Hair Care Made Simple

A graphic showing four people with different types of hair
Illustration by Agasha Kankunda

Let’s cut it right back to the basics. The texture of your hair is determined by your genetics and also the shape of your hair follicle. If the root of your hair follicle shoots straight down into your scalp you have straight hair. If it shoots down and curves a little bit into your scalp, you will probably have some sort of texture. There are four different hair types and within those types there are subcategories. What does that mean?

Type 1: Straight

Type 2: Wavy

Type 3: Curly

Type 4: Coily 

And besides type 1 hair, there are subtypes A, B and C which describes the level of waviness, curlyness and coiliness. ‘A’ being the least texture in your type and ‘C’ being the most texture. Got it? 

Each hair type is beautiful in its own unique way and needs different types of care, ranging from deep moisture to very light moisture and anything in between. In this piece, I’ve simplified the hair care process for every hair type. Take the information you want and leave what you don’t because at the end of the day, only you know your hair best. 

Type 1: Straight Hair

Straight hair has endless possibilities – there’s so much room to be creative and do whatever you want with your hair! Straight hair types can vary in density, ranging from fine to thick (this refers to the actual hair strands themselves). It’s important to keep your hair moisturized because it’s very easy for straight hair to lose volume and get dry. A simple spray-on oil will do the trick and using a light-medium hold mousse will do wonders for your hair to give it more lift. Hair powders are also great for hair that’s flat. Just sprinkle some on your roots and the tackiness will immediately lift the hair and give it more texture. 

Type 2: Wavy

2A: This hair type is similar to straight hair except there are very slight waves towards the ends of the hair. 

2B: A little bit wavier than 2A and a gradual ‘S’ shape begins to form towards the middle of your hair downward.

2C: The most defined S shape in wavy hair is present throughout the entire length of the hair, which starts from the crown of your hair all the way down to the end. 

In terms of styling for all wavy hair types, it’s a good idea to define your natural ‘S’ shape. Try finding a sea salt spray that works for you. This can define the beachy waves you already have. Any kind of light hold gel will also do the trick, but always remember to keep the moisture by using a light cream or or oil. 

Type 3: Curly

3A:  Curly hair type 3A is defined by fairly loose loops and the circumference is smaller than 3B and 3C. The key here is a deeper moisture level than type 2 and 1, but keep in mind the density of your hair–this will determine how much moisture you really need because you never want to weigh your hair down. 

3B: 3B is a more defined loop with a circumference that can wrap around a marker. To keep these curls being defined, as with other hair types, understand how much moisture your hair needs. 

3C: These curls are a lot tighter and bouncier. This hair type is prone to frizziness so it’s best to condition in the shower and use either your fingers or a wide tooth comb to brush out the tangles. Using a leave in conditioner after your shower is always going to keep frizz in check and make sure your hair doesn’t poof up. 

Janay Ferguson, a third-year Ryerson psychology student recommends using products that are water based.

“One of the first listed ingredients should be water and try to get paraben/sulfate-free products as well,” said Ferguson.

Moisture is key as with every other hair type. It’s best to use oils and deep conditioners. Tangling is a major issue with this hair type and styles like straightening might prove to be a challenge. Remember that your best bet is to maintain the health of your hair, and use conditioners with butters and oils. Embrace the natural texture of your hair!

Type 4: Coily

4A: The curl pattern for the 4A hair type is the S shape that can wrap around a pencil. 

4B: This curl pattern moves in a zigzag pattern and is tiny. It doesn’t wrap around anything as it is just a formation of extremely small waves. 

Elizabeth Ariho, a second-year Ryerson media production student recommends making sure to keep the scalp oiled every week, sometimes twice a week especially in winter because of the dryness. 

“I also detangle my hair when it’s wet and I finger detangle so I can get more control of the knots,” she said.

4C: This is the most coiled hair type and the tightest. This hair type tends to be fragile and, depending on how you take care of it, can lead to breakage. The hair itself tends to be thin. This hair type requires tons of moisture and individuals with this hair type may wash their hair with conditioner rather than shampoo to avoid the breakage. 

Zanele Chisholm, a third year English student recommends using LOC (Liquid, Oil, Conditioner) for optimum moisture retention.

“For my hair, I always put water and oil but never oil on just my dry hair. I use water, then leave in the conditioner then oil,” said Chisholm.

A tip worth noting from Elsie Rotich, a third year media production student is to “wet your hair before detangling or else it’ll hurt!”

“A detangling brush can make this process so much easier,” said Rotich.

The key for Black hair types is to style it in ways that tuck fragile ends in to protect them as they grow. However, this is controversial as products aren’t able to reach the tucked away ends, which can be harmful to hair in the long run. Not every curly hair type falls into one of these categories, in fact, it’s very possible that you can fall into two of these categories. Coconut oils and shea butters have always been a go to for this hair type, so find what products work for you. The bottom line is to keep your hair moisturized. The more texture and density in your hair, the more moisture it will require. Not sure where to start? Follow someone on social media with the same hair type as you and follow along with what they do. Don’t be afraid to test out different products because you might find your holy grail. 

Be kind to your hair! Kisanet Ghebru, a third-year student in business management, encourages everyone to use a bonnet or a silk or satin scarf to prevent your hair from breakage at night. Try not to use too much heat especially with hair with more texture. If you’re going to use heat, make sure to use a heat protectant, don’t straighten your hair while it’s wet and if you’re gonna blow dry, try using a diffuser. As previously mentioned, only you know your hair best. Styling methods and products are all just guidelines you can choose to follow.