Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Determining Your Hair Properties

As I mentioned in my last post, even if you are a product junkie, it is important to do it in a controlled way.  You have to figure out the types of products that work for your hair.  Otherwise, you will end up throwing a lot of money down the drain.  A key step in figuring out the types of products that work for your hair and how to use them is learning your hair properties.  In my opinion, there three key aspects:

1.  Hair porosity - There are a few tests to determine hair porosity. GreenBeauty has a great Youtube video on three of them.  The most popular is the water cup test. Take a clean strand (i.e., no products on it) and place it in a clear cup of room temperature water. If the strand sinks to the bottom, it is high porosity.  If it floats in the middle, it is normal.  If it continues to float on top after several minutes, it is low porosity. Low porosity hair also usually takes a long time to dry.  It also doesn't need much protein, and you really have to work to get moisture into it because the cuticles on the hair shaft like to stay closed.  You may even notice water beading on top of it.  With high porosity hair, it's easy to get moisture in, but the trick is keeping it in because the cuticles like to stay open.  My hair is a mix of low and normal porosity, so it is really hard for me to get water or anything else into my strands.  I need to use lighter products, and I have to give products time to absorb.

2.  Hair Width  - This is the thickness of each hair strand.  Fine is thinner than a piece of thread. Medium is about the same diameter as a piece of thread, and coarse is thicker than a piece of thread. Fine is usually more fragile, and cannot use "heavy" products. Fine hair tends to like protein.  Again, my hair is a mix.  Due to my hair width and porosity, I can only use lighter proteins.  Note that hair width is different from hair density.  For example, I have fine hair, but high density (meaning a lot of it).

3.  Hair Texture/Type (Curl Pattern) - Some people would disagree with me on whether this is important, particularly because so many people get hair typing wrong.  However, if used right, I think typing can be helpful, just not as much as hair texture and porosity. There are a number of hair typing systems. The most popular is the Andre Walker system. This picture and this link from are a good descriptive guide on the system.  Like the other two properties, my hair is a mix here as well.  I have pen-sized curls (3C) in my crown, frizzy masses (4B/C) around my edges from the front to my ears, and the majority of my hair is small crochet needle size or smaller curls (4A).  I usually use product consistency and styles that suit my smaller curls, but use more product and twists on the edges or hairpins to blend the textures.

On my pinterest page, I have more hair property tips that I've picked up along the way.


*This post was updated 1/1/2017 to add a sentence on hair density.

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