A lot of hair care advice can be misleading. This is because there are so many different types of hair and each type of hair needs to be treated differently.
Therefore, in order to get the best hair care advice, you’re better off identifying your hair type first. This allows you to more easily track down specific guides and specific products catered to your hair type.
But just how do you pin down your hair type? This guide takes a look at how to find out your hair colour, thickness, texture and dryness.
What colour is my hair?
Knowing your exact hair colour can be important when choosing extensions, dyes and other products. Unfortunately, there is no universal hair colour classification system. There is however a colour depth scale from 1 to 10 that is used by many major brands like L’oreal. This scale can be read like so:
- 1 – Black
- 2 – Darkest brown
- 3 – Dark brown
- 4 – Medium brown
- 5 – Light brown
- 6 – Dark blonde
- 7 – Medium blonde
- 8 – Blonde
- 9 – Light blonde
- 10 – Light pale blonde
Many products use numbers from this scale to tell you exactly what shade the product is designed for. But what about if you have some red in your hair? Or more yellow? Thankfully, some brands like Garnier have you covered by adding decimal points (like 4.6 and 3.1) to identify these tones. Other brands meanwhile use letters like ‘R’ to identify reddish undertones. You can find colour charts online. My own personal natural hair colour is dark blonde, with ashy cool tones.
The best way to work out your tone is to have a colour chart handy and then directly compare it to your hair in the mirror. When comparing your hair colour to the chart, try to compare the colour at the roots of your crown rather than at the end of your hair. This is because hair gets lighter towards the ends where it is exposed to sunlight, and is therefore not a reflection of your hair’s true colour.
Your hair colour is useful to know when dyeing your hair. As a general rule, you should not choose a colour that is more than 2 shades darker or lighter than your current natural shade. So if you have medium brown (4) hair, you shouldn’t go darker than darkest brown (2) or lighter than dark blonde (6) if you want effective results.
Is my hair thin, medium or thick?
Hair also comes in different levels of thickness. These can be sorted into three categories:
- A – Fine
- B – Medium
- C – Thick
Finer hair can often be smoother and naturally more shiny. However, it can slip out of ponytails more easily and is more prone to grease. It does have a tendency to be a bit more limp at the roots too.
Thicker hair has more volume and holds its shape well. It can however tangle more easily and takes much longer to dry when wet.
There are a few ways to determine the thickness of your hair. One of the simplest gauges is to roll a strand of hair between your fingers. If you can feel it, it is likely more towards the thick end of the spectrum. If you can’t feel it, you have fine hair.
There is also the thread test. This involves taking a strand of hair from your head and comparing it to a strand of thread. If your hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair (A). If your hair is roughly the same width as the thread, you have medium hair (B). If your hair is thicker than the thread, you have thick hair (C). I personally have thick hair, if that helps!
Is my hair straight, wavy, curly or coily?
Hair can also be classified into 4 texture types. These texture categories are universal and are worth knowing when selecting products like moisturisers and shampoos. They are:
- 1 – Straight
- 2 – Wavy
- 3 – Curly
- 4 – Coily
Straight hair (1) is the most self-explanatory one – it falls straight with no real curls. Wavy hair (2) meanwhile has S-shaped curls running through it. Curly hair (3) has curls resembling corkscrews, which can be large enough to fit a finger through or small enough to fit a pencil through. Coily hair (4) has much tighter corkscrews that cannot be wrapped around a pencil (sometimes referred to as ‘Afro’ hair).
These numbers are sometimes used alongside the thickness letters (A, B, C) explained above. For example, 4A texture hair refers to hair that is coily and fine. 1C texture meanwhile refers to hair that is straight and thick. Knowing your exact hair texture level can be useful when tracking down the best products (for example, 3B styling gel will have been specially formulated for curly and medium thick hair). Mine is actually a combination, it’s straight at the front, and super wavy at the back.
Do I have dry or oily hair?
Finally, it’s worth determining whether you have dry or oily hair. This can be important to know when selecting shampoos and conditioners.
The thinner and straighter your hair, the more likely it is to be prone to oiliness. Consequently, 1A hair is the most prone to grease. That said, skin type can also affect how much oil your produce – if you have quite oily skin that is prone to blackheads or acne, you may be more susceptible to greasy hair too.
There are many deep cleansing shampoos that can clean this hair efficiently. A lightweight moisturiser may be the only other product you want to use when washing your hair and this should be rubbed in from the tip in small amounts. Too many other products could make your hair feel greasier.
Thicker and curlier hair tends to be dryer. 4C tends to be the hair most prone to dryness as a result. But again, skin type can affect how dry your hair is too – if your skin produces little sebum and is prone to dry patches or even eczema, you could find that you also suffer from dry hair regardless of thickness and curliness.
Dry hair requires less frequent shampoo treatment and you should only use specialist dry hair shampoos that do not strip out too many natural oils. Use moisturising conditioners and oils to further combat dryness by adding moisture. Leave-in conditioners can be particularly effective for preventing frizz in very dry hair. I really hope this guide helps you in learning about your own hair!