I have a personal detachment from the insinuation that natural hair is a trend. Trend may refer to a quick short term hype which is stereotypical in the media, but a trend can also refer to a movement, which I hope is a more sustainable setting that allows growth for individuals. With my chest cleared, let’s talk about hair types.
We’ve spoken about hair and how it grows, now it’s time we understand the different types of hair and touch base with a little bit of the history behind it.
The ‘Hair Type System’ was developed in the 1990s by Andre Walker, a renowned celebrity hair stylist. Walker graduated from Pivot Academy and begun his work as a hair stylist. The Oprah Winfrey Show was a buzz on TV, so Andre took an interest and went ahead to write Oprah a message stating that he would like to work with her hair! It was only a matter of a day that Oprah replied and Walker toured with her all over the world trying out the best and funkiest hairstyles. Don’t you wish all phone calls would lead to such treasure?
It was during this time that Walker devolved into the idea of creating hair products. In doing so, he created a system that would best market his products and help clients choose products that were specific to their needs. This was the birth of hair types in the 1990s. This marketing scheme worked well for him but he also received the peeves of critics, which you are welcome to do so as well, it is a free world!
The hair chart he developed portrayed four classes of hair. Under each class, there were other variations and some have been added since hair is a continual study.
Type 1: Straight Hair – This is fine to course hair, thin and curl resistant.
Variations: 1A, 1B and 1C. Some, or most people from Japan and China have this kind of hair.
Type 2: Wavy hair – This is fine and thin hair but can range to coarse and frizzy.
Variations: 2A, 2B and 2C. A generalised look is the Indian lady in a 2 hour dancing scene of a Bollywood movie.
Type 3: Curly hair – This type of hair ranges from loose curls to corkscrew curls.
Variations: 3A, 3B and 3C. It is usually evident in mixed race, Mexican people and Ethiopian descendants.
Type 4: Kinky Hair – This type of hair ranges from tight coils to Z angled organic coils. This is the most common hair type among black people.
It is integral to the above classification to understand that Walker was trying to market his products by making the above chart. Some critics do go ahead to classify the chart as racial classification that is still a form of hierarchy among racial groups. This can be argued in that type 1 is seen to be the idealised form of perfection and type 4 to be the least preferred hair dating back to slavery. We often hear it in our communities where people with irende- typical type 3A -3C are seen to have better hair than those with injwiri – typical type 4A-4C. All types are beautiful when you figure out what products work well for you.
One easy way to distinguish your hair type is to simply uproot one hair and compare it to the hair type chart. It is worth noting that just because you and your friend have type 4C, it does not imply that you will respond to products the same way. This is a highly generalised marketing scheme that is working wonders. You may have the same curl type but the density and moisture retention is different. We will look through this next, but for now, it is more about each person growing in their self-knowledge and truly matching information with experience and practical solutions.
In conclusion, knowing your hair type is like knowing the make of your car. That does not specify if it is a manual or automatic, nor does it specify if the car runs on petrol or diesel. Oh dear, am I still talking about hair? Yes I am. It’s a sensitive topic okay? It is your crown and natural adornment which highly comes hand in hand with your self-image. So, what is your hair type?