• Improves manageability & softness
• Restores & moisturizes dry hair & scalp
• Gives long-lasting Exotic Shine™
It’s important that you establish a routine that best suits your life style. Constancy with using the products as advised, will maintain the health of your hair, you will soon see the improvement of the hair quality which will make managing your hair on a daily bases 100% easier. What every style you choose to wear your hair at the time. Because you live in a country where your hair is exposed to direct sun light it dry out the products quickly. So please ensure you use the recommended hair dress every night and cover your hair with a silk scarf for bedtime.