Let’s Talk Hair Type | Errol Douglas MBE

September 15, 2023

I strongly believe the most important thing we can do as hairdressers is embrace hair in all its aspects. Men’s, women’s, Afro, barbering, bridal – whatever, it’s all still hair. However, in order to fully understand and appreciate hair in all its glory, it is crucial to ensure you first get to know each of the hair types.

The starting place is by defining the texture and this is best done when the hair is wet…

Type 1: Straight 

  • 1a – very straight, fine texture.
  • 1b – straight with some bends.
  • 1c – straight with a thicker texture.

Type 2: Wavy 

  • 2a – wavy and fine.
  • 2b – wavy with a more defined S-shape.
  • 2c – wavy with a well-defined S-shape.

Type 3: Curly

  • 3a – loose curls.
  • 3b – tight and springy curls.
  • 3c – an S or Z shape that springs back into shape when stretched.

Type 4: Coily (or Afro)

  • 4a – loose coils.
  • 4b – zig-zagging coils.
  • 4c – tight coils.

As you can see, a simple breakdown is that type 1s are straight, type 2s are wavy, type 3s are curly and type 4s have the tightest curls. The sub-classification of A-C is then all about the width or diameter or the curl or coil – ranging from type A (which is the widest) to type C, (which is the smallest of the three).

It’s not a fool-proof system, but once you’ve identified which type your client is, you can tailor the cutting technique, the products you’ll use and the care plan you’ll recommend.

It’s also true that Afro hair (typically a 3B to a 4C) is going to need some extra care – it lacks moisture and shine, has a tendency to be brittle and if you pull it too much, you’ll snap it. Luckily, we’re blessed with amazing products these days that can restore moisture levels and boost beautiful natural texture. In my experience, working with Afro hair is 50 per cent about the products you use and 50 per cent about your technical skills and knowledge.

I know that many people feel daunted when confronted with a hair type they may not be familiar with, so I hope this simple breakdown is of use – it really is NO MORE complicated than that!

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