Characteristics of My Natural Hair

Hair Type

My hair is type 3b/3c for the most part. It is tighter (3c) in the back and on the sides, but it is looser (3b) in the front and in the crown sections. Not that it is normal to type one’s edges but I would say my hairline and nape is a combination of 3c and 4a coils.  In light of the LOIS hair chart, my hair is a combination of “S” curls in the front and crown and “O” shaped ringlets at the nape of my head and at my edges. Sometimes my hair will form an “S” curl at the roots and curl into an “O” shape towards the ends. Because my hair also forms an “O” curl pattern, it can look almost identical to type 4a sometimes when fluffed or combed out. However, the difference is that type 3b curls have the diameter of a Sharpie pen whilst 3c curls are the same size as a pencil or straw. 4a curls are the size of a crochet needle or pen spring. Knowing this truly helped me differentiate between the two hair types when I first started this healthy hair journey. When wet, my hair mimics a looser curl/wave as the water weighs the hair down and elongates my strands, but as it dries, it becomes springy and more curly looking. Celebrities with my hair type are Cree Summer and Alicia Keys. Overall, I feel that I can get the best of both worlds; I achieve a wavy look with braid-outs, twist-outs and banding and then a curly style through wash ‘n’ gos. To achieve the traditional afro (type 4) look, I can pick my hair out to make it more afro-like. Last, I can blow-dry and flat-iron my hair for a more straighter (type 1) look; natural hair is truly versatile. 

Hair Texture 

Porosity

My hair is medium to high porosity which simply means my hair cuticle is raised so retaining moisture is a challenge for me.  I make sure that I am using medium to heavy weight oils and styling products that will create a barrier on my hair shaft whereby the moisture will not escape, thus keeping my hair nourished. To prevent my strands from being dry and my ends from breaking off, I like to deep condition often (once a week) and style my hair in a way that will keep my ends either tucked away or off my shoulders. If my hair is down, it is usually styled in a ‘wash n go‘ whereby the ends of my hair are curled up. When I deep condition, I like to trap in warm air into my conditioning cap and the heat generated from my scalp opens up my hair shaft and allows the moisture to penetrate my strands. In the end I rinse with super cold water so that it shocks my cuticles shut for maximum shine and moisture retention. For the most part, I like to use anywhere between lukewarm water and ice cold water to wash my hair.

Density

My hair is quite dense – I have medium to high density so almost none of my scalp is visible when I place my hair in buns or leave it down. As a result, most hairstyles look voluminous or full on my head. Nonetheless, I can achieve bigger or flatter hair if I wish, by either applying more or less product to my hair. 

Strand thickness

My strands are very fine and therefore, I need to use lighter leave-in conditioners for my hair to stay moisturised and ease in detangling. However, because my strands are fine, I tend to find that my hair breaks easily and I sometimes find a lot of single strand knots and split ends. For this reason, I like to apply a mixture of light, medium and heavier weight oils directly onto my ends. This ensures the moisture is sealed in and keeps my ends lubricated to reduce knotting or splitting. For the most part, I like to use coconut oil as an oil treatment as it strengthens the hair. I also occasionally use deep protein treatments such as Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Hair Reconstructor as this adds protein to my hair, making it stronger to withstand pulling and styling. Although, my hair does get weighed down hence the reason why I ‘co-wash’ anywhere between once and three times a week. I do not add moisturising products to my hair everyday as this will lead to moisture overload for my hair type and texture. Overall, if I am using light weight products, I tend to use more of it (product layering) to effectively keep moisture in my strands. However, if I am using heavier products, I want to use less of it so that my hair is still moisturised but is not weighed down nor has product buildup.

Is my hair cottony, wiry, spongy, ‘thready’ or silky?

I have established that my hair is a combination of cottony and silky. Often my hair appears cottony (high frizz) but feels silky. Sometimes it appears silky and feels cottony (dry ish). Generally, my hair in the front and crown is very frizzy (cottony texture) whilst the sides and the back have minimal to low frizz (silky texture). When it is time to wash or refresh my hair, it wets relatively well but as it starts to dry, it loses some of its shine and silk, becoming frizzier. I combat frizz by applying more holding products like Eco -Styler Gel to the front and crown of my hair.

Moreover, my hair absorbs water easily  due to its highly porous nature, but as my hair is dense, it takes half of a day for my whole hair to fully dry after being styled. When pulled taut, my hair reflects light well and therefore has high shine. To increase the shine, I apply oils once my hair is dry.

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