This is by far, one of the most important part in any hair care regimen. You might have heard this numerous times, but you might have never found proper tools or methods on how to do that. So, let’s talk about it.
What does ‘Assessing your Hair type’ mean?
Assess your hair type means to figure out different qualities of one’s hair, including density, texture, porosity (the ability of the hair to hold moisture), elasticity, and curl pattern.
Why you need to assess your hair?
You need to assess your hair type as allows you to understand your hair’s unique characteristics, make better product selections, and know your styling do’s and don’ts. In fact, many of your top hair concerns or problems may stem from simply using the wrong products or styling it in wrong ways.
What are the elements that you need to understand for assessing your hair type?
- Diameter: The first way to discover what kind of hair you have is by determining the diameter of your hair that is the width of your strands.
- Texture: Hair texture is the measure of the circumference of the hair strand itself. Professionals classify the texture of hair as being "coarse", "fine", or "medium".
- Density: The hair density refers to the number of individual hairs on a person’s head.
- Porosity: Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb moisture or styling products. Knowing the hair porosity can not only help a person analyze the kind of chemical treatments one’s hair can withstand but also aids in choosing the hair products that will suit his or her hair type.
- Elasticity: The hair's elasticity is the measure of how much the hair will stretch (and return to a normal state).
- Shape and Form: The shape refers to the amount of bend or curls in an individual’s hair. The classifications for wave pattern are straight, curly, very curly, and coiled. Hair with absolutely no wave in its length is straight hair.
- Oiliness/Dryness: This concept is used to analyze the oil production capacity of scalp.
How do I assess my hair?
#1 Assessing Diameter and Texture of hair.
- Best time to find out the diameter and texture of your hair is after washing it as you would regularly do using shampoo and conditioner.
- Let your hair air dry.
- Take a strand of your hair and keep it on a white paper towel or feel it between your fingertips. You can compare the results by feeling a regular sewing thread.
- If you can barely see the hair or feel it between your fingertips, then you have thin or fine hair.
- If the hair strand looks thick and appears to be textured, then the hair is thick or coarse.
- If your hair is somewhere in-between, almost same width as the sewing thread then you have a moderate or medium hair.
Coarse hair has the largest circumference, and fine hair has the smallest. Medium texture indicates a middle-range of the size of the hair shaft, it's considered normal and poses no special considerations regarding processing and chemical services.
Coarse hair is stronger, for obvious reasons - it has more substance. However, coarse hair can also be harder to process, and can be resistant to haircoloring services, perming, and straightening. Fine hair, conversely, is often very easy to process, and can be over-processed easily and is susceptible to damage from chemical services.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
For Fine Hair: For fine hair, make sure you do not use any hair claw or tight ponytail, if you need volumizing you can always use a volumizing scrunchie, but let the hair be loose.
For Medium Hair: For medium hair, you can use hair claw and scrunchies but let them be small and with fine teeth rather than rough.
For Coarse Hair: For coarse hair, you can use any hairdo that you prefer under the hijab but detangling the hair after unwrapping the hijab is recommended.
#2 Assessing Density of hair.
- To find out your hair’s density, part the hair in the middle.
- Keeping a mirror in front, hold a bunch of your hair from one side part and move around such that you can see your roots and scalp from various angles.
- If you can visibly see sections of your scalp underneath or through the hair, then your hair is thin hair density.
- If you barely see your scalp at all, your hair is thick hair density.
- If it’s somewhere in-between, then your hair has a medium hair density.
Your hair’s diameter has nothing to do with the density of your hair—medium diameter does not necessarily mean medium density. The two don’t always go hand-in-hand. Density is dependent on the number of strands you have; not how thick they are. Basically, you can have fine hair that is thick or have coarse hair that is thin and any number of combinations in-between.
The main consideration of hair density is in styling. Thick hair is well suited to layered styles, while thin hair is often better suited to more blunt styles. People with thin hair often prefer styles with added curl to give an illusion of more hair.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
For Thin Hair Density: For fine hair, make sure you don’t pull back your hair tightly under hijab, use a scrunchie, braid your hair or a loose ponytail, wear a lightweight breathable fabric undercap, and using a tie back undercap will be much better option as you can tie it lightly around your head for long days.
For Medium Hair Density: For medium hair, you can make a braid or a bun, use a hair claw, wear a breathable undercap, and let your hair breathe once you unwrap your hijab.
For Thick Hair Density: For coarse hair, the only thing you need to make sure is that you let your hair loose and let them breathe once you remove your hijab, since coarse hair might get sweaty in hot and humid weather.
#3 Assessing Porosity of hair.
- Always test on sweat free, washed, and air-dried hair.
- A simple way is to place a single strand of hair into a bowl of water.
- If the hair sinks to the bottom, your hair has a high porosity as it’s absorbing all the moisture.
- If your hair floats on top of the water, your hair as a low porosity and doesn’t absorb moisture easily.
- Lastly, if the hair floats somewhere in the middle of the water, it has a medium porosity meaning that it is well balanced.
- Hold segment of your hair, and spray water using a mist spray and watch closely.
- If the water is immediately absorbed and disappears then the hair has high porosity.
- If the water beads up or begins rolling off the hair immediately, the hair has low porosity or water resistant.
- You can try on different days as the weather may affect the hair. For instance, the hair may show a different outcome on a humid day than on a drier day.
Knowing how porous your hair is can help you determine what kind of chemical treatments your hair can withstand as well as what type of products you should be putting on your hair.
Those with low porosity often find that it takes their hair longer to dry and that products tend to build up on their hair rather than sinking in. In order to avoid this, evenly distribute products through your hair and apply products to slightly damp hair
If you have highly porous hair, then your strands have gaps or tears in the cuticle that may be a result from chemical hair services, heat styling or a variety of other damages. This means that when you apply product, your hair soaks it up quickly meaning you often find yourself needing to apply more. Those with high porosity find that their hair dries quickly yet doesn’t feel hydrated or nourished. For this hair type, try to avoid heat that may further dry out your strands and look for hydrating hair options that will give your hair an abundance of moisture.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
High Porosity: After letting your hair dry, don’t overapply any product, apply it in required or as mentioned quantity and you’re good to go. Over applying any product and then wearing a hijab might make your hair greasy due to perspiration.
Medium Porosity: If you have normal hair, you don’t have to worry much. Just make sure you to avoid wearing hijab on damp hair, use adequate hair products, and don’t use excess heat on your hair.
Low Porosity: Never wear hijab when your hair is wet, or even damp. Always properly dry them. Wearing hijab in wet high may flatten the hair for short term but might even contribute to receding hairline for long term.
#4 Assessing Elasticity of hair.
- A strand of freshly washed towel-dried slightly damp hair will give an individual the best outcomes.
- The point to be pondered here is that the hair cannot have styling products in it.
- Hold the strand of hair with the hands pull gently to stretch it. Refrain from stretching it quickly or else the hair tends to break.
- One needs to pay attention as for how the hair strand begins to stretch.
- If the hair strand is wet and stretches up to 50% of its original length and dry strand up to 20% and return to its normal shape without breaking than one is said to have high elasticity and healthy hair.
- If the hair breaks or doesn't return to its former shape, then you have low elasticity and weak hair. Here the strand is also seen curling up post snapping.
To test the elasticity of your hair, you need to select strands of hair from four different areas on the head.
Hair with normal and high elasticity is easily styled with wet-roller sets, thermal styling tools, etc., while hair with low elasticity may prove hard to curl, or lose its curl quickly.
Hair with low elasticity is highly susceptible to breakage, will be hard to curl, and will not perm well.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
As a general rule for elasticity, don’t let your hair stay under constant stress by making any tight ponytail, braid or even bun. Always use an undercap if you feel your hair are all over the place. If you feel your head aches when wearing an undercap, use a tie back undercap that gives you liberty to tie the undercap tightly or loosely according to your comfort.
#5 Assessing Shape and Form of hair.
Sweat free, washed, and air-dried hair is most preferred.
Classification #1: Wave Pattern
- The classifications for wave pattern are straight, curly, very curly, and coiled.
- Hair with absolutely no wave in its length is straight hair. Straight hair can be coarse, normal or fine.
Curly hair has wave to it. A curly hair strand will form a distinct 'C' shape when short and an 'S' when longer.
- Very curly hair will make an 'S' when short and a repetitive wave when allowed to grow out. Very curly hair tends to be 'bushy' when worn long.
Coiled hair strands do just that - they coil in spirals as they grow out from the scalp. The coils can be very tiny and give a kinked look to the hair, or they may be finger-sized ringlets.
- a)Straight hair:No curl or bend is observed in this hair type and is usually shiny and impossible to curl. But this hair is the oiliest hair type because the oils from the scalp are seen to easily travel down the shaft.
- b)Wavy Hair:This hair type has some bends but no curls and is typically more prone to frizz because when it’s brushed out or over-styled it usually develops more split ends and dryness.
- c) Curly Hair:The hair has S-shaped curls and is seen to be curly even when not styled and is prone to damage.
- d)Kinky hair:Hair is tightly coiled or kinky and is often seen as a definite Z pattern. It can be stretched out but is seen to return to its curved shape when released. This hair type is seen to shrink up to 75% of the actual length.
Classification #3: Hair Subtype Classification
Hair Type: Straight hair
1A: The hair is soft and cannot hold a curl.
1B: The hair does not curl but has immense volume.
1C: The hair does not curl and is very coarse.
Hair Type: Wavy Hair
1A: Hair is seen to be wavy, resembling the letter S and is coarse.
2B: Hair is often seen to be frizzy with a definite wave.
2C: The hair is extremely frizzy with thick waves and is the coarsest of the Type 2 category.
Hair Type: Curly Hair
3A: The curls are about the same diameter as a sidewalk chalk or are even seen to have pretty loose curls.
3B: The curls are about the same diameter as a medium-sized curls or a sharpie.
3C: The curls are about the same diameter as a pencil or corkscrew curls.
Hair Type: Kinky hair
4A: The curls are very tight and resemble about the same diameter as a needle.
4B: The curls tend to resemble a zigzag pattern just like the letter Z.
4C: This hair type does not have a definite curl pattern. But is seen to have a tight zigzag with an uneven pattern, making it harder to define.
Classification #4: LOIS System
The LOIS system is the curl typing system that predominantly also considers the strand texture and thickness as well. It compares the hair strand to the letters L (Bend), O (Curl), I (Straight), and S (Wave). This test is performed by taking a single strand and holding it up with one hand. Later the hair is compared with the shapes of the letters L, O, I, and S.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
Straight Hair: If you have straight hair, you might consider braiding or a loose ponytail before making a bun. If you need volume, a scrunchie is always a better idea. This will let the hair stay in place for even long hours. Wear tube undercaps so that you don’t have to keep on adjusting your all day long as it will usually keep slipping on straight hair.
Wavy Hair: For wavy hair, braiding your hair or loose a ponytail will make the bun stay longer in place. You can always use a volumizing scrunchie to add volume under the cap. Brushing your hair before wearing a hijab is a good idea as it might be easier to comb after you unwrap your hijab. Undercap can be used to keep hijab in place. After unwrapping, brush your hair, trust me, flat wavy hair are harder to style.
Curly Hair: For curly hair, it is strongly recommended to brush the hair before you tie your hair. This will make combing your hair after unwrapping the hijab much easier. Always use a velvet scrunchie on your hair so that your hair doesn’t get wrapped around in small and thin hair ties.
Kinky hair: For kinky hair, best advice is to brush your hair well, and an undercap is strongly recommended. Undercap will help you contain the volume and make it easier for you to pin your hijab, and let it stay in place. After unwrapping, run fingers through your hair.
#6 Assessing Oiliness/Dryness of hair.
- Sweat free, washed, and air-dried hair is preferred.
- Give the head and hair about 8-12 hours to produce oils.
- After 12 hours, press a tissue to the scalp at the crown of your head. Refrain from rubbing the tissue around; just a gentle press against the scalp. Press it against the head behind the ears as well, as it’s possible to have oily hair in some places on the head and not others.
- If there is oil residue on the tissue, then the hair type is oily hair.
- If there are some traces of oil on the tissue, then the hair type is less oily.
- If there is nothing on the tissue, then the hair type is dry.
- If there was residue on tissue from some part of the scalp and no residue from other parts, then the hair type is combination.
- The weather may affect the hair; hence this test can be performed on different days to determine the actual oiliness of the hair
Oiliness determines how often one needs to wash the hair. Although products like dry shampoo can refresh the hair between washes, as a rule, people with oily hair will need to wash their hair more often.
Pro Tips for Hijabis:
Oily Hair: If you have oily hair, it’s a must for you to at least wash is twice in a week. Don’t use a very rough shampoo that leaves your hair dry that might end up irritating your scalp. Since washing is recommended twice a week, mild shampoo will work perfectly. After you unwrap your hijab, loosen your hair and let it breathe so as to not form greasy oil layer over the scalp due to sweat.
Dry Hair: For dry hair, don’t forget to apply a good suitable hair product and let it get absorbed before you wear your hijab. Also, tie your hair nicely and wear an undercap so that when your wear your hijab your hair doesn’t come sticking out of the hijab due to static. Also, brush your hair every time before you wear a hijab as static hair gets easily tangled.
Combination Hair: Combination hair may be become too oily or too dry sometimes depending upon the weather and humidity, so you got to act accordingly. Otherwise usually you should use a mild shampoo, let your hair dry, tie your hair, and use an undercap.
By using these elements, you can compare and judge for yourself if you have fine, thick, straight hair with good elasticity and low porosity, or maybe coarse, thin, curly hair with high porosity and low elasticity, or something in between.
Most hair products in the market are produced to promote certain hair types. Once an individual determines the hair type, they need to keep their eyes peeled for products that will work for them. Alternatively, sharing the hair type with the hairdresser will also aid in selecting styling and product.