By Terez Howard

Natural hair typing systems are used to categorize a curl pattern. Some don’t like to put their natural hair into a specific category. However, the purpose of knowing your natural hair type can help you to better care for your hair. You will know how to encourage hair growth based on your type and gain a general idea of what products are best suited for your natural hair.

No natural hair types are better than any others. They are just different. For the purpose of this article, I will discuss Andre Walker’s natural hair typing system, along with Naturally Curly’s helpful additions to it, and the LOIS system. Most naturals have more than one hair type inhabiting their head, so don’t get too hung up on the categories. The best advice is to experiment to discover what styles and products best for your unique hair.

Andre Walker’s Natural Hair Typing System, with Naturally Curly’s additions:

Type 1 – Type 1 hair is straight.

Type 2 – Type 2 is a wavy hair type with an S shape to it.  It can broken down into the following:

2A is fine, thin and easily straightened.

2B is medium-textured with a tendency to frizz.

2C is thick and course.

Type 3 – This natural hair type looks straight when wet and then curls up when dry.  Humidity can make this curly hair type curlier and, at times, frizzy.  Type 3 hair has a well-defined S, loopy pattern and is very springy and usually fine.  This natural hair type breaks down into the following:

3A curls are loose, big and shiny with a circumference like sidewalk chalk.

3B curls resemble corkscrews and bouncy ringlets with a circumference like a Sharpie.

3C curls are tight corkscrews with a circumference like a pencil.

Type 4 – This natural hair type is tightly coiled, wiry, usually fine and very fragile.  Type 4 hair contains fewer cuticle layers (the outer layer of hair) than any other hair type and has less protection from manipulation, such as combing, brushing and straightening.  It also is prone to shrinkage.  It breaks down into the following:

4A is tightly coiled, resembles an S when stretched and has a definite curl pattern.

4B resembles a Z when stretched, bending rather than coiling or curling, with a less defined curl pattern.

4C has practically no curl pattern, is densely packed and feels cottony to the touch.

The LOIS Hair Typing System:

L – The hair bends at right angles like the letter L.

O – Strands roll up into the letter O.

I – Hair lies flat with no bends or curves, like an I.

S – Hair contains S curls.

You probably have a combination of these natural hair types all over your head, or you might find that one particular area of your head, like the crown, is one hair type, and back in the kitchen is another.

How To Examine Your Natural Hair Type

  1. Remove a single strand from the most common type of hair texture you have.
  2. Wash the strand with dish detergent, following up by a cool rinse if the hair is not freshly washed and product-free.
  3. Place the strand on a paper towel and allow it to dry.
  4. Now, examine the hair type without touching it.

If it bends at right angles, with little curve, you are an L.

If it rolls up like one or several zeroes, you are an O.

If it lies flat with no bends or curves, you are an I.

If it looks wavy with hills and valleys, you are an S.

You can use this same method to examine your hair type for the Andre Walker hair typing system.

You can also do this to examine your natural hair type’s thickness. Compare it to a strand of thread. If it’s thicker than the thread, you have thick hair. If the strand is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair.  A strand the same size has medium thickness.

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