After months of debating, you’ve decided to go natural—congratulations! While going natural is a very personal decision, it’s not a journey you have to take alone. You’ll join the millions of women who are already a part of the natural hair community. The first thing you’ll notice when you go natural is that it’s not just about your hair—it’s a lifestyle. So much so that the natural hair community even has its own lingo!
Before you try to figure out what words like stretching, no-poo, and pineappling mean, you should start with the basics like—what’s your hair texture? There’s a lot of conflicting information about hair types, but Ashley Brown, a Mizani brand ambassador and artist, is here to clear up any confusion. She’s breaking down everything you need to know about natural hair types using a hair texture chart and how you can identify your own.
What is a hair texture chart?
While many hair typing systems exist, Brown relies on the Mizani Texture Key.
“The Mizani Texture Key is an amazing tool to use when determining your hair type. It is exclusive to Mizani and has detailed descriptions of the characteristics and personality traits of every hair/texture type,” Brown explains. “The Texture Key breaks down growth pattern, body/volume, elasticity, and the porosity of each type of hair.”
Before we delve into the different hair types, Brown says it’s important that everyone know it is possible to have more than one hair type.
“In fact, when it comes to textured hair, it’s very rare to have just one type of texture. More often than not, women and men with textured hair have two—sometimes three—different types of texture that make up the personality of their hair,” she says.
Understanding the different characteristics that make up your hair type will help you and your stylist choose your perfect hair care routine.
How do I know my hair texture type?
To determine your true hair texture, you’ll want to examine your strands while they are completely free of product. Wash and condition your hair, then allow it to air dry. As your hair dries, begin to examine your texture.
Does your hair dry straight? Does it curl up? Do you have loose waves or zig-zag ringlets? Once you’ve thoroughly examined your hair, refer to the Mizani Texture Key, a hair texture chart that breaks down hair textures into eight types.
What are the different types of natural hair?
Texture Type 1
If most of your hair dries straight or has a very minimal wave, you have type 1 hair.
Brown says this hair type normally lacks body and volume unless manipulated. Hair with this texture type is usually quite fine and lacks any curl pattern.
Also known as: Type 1A-B.
How to Care for Texture Type 1 Hair
Type 1A-1B hair tends to be oilier than other hair types. That’s because the natural oil produced by your scalp can slide more easily down a straighter hair shaft, making locks look and feel greasy. It’s best to wash this hair type regularly—the frequency varies from person to person, but in general, two or three times a week should suffice.
Best Products for Texture Type 1 Hair
If you have type 1 hair, you should opt for lightweight products that won’t weigh your hair down. We recommend incorporating a once-weekly clarifying shampoo into your routine. Try the Matrix Total Results High Amplify Root Up Wash Clarifying Shampoo. It deeply cleanses hair and helps to lift the roots, giving more volume and body to limp strands. Plus, it’s silicone-free (big win!).
Texture Type 2
If your product-free hair slightly resembles beach waves—an open wave with a loose S-curve—you have type 2 hair. Type 2 hair usually is easy to straighten, despite the natural waves. Brown says this hair type typically has more body than type 1 hair and is less prone to frizz.
Also known as: Type 2A-B.
How to Care for Texture Type 2 Hair
Type 2 hair is synonymous with waves, so why not go full-on beach babe and air dry your hair? Using heat can result in frizz, so ditch the blow dryer and enjoy effortlessly tousled tresses.
Best Products for Texture Type 2 Hair
Enhance your natural waves with a texturizing spray. A hairspray and hair wax hybrid like Redken Styling Spray Wax adds texture and definition without that waxy feel, leaving strands with a sexy tousled look and a satin-matte finish.
Texture Type 3
If you have wavy hair with distinct S-shaped curves, you have type 3 hair. Loose, spiral curls would also be considered texture type 3. Brown says this hair type is more vulnerable to frizz than hair types 1 and 2.
Also known as: Type 2C-3A
How to Care for Texture Type 3 Hair
If you have 2C-3A hair, chances are you’re familiar with a bit of frizz. Using a hydrating or smoothing shampoo and conditioner can help with your frizz-fighting efforts. Biolage Professional’s Smooth Proof Anti-Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner detangles and defrizzes strands while providing static control, so hair is smoother and easier to deal with.
Best Products for Texture Type 3 Hair
To combat frizz further, use a heat protectant before blow-drying your type 3 hair. We recommend Kérastase’s Discipline Keratine Thermique Blow Dry Primer. This leave-in treatment protects your strands from external aggressors (including heat!) and revitalizes frizzy hair.
Texture Type 4
You have texture type 4 hair if your curls are defined with mixed curl patterns—think loops to spirals and ringlets to corkscrews. The Mizani stylist says this hair type has a natural bounce and is susceptible to frizz.
Also known as: Type 3B
How to Care for Texture Type 4 Hair
It’s a good idea for people with type 4 hair to figure out their hair’s porosity. Hair with a lower porosity requires lightweight products, while higher porosity hair types need something heavier and more moisturizing.
Best Products for Texture Type 4 Hair
Curly hair, especially texture type 4, benefits from deep conditioning. Look to incorporate hair masks into your wash routine. The A Curl Can Dream Rich Mask from Matrix is made from Manuka honey, which is super hydrating for curls. Plus, it helps preserve your natural curl pattern, enhancing your natural texture.
Texture Type 5
If your hair is undeniably curly (like tight corkscrew curls) with defined S-shapes forming into coils, you have type 5 hair. If you’re unsure whether or not your hair falls under the type 5 umbrella, Brown says curls should stretch with immediate spring back. While curly hair is typically known to be frizzy, the stylist says this particular hair type is less likely to become frizzy and tangled.
Also known as: Type 3C
How to Care for Texture Type 5 Hair
The curlier your hair, the drier it tends to be. Remember how we mentioned that type 1 hair allows oils to spread quickly down the strands? The opposite applies here: the tighter the curl pattern, the harder it is for your scalp’s oils to be distributed evenly.
That said, co-washing is often advised for people with type 5 hair. Co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner, or a co-wash, instead of shampoo. Some shampoos contain sulfates which can sometimes dry out your locks, so switching up your routine with a co-wash or a sulfate-free shampoo can benefit those looking to amp up the moisture.
Best Products for Texture Type 5 Hair
A good routine for hair texture type 5 hair often adds moisture and hydration. Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner works for all hair types and textures. Curly and coily-haired people will especially love its ability to deeply penetrate the hair for added moisture.
Texture Type 6
If you have medium coils close to the scalp and moderate shrinkage, you likely have type 6 hair. This hair type usually has less movement than the others, as the curls are very compact.
Also known as: Type 4A
How to Care for Texture Type 6 Hair
Those with type 6 hair can’t get enough moisture, so should consider using a deep conditioner or a hair mask as part of their wash day routine. Mizani’s True Textures Moroccan Clay Mask is a great option. The formula contains olive, marula, and coconut oil, providing an abundance of moisture for coily hair types.
Best Products for Texture Type 6 Hair
Texture type 6 coils and curls are predisposed to shrinkage. If you’re looking to elongate your coils try Mizani’s True Textures Curl Define Pudding. Ideal for texture types 6-8 (curl types 4A-4C), this cream helps prepare your hair for protective styles like twist-outs and braid-outs. Plus, the paraben-and-wax-free pudding provides a smooth, lightweight hold (without crunch or flaking), frizz control, and shine.
Texture Type 7
If you have tightly coiled, springy coils closer to the scalp, you have hair type 7. Brown says this hair type is prone to tangles and knots. A good way to tell if you have texture type 7 hair is to look at your curl pattern. 4B hair tends to have a Z-shape, whereas 4A hair (texture type 6) has more of an S-shape.
Also known as: Type 4B
How to Care for Texture Type 7 Hair
Texture type 7 (and 8, for that matter) is one of the most fragile hair types, so you want to ensure your everyday styling and handling routines are as gentle as possible. One way to protect your type 7 hair is by doing it while you sleep. Using a satin (or better yet, silk!) bonnet, wrap, or pillowcase can help. Unlike rougher, moisture-wicking cotton, these materials reduce friction on your hair to minimize frizz and breakage. Plus, satin and silk are less likely to soak up your hair’s much-needed moisture.
Best Products for Texture Type 7 Hair
Use the Mizani True Textures Twist & Coil Jelly to define your natural coils and curls. This strong-hold jelly strengthens, hydrates, and smooths your hair and helps enhance your natural curl pattern. It’s also particularly good at coaxing your hair into protective styles like twist-outs, braids, and Bantu knots.
When creating a protective style, be sure to apply a nourishing edge-taming formula like Mizani’s new Artful Edges Edge Gel to your hairline. Made with shea butter and castor oil and formulated for all hair textures, this gel will be kind to your delicate hairline while keeping your style in place.
Texture Type 8
If your hair is so coiled that your curl pattern resembles zig-zags, you have type 8 hair. Brown says this hair type typically has more volume than body.
Also known as: Type 4C
How to care for Texture Type 8 hair
Try the L.O.C. method (leave-in or lotion, oil, cream). Long adopted by the coily community, the L.O.C. method helps textured hair to retain moisture through added hydration. Using this method can also keep frizz at bay and prepare your hair for styling.
Best Products for Texture Type 8 Hair
Oil is a key part of the L.O.C. method, so if your hair's texture is type 8, make sure you add a nourishing oil to your arsenal. The Mizani 25 Miracle Nourishing Oil is a leave-in treatment that boasts 25 benefits, including protection and moisturization for all hair types.
Looking for more personalized products for your hair texture? Hair.com has you covered.
Header image credits: @beeblondor