Then I have to ask myself, ‘what is the intent behind creating a natural hair typing system?’ The focus of this chart is on curl pattern, yet, in my opinion, it is not necessarily our curl patterns that helps determine how to best care for our hair. Is it? When I’m in the drugstore pondering over which conditioner to use for my natural hair, I don’t decide based on my curl pattern, or hair type; in fact, natural hair products are not even sold according to curl pattern, but based on what your hair needs. Does my hair need more moisture? Is it color-treated? Does it have build-up? Does it lack protein? So it seems to me that the hair chart distracts us from listening to what our hair is trying to tell us, and causes many women to obsess blindly on obtaining a certain curl pattern. Therefore, products are looked at, not for how they will benefit our hair, but how “spirally” we can make our curls. Sometimes this causes our hair to be in a state of denial. Yes, denial. We see pictures of 3B/3C type hair on every hair product label, with promises that using that product will magically give our hair that bouncy wavy-curly look. We want so badly to have this type of hair, that we spend money on products that we think will help our natural hair find that curl-topia, and use routines for styles that we think will help us accomplish certain styles; not realizing that if we have the (sometimes seemingly) less “desirable” 4C hair texture, that there are routines and products/oils/butters that will best help our hair retain moisture and length. We lose sight of caring for our hair in this sort of exploration for the perfect curl. The important fact is that natural is natural; which means that if our hair is not naturally curly, then no product in the world will make it so. So we should forgo the typing charts and systems and focus more on how our hair feels. Like our bodies, our hair will often speak to us and tell us what it needs – if we will simply listen.
Less desirable. Am I being mean when I say that? Certainly not; but I have also believed that the natural hair-typing chart has added to the divisiveness of the black community in holding the “more desirable” up over the “less desirable”. There is an unspoken “hairacism” that has existed within the black natural-hair community. Just as damaging as the skin tone controversy that pit light-skinned blacks (viewed as “better than”) against dark-skinned blacks (who were not as desirable – smh), is the constant raising up of one curl pattern, or hair texture, over the other. And generally it is the battle of good hair (‘in one corner we have the 3-curls’) versus bad hair (‘and in the other corner we have the 4-curls’). Whether we want to openly admit it or not, there is a preference, and this preference can be damaging to someone’s natural hair journey. The black community does not need any more ways or reasons to keep us separated and segregated because of deep-rooted prejudices that we refuse to acknowledge as truth (a whole ‘nother post!).
::breathe girl: breathe::
Overall, I think hair typing can be more destructive than helpful. It is limited on information, and forgets to disclose that what may work for one 4C’s hair texture may not work for another; and the same for C’s, D’s, and F’s (lol). There really is more to hair than it’s texture; and definitely so if you don’t really have a curl pattern, but just maintain natural hair.
With that being said, there is good as well as bad; and I have [edited] this article to include a recent epiphany that I had which helped me understand the potential usefulness and popularity of this typing system (and to play Devil’s Advocate… against myself!):
(you know I have to give both sides of the argument!) So here’s the infamous example…
Weight. Ah, the one word that can uproot the peace and calm of any woman’s world, no matter what size she is! No, you’re still reading about natural hair typing! But I work best with analogies – in fact I aced that part of the SAT when they were still a big part of the silly test! When I could not figure out how to lose weight – and I spent countless hours in the gym, sweating and trying to kickbox, spin, and run my way to skinny utopia – and almost gave up after a year of living at the gym twice a day; I was told that I needed to know my body type in order to know the most efficient and effective exercises and diet plans to use for increased weight loss. Well I thought I did know my body type – fat! But turns out, I really didn’t… Now this is where I admit that I completely bought in to the body-typing concept, and that it helped me understand what I needed to do, or not do, in order to lose the weight and be healthy for long-term results. Body typing influences how one will respond to diet and training; and helps one understand their body type in order to plan muscle building training and a diet program. I’m an endomorph (www.muscleandstrength.com), and I accept that. On the flip-side, I have always said that I don’t believe in the natural hair-typing system because I felt it was yet another way to keep us in categories, much like light skin versus dark skin, etc. But now it seems a little hypocritical to buy into a body-typing system for the same reason that I don’t accept the hair-typing system. Well, doesn’t it? So here is where the analogy clicks: Weight loss is to body typing as hair care is to hair typing. **mind-blown** In comparing natural hair growth to diet and exercise, the same can apply to healthy hair growth: knowing our hair type can influence how our hair will respond to routines, maintenance, and products, and help us to understand what types of hair textures there are so that we can tailor our routines around it.
Here’s the caveat: … we have to be realistic about the type of natural hair we have. The typing systems are not set in stone, and your hair may be a combination of two or even three types/textures/curl patterns – apples and oranges!
AAAND, we have to understand that there is not just one way to determine our hair ‘type’; that there are other factors in the typing equation that we often leave out – texture and density are just a couple of examples. A number does nothing for our knowledge of we don’t have the rest of the story. So go beyond the hair type and really get to know your hair!
Want to know the best natural hair typing there is? The type that listens – get to know your hair so that you know what it needs.