For most people, when trading in the relaxers for their natural hair texture the most commonly asked question is, “What is my natural hair type?”
Hair typing is a system that was created to distinguish between various hair textures from straight, tightly curled and kinky-curly. A common misconception about the hair typing system is that you can’t properly care for your hair care without knowing your specific hair type, which is far from the truth.
To be quite honest, I don’t follow the hair typing system and have never found it to be that important in caring for my natural hair. But for others, it could help learn how to treat and maintain their hair as well as gauge what type of products to use.
If you’re still struggling with finding your hair type, you are not alone. Here are a few reasons why you may be struggling.
Note: Hair Typing can be subjective. Pictured above but ladies categorize their hair as 3c but have very different looking hair. Both Nikki on the Left and Devri on the Right identify their hair as 3C. Photo Credit
1. Damaged Scalp
Damage to the scalp can cause various textures to grow from its damaged state. Whether by unhealthy hair practices, scalp infections, disease or chemical damage to the scalp, the texture of the new growth can be severely affected when growing from a damaged scalp.
If you want to learn the true texture of your hair, first focus on maintaining a healthy environment for the hair to grow and work on achieving a healthy scalp.
2. Heat Damage
Frequent use of heat styling tools can not only be damaging to your hair but can also permanently alter your natural hair texture. When heat damage occurs, your hair texture can become looser. The weight of your heat damaged hair may prevent you from identifying your actual texture.
Unfortunately, much like relaxed hair, heat damaged hair has to be removed altogether. Try using a thermal protector when heat styling to help prevent damage to your delicate hair strands.
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Treat Heat Damage
3. Chemical Hair Coloring
Most chemical hair dyes contain harsh and toxic ingredients that can damage the hair, scalp and ultimately alter the texture of your natural hair. Many people have described losing their natural curl pattern even after one chemical hair coloring treatment, especially when using at-home boxed hair coloring kits. A healthier and more natural alternative to chemical hair coloring would be henna, although color options can be limited.
4. Several Hair Textures
It is possible to have more than one texture growing from your scalp. It’s actually possible to have 2-3 different textures on the same strand of hair. We discussed this in this post, What Hair Typing Doesn’t Tell You.
For many people, this can be confusing when trying to determine how to classify how their hair grows and what category they fall into within the hair typing system.
Some people may notice that the hair that grows from the front or back of the head may be looser than the hair that grows in the center of the head. It’s very common to have several hair textures in one head of hair.
5. Damaged Length
Most of us want to grow a head of long, full and healthy hair. After spending years of growing out your natural hair, of course you want to hold on to that length. But when the hair becomes damaged it is best to let it go. Trim it…
Split ends, heat damage, and damage caused by chemical treatments are all irreversible and can change your real hair texture, and add weight to delicate new growth. The only way to get rid of the damaged ends is to remove them completely.
SEE ALSO: 10 Ways to Prevent Split Ends
6. Lack of Curl Definition
Not every hair texture grows in a curl pattern. Natural hair can grow without any curl definition at all which can be confusing to someone newly natural and trying to follow the hair typing system. It can also be frustrating when none of the model hair types used as examples to demonstrate the different hair types look like your own.
7. Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes such as pregnancy can cause an altercation in your hair growth and texture. Some women have found that their hair seems to grow more rapidly when expecting and it’s not uncommon for hair textures to change throughout a pregnancy or even after pregnancy.
Excessive shedding and even breakage is also commonly reported by many women after giving birth due to fluctuations in hormone levels. Birth control pills containing high doses of hormones can also contribute to variations in hair texture.
8. Excessive Product Use
If you don’t allow your hair to breathe without there being tons of curl defining products in it then how can you know your true hair type. The best way to see your actual hair type is by cleansing the hair, allowing it to air dry without any touching it or adding any product, and then observing the texture.
Your hair may be one texture when wet, another when saturated with conditioner, and dry to be an entirely different texture. The texture of your hair when dry is what would be the actual texture used to define your hair type.
9. Comparing your Texture
Listen, if you ask any natural what their hair type is you may get anywhere from two to four answers. No two textures are alike, and no two hair type combinations will be exactly the same. You can’t compare your hair texture to someone that you see on YouTube or hair forums and decide that you have the same texture. That is why so many people find that when attempting to mimic a hairstyle tutorial, their hair comes out nothing like the demonstrator.
For some, hair typing isn’t nearly important as knowing the physical characteristics of the hair such as porosity and elasticity for instance. Hair typing describes the appearance of the hair but doesn’t necessary give you any information about its needs.
It’s not necessarily important for you to know your particular hair type in order to maintain healthy natural hair growth. Determining how to handle and maintain your hair is possible without ever knowing your real hair type.
Read More about Hair Typing in this 3-part Series
11. The hair typing system may be flawed (Optional Inclusion)
Hair typing is something I just don’t follow. Personally, I’ve never found much relevance between knowing my hair type and the difference it would make in my natural hair journey. Hair typing doesn’t help me with knowing which products would work best for my hair. Hair typing doesn’t determine the rate that my hair will grow, or how well it retains moisture for that matter. There are far too many variables in determining what your actual “hair type” may be, and your hair texture could change at any time, causing an inconsistent perception of the hair typing system.
Photo Credit: Naturally Curly.com