How well do you really know your hair? I’m sure you know your hair type – as naturals, it’s practically the first thing we learn. We see the charts and automatically start assigning our curls and coils a number and letter. With each combination, there’s a set of rules and regulations and products that are supposed to be tailor made. Yet, we end up with hair that is dry, dull and not flourishing. Knowing your hair type is the first step in the right direction. There is much more to learn about your hair that will have your hair thriving in no time!
Hair Texture: The size/thickness of each individual hair strand
Hair texture can be a bit confusing. It’s easy to think of hair texture as how your hair actually feels. But, it is actually synonymous with hair width.
There are 3 categories for hair texture:
Coarse – thicker circumference of each hair strand
Fine – thinner circumference of each hair strand
Medium – hair width sits between coarse and fine
Hair width/texture is important because it determines how much manipulation your hair can take without excessively breaking. If you have a coarse texture, your hair can withstand some manipulation to an extent. Fine textured hair can not take as much manipulation as medium or coarse hair can. The hair strands are thinner and more fragile and thus more prone to breakage.
Do not confuse texture with thickness. Coarse texture does not always equal thick hair! Thick hair refers to your hair’s density.
Note: Excessive manipulation will cause damage to all hair textures and types. Rule of thumb is to always minimize manipulation for length retention.
Test: Hair width can be tested by comparing hair strands to sewing thread. Coarse hair is usually thicker than a strand of sewing thread, fine hair is thinner than a strand of sewing thread, and medium hair is about the same width as sewing thread.
Hair Porosity: Hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture
Hair porosity is very important in understanding your hair and the products that will work best for it. Porosity is affected by the outer hair layer, called the cuticle. The flexibility of the cuticle determines how easily water and moisture passes in and out of your hair.
There are 3 categories for hair porosity:
High porosity – gaps and holes in the cuticle. This can be genetic but is typically caused by damage to the hair from chemicals, rough treatment and environmental damage. This allows excessive moisture to easily flow in and out of the hair strand.
Hair can become very frizzy and tangled in humid weather. Use anti-humectants in warmer humid climates to avoid excess moisture in strands. It’s also very important to use heavy sealers in hair to avoid moisture from flowing out of the hair strand.
Medium Porosity – the cuticle layer is looser; not very tight nor very porous. This allows just the right amount of moisture into the hair while preventing too much from seeping out. Medium porosity usually requires the least amount of maintenance. Maintaining a consistent regimen with deep conditioning and protein treatments monthly or bi-monthly will benefit you!
Low porosity – tightly bound cuticle layer with scales that lay flat. Due to the nature of the cuticles, hair repels moisture and is hard to process. Moderate heat is low porosity’s best friend. Using moderate heat while moisturizing will lift cuticles, allowing moisture to get into the strands. Low porosity hair will also benefit from humectants which draw moisture from the environment. Low porosity tends to be sensitive to protein. Keep this in mind when trying out hair products!