If you want to achieve lustrous and healthy hair, then the perfect way to go about it is to first figure out your hair type and then find the right kind of hair care routine and products for the same. This helps in giving your hair targeted action and therefore helps in maintaining your hair a lot better.

But if you are completely clueless about your hair type, then DW, we have your back. We spoke to skincare expert and dermatologist, Dr. Ameesha Mahajan, to give you a complete lowdown on all the different types of hair, along with the basics of how to care for each hair type, so you can get started ASAP. Excited? Let’s begin!


Different types of hair

Different types of hair

Broadly speaking, there are just four major categories of hair, which are as follows:

  • Straight hair
  • Wavy hair
  • Curly hair
  • Coily hair

But before we begin, it is important to understand what is the meaning of hair type and how one should determine their hair type. Dr. Mahajan says, “Hair is made of a root inside our scalp skin which is known as the hair bulb and the hair shaft which is the hair strand that we see on the outside. Hair type is a popular way of describing the curl pattern of our hair strands. It can be straight, wavy, curly or coily/kinky. To determine your hair pattern, wash your hair and leave it without a conditioner or a serum. You can observe how your hair looks in a mirror. You can also take a few strands from your comb and lay it on a white paper and observe the general pattern of how it curls or lays flat to get a fair idea about your hair type.”

Pretty simple isn’t it? Now let’s take a look at everything you need to know about each hair type in detail…


1. Straight hair

Straight hair

Straight hair is the easiest to make out. If you notice that your hair does not curl or appear wavy, then it simply means that you have straight hair. Straight hair usually looks flat and limp because the natural oils produced on your scalp are easily able to coat themselves on straight hair. Even though straight hair appears fine, thin and looks like it lacks volume, your individual strand could still be thick or coarse. But since this type of hair does not have a curl pattern, they tend to appear slightly less voluminous.


2. Wavy hair

Wavy hair

Wavy hair is usually divided into three categories, type 2a, 2b and 2c, depending on the type and extent of your wave.

i) Type 2a – Type 2a of wavy hair is when you have straight hair for about two inches from the roots, which then goes on to become slightly wavy till the ends.

ii) Type 2b – This is very similar to type 2a, except that it has a slightly more defined wave in the shape of an ‘S’.

iii) Type 2c – If you have hair that has an ‘S’ pattern from the crown area itself, then you have Type 2c hair. This type of hair has a lot more defined waves, which gives that added hold and texture.


3. Curly hair

Curly hair

It is not really difficult to know if you have curly hair. If your waves end up forming a loop, then your hair type will be defined as curly. Just like wavy hair, even curly hair is divided into three types, depending on the tightness and thickness of your curls. Additionally, all curly hair tends to be frizzy and therefore requires extra care and moisture.

i) Type 3a – This type of curl usually happens if you have fine hair, and is determined by really loose, big curls. Maintaining and styling this hair type is not really difficult because of the size of the curls.

ii) Type 3b – This is considered to be the best and most envied type of curl. These curls form perfect ringlets and are often seen on a lot of celebrities. The best part about this curl type is that it is neither too thick nor too thin, making it absolutely easy to style and maintain.

iii) Type 3c – If your curls feel super thick, coarse and have a corkscrew type of structure, then it is safe to say you fall into this category of curls. Type 3c curls are a hybrid of bouncy and tight corkscrew curls. If you have type 3c curls, you probably notice that your curls are coarse and not as soft as you’d like. Using the right product can help soften your curls a bit.


4. Coily hair

Coily hair

Coily hair, also known as kinky hair is just another type in the curly hair category. This type of hair can be a cross between ‘Z’ and ‘S’ shaped curls that are super tight and frizzy, making them the most difficult to manage.

Type 4a – This type of coily hair has a very defined ‘S’ type curl, and has a very wiry texture. Type 4a is also usually very thin and delicate, but appears really thick, thanks to the tight curls. You need to be extremely gentle when washing and styling your hair as it is very prone to breakage.

Type 4b – Unlike type 4a, 4b has a very defined ‘Z’ pattern and can be thick or thin, depending on your hair texture. Even though this type of hair is soft to the touch, it is also quite fragile and can break quite easily, especially if you tend to comb your hair often.

Type 4c – This type of hair is very tightly curled, and is therefore prone to be super coily and frizzy. This is the type of curl that gives the shape of a natural afro, thanks to the tight z-shaped curls.


FAQs about different types of hair

FAQs about different types of hair

Q. Does your hair type change over time?

A. Hair type can change over time. It is affected by internal and external factors. Internal factors like hormonal disturbance, certain medicines and a nutritionally poor diet can affect your hair type. External factors like excessive UV exposure, using strong shampoos, heat styling and colouring can change the hair type over time.”

Q. What are some basic hair care steps everyone needs to follow irrespective of their type?

A. Dr. Mahajan explains, “Use a mild shampoo so as to not damage your hair and always use a hair conditioner after the shampoo to lock in the moisture. Decrease the use of heat styling like curling or straightening irons and blow dryers. Even the American Academy of Dermatology suggests air drying as much as possible. I recommend using heat protectant sprays if absolutely necessary. A warm oil massage can help in stimulating hair growth but a gentle massage should be done and not very aggressively, as that can further lead to hair damage.”

Q. What is hair porosity and density?

A. Dr. Mahajan explains, “Hair porosity refers to the hair strand’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Hair with high porosity can absorb the most moisture, but it’s unable to hold onto this moisture. Hair with low porosity is unable to absorb moisture easily, but once it absorbs it, it is able to hold it in for a long time. Hair density refers to the number of hair follicles per unit area of the scalp. Thicker hair strands give the appearance of higher density vs the same number of thin hair. Hair growth treatments are targeted at making hair thicker and having more hair in the growing phase of the follicles, to give an appearance of thicker hair density but none of the treatments including PRP and hair transplant can change the number of hair follicles that you have.”

Q. What can one do to ensure that thin hair doesn't lead to breakage?

A. Dr. Mahajan says, “Our hair and skin are a reflection of what goes inside our body. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants can help fight free radical damage. A protein-rich diet helps in strengthening the hair from within. Additionally, use mild, sulphate-free shampoos to reduce excessive dryness and damage. Use heat protectant sprays/serums to minimise damage caused by blow dryers, straighteners and curling rods. Make sure to see a dermatologist if you see hair thinning in the scalp area or experience hair fall of more than 100 strands a day.”