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How to Know Your Hair Type

Is your hair straight while your sister got your grandmother’s wavy tresses? Even within families, hair types can vary. Discovering how to know your hair type can help you pick the right products and beauty routine to keep your locks looking spectacular every day.

How to Know Your Hair Type

How to Know Your Hair Type: Hair 101

Humans are born with about 100,000 hair follicles on their scalp. The follicle actually is in your scalp, while the shaft is the hair that you can see above your scalp. Each individual hair has several components with its own essential function, this includes the sebaceous gland that lies under the scalp and around the hair follicle. The sebaceous gland produces sebum that travels up the follicle into the shaft and helps condition both your hair and scalp.


What’s this all mean? It means that while we all start with the same basics, genetics and other factors often determine if we have one of four basic hair types:

  • Type 1: Straight
  • Type 2: Wavy
  • Type 3: Curly
  • Type 4: Coil Curl

How to Know Your Hair Type

Hair Type Characteristics

Each hair type has various characteristics or sub-types. Your wavy hair may fall in gentle cascades, while your best friend’s waves look more like defined ripples. Let’s look at each hair type and their varying characteristics.

Type 1: Straight Hair

Straight has minimal texture and hangs in a line from the root to the tip. Often straight hair struggles to hold a curl, feels smooth to the touch, and may appear oilier than other hair types.


  • 1A: Very fine, resistant to curling, and often oily, which makes dry shampoo a great option.
  • 1B: Fuller strands than 1A but still difficult to style.
  • 1C: Still straight but may hide waviness underneath, usually thicker than 1A and 1B hair, and tends to get frizzy. However, 1C straight hair often takes a curl, but to keep the frizz away, style with a keratin dry oil mist.

Type 2: Wavy Hair

Not straight and not quite curly, wavy hair is caught somewhere in the middle. Not as oily as straight hair, wavy hair usually responds well to curling but may frizz when the humidity is intense.


  • 2A: The lightest of the wavy hair types, each strand has a slight bend that can be straightened easily with a flat iron for a sleeker look.
  • 2B: Think beach waves. These waves have more texture but can be prone to frizz. Keep them tame with lightweight styling mousse.
  • 2C: Bouncier waves that border on curls, this type of wavy hair may lack moisture and benefit from a weekly conditioning treatment.


Type 3: Curly Hair

Curly hair typically falls in a “z” or “s” shape pattern. This hair type tends to be more dry and prone to frizz. It’s manageable, but it’s essential to choose styling techniques and products that won’t leach moisture from your hair or scalp.

  • 3A: These curls are the largest of the curly type and sometimes are confused with 2C waves. Of all the curly types, 3A may be the easiest to straighten.
  • 3B: More spiral like — think “s” shape, these curls typically hang down and maintain their shape beautifully when allowed to air dry.
  • 3C: Tighter, defined curls, this type hair often is termed “corkscrew curls.” Manage frizz and maintain moisture with conditioning curl whip.


Type 4: Coil Curly Hair

The coarsest and driest of all hair types, coily hair has varying textures as well as very tight curls, twists, and strand kinks. Because of its denseness, it’s important to make sure your scalp gets needed moisture to prevent flakes and to help maintain your hair’s natural shine.


  • 4A: These coils are tiny ringlets that often sit close to the scalp and have the tendency to dramatically shrink in length when dry. Try a diffuser or air dry these curls to help ensure their maximum length and fullness.
  • 4B: Combination of “z” and “s” shaped coils make up this hair type. Frizz happens often but can be controlled with a curl defining product.
  • 4C: Dense and tightly coiled curls without any definitive pattern make up this type of hair. Detangling and dryness may be an issue for your 4C hair.

Need help picking out the right products for your hair type? Just ask the experts at ion™. 

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