Every newborn natural (for those that don’t know: a “natural” is someone whose hair texture hasn't been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers) has hit the ground running with their hair type chart in their hand. If you don’t know what a hair type chart is, that’s okay! The hair type chart serves as a guideline for defining what kind of hair one has: 1a being the straightest of strands and 4c being the kinkiest and coiliest of strands.
Many naturals have started their hair journeys trying to identify with one of these hair types, but don’t realize how ineffective this is for a few reasons. One of these reasons being the subjectivity of the hair chart. Google one hair type and you’ll see completely different looks. For example, it can be difficult to tell the difference between 3c and 4a hair type. These types are close in range and therefore, very similar. So one’s 3c might be another’s 4a.
Another reason why this chart is ineffective lies simply in the idea that most people do not have just one hair type on their head. For example, I have a range of every type from 2b to 4c. The back of my head is the kinkiest and the front is a lot more loose and wavy. When I first went natural, I did not understand that this was just different hair types. I assumed that I had damage and struggled to appreciate my curls for a long time.
Lastly, the hair type chart does not have any relation to how you should treat your hair. Dwelling in what kind of curls you have will not help you learn what your hair needs. Instead, this hair type chart is one of the reasons we all have hair envy. Some of us want looser 3a curls and some of us wish we had tighter 4c curls. This also causes issues with our Youtube binge watching (yes, I am guilty). When I first went natural, I always looked for women on Youtube who had hair like mine because I believed I could follow their routines. False! Another woman’s hair routine, whether she has the same curls or not, should not be adopted as your own. Remember you are on a natural hair journey and that journey is yours to take.
That is not to say that you should never look to other people for hair advice. It is always good to try new things with your hair, so long as you listen to how your hair responds. However, your focus should be on the porosity of your hair. What is porosity? Hair porosity is the state in which one’s hair can be permeable by water and moisture. Every hair strand is made of many pores. The tighter the pores, the less moisture is allowed in and the looser the pores, the more moisture is allowed in your hair strands. Simply put, it is how well one’s hair retains moisture.
Low porosity hair takes a long time to become moisturized, but moisture also takes a long time to leave the hair once attained. If water takes a long time to saturate your hair or your hair takes a long time to dry when wet, you likely have low porosity. I am a low porosity girl and washing my hair takes a whole day because of it. High Porosity hair is easily moisturized but also dries easily. If you find yourself having to wet your hair constantly when styling and throughout the week, you likely have high porosity hair. Hair porosity is important in finding your hair routine because it dictates what your hair needs. Natural hair is all about retaining moisture. If your hair is properly moisturized, your curls will shine, pop and grow. Understanding your hair porosity allows you to give your hair the love it needs.
In short, dear newborn natural, do not spend the first year of your natural hair journey obsessing with hair types as I did. They do not matter as you will not learn how to treat your hair from your hair type. Look to the porosity of your hair for how to care for your curls and coils. Regardless of anything, embrace your hair in whatever form you can. No matter how long or how short, how kinky or how straight, you are slaying it.
A 4 year natural gal