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From the never-ending search for the right products to unmanageable split ends, hair care can be a drag. Many problems arise from a lack of understanding of your personal hair needs, and understanding your hair allows you to treat and manage it most effectively.

Does your hair need more hydration? Are you washing it too frequently? Decoding your hair type is not always straight-forward. It may take some trial and error, but if you understand your hair, you can find the best cuts, treatments and products suited for your mane. If your tresses are leaving you confused and frustrated, you’ve come to the right place. By getting familiar with your hair type, texture and porosity, you can make better hair care decisions.

Hair Type

Hair type can be determined by your hair’s curl pattern. There are 4 basic hair types with further subcategories based on the tightness or looseness of the curls and coils.

Straight hair is when your hair falls flat from the roots to the tips. The hair texture is soft and silky. The strands fall without waving from root to tip. Straight hair types often have a high amount of oil secretion.

Wavy hair tends to be straight when wet and ripples as it dries. With some types of wavy hair, the roots to around eye level of your hair is fairly straight. And from eye level to the ends, you have a loose, undefined wave. It is important to keep wavy hair moisturized while providing it with volume.

Curly hair forms into springs and corkscrew shapes. When hair is wet, curls usually look like waves then take on a spiral shape as hair dries. It is important to use anti-frizz products for curly hair.

Coily hair can have a compact zigzag pattern that doesn’t twist around itself or create tightly wound curls. This type of hair is prone to breakage, so it is essential to keep coils moisturized.

Hair Texture

Hair texture describes the circumference of your hair. There are 3 different hair texture types.

Fine hair is the most fragile texture. Each strand is thin and only has two hair layers: cortex and cuticle. If you have this hair type, you might find it hard to keep your hair in a style, or it gets oily easily and is prone to breakage.

Medium hair is thicker than fine hair. The individual hairs have the same two layers that fine hair has but may also have the third one: the medulla. Medium hair can keep hairstyles better, looks thicker and is more resistant to breaking.

Thick or coarse hair has all three hair layers. Thick hair can hold a hairstyle well and is more tolerant to heat, products, dye and breakage than fine or medium hair. However, hair can get frizzy in humid weather.

Hair Porosity

Porosity determines how your hair retains and absorbs moisture. Porosity can be broken down into 3 categories.

Low porosity makes it harder for water, as well as products like oils and conditioners, to deliver moisture to the hair shaft. After a hair wash, your hair stays wet for long hours and feels sticky.

Medium porosity is the easiest hair type to maintain because the hair cuticles tend to be looser, which allows moisture to penetrate the hair with ease.

High porosity allows moisture to easily get into the hair, but it doesn’t stay long enough to nourish and moisturize. Hair with high porosity is more prone to damage as it can readily absorb the chemicals from products. It also gets frizzy and rough easily.

To test your hair porosity, comb your hair and place released strands in a glass of water. Hair that is low porosity will float; hair that is normal porosity will float then begin to sink; and hair that is high porosity will sink immediately.

Oil and Grease

Knowing how greasy your hair is can help you understand how frequently you need to wash it. You will also be able to pick the right products, like clarifying shampoos and conditioners, as oily hair tends to build residue faster.

Oily hair can be determined if there is a heavily greasy patch on the tissue of the hair and scalp. It is recommended to wash oily hair three times a week.

Normal hair can be determined if there is only light evidence of oil. You can wash your hair one to two times a week. 

Dry hair can be determined if there is no oil deposited on the tissue. This indicates a lack of hydration. Products can be used to add and retain moisture.

A combination can be determined if there is oil deposited on the tissue from only specific regions of your scalp. Often, the hair behind the ears and over the temples secretes a high amount of oil.

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