Natural Hair Science! How to Determine Your Exact Hair Type

how to determine natural hair type

No matter how curly, kinky or wavy your hair may be, getting to know its natural characteristics is an essential step toward finding the right hair care routine and products for you. Not every curl, kink or wave is going to be the same, either, and sometimes your natural hair texture may even vary from the top of your head to the back.

So how do you get to know your natural hair texture? You’ll want to consider several things, including:

Curl Type

Your curl type can be categorized based on a well-known chart that ranges from 1 (stick straight), to 2 (wavy), to 3 (curly), to 4 (super kinky), with a, b and c versions of each number depending on the intensity of the curl pattern.

How to determine your natural curl type

Hair Width

Hair width refers to the circumference or thickness of the actual hair strand. It’s important to know this because people who consider their hair to fall into the same curl type listed above can still have very different hair if one has thick strands and the other has thin. Thin strands will be more prone to breakage, for example, so that person will require a gentler hair care routine (i.e. less colouring and heat styling) than someone with thick, curly strands.


Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture, which is good to know so you can use the correct hair products and washing routine. If your natural hair texture doesn’t lose or absorb moisture easily, it is considered to have low porosity, whereas if your hair absorbs moisture and also loses it quickly, it is high porosity.

How do you check your hair’s porosity? It’s easy! Try this test from Black Hair Kitchen: place a strand of your hair in a cup of water. If it sinks quickly, you have high porosity hair. If it takes two minutes or more to sink, it’s low porosity. If it’s somewhere in between, it’s average porosity.

how to determine your natural hair porosity

So what does that mean for styling and hair care? If you have low porosity hair, it won’t absorb deep conditioners as well as high porosity and it will likely take longer to dry. Another interesting note from BHK: relaxers take much longer to work on low porosity hair.


Your hair density refers to how closely together your hair strands grow on your head. Some people also refer to it as your hair’s thickness, but be careful not to confuse that with the hair shaft width. Short of counting the individual strands on a section of your scalp, which could take forever, you can get a pretty good idea of how dense your hair is by simply looking at it when it’s hanging dry in its most natural state. If you can easily see your scalp, your hair density is low. If you can see parts of your scalp, it’s average, and if you can’t see your scalp at all, you have high-density hair.

How should you style your hair according to its density? Low-density hair will understandably perform better with lighter styling products that enhance volume and don’t weigh it down. Naturally Curly has some other excellent styling suggestions according to your hair density here.


It’s pretty obvious how the length of your hair will affect the way you style and care for it. For example, if you recently did a big chop and your hair is short, it’s going to be difficult to achieve protective styles. And for those of you who are trying to grow your hair or maintain its healthy length, you’ll definitely want to take precautions to protect it from breakage.

As you can see, natural hair texture can vary greatly in many different ways, which is why one product might work wonders for you but have terrible results for someone else. Understanding your hair characteristics can be incredibly helpful in finding the right hair care products, styling techniques and washing routine that will help you have your best hair days yet.

Need product or styling recommendations? Our experienced stylists at Studio 86 hair salon in Toronto are happy to help. We carry a broad range of Design Essentials hair products, which come in several lines designed for specific hair types and textures. Book your appointment today!

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