When I started my natural hair journey, back in 2013, one of my most dominants thoughts in the first few months was knowing what hair type I had. I wanted to know if it was gonna be wavy, coily, nappy or if I was gonna get beautiful ringlets… I quickly got out of this ‘obsession’ but I see many curly hair newbies worried about this same topic and it concerns you could be ruining your new hair by obsessing about your curly hair type.
Feeling Vulnerable & Insecure
I get that taking this huge step can make us feel insecure about ourselves. It’d be crazy if it didn’t… hair plays a big part in the way we look, the way we see ourselves and the way others see us. Our self-esteem, the way we put ourselves forward in the world and our own identity are all connected here.
Hair is very important to women, no woman can dispute that. To make such a drastic change in this sense makes us vulnerable as we have no control over how we’ll look and if we’ll even like it. It’s basically a new journey and we have no knowledge of the path. It can be scary, right?!
False Sense Of Control In Hair Typing
Therefore, it is understandable we look up to others who have taken the steps we are about to take, to get some sense of control by taking the same steps. The first thing we tend to do is the most obvious – we try ‘match’ our first few inches of curly hair with some YouTuber or ‘Hair Guru’ or we match our hair according to what we’d like to have.
Sometimes, if it’s not at all possible to match coils, help is asked in Facebook groups or other similar platforms, and pictures are even supplied so everyone can chime in. Then, of course, you have all these different views and opinions and everyone is telling you what products to use, that is, if you didn’t ask for suggestions already!
This to me is a recipe for disaster, and I’m not judging here!… As I said, I also had lingering thoughts about my hair type but they quickly got replaced by making sure my hair was healthy rather than knowing my hair type.
Hair care, good hair care, does not centre around your hair type or curl type. This is just another hair care measure, like density, elasticity or porosity – and frankly, it can be easily labelled as the least important.
When people talk about curl type and look to see if their natural hair will be wavy, curly, coily or nappy hair they are basically trying to identify their hair texture, another element of your hair. They associate this curl typing system with hair that is fine, medium or coarse – the diameter of the hair strand.
Does this make sense? No..yes?!?
You see, there is this belief (I had it too) that the tighter the curl > the coarser the hair is and > the more difficult it is to take care of. And usually, this worrying thought is not even related to concerns about hair moisture, not initially. It has more to do with how one will look, what hairstyles will look good, what products to use to look the same as ___ (fill in the blank)…
Does this sound familiar now?
Let me tell you why focusing on hair type can be ruining your hair.
Why You Can Be Ruining Your Curly Hair
#1| Hair Type & Hair Products
Are you buying your hair products based on some YouTuber who has the same curl type as you? Big mistake! Though the curl shape may be the same, other hair factors can be totally different. Your hair can be fine and low porosity while theirs may be coarse with high porosity.
This means their hair products can feel heavy and greasy on your hair since there are different hair needs to take care of. Their hair will also need a hair regimen that has more protein than yours and if these hair products you’re now also buying for yourself reflect this, you can be giving your hair too much protein which will lead to hair breakage. These products can also not be giving your hair enough moisture, which has us talking about breakage again.
TIP. Search for products that will care for your hair needs. Consider your hair’s current health, assess its needs and look for products that can fill that gap nourishing your hair, allowing it to grow healthy and moisturised.
#2| Hair Type & Climate
Hair care based on curl type doesn’t account for climate changes. The way your hairstyles are set and how they come out are influenced by the humidity in the air. Have you ever wondered why the same hairstyles fair well in certain weather conditions, but not others? It is very important you consider this when buying your products.
If there’s high humidity in the air and your products have glycerin in them your hair can end up looking frizzy. But if there’s low humidity in the air, this same product can leave your hair dry and frizzy. With continued use, it will lead to hair breakage.
Still, glycerin is not the devil here, you just need to know what to look for in your hair products so they’ll work for your hair in your climate. Therefore, getting familiar with hair product ingredients is important, not what hair type you have.
TIP. If you live in an area that has high or low humidity and you’re experiencing problems with frizz or frizzy dry hair. An alternative would be to avoid or eliminate the use of products that have glycerin as one the first 5 ingredients, which means that there is less of it in the formula and your hair may not experience the same issues.
You can also check to make sure your products as glycerin but also the inclusion of oils or butter to work as a barrier and avoid moisture getting in and out. Experiment and see how your hair reacts.
#3| Several Hair Types
What happens if you have several hair types? What products will you use, what hair care practices will you follow? Will you base all of this according to your hair type?
If you look at my example, the hair at the top of my hair barely curls, it’s a faint wave compared to the tight curls I have at the back of my head and a looser wave compared to the hair on sides and front of my head. If I’d take different hair care practices according to my different curl types, wash day and styling my hair would be a nightmare.
Even though many hair care products come labelled as being for wavy, curly or kinky hair, they are not formulated according to curl type. Imagine having to buy different products according to your different curl types? How many would you need and how much would all this cost?
Hair products are formulated according to general hair needs. The next time you’re refilling your hair products pay close attention and notice that products come labelled as being for oily, normal, coloured, dry, very dry, or dry and rebellious hair (or some other similar word game). When it comes to natural hair specifically, it often addresses moisture needs in some way (moisture, intense/extra moisture, high or low porosity hair, etc.).
So you see, you should be thinking about hair needs and not curl type. Although tighter hair types are naturally drier this doesn’t account for hair porosity ( the ability of hair to take in and retain water), hair density (amount of hair in your head), hair elasticity ( the ability of hair to stretch and return back to normal shape).
TIP. Buy products that cater to your hair’s needs. They will lift, sustain or boost your hair health which will be reflected in how your curly hair will look – bouncy, shiny, strong and retaining length. Isn’t this what you really want? What really matters?! I think so, don’t you?
Now you know that fixating on what is your hair type is putting your hair in jeopardy, make a commitment to really discover your hair needs and develop hair regimen that is based on hair needs, on natural and organically based products avoiding drying ingredients, your climate, your lifestyle (you don’t wanna get stressed with long wash days). Oh, and a little tip from me it may be easier to navigate all this if you keep a hair journal that you can look back to avoid mistakes or replicate results. 😉