Choosing Products for Your Hair Type
Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams
Before establishing your hair regimen and choosing the products that will give you the best results, you must first determine your hair type (curl pattern and texture). If you need help, talk to a stylist you trust. And if your stylist can't speak positively about your new style - it may be time for a new stylist.I am very familiar with the hair typing system that using letters and numbers, but I like to keep it straightforward and simple. So lets discuss 3 primary curl patterns:Tightly Coiled:
- Curls are tightly wound and very compact
- Looks like an afro
- Holds styles for long periods of time
Hair that is tightly coiled requires more lubrication from products that are thicker in consistency. This hair type tends to be the driest because the natural oil your scalp produces (sebum) cannot flow down the entire length of the hair strand. As a result, to adequately lubricate the strand you have to supplement it with oil based products. To define curls with this curl type, manipulation is required through different techniques depending on the type of curl you want. Double strand twisting the hair will produce a wavy pattern, braiding the hair will produce a crimped pattern and a rod set will produce a spiral. The benefit of this hair type is that the tight coils extend the longevity of a style. Just be sure not to keep styles in to long because these coils will get comfortable, and after long periods of time without manipulation this hair type will start to lock. Curly Hair:
- Curls are naturally defined
- Resemble a spring
- Styles hold; may require more braiding techniques for longevity
Curly hair also requires lubrication and moisture. Although this curl type is not as tight as coiled hair, the supplementation of oil to the ends of the hair is needed to prevent dryness and breakage. Products used on this hair can vary in consistency from thick to lighter creams and oils. The thicker the product the more defined the ringlets will be. Thicker products will also add weight to the hair, elongating the curls. Lighter creams are ideal for a more voluminous look where curls are loosely defined. Curly hair can be defined with the right product but the styling techniques used for tightly coiled hair can be used as well to produce a curl pattern in the hair.Wavy:
- Very loose curls
- Slight bend in the hair that looks like a wave
- Twist styles do not hold without additional hair; braid styles are best for longevity
Wavy hair patterns do not require a lot of extra lubrication. The oil (sebum) the scalp naturally produces travels further down the hair shaft. Too much additional oil will weigh the hair down giving it a greasy, jheri curl look. Light oil used sparingly on the ends is ideal to keep hair healthy and provide shine, such as jojoba oil and coconut oil. For wash-and-go styling light creams and hair milk are the best option. These types of products reduce frizz, provide definition without removing the volume from the hair. Manipulation is required for tighter curls. Rod sets, bantu knot outs and double strand twists set on rollers will provide a more defined curl pattern different from the natural wave in the hair.Everyone, regardless of your curl pattern, must balance moisture-based products and conditioners with a protein-based conditioner. Texture of the hair refers to the thickness of your hair strand. Depending on your hair texture you may require more moisture or more protein. Coarse Hair- Thick hair strands
- Use heavier cream based products with lots of oils and emollients.
- Avoid conditioning products that are heavy with proteins.
Coarser hair textures already manufacture an abundance of proteins so putting more protein on your hair will only dry it out. Moisture based products and conditioners reduce brittleness in the hair strand and soften the hair to maintain elasticity without breakage. Watch out for leave-in conditioners that have proteins in them-read your labels. You may be using a leave-in conditioner with intentions of giving your hair extra moisture when you could actually be drying it out.Fine Hair- Thin hair strands
- Opt for lighter creams and oils to enhance your curls
- Incorporate more protein based conditioners for this hair texture
Finer textures can become easily over moisturized causing hair strands to become limp. Protein binds to the hair strand, keeping it strong and restores the elasticity so that your curls have more bounce.
This guideline for understanding curl pattern and texture will help you choose the products and hair care regimen that will work best for you and produce the styling results you desire.
For more information, you can visit Dr. Kari at