HAIR BASICS- HAIR TYPING 2

Q: HAIR TYPING. YOU NATURAL HAIR PEOPLE AND YOUR BIG GRAMMAR. *eye roll* WHAT’S THIS ONE NOW?

A: Hair Typing did not start with the natural hair community. Indian hair weaves are sought after by many for being wavy. Probably all the Chinese people you’ve seen on TV have straight hair. If you see a Nigerian with really curly hair, your first instinct is to think that she’s kind of mixed race abi? You my friend, have been hair typing with your eyes for as long as you’ve noticed the difference. :p

The origin of the system of hair typing as it is formally known today is credited to celebrity hair stylist, Andre Walker. He’s famous for being Oprah’s stylist and he classifies hair under four umbrellas in his book- ‘Andre Talks Hair’.

Q: WHAT IS THIS SYSTEM BASED ON?

A: This system of classifying hair is based on the feature of curl pattern. Your curl-pattern is one of the things you were born with, pre-determined by your genes, your cortex merely acts on instructions from source.

When you were a baby, your hair was really soft, wavy or curly and not as thick as it is today. As you grew, this changed- not because of anything you ate or because of anything you did. (I don’t know about type 1 or 2 baby hair but I know this is true for us Africans) Puberty I’ve read, can change your hair type. BUT the way your hair decides to curl or not curl is not something determined with your permission. The system of hair typing is based on naturally occurring, chemically unaltered curl patterns.

Q: OKAY… LET’S GET INTO THIS ALREADY, SHALL WE?

A: Yes, of course. Hair is classified under four umbrellas based on the naturally occurring curl pattern.

1 A, B, C.             2 A, B, C.             3 A, B, C.             4 A, B, C.

The letters in the typing system refer to the circumference and type of curl. Like imagine a strand of your hair as a slinky or a spring. Circumference of a circle is the total area the circle can go round. It’s the same with a curl. Circumference here refers to how big a curl is, like what can fit into the slinky or spring; something your curl or spring can easily accommodate in its middle.

For Type 3 hair, “a” is the circumference of sidewalk chalk; “b” is the circumference of a sharpie marker pen and “c” is the circumference of a pencil or a straw.

For Type 4 hair, the circumference is of a crochet needle or maybe smaller.

Type 1: Straight hair. 1A, 1B, 1C.

This hair type has no curl. This makes some people say that it is the most manageable of all the hair types. However, it is prone to tangles and split ends.

Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu

Any Africans with straight hair? I don’t think so.

Type 2: Wavy Hair. 2A, 2B, 2C.

Type 2 hair is somewhere between 1 and 3. Not straight, not curly either, what we have come to know as wavy hair.

Sandra Oh

Dr. Yang Sandra Oh

Type 3: Curly Hair

This hair type has a definite loopy “S” pattern.

3A: has the most defined and most obvious loopy S. It’s circumference is that of sidewalk chalk.

Look how thick these are!

Look how big these are!

3B: as previously mentioned, it is the circumference of a sharpie marker pen.

3C: this hair type has the circumference of a pencil or a straw.

Yvette Nicole Brown. She plays Shirley on Community :)

Yvette Nicole Brown. She plays Shirley on Community 🙂

Type 4: Kinky Hair

Kinky hair is tightly coiled. It is said to be the most delicate hair type, but it is no less manageable. Type 4 hair has the circumference of a crochet needle, or smaller.

4A:  it has an “S” pattern, less obvious or defined than a Type 3 S-curl, but it’s there. It’s a little more obvious when stretched (and by stretched I don’t mean straightened in this case. If I pick my hair and pull a strand to the left or right, or anywhere, I’m stretching) Can you see the loopy S?

4A

Esperanza Spalding and Geraldine the Great

Type 4B hair bends in sharp angles like a zigzag similar to a “Z” pattern. It has little visible curl defintion. This is a little difficult for me to explain right now BUT just look at the pictures. The Type 4B hair is clearly curlier than Type 4C but not as curly as Type 4A.

L- My girl Solange and R- the beautiful Erykah Badu

L- My girl Solange and R- the beautiful Erykah Badu

4C hair is very tightly coiled with a short, “Z” curl pattern. It has the least visible curl definition. Some say it has no visible curl definition whatsoever. This is because it is so tightly coiled.

our very own Nollywood mama, Nse Ikpe-Etim

our very own Nollywood mama, Nse Ikpe-Etim

Q: IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE HAIR TYPE?

A: Yes.

My hair for the most part, is 4C Kinky hair. However, a small community behind my right ear does not feel as kinky as the rest of my head. I think it’s 4B territory. Not enough to make a difference though, at least not right now. And I have a few 4A strands like these that stand out.

one of my random 4A strands. which is actually a clump of a few strands. A curl needs a couple others to stick to it to show obvious definition.

one of my random 4A strands. which is actually a clump of a few strands. A curl needs a couple others to stick to it to show obvious definition.

This is just to say that I know for a fact that this is possible. SO many combination naturalistas abound. Your 4A side may not like to be combed with as much pressure, or may need more of a particular product than your 4C side or vice versa. Please be observant and treat your hair, or parts of it as it wants you to.

Are you bored yet? I hope not. This is the second of three posts on the phenomenon of Hair Typing. The final bit will be here on Friday, same time at noon. Don’t miss it! You could subscribe by email so that you don’t forget. 🙂

So my people, what’s your hair type? Share! x

HAIR BASICS- HAIR TYPING!

Hey guys. This week, I’ll be taking you through the second topic in the Hair Basics series we started last week.

The Hair Basics series is a bunch of posts trying to break down the basics of hair science. By the end of this series, I’d love for you to be aware of and knowledgeable about the features of this army of tiny threads that reside on your head! When you know better, you do better and knowing better about your hair will definitely affect the way you care for it. All aboard the journey to good hair, say aye?

I don’t know how you guys felt about the last post on Hair Structure but I’ve read it again and I don’t feel like I really connected. I think I was being too formal (sigh, really it’s just the way I am) but I pledge to be less formal from this moment forward. I might even rewrite the post- but yes guys. I really want us to be on the same page. Questions, suggestions are very welcome!

This particular topic/feature is one that has always popped up since I started reading about natural hair. You’ve probably seen it or heard someone talk about it. This week, we are getting into the matter of Hair Typing.

I have a really long post here (how did I let this happen?) so I’ve broken it up. On Wednesday and Friday, at noon, the other two parts will be published as well. You could subscribe to the blog via email or follow me on bloglovin just to be sure you don’t miss it!

CurlyChronicles and FusionOfCultures were the first two naturalistas and vloggers I discovered when I was transitioning and they first opened my eyes to the versatility of natural hair. It was so amazing to see all the different styles and I was so excited. I think I got my first relaxer when I was 5. I relaxed every six weeks or so until I went to secondary school. For my six years at secondary school, I wore my hair reeaaaaallly short (got mighty low cuts after six weeks at half-term) and I fried my hair over the holidays. Then I grew it out after graduation and continued relaxing for the first three years of uni and part of the fourth. I had forgotten what my own curls looked like. I loved their youtube videos and somewhere in the back of my mind, I was hoping my hair journey would lead me to hair like theirs.

That was a while ago. Since then, I have seen so much more, read so much more and at some point it became clear to me that my hair was different and eventually, I accepted that different was GOOD, just in time for my big chop.

Q. COOL STORY. WHAT MADE YOUR HAIR DIFFERENT THAN THEIRS?

A. Their hair is more curly than kinky, but mine is more kinky than curly.

Q. O_o

A. Okay, stay with me now. You’ll understand this when we are done dissecting this matter of Hair Typing. Be back here, same time Wednesday! x

HAIR BASICS: THE STRUCTURE OF HAIR

Heyyy you guys 🙂

It only makes sense to start our discussion at the very very beginning- the very thing that we are here for. The definition of hair itself- the anatomy of it, the parts of it. That’s what we’re doing in this post, looking at the structure of hair.

Our hair strands grow out of numerous tiny pits buried in our scalp. These little pits are called follicles. All the hair on your body come from follicles. By week 22 of your stay in your mama’s belly, ALL the follicles on your body had been formed. You haven’t grown any follicles since.

Hair has two separate structures- the structure in the hair shaft (this is the hair we see) and the structure in the follicle.

THE FOLLICLE

At the base of the follicle is the dermal papilla, a vessel that is fed by the bloodstream with nutrients to produce new hair.

The bottom part of the follicle surrounds the papilla. It is called the hair bulb and this is the part where living hair grows. And I say living because hair is a dead cell; the bulb is the only part nourished by the capillaries in the dermal papilla. Also present in the follicle is the sebaceous gland. It produces the sebum, which is natural conditioner for the hair.

The follicle is guarded by two sheaths, the inner sheath and the outer sheath. These two protect and mold the new growing baby hair shaft. Simply put, the only living part of your hair is the part in your roots, in the bottom part of the follicle. When your hair grows, the shaft has grown out of the bulb, so it’s like pushed out and up to join the string of dead proteins. It’s like the chain of dead proteins just gets longer. A new living baby protein starts cooking in a hair bulb in a follicle.

source: http://www.revalid.com/all_about_hair/hair_structure.html

Source: Revalid.com

THE SHAFT

Hair is made of a dead hard protein called keratin, the same protein that is present in your nails. Keratin is strong, resistant to wear and tear.

Each hair shaft or strand has three layers- the cortex, the medulla and the cuticle.

source: http://www.revalid.com/all_about_hair/hair_structure.html

Source: Revalid.com

MEDULLA: this is the innermost layer. It is only present in large thick hairs.

CORTEX: this is the middle layer. “The main the main.”  Everything about your hair- the colour, strength, curl pattern, thickness and texture is determined by the cortex. Relaxers, hair dyes and other chemical treatments work on the hair above the scalp by penetrating the cuticle to get to the cortex. There they manipulate the bonds within the cortex to get the desired result- be it straightening the curl pattern or changing the hair colour. Every single thing you apply on your hair has to get to the cortex to be of any effect. If you’re straightening your hair with a flat iron and the heat does not get to the cortex, you are wasting your time. And if too much heat gets to your cortex, that’s damage for your hair. Permanent dyes target your cortex, but non-permanent hair dyes just try to get stuck somewhere between your cuticle and your cortex.

CUTICLE: this is the outermost layer. It is thin and colourless, it protects the cortex.

The cuticle is the gate to the cortex. Some people’s cuticles are overprotective and won’t let the nutrients in. Some people’s cuticles are wide open and let too much in, but some people’s cuticles understand that there has to be a balance. It’s important to understand your own cuticle and how to get it to open or close when you need it to.

So do you now see how important it is for you to figure out the right diet and routine for your hair? It is your responsibility to manage what goes or does not go through your cuticle to your cortex. It is your responsibility to make sure anything goes through it at all. All the money you spend and effort you put in on your hair will be useless if you are not on good terms with your cuticle and if your cortex is not getting the nutrients it needs.

Are you still with me? Is any of this making sense? Next post, we’ll be revisiting the matter of Hair Typing, one of the several properties determined in the cortex and in that post (and subsequent posts) you’ll be appreciating the anatomy discussed in this post more.

X

P.S. We will soon be back to the Cuticle. It’s starring in one of our Hair Basics movies coming up soon- Porosity! ^__^

UNDERSTANDING HAIR 101: Introducing, ‘HAIR BASICS’!

Hey guys! How are you doing? What are you up to?

I’m still up to the same old same old- daily moisturise and seal. My regimen is still the same. I’m carrying my fro just the same.

after school one day

after school one day

I was supposed to be studying one evening but I got restless and I did one twist and ended up doing several more. No product, no comb, I just twisted without looking. Here’s what my study time yielded x_x

: )

: )

 

Some days, I’m like oh gosh I cannot wait to be able to style my hair- twist outs, braid outs, bantu knots, the whole shebang… but then I tell myself- wait, I think I can. More hair, more product, more problems I imagine. I’m not going to be restless, I’m going to enjoy this time and learn all I can.

Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun*

To get the hair I want, I think it only makes sense that I have a basic understanding of my hair first- what it really is, what it’s made of, how it functions – so that I can have a better plan, be truly informed about what it needs, how to work with it.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to put up a series of posts called ‘Hair Basics’. Through these posts, I intend to introduce to you the structure and elementary features of hair. This knowledge will definitely guide you on your hair journey (as it is guiding me); help you choose products and determine your hair regimen. And hopefully after this, some of the natural hair lingo you’ve encountered or will encounter in conversations about hair will cease to be (or will not be) strange to you.

This may not seem like very fun stuff right now but it’s really really important stuff. I’ll try my very best to break it down, keep the posts short and keep the science relevant. If there’s anything I’m a little foggy about, do not hesitate to bring it up or point me in the right direction.

Stay with me okay?

x

* Mikhail Baryshnikov