For a lot of people, their hair is not just hair, its is a cultural statement – sometimes a mode of identification. This is the reason why there is a natural hair movement across the world. Now, instead of just grouping hair into categories such as “natural hair” and “relaxed or tampered hair”, there is a lot more to be discovered about one’s hair. The natural hair type for example could have so many sub-categories such as curly, wavy, very kinky, straight et cetera.
Because of these differences, hair typing systems have been developed to help both individuals and businesses cater for these different types of hair and their textures. One of the most famous hair typing system is by Andre Walker, who is also Oprah Winfrey’s long-time hair stylist. Andre’s system takes into consideration three major factors which are as follows:
- Curl pattern (how tight or loose the curls are)
- Texture (coarse, medium, fine)
- The shininess of the hair strand
Andre Walker’s Hair Typing System
He even wrote an entire book on hair-care that is a great resource for anyone trying to understand the intricacies of hair-keeping. His hair typing system has provided us the oft-spoken about 1a – 4c hair types. But even Andre’s syst`em did not completely satisfy hair enthusiasts. So, it is important to note that, he does not provide any guideline on 3c and 4c hair types; this was added later by others. Andre Walker’s Hair typing system chart helps people determine where they lie within the categories. It can also help determine which kind of hair products to use. But because this chart was created in the United States of America, some of the products listed on it may not be available in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the chart is quite informational.
Andre’s chart is not a one-chart-fit-all solution, there are so many other areas that are not covered. For some of those areas, you can check out other charts like the Fia’s Hair Typing System, which is widely considered an extension of Andre’s work.
So why is natural hair typing important? Is it even important?
Here are some advantages of natural hair typing.
- Hair regimens have been developed for various hair types. While this may not work the same way for everyone with the same hair type, it is a more specific guide than most. For instance, it is a well-known fact that Nigerians typically have types 4a, 4b, and 4c hair. That means that most of our regimens are based on something that works for most of us.
- Some hair product manufacturers make products specifically for a certain hair type.
- For a newbie to the Natural Hair community, this can be a crash course in learning how best to treat your hair.
- For the discerning user, it becomes obvious that one’s hair type may change over a course of time. Or that one does not have the same hair type consistently all over one’s head. 4c, 3a and 4b hair, for instance, may make up a whole head of hair.
Some disadvantages of natural hair typing.
It does not cover all one needs to understand about one’s hair type. For instance, porosity is not discussed.
It can not be used as a definite guide for individualized hair care. For example, it does not take into consideration the weather condition where one lives. For instance, a person living in Lagos, Nigeria where it is usually quite humid may need different advice from one that lives in Abuja, Nigeria where it is not as humid. As a matter of fact, Abuja can be considered to be much hotter and dryer.
Some people view hair typing as a political statement. There has been talk about Andre Walker’s hair typing being racially prejudiced because it places kinky hair at the bottom of the scale, making it (in some people’s view) appear to be the worst hair. He has denied this claim.
Despite the pros and cons of hair typing, some people still don’t find it useful. They just prefer to go with their guts and try out different things to see which one works. If this is you that is fine, just make sure you are taking good care of your hair. However, it is a fact that hair types differ – so you can come up with your own system if Andre’s system does not work for you.
In the end, just know that your hair is one of your best assets, so taking of it to the very core makes absolutely sense.