Hair Care 101: Hair Textures, Types and Best Washing Practices
IN THIS ARTICLE
- The three hair textures
- The four hair types
- A typical hair washing routine
- Step 1: Brushing your hair
- Step 2: Wetting your hair
- Step 3: Applying the proper amount of shampoo
- Step 4: Scrubbing your scalp
- Step 5: Applying conditioner
- Step 6: Rinsing your hair
- How often should you wash your hair?
- Final words
Our hair has always been the symbol of beauty, strength and vitality.
No matter what your hair is like, whether it’s straight, sleek and elegant or voluminous, curly and majestic, everyone’s hair is beautiful in its own unique way. Even though we style our hair differently, at the root of it, all hair requires proper care and attention.
We recently carried out a survey on our Instagram Stories and when asked “Do you want to learn how to take better care of your hair?” a whopping 85% of our audience responded with “yes please!” That’s amazing! And that’s exactly what we’ll do today: Learn more about hair care.
In order to properly care for our hair, we must understand it first. A pretty good place to start is learning about the different hair textures and hair types.
The three hair textures
To start the survey, we asked our audience about their hair texture. Here’s a breakdown of the responses:
- 44 people voted for fine hair. This happens to be my hair texture as well!
- 42 people voted for medium hair.
- 16 people voted for coarse hair.
Did you notice how I said hair texture, as opposed to hair type? Even though these two terms tend to be used interchangeably, they actually refer to completely different things. Hair texture refers to the circumference of your hair. There are three different textures:
This hair texture makes for very thin and breakage-prone hair since each strand only has two layers—a cortex and a cuticle. It requires you to handle it with utmost care and caution since it’s extremely fragile. And so, you can easily damage it if your hair care routine is too aggressive.
Another challenge with fine hair is that this texture tends to be more on the oily side, which means you may have to wash it more often. Plus, you may find it hard to style your hair since it is light and tends to fall flat against your head. It can also look stringy if you use heavy products that weigh it down.
This is the most common hair texture. Structurally, a medium hair strand contains the cortex and cuticle layers and may also contain a third layer called the medulla. As such, the strands are slightly thicker and more durable than fine hair. Since hair strands with medium texture are not as fragile and prone to breakage, you can be more creative and easily play around with different styles.
Also known as coarse hair, this hair texture is the thickest of all three. This texture is extremely durable and resistant because structurally, it contains all three layers—the cortex, cuticle and medulla.
Thick hair is resistant to various chemical treatments such as hair colouring and chemical relaxers, can tolerate more heat and is not prone to breakage. It also appears full and holds styles well. However, it takes a considerably longer time to dry after washing.
Now that we’ve covered the three hair textures, let’s discuss the four hair types.
The four hair types
There are four general hair types: straight, wavy, curly and kinky. We classify them based on the shape of the hair fibre, which is dictated by the shape of the hair follicle and the cell behaviour during the hair fibre production process. This means that your hair type is determined by your genetics.
In the same survey on our Instagram Stories, we asked our audience about their hair type. Out of 101 respondents:
- 45 people said they have straight hair (44%).
- 36 people said they wavy hair (36%).
- 13 people said they have curly hair (13%).
- 7 people said they have kinky hair (7%).
This is a great starting point but each hair type also has smaller subcategories. These subcategories help us to further classify our hair in order to come up with the hair care routine that best suits our hair’s needs. Let’s review the hair types and their subcategories.
Type 1 – Straight
The straight hair type has no (or almost no) natural curls. The hair strands might have different textures, varying from person to person.
Type 1 hair does a fine job of reflecting light, giving it a glossy appearance. It also tends to get oily faster because the sebum your scalp produces can travel down the hair shafts more quickly. People with this hair type should avoid products that add extra oil to the hair.
There are three subcategories for straight hair:
- Type 1A is very straight with no waves and the texture tends to be fine. This hair type does not hold curls well.
- Type 1B is still very straight, but with the slightest curves here and there. It tends to be thicker than type 1A hair with a little bit more volume.
- Type 1C is still mostly flat, but has enough volume that it can look tousled when dry. This hair type may be coarser and can frizz depending on the situation.
Type 2 – Wavy
The wavy hair type is characterized by hair strands that have S-shaped bends. Think beautiful beach waves. This type of hair is super easy to work with; however, it does frizz easily and requires some maintenance to achieve defined waves.
There are three subcategories for wavy hair:
- Type 2A tends to be very fine and flat, with soft patterns ranging from loose loops to S-shaped waves. This hair type is easy to style because it doesn’t have much volume and definition.
- Type 2B tends to have slightly more defined S-shape waves, repeated more frequently throughout the strands. It usually has fine to medium texture, and is more prone to frizz than type 2A.
- Type 2C still has mostly S-shaped waves, but you may see some loose curls and coarser texture here and there. This hair type can be difficult to style and frizzes easily.
Type 3 – Curly
The curly hair type has strands that curl around themselves like a spring, as opposed to just the S-shaped pattern in the wavy hair type. Typically, this hair type includes a mix of curl textures, and even some strong waves, giving the hair lots of volume. This hair type is very prone to frizz and dryness.
There are three subcategories for curly hair:
- Type 3A is characterized by defined curls with a thick texture. This hair type has lots of body and movement.
- Type 3B has tighter curls consisting of multiple textures and is made up of well-defined, spiral curls that range from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews.
- Type 3C can also be referred to as curly-coily, which borderlines kinky hair. With this hair type, the curls and kinks are very tight, but still easy to style.
Type 4 – Kinky
The kinky hair type has extremely tight curls with textures ranging from fine to coarse. The curls can be described as tight coils and range from a spring-like S-shaped pattern to a zigzag Z-shaped pattern. This hair type is naturally delicate, which means you need to take care of it gently.
There are three subcategories for kinky hair:
- Type 4A has the tightest, smallest coils with a visible S-shaped pattern. This hair type can be dense, stringy, wiry or fine, and is very delicate.
- Type 4B has a Z-shaped pattern that bends in a sharp, zigzag shape instead of coiling around itself.
- Type 4C is densely packed and tightly coiled. It has strands that range from super fine and soft to coarse and wiry.
A typical hair washing routine
Since hair textures and hair types are so diverse, each person’s hair washing routine will be very different. However, there are some general steps that everyone should take in order to best care for their hair.
Step 1: Brushing your hair
Even though this isn’t technically part of washing your hair, it should certainly be part of your hair washing routine. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the importance of brushing their hair before washing. So let me explain.
By brushing your hair before washing it, you detangle the strands and make the actual washing part that much easier. While your hair is wet, it’s extremely delicate and is prone to breakage and hair loss. While in this state, the last thing you want is a messy, tangled head of hair to make the process more difficult.
Step 2: Wetting your hair
Surprisingly, this is another step that tends to get overlooked. Yes, people are wetting their hair but they’re not wetting it enough. You should drench every strand with water so that your hair is soaking wet before applying shampoo. For me, it takes about 45 seconds to 1 minute, but this will vary depending on your hair type and texture (remember, I have fine hair). A good way to make sure your hair is thoroughly wet is by running your fingers through your hair to see if the water has made it from the roots to the tips.
Step 3: Applying the proper amount of shampoo
I’ve discovered that people typically use too much or too little shampoo, both of which pose different concerns. Use too much shampoo and you’re basically throwing your money down the drain, since you don’t need a lot of shampoo to cleanse your scalp. Use too little shampoo and you won’t be giving your hair the proper cleanse it needs.
So how much shampoo do you really need? The rule of thumb is to aim for the size of an average raspberry. Because raspberries are round, this can be a little tricky (especially if your shampoo is on the liquidy side). I recommend dispensing your shampoo into a cupped hand.
Now, you might be thinking...
“But Graydon, my hair is really long and thick. That won’t be enough to cover all of my hair!”
That brings me to my next point.
Step 4: Scrubbing your scalp
When you’re washing your hair, really, it’s an act of cleansing your scalp. The reason being is that the scalp is where the sebum, dirt, flakes and other debris build up. And so, the main point of hair washing is to help remove these impurities from the scalp, only then can your hair grow properly.
Now, to properly cleanse your scalp, start with a raspberry size amount of shampoo. I like to use our Matcha Mint Shampoo, formulated with superfood ingredients like oat oil, jojoba oil, and matcha green tea, to cleanse without stripping my hair of essential moisture.
Apply the shampoo to the roots of your hair (starting at the crown of your head) and use your fingertips to massage the shampoo into your scalp for about three minutes. Don’t worry about the length of your hair yet; focus on your scalp!
Avoid using your fingernails to scrape at your scalp since that could be too aggressive, and you might end up damaging your scalp and hair. You should also scrub in a back and forth motion, instead of a circular motion. This way, you can avoid tangling your hair and causing breakage.
You may not get a lot of lather and that’s okay. Resist the urge to add more shampoo! After three minutes, give your scalp a rinse. Next, apply a dime sized amount of shampoo to the roots of your hair and massage for about 20 seconds. This time, you should have a more substantial lather. At this point, feel free to work some of the lather down your hair shaft. Once again, rinse your scalp and hair.
Step 5: Applying conditioner
While it might be tempting to skip this step, since it can be quite a time and energy-consuming process, you should resist that urge. If you skip the conditioner, your hair will suffer later on.
After you’ve finished shampooing and rinsed off all of the residue, it’s time to condition your hair. Notice that I said hair. Don’t use conditioner on your scalp since it naturally produces oil. If you add it to your scalp or hair roots, it can get overly oily and weigh down your hair. Instead, only apply conditioner to the bottom two-thirds of your hair to keep it moisturized and softened.
I like to gently squeeze the excess water from my hair prior to applying the conditioner. This allows the product to soak in better and do its job. Then I apply the Matcha Mint Hair Smoothie, formulated with nutrient-rich goodies like broccoli seed oil and green tea, to my hair. I make sure to coat every strand and then I wait for about 3 minutes. During this time, I proceed to wash my body with All Over Soap to be more time-efficient.
Step 6: Rinsing your hair
After all that’s said and done, thoroughly rinse your scalp and hair of all the products you’ve used. Failing to do so, and you’ll be contributing to more buildup on your scalp. This will lead to a plethora of other problems, such as your hair becoming oily quicker, dandruff and flakes, and even hair loss.
It’s important to rinse your scalp and hair under the shower stream for a minute or two. Run your hands over your scalp and through your hair strands to make sure that there are no leftover residues anywhere.
How often should you wash your hair?
Some people do it every day. Some do it every other day. And some even do it once a week or bi-weekly. In fact, according to our survey:
- 18 people wash their hair every day (19%).
- 76 people wash their hair 2-3 times a week (75%).
- 7 people wash their hair 2-3 times a month (6%).
So what’s the correct answer? How often should you really wash your hair?
Well, truthfully, there’s no right or wrong answer.
How often you should wash your hair is totally dependent on many factors, including your hair type and texture as well as your lifestyle, activity level and the weather. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
For example, back when I was still a yoga teacher and was extremely active every day, I’d sweat a lot and consequently, my scalp would also produce more sebum. And if it was summer, then it was even more likely that my hair would end up looking like a greasy mess. Plus, my hair is straight and fine and is naturally more prone to oiliness. And so, I would wash my hair every day in order to get rid of all the buildup of sebum, sweat, dirt and other impurities.
The most I could go without washing my hair was two days, in which I would use this lovely Overnight Dry Shampoo by Kaia Naturals to keep things under control. However, I recommend using dry shampoos with caution since they can contribute to the buildup on your scalp.
For someone with a different hair type than mine, a hair washing routine would look drastically different.
There’s no hard rule on how often you should wash your hair. There are only general guidelines on what you should consider when taking care of your hair. If you’re someone with straight or wavy hair, you could probably wash your hair more often, around a few times a week to every day. However, if your hair is on the curly or kinky side, you’re more likely prone to dryness. So perhaps you should consider deep cleansing with shampoo less often.
I recommend you experiment with your hair and figure out the exact regimen that your hair responds to the best. Speak to your hairstylist and see what their recommendations are.
Our hair is as unique as each of us, with different hair textures and types that vary from person to person. And so, each person’s hair care routine should be tailored to their specific needs, and there’s no right or wrong answer here.
However, there are certain general practices that everyone should follow to ensure their hair receives the best care. Namely, you should deep cleanse your scalp to get rid of buildups, use well-formulated shampoos and conditioners such as Matcha Mint Shampoo and Matcha Mint Hair Smoothie, and rinse your hair well.
Finding a hair care routine that works for you might take some time, but I promise you, this is the kind of care that’s worth investing in. Spend time caring for your hair and it will thank you later!
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Credit for main image: globalmoments