All the natural beauties out there are trying to figure out their hair type, but some have been misled. You were all scrambling to figure out whether your hair is 4c, 3a, or 2d. But what you aren’t realizing is that those charts are telling what kind of curl pattern you have. Though it is interesting, it is not helpful information. You need to know more than that. Knowing just your curl pattern doesn’t tell you what you need to know to take proper care of your hair. Everyone’s hair is different, so even though two people might have 4c hair, there could be a number of differences.
To be able to take proper care of your hair you need to identify all the traits of your hair and adjust your products and how you do your hair accordingly. First, you must know the porosity of your hair. Porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and holds moisture. This is dependent on the cuticle of your hair.
Low Porosity Hair:
If your hair has low porosity, this means that your cuticle is tight. Because of this your hair repels water and doesn’t absorb moisture easily. Low porosity hair is protein sensitive and since it is resistant to moisture and oils, it is prone to product build up.
This type of hair needs products that are rich in non- cosmetic moisture that attracts moisture to hair, such as: shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. Also, with this type of hair opt for light, liquid based products like hair milks because these won’t sit on your hair.
High Porosity Hair:
This hair type is usually the result of chemically damaged hair. If your hair has high porosity, this means that your cuticle has gaps and holes in it. Since the cuticle is so open, too much moisture is allowed in but it escapes just as quickly. This hair type is prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather.
This hair type needs protein rich products that don’t attract moisture to hair, like a heavy hair butter that will help fill the gaps and protect your hair from losing too much moisture.
Get a glass of water (or a bowl) and take a strand of your hair (possibly from a comb or brush) and place it on top of the water (don’t just throw it in). Let the strand sit there for 5-10 minutes. If the strand is still sitting on top of the water, you have low porosity hair. If the strand is at the bottom of the glass or bowl, you have high porosity hair. (Shea Moisture has a line of products specific to hair porosity.)
Along with hair porosity you need to be aware of the density of your hair and the size of your strands. The density of your hair just means how thin or thick your hair is collectively (so how much hair is actually on your a head. This tells you how much product to put on your hair, how concentrated you want your products to be, and how you style your hair.
If you have thin hair, you want to use lighter products or a lesser amount of heavy products. You also want to use less concentrated products. And when styling, you might want to make your twists, braids, bantu knots, etc. smaller, in order to get more volume.
If you have thick hair, you want to use more product to make sure your hair is coated completely. You also want more concentrated products to penetrate all of your strands equally. And when styling, you might want to make your twists, braids, bantu knots, etc. bigger, just because you don’t need the volume.
Now, the size of your strands tells you how much manipulation your hair can handle.
Growing up I thought fine and thin were interchangeable words when talking about hair. However, fine refers to your strands. So if you have fine strands this means your strands are prone to damage because they are weak. So your hair may not be able to handle a lot of manipulation, needs lighter products and needs more protein. (If you also have low porosity hair, don’t use protein rich products but give yourself a protein treatment before you wash your hair. This will help strengthen your hair. You can follow the same scheduling that you do with you deep conditioning.)
Your hair doesn’t break very easily but still should not undergo too much manipulation. you don’t have to use lighter products if you don’t want to, it’s up to your discretion. Protein treatments every once in awhile are always good.
Growing up, I also thought coarse meant something different. I thought it referred to thick/tough and hard to manage hair, but it refers to strong strands. If you have coarse strands, you would have to be really trying to damage your hair for it to break. You might want to use heavier products because they won’t sit on your hair and weigh it down. (Of course you could think differently about heavy products, depending on your porosity and density.)
Not all hair is the same, so knowing the porosity of your hair and ignoring other aspects of it won’t get you far. This article cannot tell you exactly what products to use on your hair and how to go about styling it without knowing all the details of your hair. So take all the things you know about your hair and figure out the best way to care for it based on your hair’s porosity, density, and the size of your strands.
By: Kadisha Kentish