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Getting to Know Your Hair

Updated on April 24, 2012

It never fails to surprise me

It never fails to surprise me how few people actually have a clear picture of what kind of hair they actually have. The only women who know for sure are those with unquestionably kinky hair. These are the kinds I especially like to work with but I have a growing love for those with exceptionally fine hair, if only for the challenge.

I find that a large part of the battle in helping people with their hair is to help them identify their hair type. Since you aren't in my chair, I will help you perform some basic diagnostics to help you know your own hair type.

If you have relaxed your hair and it didn't all fall out you are most likely in the wiry course category. While I say this tongue and cheek, wiry haired people have a hard and expensive time doing anything with their hair that isn't complementary to their course hair. The shafts, whether straight-ish or curly are rather suborn because of the way the outer cuticle or surface layer is structured. For wiry hair that layer is thicker then in other hair types and locks the hair in place. It often takes pressing combs or chemical relaxers to get the hair to do anything other then what it does naturally. Even so, the cuticle is such that these measures, which would bald other hair types, only tame Course hair. This being said, I really love the challenge of working with this hair as it gives me a sense of satisfaction every time I succeed.

To be fair, course is a texture and wiry is a shape. Course feels like handling hay or alfalfa. Not every curly hair is course. My wife's hair has unmistakable curl but often presents a problem to those who style it as it is very fine and dense on the scalp. The difference between wiry and course texture is especially palpable amongst those who's hair reminds one of snow or is heading that way. As hair loses color it gains levels of cuticle or outer shells. Up to twenty four layers are accrued in the aging process. This happens whether the hair is straight or increasingly more wiry. The texture changes with the cuticle though and the hair becomes much courser then when it had color.

Medium hair feels like raking your hand through pinto beans. It is substantial and smooth. Medium hair is predominately straight. For every rule or standard there are usually enough exceptions to fill my inbox with hate mail for months. Lets just say that statistically medium hair is more likely to appear wavy rather then curly unless styled that way. The only way to know which is which is when the hair is moist and warm. If you wash your hair in warm to hot water and a curl appears or starts to develop in any portion of your hair strand then most likely you are an under cover curly head. With the proper length change and styling you have a choice in form but your hair type as far as being a medium hair type wont change. How you keep the curl is by using product that helps your hair stratify in sections and congeal into wefts of hair mutually determined to be curly. Medium hair needs more product to stay curly. It needs little to be straight though, other then maybe a flat iron or a proper round or flat brushing.

Fine hair, feels like passing your hair through cotton fibers or flax. Sorry, the chances of any of you ladies keeping or developing a curl isn't great. I once styled one of your sisters curly and she laughed as she thought it looked very out of the normal. The longer fine hair is the hardest it is to keep a curl unless it is permed that way. Some fine hair won't even perm. In the case of my friend who I did get some curl in, I had to hard set the hair and then use quite a bit of hair spray, firming each level in as I styled. It didn't last long though. Fine hair is often not very dense and needs to be styled with respect for how and where the scalp is showing. Their problem with curl extends to include a problem having or keeping volume. When they want volume they almost need as much product as a wiry head needs in order to maintain the opposite effect. Funny how ironic life is.

The interesting part of these facts is that the group most in need of knowing where you stand are those with medium texture. I hope I have cleared up this subject for you a bit at any rate. Next time you sit in your local Cosmetologist's chair you will know your label and maybe know a bit more about how to be true to what you are or what it will take to defy mother nature.


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