Are the Letters on the Hair Typing Scale Really that Significant?


by Tori of black girl long hair


natural hair types

Let me preface by saying, that I have a love/hate relationship with the hair typing system. On one hand, I do believe the system can be beneficial to help individuals understand how their hair type typically operates. It can help in identifying hair techniques and products that will or won’t work with each hair type. However, I do believe the system can be quite divisive. Sometimes, certain levels within the system are portrayed as being more superior to another, which could potentially lead one to feel as if their hair type is inferior.

The hair typing system is based on numbers from 1 to 4, with subcategories from a to c. Generally speaking, type 1 hair is straight, type 2 is wavy, type 3 is curly and type 4 is kinky. The subcategories go into more detail about each level of ‘wavy-ness’, ‘curly-ness’, or ‘kinky-ness’. Recently I have been wondering: Are the subcategories (or letters) in the hair typing system really that significant? For instance, one person’s hair could be a little wavier than another’s, but wouldn’t they still both have wavy hair?

Let me explain a bit more why I think the subcategories may not be necessary.

First of all, the subcategories make hair typing even more complicated and divisive than it should be. It starts getting confusing when you have to determine which of the subcategories of type 4 hair you have, especially since many naturals have multiple hair types and textures all over their heads. I have type 4 hair, which, personally, for me this means I have all three subcategories mixed in all over my head. So, it would be hard for me to simply say that I am 4c, for instance, when I also have type 4a and 4b hair strands.

Also, since we are discussing type 4 hair, I can say from personal experience that all the subcategories of type 4 hair react in a similar way. Type 4 hair, regardless of the subcategory, is still kinky hair. It requires lots of moisture, attention, careful detangling, heavier creams/butters. It’s also prone to more tangles, knots and lots of shrinkage.

With that being said, I think if there is going to be a hair classification or typing system in effect, we could certainly eliminate the subcategories, thus making the system less complicated.

What are your thoughts about the hair typing system? Do you think the subcategories are really necessary? Share with us.