Do you know your hair?
Posted: Oct 01, 2020
The most fundamental thing to be aware of before you can learn how to properly take the best care of your hair and make sure that it is healthy, strong, and beautiful is to know what type of hair you actually have. There is much more too it then just straight, wavy, or curly; according to a few different hair categorization systems – the most well- known and widely used one being the Andre Walker system – there are actually at least 12 different hair types that a person can have (or you can even have a combination of two or more of them). The main three categories, of course, are indeed straight, wavy, and curly, with each of these having different subcategories that are more specific, and each one of them requires different care according to their texture, oiliness versus dryness, fragility / durability, ease of styling (or lack thereof), and a variety of other factors. Some people may even hair with qualities that fall under more than one hair type category. The point of this article is to help you determine your hair type to be able to take the best care of it with the correct methods and products, as well as guide you on styling and care techniques to keep your natural locks looking and feeling amazing.
Before getting into the details how and why different types of hair fall under their respective categories, let us discuss the fundamental biological facts behind what hair actually is and what causes it to be so diverse among different people and races.
Every strand of hair has a complex biological structure with several layers, similarly to how our skin is structured, but of course cylindrical instead of flat and with different types of cells. Depending on your hair type, these cylindrical structures (or fibers) are either oval or round. Straight hair is composed of round fibers, while wavy and curly hair is made up of oval fibers. Regardless of the shape, each fiber has three layers, which are the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla, each of which serves its own function and contains different kinds of proteins. The most prevalent one of these proteins, found in the cortex (the middle layer), is keratin, which is created in and grows from the hair follicle, which is the part that attaches each strand of hair to your scalp. The outermost layer is the cuticle, made up of thin and flat cells, and the medulla is a hollow portion at the center of each fiber, which doesn’t really have an organized structure – some people do not even have them in their hair strands at all!
Every strand contains sulfur atoms, and in some people’s hair, these sulfur atoms link up and form disulfide bonds. Whether your hair type is straight, wavy, or curly has to do with whether these bonds are present at all, and if so, how many of them you have and how close together they are. The more disulfide bonds between the proteins and the farther apart they are from each other, the tighter the curls will be, and the other way around. This is because when links are made between proteins, it causes the hair shaft to bend or kink, and this is more pronounced when they are at more of a distance.
The main function of the cortex is strength, durability, and moisture intake and retention. This layer contains melanin, and just like your skin, this is decisive of the color of your hair (whether it is lighter or darker), depending on the type, amount, and concentration of it. The cuticle surrounds each hair fiber with a single coating of molecules that makes the strands resistant to water and other elements.
Now that you know what determines your hair type, the science behind it, and how it functions, let us get into how to determine your hair type. As mentioned above, the most well- known hair type classification system is the Andre Walker system, which we will use as the main point of reference, with two additional types.
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