Hair with Flair: A Guide to Understanding Your Strands

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Life is often characterized by routines. Some routines can be relatable to many — working a part-time job, attending classes on weekdays and spending Saturdays at Beaver Stadium, basking in the magic of chicken baskets and Penn State football.

However, other routines are specific to the individual. If you’ve encountered disaster after trying to replicate a super-cute hair-do your friend wore, it’s likely that you have different hair types. Understanding your hair type can be a daunting task, but with the help of VALLEY, it doesn’t have to be. 

Step 1: Find Your Texture

To start, it’s important to identify the natural texture of your hair. Take note of your hair’s appearance after washing and allowing it to air dry. If there is no wave or curl in your hair after it has dried completely, it’s likely that you have naturally straight hair.

Straight hair often doesn’t require heavy products like hair gels and creams, but to combat frizz and ensure silky-smooth strands, light hair oil is the secret to a sleek style.

If you notice a wave or curl in your hair, you might have a natural curl pattern. These patterns can be accentuated and defined with the use of a hair gel or curl cream. Product labels will often identify the intended hair type and benefits of use. To accurately identify your natural hair texture, refer to the chart below, which provides a visual representation of different hair textures.

From 1a (completely straight) to 4c (tight coil), this chart offers an easy way to identify your hair type. Your hair can be one texture throughout, but many people find that their hair includes a mixture of textures. Texture variation can occur naturally or as a result of heat damage, chemical processing or environmental distress. 

Photo posted by @clearandcurly on Instagram
Step 2: Identify Your Hair’s Moisture and Thickness

After you have identified the natural texture of your hair, it is important to explore the properties of porosity, elasticity and density. Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Hair can range between low, medium and high porosity. Low porosity hair is the least capable of absorbing and retaining moisture, which can cause difficulty when washing or styling. High porosity hair is the most capable of moisture absorption, but it has a low capability for moisture retention, which can result in greasy, flat and frizzy hair. Medium porosity hair is the easiest to manage because it adequately absorbs and retains moisture for perfectly balanced tresses.

With the right care, hair of any porosity has potential for greatness. If you have low porosity hair, avoid heavy styling products and silicones, as these products could lead to build-up on your scalp. Instead, look for water-based products and lightweight oils. If you have high porosity hair, you can lock in moisture and shine by using products that contain thick, emulsifying hydration agents like shea butter and coconut oil.

Photo posted by @weareparadoxx on Instagram

Determining texture and porosity is a crucial component in understanding your hair. After you have gained a proper understanding of these properties, it is helpful to discern the density and elasticity of your locks.

Density refers to the number of individual hair strands on your head, which can be determined by measuring the circumference of your ponytail. You can have a high density of fine hair or a low density of thick hair. Density is independent of factors like thickness or porosity.

Elasticity, on the other hand, can be affected by factors like porosity, texture, environment and care. If a hair strand returns to its original length and texture after it has been stretched, then it has a high level of elasticity. However, if a hair strand is unable to resume its original state after being stretched, it is exhibiting low elasticity. Low elasticity can often be attributed to damage caused by heat tools or chemical processing. Elasticity can be restored by reducing heated styling and regularly using deep conditioning treatments to alleviate damage. 

Have you perfected your hair-care routine? Share your good hair days with us @VALLEYmag on Instagram!



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