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More On Natural Hair Types

Woman with voluminous curly hair.

This next classifying system is targeted specifically for African American natural hair types:

L.O.I.S. Hair Typing System

Select a single strand of the most common type of hair on your head.

Different types of curls and waves.

From left to right LOIS.

Aim for the most common texture on your head if you have different hair textures. The hair should be freshly washed without products applied to it and rinsed in cold water. Or, gently rinse a single hair with a little dish detergent and rinse in cold water. Allow the hair to dry on a bit of paper towel so that you can look at the pattern without touching it. The bends, kinks and coils of your hair will resemble one of more of the letters L, O, I or S.

L – If the hair has all bends, right angles and folds with little to no curve then you are L.

O – If the strand is rolled up into the shape of one or several zeros like a spiral, then you are O.

I – If the hair lies mostly flat with no distinctive curve or bend you are I.

S – If the strand looks like a wavy line with hills and valleys then you are S.

You may have a combination of the L, O, I, S letters, possibly with one dominant. If you cannot see one letter over the others, then combine the letters. Example: LO or IL or OS.

Find Your Strand Size

A strand of frayed thread is about the thickness of a medium sized strand of human hair. If the strands of your natural hair type are larger than this, then your hair is thick. If your strand is smaller than this, hair is thin, or fine.

Find Your Hair Texture

Shine is a sharp reflection of light – while sheen is a dull reflection of light.

Thread-y – Hair as a low sheen, with high shine if the hair is held taut (as in a braid), with low frizz. Wets easily but water dries out quickly.

Wiry – Hair has a sparkly sheen, with low shine and low frizz. Water beads up or bounces off the hair strands. Hair never seems to get fully wet.

Cottony – Hair has a low sheen, a high shine if the hair is held taunt and has high frizz. Absorbs water quickly but does not get thoroughly wet very fast.

Spongy – Hair has a high sheen with low shine with a compacted looking frizz. Absorbs water before it gets thoroughly wet.

Silky – Hair has low sheen, a very high shine, with a lot or low frizz. Easily wets in water.

Those are the hair types, and they are many and varied. Each and every one of those hairs, however, has an origin. That origin is the scalp. When viewed naturally and without any outside intervention, the hair is a reflection of the scalp from which it is growing.