If your hair is more straight than wavy, relatively shiny, and amenable to holding a curl, chances are good you have 1B hair. While this hair type is fairly common in the straight hair community, its near-imperceptible wave can make it hard to recognize for sure. Here to explain how to identify and care for type 1B hair is Jamie Wiley, celebrity hairstylist and Pureology artistic director. Keep scrolling for answers to all of your most pressing questions.
What is 1B hair?
First things first, a quick refresher on how hair is classified: Hair type refers to the pattern of your hair (1 = straight, 2 = wavy, 3 = curly, and 4 = coily), while hair subtype (A, B, C) represents the width and density of your hair from low to high. These two characteristics combined are written as a letter and number. In this case, 1B hair means you have straight hair with a medium thickness and very subtle wave.
The easiest way to determine your hair type is to let your hair air dry, free of product, and inspect the shape of your strands. If your mane is pin-straight when wet but dries with a slight wave through the middle of the hair, it’s likely 1B. Your hair may also gently flip or curl at the ends and will typically appear sleek and shiny.
How do I know if I have 1A or 1B hair?
With 1A and 1B so closely situated on the hair texture chart, similar characteristics are to be expected. However, knowing what to look for can help you distinguish between the two.
“The difference between 1A and 1B is the width of the hair strand,” says Wiley. Type 1A hair "tends to be the flattest and silkiest of the hair types.” 1B hair, by contrast, has a thicker diameter, which gives it a touch more body and movement—and makes it better able to hold styles than its pin-straight counterpart.
Is 1B hair rare?
It’s common for multiple patterns to exist throughout a single head of hair, making it tricky to pinpoint which hair type is “rarest.” That being said, curly hair is a dominant trait, so most hair will have at least some bend to it. It’s safe to guess that the subtle waves of 1B hair make this hair type considerably less rare than 1A hair.
How often should you wash type 1B hair?
As Wiley explains, straighter hair types like 1A and 1B are prone to greasiness since oils from the scalp can quickly glide down the hair strand. Even so, that doesn’t mean you have to reach for shampoo every day.
“The frequency of washing 1B hair depends on individual factors, such as an oily scalp, lifestyle, and personal preference,” says Wiley. “Overwashing can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness, while infrequent washing may result in oil buildup. Washing every two to three days or as needed is a good starting point.” If your hair starts looking a little too slick between wash days, an absorbent dry shampoo can turn things around.
Is 1B hair hard to style?
As with all hair types, type 1B hair has ups and downs. On the plus side, it’s reasonably easy to style, depending on your desired look. According to Wiley, the slightly wavy nature of 1B hair makes it a great canvas for creating lasting curls and waves with hot tools. Plus, 1B hair’s medium texture gives it body that helps keep updos, well, up.
On the flip side, straight 1B hair often lacks in the volume department, though it does respond well to volumizing products. Knowing the right styling techniques and having salon-grade haircare on hand (we’ll get into that shortly) can make all the difference in helping you achieve your styling goals.
If you need more assistance, use our salon locator to book an appointment with a licensed hairstylist. They can work with you to create a customized haircare routine for your hair type, cut, and style.
How to Care for and Style Your 1B Hair Type
Now that you’re up to speed on spotting a 1B hair type, scroll on to discover Wiley’s top advice for caring for your locks.
Opt for volumizing shampoo and conditioners.
Regardless of how frequently you suds up, choose volumizing wash-day products when you do. The Pure Volume Shampoo and Conditioner Duo from Pureology can help lift your flat hair from root to tip. Its lightweight system enhances volume and restores movement without further weighing down the hair.
Pro Tip: Always apply your conditioner at least one-inch down from your roots. Keeping creamy, hydrating formulas away from the scalp can prevent your mane from becoming greasy or weighed down.
Use lightweight mousses.
As our 2024 hair trend forecast indicates, hair mousses are making a major comeback—great news for those with straighter strands in need of volume. That’s because airy, lightweight mousse formulas help plump and shape locks without leaving behind a heavy feel.
“I recommend Pureology Weightless Volume Mousse,” says Wiley. “This product will give you the hold factor without feeling like you have product in your hair.” (Psst: It also features built-in heat protection.) Just work a golf ball-sized amount through damp hair and style as usual for long-lasting volume and hold.
Manage an oily scalp…
As briefly mentioned, straight hair types are susceptible to oiliness. Since overwashing your locks can backfire, Wiley recommends making dry shampoo a key player in your haircare lineup. Her pick is Pureology’s Style + Protect Refresh & Go Dry Shampoo, a non-drying spray that absorbs oil, dirt, and buildup without dulling strands. You can also swap in a clarifying shampoo once weekly to help purify your scalp from excess oil. Check out our article What Is Clarifying Shampoo to learn more.
…and tend to dry ends.
Type 1B hair proves that the “dry scalp, oily ends” paradox is indeed true. Super straight roots let scalp oils glide effortlessly down the hair shaft, yet hair has just enough bend to stop these oils from reaching the tips. You can help keep your strands balanced by applying a lightweight leave-in conditioner or hair serum from the mid-lengths to ends of your hair. Leave-ins are great for freshly washed hair, whereas serums are ideal for dry hair needing a pick-me-up. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way for straight hair, so be sure to apply less than you think you’ll need—you can always add more later.
Left untreated, dry, brittle lengths can cause breakage and split ends. If your tips have already reached the point of no return, head to your stylist for a trim. Nipping split ends in the bud can prevent them from traveling further up the hair shaft, impacting your hair’s length and density.
With these tips by your side, you’re well on your way to navigating your 1B hair type with ease. If you’ve made it this far and still can’t decide which category you fall into, explore our Hair Type Guide for more information.
Header photo credit: @taylorjeanaehair
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