Why pay an expert when you can do it yourself – for free!
On a recent visit to the hair salon, the hairdresser asked me if I’d like to have a hair type analysis. I was a bit embarrassed to admit I had no idea what it was! She told me it was a really great way to determine what hairstyle would best suit me, and also which types of hair products would be ideal for my hair type.
This sounded too good to be true, and alas, it was – when she quoted me the price! I told her I would give it some thought, and I did. I decided to brush up (pun intended!) on exactly what hair type analysis entailed before shelling out the bucks.
What I found out – and what I will pass on to you, dear reader – is that you can complete your own fancy-pants “analysis” with little effort, and zero cost. Now that’s what I call a win/win!
So let’s get started.
What exactly is hair type analysis?
Good question. It sounds like something requiring you to mail a personal hair sample to a scientific diagnostics lab, right? Thankfully, the process is far simpler, and can be done right in the comfort of your own home.
It simply consists of a few minutes of observing certain features of your hair to determine its unique characteristics. Once you do this, you will be well-prepared to make educated decisions about what kinds of hairstyles, treatments, and hair care products will work best for YOU, personally.
The features you will be observing are:
- Wave Pattern
At this point, you might be thinking – eh, that sounds a bit complicated, no thanks. I assure you, it is simple, and the few minutes you spend learning this information will pay off tremendously (and save you money you’d otherwise waste on the wrong types of hair products and treatments).
So let’s start with defining what exactly these features are.
Essentially, texture tells you how “fat” your hair is. However, In this case, fat is not a dreaded word! Your hair texture is basically the diameter (or “thickness”) of an individual strand. Hair type analysis of a plucked strand can tell you if you’ve got coarse, medium, or fine textured hair.
Also, it’s important to note that your hair texture can vary throughout the different areas of your scalp. For example, you could have very fine hair on your front hairline, with a more coarse texture in the back.
Here’s how to get a good idea of your overall hair texture: pluck some individual strands of hair from these areas:
- Front hairline
- Nape (back of neck)
- Crown (mid-back of head)
Take your strands, put them on a clean surface under a bright light. You will immediately see the thickness (or lack) of each strand. The thickest is “coarse,” medium is, well, “medium” – and skinny little wisps are “fine”.
Coarse hair is the strongest, and as a bonus, more resistant to heat styling. However, because of its thickness, it can be more difficult to get it to “hold” coloring or chemical hair products.
Medium hair is like the baby bear’s things in the Goldilocks story (kind of appropriate here!). It’s just right.
Fine hair is very fragile and prone to breakage. However, it is easier to process with color or chemicals.
Got hair? Density indicates just how many strands you’ve got on your pretty head. Thankfully, you don’t need to count them individually – you just need to know if it is thin, medium, or thick.
No counting necessary – just stick your head close to a well-lighted mirror and pick around different areas to see how easily you can see your scalp. The easier it is to see the scalp, the lower the density (and thinner the hair).
If your hair is mostly thin density, a blunt cut or curls will be the most flattering. The thicker your hair is, the more likely a layered style will bring out your best features.
Porosity is just a fancy term for “how much does my hair frizz out?” This is very easy to figure out: just run your fingers through your hair (clean, with no product applied). Does it feel rough and dry? Then you have very porous hair. The smoother and less dry your hair feels, the less porous it is.
This is important because if you have very porous hair, you will need to be very gentle with it. Strong chemical treatments are to be avoided at all costs, and you will need to use hair care products geared toward moisturizing and conditioning.
How far can you stretch your hair (without breaking)? That’s how to determine elasticity. The more it can stretch, the more elasticity you’ve got.
You’ll want to do this analysis with your hair wet. Go on. I’ll wait.
Okay, ready? Good. Grab a strand of your wet hair and stretch it as far as it will go. If it breaks easily, you’ve got low elasticity. This means you will need to use extra care with it. Make sure if you are having any kind of chemical processing to request a mild, low pH solution.
No, it’s not a surfing term! Your wave pattern has nothing to do with how healthy your hair is. It’s simply a term referring to whether your hair is straight, curly, very curly, or coiled.
You probably know exactly which wave pattern your hair has, and if you are like most human beings, you have spent half your life wishing it was “less” straight, or curly, or…well, you get the idea.
Keep in mind that whatever wave pattern you have, whether it is slick straight or swirly curly, it is absolutely stunning because it’s what your DNA designed precisely for YOU. So don’t fight it, befriend it!
Caring for your hair type
If your hair type falls into a relatively normal category – that is, porosity and thickness are “medium” – you’re quite lucky, and can use pretty much any hair care product that catches your fancy!
However, if your hair type analysis revealed that you have either fine hair, and/or low porosity, then you’ll need to take extra care. Most hair care products have a tendency to just “sit” on top of your strands. You’ll want to search for brands that avoid low pH, and instead boast alkaline ingredients.
Steer clear of any hair care products that are oil-heavy, as these will weigh your light locks down.
If you discovered that your hair has high porosity, then whether or not it is thick or thin, it needs loads of pampering and conditioning. In this case, products with low pH will work very well for you, as well as those with essential oils. Avoid chemical treatments at all costs – love your hair and it will love you right back!
So what did you discover with your hair type analysis? Share your results, ideas, styling tips and tricks in the comments below!