Understanding what hair type you have is fundamental to helping you pick the perfect product for your hair. However the language used on products doesn’t always match how clients think of their own hair. This guide is designed to help you diagnose your own hair type, so you can understand what type of products are best for you!
The two most common ways hair type is described is by thickness and natural texture (curly, straight etc). Natural texture is easy to diagnose by looking in the mirror, it’s hair thickness which is harder to determine and is more open to misinterpretation.
On hair products when we talk about thickness we are referring to the density and diameter of each individual hair strand, rather than how much hair there is on the head. It is possible to have thinning hair (fewer strands per square inch than normal) but for the hair strands themselves to be thick and vice versa. Thicker hair tends to require more moisture and nourishment, whereas thinner hair can either be very flyaway and static, or limp from greasy roots. Once you’ve successfully diagnosed your hair thickness and texture it becomes possible to start putting together a prescriptive product regime.
Thick Hair – this hair type is very dense and hair can often feel quite wiry. One way to test whether you have thick hair is to compare a strand to a piece of cotton – if your hair is a similar texture and size to the cotton then you are likely to have thick hair. You may also find that you only need to wash your hair once or twice a week, and that your hair holds heated styles (curls/straightening) easily. Key words to look for on products are: nourishing, conditioning, hydrating, moisturising, indulgent, intense.
Fine Hair – the first myth to debunk is the idea that fine hair means thinning hair. It is possible to have incredibly fine hair but to have lots and lots of it, which is why people commonly get confused that their hair strands are ‘thicker’ than they are. Key signs you have fine hair are: being prone to static and flyaways, hair that doesn’t hold a curl well and hair that needs washing most days. Key words to look for on products are: lightweight, non-greasy, volumising, anti-static, flyaways.
Medium Hair – If your hair doesn’t sit in either of the categories above, or has elements of both then it’s likely you have medium thickness hair. This means you are lucky enough to be able to use most products, and can tailor items from different ranges to create a bespoke programme for your hair’s needs. For example you may want to try a volumising shampoo followed by a nourishing conditioner to meet all of your hair’s needs.
This one is relatively easy to diagnose just from looking in the mirror, but take some time to examine your hair when wet, when dried naturally and when blow dried. It is common for hairs on different parts of the head to behave differently, so you may find your underneath layers curl the most, or your hair is straight except a slight wave through the front section. Only once you truly understand how your hair behaves can you either work with your natural texture for a low-maintenance look, or understand the best way to fight against your natural texture!
Most hair products are either designed to target your specific hair type and any problems you may have (such as frizz, flyaways etc) or to help you get the hair you want (smoother, straighter etc). From the guide above you should now have a fairly good idea of what your hair thickness and texture is, so you can start to pinpoint which products would work for you. It’s important not to fall into the trap of buying products that reflect the hair you want if they don’t also suit the hair you already have! For instance someone with very fine, frizzy hair who wants sleek, shiny hair shouldn’t try products designed for people with very thick, thirsty hair. They would be better off using a shampoo and conditioner designed for fine, flyaway hair, and then using styling products to control frizz, where it’s easier to control dosage to stop hair becoming heavy and limp.