HOW TO TELL YOUR HAIR TYPE

After more research (a month later), I’ve looked back on this video and I now would do this video all over again. Here’s why: I believe based on the order of pattern, THE TYPE 4 CATEGORY SHOULD GO 4A — 4C — 4B because 4c is just a smaller diameter of 4a with more shrinkage. 4b is shown to have no coils at all. It should be a zig zag pattern that probably wouldn’t clump (but that’s relative) The photos I chose to represent 4B and 4C were based off research I found and trusted from sources describing the hair types and labeling them with these pictures. Also, misconceptions of what 4b “should be” based on the order of the letters. The ability for hair to clump from root to tip,  I now believe is due to other factors like porosity, products, environment, genetics, etc. 

4C wasn’t originally apart of this hair typing chart. It was added later because many people didn’t see their hair pattern represented. But it was kind of just tacked on at the end. 🤷🏾‍♀️

The LOIS System for strand pattern is ideal, I think. Mainly because it doesn’t talk about diameter at all, just pattern. This allows for more diversity in each category. 

A VISUAL GUIDE THROUGH HAIR TYPES

Can you distinguish hair types 4b and 4c apart? In the video above, I discuss the different hair types and compare them. In particular, determining the difference between type 4b and 4c hair types. Then I’ll take my research and look at the strands of my own hair to determine my hair type. For the comparison, I’ve used the modified Andre Walker hair typing chart (below). I’ve also included photos of each hair type and video footage of my hair strands against the hair chart. Some of the photos are sourced from Naturally Curly and Kenny Olapade

what's the difference between type 4a 4b and 4c hair?

This is the Andre Walker hair typing system. Who is he and why do we know him? He was Oprah’s hair stylist for years on her show. He won many Emmys for his work and he became well known because of his expertise.  When looking at the chart, you’ll notice there’s not 3c or 4c hair types represented. The hierarchal structure of the chart and omission of hair types got him a lot of heat. Many people in the natural hair community were upset and felt excluded.

Andre Walker
Andre Walker and Oprah

When was hair type 3c & 4c introduced? It seems that Naturally Curly heard the outcry and created a modified chart that included the missing hair types. Now we have 3c and 4c naturals represented.

hair typing system

WHAT ARE THE HAIR TYPES?

Hair type 1 is the easiest to spot. It’s bone straight naturally. Below are the remaining hair types.

hair type 2
hair type 3
hair type 4

Type 4a appears to have larger visible coils.

4b hair seems to have a zig zag pattern. 4c hair (right) clumps at the ends and usually shrinks more than 4a and 4b hair. When deciphering between the two, I tend to look at the amount of shrinkage and if the hair clumps into coils when wet or dry to tell the difference.

Here are the textures side by side. They are very identical and can get mixed up easily if the hair is dry.

4b hair no coil
4c hair

MY HAIR TYPE

Based on my hair being soaking wet and the photos I chose for reference, I’d say my hair is mostly 4c with traces of 4b in the front, and 4a on the sides above my side burns. I encourage you to watch my video until the end for reference. 

what's the difference between type 4a 4b and 4c hair?
easy wash day routine 4c hair

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If this was helpful for you, share it with your friends. Comment below and tell us, what your hair type is.

Also, check my Youtube natural hairstyles playlist for more tutorials. I’ve also got a youtube tab here on the navigation bar at the top of this page where you can see all of my videos that upload every thursday. Subscribe to my newsletter, so you don’t miss any of my content. See ya in your inbox soon!

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Vaneesha says:

    I am extremely disappointed that you’ve stated our hair is a Z shape. I am a qualified hairdresser and I can tell you that this is incorrect. Our hair is curly.
    Please stop using terms given to us by the white man – Coily and Z – is unacceptable. You would never hear them putting their hair down. They always put our hair down.
    I contacted several Hairdressing Teachers and they stated that your information is incorrect.
    This is another example of black people putting ourselves down. Just imagine they went from a, b and c to z. Disgusting!
    Commenting all the way from the UK.

    • LaToya Ebony says:

      The information I provided is based on a chart created by a black man. Coils and Z strands are not negative by any means. To me, this description is neutral and the way it is depicted is in the eyes of the beholder. My mother is a licensed cosmetologist and they never taught this in school. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that curriculums even began spending more than one module on type 4 hair. At the time of writing this I have 78 thousand subscribers and I have asked if any of them have Z shaped strands and a very small handful of them said they actual have this hair type. In fact, my own son has a patch of Z strands as well. Now, I’m only one person and I haven’t seen every head of hair, but I refuse to tell anyone that they are wrong about the hair that sits on their own head. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a person’s hair that self identifies as having coily or Z strands. So, Vaneesha, perhaps it is you that should take a moment to open up and adjust your perspective.
      Regards from the US.

    • I have mostly 4B hair and two areas of 4 C hair on the sides. I can tell you that there is a definite Z pattern in most of my hair and it contrasts very distinctly with my 4C hair. I used to call it whooshy because I could not understand how other natural hair both more and less kinky than mine could have a distinct pattern and mine did not. So happy to be rocking the Zs and there is no negative connotation at all. if you see it then it is your own bias showing. We must embrace all patterns and not negate any because they do not fit into our paradigms.

  • Fariyyah says:

    I’m still a bit confused on whether or not i have 4C hair. I have been thinking that my hair is 4C but now i am led to think otherwise due to lots of research but i am not sure.
    Kind regards from the U.K.

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