The golden rules for your hair type

There are four main types of hair – so which one do you have, and how do you keep it looking and feeling its absolute best?

Straight, wavy, curly or coily – your hair will fall into one of these four main types, which refer to your hair’s naturally occurring, genetically pre-determined pattern.

But identifying your hair type isn’t as simple as choosing one of these four options.

Some of the categories contain multiple subcategories – and you may even have a few different hair types on the one head of hair.

But understanding your hair type’s needs provides a leg-up when caring and styling your strands.

Experts break down the hair types, and how to care for and style them properly:

Type 1: Straight hair

“Straight hair has a flatter, smoother cuticle layer and comes in fine, medium and coarse textures,” explains In Awe Salon owner and hair stylist Megan Panozzo.

How to care for straight hair

Straight hair is naturally lacking in body, so Megan suggests focusing on “volume and fullness” when selecting hair care products.

“Use light, volume-enhancing and moisturising shampoo and care products to add height and width and maintain its natural shine and lustre,” Megan says.

She also suggests regularly applying dry shampoo at the roots as straight hair is prone to oiliness.

How to style straight hair

Straight hair works at various lengths but Megan suggests adding either internal or external layers to “create volume and fullness”.

When styling, be careful not to overuse heat tools and give consideration to the density of your products.

“Fine, straight hair can easily get weighed down, so avoid heavy products,” says Megan.

“With medium to coarse textures, creating volume and also blow-drying technique is important, particularly to prevent frizz.”

wavy hair

Type 2: Wavy hair

Wavy hair has three subcategories:

  • 2A has a gentle tousled texture.
  • 2B has waves from the midpoint to ends.
  • 2C has a well-defined S-shape throughout.

How to care for wavy hair

The right hair care routine gives wavy locks the right structure.

“Embrace products that offer enough hold to stop your hair from being too wispy, but aren’t too heavy to prevent movement,” says Megan.

For hair that’s both wavy and oily, Megan recommends avoiding the roots and concentrating on layering at the ends.

Alternatively, if dry wavy hair is an issue, seek out quality nourishing products.

“Try a leave in moisturising spray and invest in a nourishing shampoo and conditioner,” she says.

How to style wavy hair

Megan suggests taking the natural wave into account by choosing a hairstyle that “really encourages movement”.

As for styling, Megan believes sea salt sprays are a must.

“They’re fantastic to give wavy hair hold and movement while being nice and light,” she says.

But go easy when using a blow dryer.

“The longer wavy hair flies around under a blow dryer, the fluffier it looks,” says Megan. “Instead, allow to air dry or use a diffuser.”

Type 3: Curly hair

The three subcategories of type 3 curly hair – 3A, 3B and 3C – each refer to “the increasing level of tightness in the curls,” explains curly hair specialist Rumbie Mutsiwa.

How to care for curly hair

Whatever your curl classification, Rumbie stresses that moisture is crucial for maintenance.

“The right hydrating hair care products will make life frizz-free,” explains Rumbie, owner of Rumbie & Co.

Nourishing curl-specific hair care products are also a non-negotiable as “regular shampoos strip curls, leaving them dry and coarse”.

Frizz or oiliness are also prime indicators that your products are unsuited to curly hair types.

“Oily hair suggests a product is too thick, while frizzy curls are likely to be parched and require regular hydration treatments and simplified maintenance products,” says Rumbie.

How to style curly hair

Knowing your curl type and working with an experienced curly hair stylist is key when deciding on the right style.

“Identifying the curl pattern allows a stylist to tailor the look,” explains Rumbie.

But the biggest curly hair styling faux pas? Trying to manipulate dry curly hair.

“Curly hair needs to be styled when wet. Apply your products, define the curls and then allow them to either dry naturally or diffuse to 70 per cent and let the rest air dry,” she says.

“Otherwise, you’re working against the hair’s natural movement.”

coily hair

Type 4: Coily hair

“There are three sub-categories of coily hair (4A, 4B and 4C) – also commonly known as ‘afro hair’ – and these are the curliest of all hair types,” says Rumbie.

How to care for coily hair

“Like all curls, hydration is paramount,” explains Rumbie, adding that it is vital to invest in products tailored to coily hair’s unique specifications.

“Coily hair responds best to thicker, ultra-hydrating products that won’t weigh the hair down,” she says.

“You also need a well-absorbed nourishing butter to add shine as coily textures appear duller than other curls.”

In addition to a coily hair specific shampoo, she suggests investing in a “a deep curl cleanse product to address scalp product build-up, without stripping the hair of moisture.”

How to style coily hair

Rumbie notes that a flattering hairstyle for coily hair should embrace its natural texture.

“Coily hair is so malleable – don’t fight it,” she says.

She also suggests considering choices like “braid, cornrows or weaves” as coily hair textures are “magic” with these looks.

However, she does have some no-nos when it comes to coily hair styles.

“Steer clear of fringes or undercuts and avoid ‘channeling’, which is cutting rows out of the body of hair to manage volume,” she says.

As with curly hair, wet styling is a must – and avoid towel drying (instead squeeze out excess moisture).

“If you style it how you want it when wet, you have won the battle,” says Rumbie.

Written by Sharon Hunt.