What is your hair type? How does hair typing work? Is it important to know or is it all just hype? Read on to find out!

No two heads of hair are the same – they are as unique and beautiful as fingerprints. However, we can narrow them down to different hair types, and we have Andre Walker, the famous hair stylist who worked with Oprah Winfrey, to thank. He created the industry’s most-used hair typing system. 

It considers two of the main structural attributes of human hair, the curl pattern or degree of curl, and the thickness or diameter of the fibres. 

Whether you have fine and naturally straight hair, a coarse, tight afro hair or tresses that are somewhere in between, knowing your hair type is important. It is entirely possible for you to have more than one hair type across your scalp: hair closer to your neck will typically be curlier than the hair on your crown, for example. 

That said, you will naturally have a dominant, more abundant hair type, and this is the one you need to know.  Understanding your hair type gives you the ideal starting point to discover hairstyles, haircare and styling products better suited to your natural hair.  

What determines your hair’s curl, thickness and ultimately your hair type?  Your follicle is the root of it all! 

Each different hair type comes with advantages and drawbacks, but whether you have stair-rod straight or densely coiled hair, we think they’re all beautiful. 

One thing to remember, is your hair is a natural product made within your skin using structures called hair follicles. The hair follicle being the only hair structure considered alive. 

The size, shape and overall geometry of the follicle is what gives rise to the resultant hair fibres thickness and how flat or round the fibre is relative to a perfect circle, if you were to cut the fibre in half, also known as ellipticity. The flatter or more oval the hair shaft, the greater its ellipticity. 

It is principally these two physical attributes, thickness and ellipticity, of each hair fibre that determine your natural Andre Walker hair type. 

The more circular your hair fibres the naturally straighter your hair will be.  As a rule of thumb, the straighter your hair, the easier it is to brush. 

Curly hair can be more prone to breakage but will often possess much greater volume. Curly hair is also more prone to frizz and can require more specialised haircare products and sleeping aids, such as detangling or conditioning treatments, or silk bonnets. There is a lot to think about!

The thickness of each fibre will also affect its curl, which is especially notable the longer your hair is. This is because thicker fibres are stronger and can resist being weighed down by longer (higher mass) hair – this is more important the closer you get to the root. 

For example, long, coarse curly hair will hold its natural curls from root to tip, where a finer (thinner) fibre with the same curl and length would be much flatter closer to the root. 

Ultimately your hair thickness affects its ability to maintain its natural curl at different fibre lengths.  Similarly, and for the same reason, the thickness of your hair fibres affects the types of hair products you use on your hair. 

Those with fine (low diameter) hair should avoid heavier styling products, hair oil, butters, shampoos and conditioner, that may result in a very flat, limp look and may need a clarifying shampoo to get rid of all that build-up and return to their natural texture. However such products could be used by people with medium hair or coarse hair. 

As you’d expect, those with medium to coarse hair will need a stronger-acting styling product to overpower their hair’s natural curl and elasticity to achieve a desired hairstyle.

The good news is thicker, coarser hair is generally more resistant to damage when it comes to pulling and tugging. This is especially true if your hair fibres are naturally straight BUT this rigidity when combined with a strong curl can result in your hair being prone to breaking, especially when trying to deal with tangles. 

The thickness of your hair can also determine the natural hydration of hair either, resulting in increased greasiness or dry hair. There’s more to making sure your hair stays hydrated than giving it a good cleanse when you wash your hair…  

So is hair typing all hype?  Absolutely not!

Knowing your hair type is an important step in getting the right haircare, styling products and protective styles for your hair.  It will help you to get the best out of natural hair care and products, avoid thinning and achieve great hair health.

Unlocking the Andre Walker hair typing system

The Andre Walker hair typing system uses combinations of letters and numbers, for example 2B or 4C.  The numbers range from 1-4. 1 is straight hair. 2 is wavy hair, 3 is curly hair, and 4 is coily hair. 

The letters refer to the thickness or diameter of your hair fibres:  A is fine hair.  B is medium hair. C is coarse hair.  

A little about HairKnowHow, where we believe healthy hair is beautiful hair.

Our world-leading laboratory tests measure many of the critical health, physical and optical parameters of your hair to give you a comprehensive hair analysis. 

Here at HairKnowHow, we are applying our decades of scientific analytical research in the relatively new field of hair research, part of the growing personal care industry. 

The degree of hair testing will depend on which of our three services you choose:  The Hair Type Analysis Silver – in which we accurately measure your hair type – our High-Tech Porosity Analysis or The Complete Hair Analysis Gold where we comprehensively analyse your hair’s core health and beauty metrics. All of our analysis services will provide advice on how you can get the best from your hair.

Both hair tests are non-invasive and only need hairs that have been naturally shed from your scalp and collected during showering, during brushing or retaining a few cut hairs from your last visit to the hairdresser. 

We send out our testing kits using beautiful, locally designed envelopes that are protected by the latest biodegradable and compostable covering. They usually reach you two to three days after placing your order. 

Once you’ve taken your hair sample and have put it in the hair test kit, post it back to HairKnowHow using the self-addressed envelope, and our scientific hair practitioners will get to work evaluating your hair sample. 

HairKnowHow hair tests can be used on all types of hair and hair textures, whether you have coarse, medium or fine hair, no matter how much hair damage you think you have. 

Our tests assess the hair shaft directly, using advanced microscopy imaging and spectrographic analysis, while our biochemical assays are used for detecting the degree of oxidative stress. 

Our hair tests can also identify and diagnose damage caused by day-to-day haircare practices that can build up over time, from obvious processes such as bleaching and aggressive combing or brushing to pulling or wetting damage. This can result in frizz and hair breakage that increases split ends making your hair look dull and lacklustre.  

Many at-home DIY hair test kits, such as the floating strand porosity test, can be hampered by contamination, including natural oils from the follicle. They can make it hard to secure an accurate, reliable and reproducible result for your hair type.

We interpret, quantify and report our scientific observations of both your hair’s cuticle and cortex, including past and current health and damage indicators, and reveal your hair type using the world-famous Andre Walker typing system.

We will also offer impartial advice on natural hair products that will enhance your hair health and make it more manageable. Everything is sent directly to your chosen email address.

We believe our scientific hair analysis can help you make positive and measurable improvements to your hair health and identify the best haircare products for you.

So, rather than reaching for an expensive hair repair treatment, maybe it’s time to get a scientific insight into the health of your hair?  

You can take a look at our website for further information at HAIRKNOWHOW


Take care of yourselves – and your hair. 

The HairKnowHow Team