What Hair Type Do I Have?
Buying an expensive shampoo can transform your locks from dull to dazzling – but it can be frustrating to splurge on a new shampoo that makes your hair look greasy or fine. Of course, what most of these ads won’t tell you is why your hair type is important and how it can be a major factor in the effectiveness of these shampoos. In this article, we’ll tell you how to figure out your hair type and texture, so you can make the right purchases for the right reasons.
There’s a couple of different aspects which make out the overall hair type you have, so if you fall somewhere between these don’t worry- that’s completely normal. We’ll be taking a look at the most common factors that shampoos target. Namely, hair density, thickness, texture, oiliness, elasticity and porosity- quickly followed by curl types.
Finding Your Hair Type
The best way to check the thickness of your hair is to first give yourself a defined parting- so comb your hair and then separate it, into two halves. Then you’ll need to look at your roots and scalp. If you can see a lot of scalp/skin under your hair, you have a low density or low volume of hair strands. If you see hardly any scalp or skin at all, then you have very dense hair- and, somewhat obviously, if you are between the two, your hair has a medium hair density.
Thickness (A.K.A Diameter)
Since thickness tends to be tied into the density of your hair, many technologists prefer to refer to the thickness as the hair diameter itself. I am not a hair technologist and I like to use layman’s terms, so I’ll just refer to how fine or thick your hair may be.
The quickest way to check the thickness of your hair is to compare a strand of hair to a standard piece of sewing thread. Simply pull out a clean, dry strand that hasn’t been treated with any hair products and place it alongside the thread. If your hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair. Medium hair will be roughly the same thickness as the thread and, naturally, thick hair will be thicker than the thread.
This tends to be the type that most people are most sure of- but can actually be quite misleading. For example, over-washing your hair or washing with the wrong shampoo for your hair type can make your hair greasier, faster. To check this to the best of your ability, wash your hair at night and allow it to air dry. When you wake up in the morning, push a tissue onto the scalp of your head, where the hair meets the skin.
Don’t push it around or drag the tissue down your hair, as this will spoil the results. You can also try a few different areas, since combination-hair is sadly a thing.
The amount of grease or oiliness you see on the tissue is representative of how oily your hair is, naturally. An oily tissue means you have greasy hair, and a tissue that is nearly clear of oil means you have dry hair.
Porosity (your hair’s ability to hold moisture)
This is a surprisingly easy one to figure out. Just pull out a strand of hair (sorry, there’s a lot of hair pulling involved in this article- but it’s worth it!) and place it into a bowl of water. Hair that sits on top of the water for a long time doesn’t have a high porosity, one that sinks after a short while has medium porosity and those that sink quickly have high porosity.
Another strand-pulling start (I’m sorry!). This time, take a strand of your hair and, using both hands, gently pull on either end. Eventually, the strand of hair will snap but the elasticity is based on how quickly it snaps. At this point, you might be getting the gist but, essentially, the quicker it snaps, the less elasticity your hair has.
Your natural hair curl
The best way to measure this is to use Andre Walker’s findings; take a strand (!) of freshly-washed, air-dried hair and allow it to sit naturally in front of you. The four different types defined by Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist give some advice:
1- (straight): Hair has no curve in it at all.
2- (wavy): Hair is wavy but does not curl much.
3- (curly): Hair is curly with an S shape and holds a definite curl pattern even when unstyled.
4 – (coily): Hair is tightly coiled or kinky, often with a definite Z pattern. It can be stretched out and will return to its curled shape when released. Type 4 hair might shrink up to 75% of its actual length.
Now you know the basics of what hair type you have, you’ll find choosing a shampoo is so much easier. No more worrying about buying the wrong bottle- you no longer have an excuse not to get the right shampoo for your hair!
Things to Consider When Buying Shampoo for Your Hair Type
As much as we’d all love it to be as simple as buying a bottle that has nice-smelling soap inside, there are- unfortunately- a few other things you might want to consider before rushing out to get your new shampoo.
Cost vs. Yield
It’s the defining factor of life that we’re all limited in some way by the money we’re willing to spend. If getting the perfect bottle of shampoo for your hair will leave you broke, don’t do it. There are plenty of good, reasonably-priced options out there, which I’ve tried to include in my list above.
Professional shampoo will cost more, but also tends to last longer than budget shampoo. So, read the reviews on how effective your choice will be and check out of some of the highest rated options, online (I’ve already researched the ones above to meet these standards).
If you have long or dense hair, chances are you’ll find you run through bottles a lot faster than the average bear. If you can, go for bulk buys, which will save you money in the long-run.
Now that you know what type of hair you have, you’ll surely want to put that knowledge to good use! Grab shampoo that works in tune with your hair, so you can keep your hair looking healthy, shiny and all-round bloody gorgeous.
In an age of increasing loyalty to brands who truly care for the environment, you’ll notice that there has been more choice of shampoo with chemicals- which is awesome. Personally, I’ve noticed that my skin gets dry and a little sore when I use strong hair products, so I opt for a shampoo without sulfate or parabens.
Sulfate-free shampoo is gentler on the hair and skin, and therefore is the best shampoo for sensitive skin. Of course, if you generally don’t have any issues with your skin, it might not be worth spending the extra cash so choose what’s best for you.
How to manage dandruff
If you’re struggling with dandruff, you probably already know what a pain it can be- especially as the cause can be pretty elusive. The most common reasons for dandruff include not washing your hair enough, washing your hair too much, dry skin, changing temperature and age. Bah.
The good news is that the majority of dandruff-related issues can be minimized with a good hair care regime. In other words, shampoo and condition your hair with anti-dandruff products, treat yourself to a deep-conditioning treatment and exfoliate your scalp from time-to-time.
What are sulfates?
There are three types of sulfates that you’ll find in pretty much any cleaning product around the home- sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. They all vary in intensity but work in the same way, for the same goal meaning they attract oil and water- removing dead skin cells and grime in the process.
The issue is that they also take away the natural oils in your hair that work with you to create that healthy shine we all love so much. In order to cut back on this, you can choose a gentler sulfate of the three, or go for a sulfate-free shampoo. Lauryl sulfate is the strongest sulfactent, with sodium laureth being in the mid-range and ammonium laureth sulfate being the gentlest of the three.