Hair texture refers to the hair’s porosity, density, strand thickness and overall feel and appearance, for example, whether it is cottony, spongy, wiry etc. As every head of hair is different, two people with the same hair type may have completely different hair textures. This will cause the appearance of their hair to look different. For more information, I recommend you visit: www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/kinky-hair-type-4a/why-your-curls-dont-look-like-hers-even-though-youre-the-same-curl-pattern-hi/
Porosity is a term used to describe how easy moisture goes in and out of your hair.
High porosity – this type of hair texture absorbs moisture very easily/quickly because the hair cuticle is raised. This also makes it possible for the hair to absorb too much moisture. As the cuticle is raised, it means that moisture is lost quickly, potentially leading to dry and frizzy hair. Dry hair can become damaged hair that breaks off and sheds very frequently if moisture is not retained in the hair shaft. One of the characteristics of high porosity hair, is low shine and lustre. To ensure the hair is kept moisturised, I recommend you use thicker conditioners to hydrate the hair and heavier oils and butters like Castor oil, Shea Butter and Argan oil to seal the cuticle. This will keep the moisture in the hair for a longer period of time. Also, when washing your hair, use cold or cooler water as this shocks the cuticle shut, sealing the hair shaft to prevent moisture loss.
Low porosity – this type of hair texture does not absorb moisture with ease as the cuticle is sealed shut and therefore, needs heat, unlike high porosity hair, to open up the hair shaft and accept moisture in the hair. If cold water is used to wash the hair and then products are applied afterwards, the moisture will not penetrate the hair strand. As a result, the products will simply sit on top of the hair and form a barrier, so instead of the hair being moisturised, the strands will have product build-up. Once the hair is moisturised, it stays so for a long time,however, it is still crucial to seal the moisture inside the hair shaft. For low porosity hair, lighter oils such as Jojoba oil, Grapeseed oil Sweet Almond oil are best to prevent the hair being weighed down. Low porosity hair is the shiniest out of all the hair porosities due to the smooth, flat cuticles, so light bounces off of the strand with ease.
Normal porosity – this type of hair texture absorbs moisture with ease and holds on to moisture well. As a result, this hair texture tends to feel moisturised for the most part and does not get build-up very often. This hair can use a range of oils light and heavy and mid-weight like Coconut oil and Olive oil. Lukewarm water is best for this hair texture.
- Make sure your hair is clean/ freshly washed.
- Pour room temperature water into a cup or bowl.
- Take a strand from your shed hair.
- Place the strand into the water.
- If the hair sinks to the bottom straight away, your hair is high porosity.
- If the hair floats at the top even after 5 minutes, your hair is low porosity.
- If the hair sinks to the bottom slowly or after 5 minutes, your hair is normal porosity.
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Density describes the amount of hair that is on one’s head per 1 square inch. Realistically no one will be able to count each strand per square inch but luckily, there are visible differences in density that will help you identify whether your hair is high density or low density.
High density (very dense hair) – this texture of hair is very dense and you usually cannot see the scalp when styled into braids, buns or cornrows. People with this texture of hair may want to use heavy styling products like gels, puddings and butters to ensure the hair is moisturised. When styling, it may be useful to split the hair into 8 or more sections.
Medium density (dense hair) – this texture of hair is considerably dense and full. Not much of the scalp can be seen when styled into braids, buns or cornrows. When styling the hair, it may be useful to split the hair into 4 or 6 hair sections.
Low density (thin hair) – this type of hair is not very dense and the scalp is usually very visible when styled into braids, buns and cornrows. People with this texture of hair may want to use volumising mouse or gel to create an illusion of bigger hair. Using heavier styling products will make this texture of hair appear thinner or even flat. When styling, it may be useful to split the hair into 2 sections. Often, this texture of hair does not need to be sectioned.
- Place the hair into a bun or a hairstyle where the hair is pulled taut.
- If you can see a lot of the scalp, you have low density hair.
- If you cannot see the scalp, you have high density hair.
- If you can see a little bit of the scalp, you have medium density hair.
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Strand thickness describes how thick the individual strands are: fine, medium or coarse. Knowing this factor about your hair may help you understand why your hair is dryer, frizzier, oilier or less voluminous than others with the same hair type as you.
Coarse/thick strands- many confuse this for being how the hair feels to the touch but this is not the case. In fact, this describes how large the diameter of the cuticle is. People with coarse hair have very thick strands and it can give the illusion of having thick(high density) hair. Sadly, tthis hair texture tends to be drier because the strands have more layers that the moisture needs to pass through. Not only does this texture of hair have the cuticle and cortex, but also contains the medulla (innermost layer of hair). This means that it is crucial for people with this texture of hair to use heavier products to penetrate the hair shaft. This texture of hair does not usually get weighed down because the strands are so thick they can take the weight of the products. This is a good thing because it means the hair can hold on to productds for a longer period of time. As the strand has more layers, it is less likely for the hair to get damaged as the strand is generally strong. Hairstyles tend to hold well and generally last longer than those who have finer hair. Coarse hair tends to appear fuller than fine hair because the strands give the illusion of more voluminous hair. Frizz is generally not a problem for those with this hair texture but clumping may be an issue and therefore, the use of gels may be essential in enabling curl definition.
Medium strands – this texture of hair tends to contain all three layers of the hair: cuticle, cortex and medulla, making it easy to moisturise. Medium strands tend to have a lot of moisture, low frizz and good ‘clumpage’. Medium hair tends to look fuller than fine hair, but this may not mean it is more dense.
Fine strands- this hair texture tends to be oilier than coarse hair because the strands tend to have less layers for the moisture to absorb into. Fine strands only usually have the cuticle and the cortex. Because of this, using heavier products can actually weigh the hair down, leading to oily and less voluminous hair. People with fine strands should use lighter conditioners and oils as it does not take a lot of products for this hair texture to become moisturised. Also, fine strands tend to clump together more than coarser hair and may be frizzier. However, fine hair do not generally hold hairstyles well and may break easier than coarser hair, so protective styling or thicker products may need to be applied to the ends of the hair to reduce friction on clothes and overall everyday wear and tear.
Combination – people with a combination of fine, medium and coarse strands will find that they need to use different types of products to cater to the needs of their hair. People assume hair texture and hair type are not mutually exclusive and the curlier the hair, the coarser the strands but this is not the case. In fact, curlier, kinkier tends to be finer than wavier or straighter hair types.
- Take a strand from your shed hair.
- Take a piece of thread.
- If the hair strand is thinner than the piece of thread, your hair is fine.
- If the hair strand is thicker than the piece of thread, your hair is coarse.
- If the hair strand is as thick as the piece of thread, your hair is medium.
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Is your hair cottony, wiry, spongy, ‘thready’ or silky?
Knowing this will determine how your reflects light, how it reacts to water when you wet it and whether it is prone to frizz or not. I recommend you find out the above information before researching this aspect of texture because it incorporates elements of porosity and strand thickness. Thus, these two factors are more important in determining hair texture and finding products that work best for your hair.
Side note: Sheen is a dull reflection of light like a luster, the hair sparkles as light bounces off of it. Shine has a sharp reflection of light.
Cottony – has a low sheen, a high shine if hair is held taut and has high frizz. Absorbs water quickly but does not get thoroughly wet very fast.
Wiry – has a sparkly sheen with low shine and low frizz. Water bounces or beads up on the hair strand. Hair never seems to get fully wet.
Spongy – high sheen, with low shine with a compacted looking frizz. Absorbs water before it gets thoroughly wet.
‘Thready’ – hair has a low sheen, with a high shine while the hair is being held taught with low frizz. Wets easily but dries quickly.
Silky – low sheen and very high shine with a lot or low frizz. Easily wets in water.
Combination – Hair that is combination can have two or more variations of shine or sheen. For example, your hair can be a combination of cottony and silky as they both encompass high shine. Your hair can also be a combination of wiry and spongy as they both encompass high sheen. However, this does not mean that parts of your hair cannot be shiny whilst other parts are duller (sheeny).
- Pull your hair taut.
- Hold it up to the light.
- If the hair is vibrant and looks almost glossy, your hair is shiny.
- If the hair is more sparkly then your hair is sheeny.
- If some parts are more glossy-looking than other parts then it is possible you have both shiny and sheeny hair. If this is the case, you may have two different textures, for example, spongy and cottony.
For water absorption;
- Wet your hair thoroughly.
- If it wets easily, it is possible you have either cottony, ‘thready’ or silky hair.
- If it takes time for your hair to absorb the water or get wet, it is possible you have either wiry or spongy hair.
- Observe your hair after it has been freshly washed with no product in it.
- If your hair is highly frizzy then you either have cottony or spongy hair.
- If your hair has minimal to no frizz, you either have wiry, ‘thready’ or silky hair.
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