I've been handling my natural African hair for about a year now but I only just decided to investigate what my hair type is. Sounds a bit ridiculous but I didn't really think it was relevant so although I heard people discussing the issue in YouTube videos, I did not investigate my own hair type. Over time, however, I am learning that, the more I know about my own hair the better able I am to take care of it.
Hair types were officially defined by Oprah's hair stylist, Andre Walker, according to curls.biz.
Type 1 hair is straight, definitely not me.
Type 2 hair is wavy, again, not me.
Type 3 hair is curly, getting warmer but still not me.
Type 4 hair is kinky or coily, okay, I fall into this category.
Within each category (except 1) there are three more subdivisions: A, B and C, with A being the least wavy/curly/coily.
Going by the descriptions I have been reading, my hair is 4C: the type that is most vulnerable to dryness, brittleness and breakage. 4C hair needs to be treated with reverence to prevent damage and breakage. I know people with hair way kinkier than mine so I will classify myself a 4B plus / 4C minus (4B+/4C-) and hair more kinky as 4C plus.
Straight hair is the most naturally oily and least vulnerable to breakage.
Caucasian folk never have kinky hair and people with African blood don't have naturally straight hair. Because it is not uncommon for African Americans to have European ancestors they will very frequently fall into the 4A category or even 3C. As for Africans, we are mostly going to lie in 4B and 4C.
What does being a 4B+/4C- mean for me? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
I need to moisturize my hair daily. Spritzing my hair with water makes it much more manageable so I keep a little water spray bottle to hand. My hair routine has constantly evolved over the last year to adopt those strategies that keep it the most soft and supple. When my hair is soft it is actually really bouncy and very manageable.
Natural African hair does not like certain chemicals so whenever I buy hair products I go for those that are 100% made from natural materials because a lot of mainstream hair chemicals and oils have a drying impact on hair and/or make it more brittle. I avoid anything with:
I am hoping my hair blog will help fellow Africans that want to "go natural" and anyone that has adopted African kids and wants to learn how best to manage Afro hair.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward