This would have seemed like an odd question a few months ago but now I know that it is so important to better understand my actual hair. Using the most common hair typing system, there are 4 types of hair, straight, wavy, curly and kinky. Mine is definitely in the fourth category of kinky. You can break each hair type into more detailed sections, for type 4 these are commonly described as coily, crimpy and ziggly. I can’t for the life of me determine which one I am because I think I am all three in different parts of my head. But what the hell is ziggly? So for ease I would say I am type 4. But why isn’t just plain old afro good enough anymore? I don’t know but Michelle Thames of Happily Ever Natural, in a Naturally Curly article describes her hair as Type H for Healthy. I can’t say that about my hair yet but I hope as it grows that is what I will be.
Type 4 hair is the weakest of all hair types, this would explain why you don’t see every black girl with hair to her knees. All of those kinks are points of weakness, which means my hair is full of Achilles’ Heels. This is why growing my hair is actually challenge and I am not overstating how hard this is going to be. Am I up to the challenge? I hope so.
Michelle, in her article, apart from just discussing your hair’s type, also talks about knowing your hair’s porosity and density. To that end, I decided to find out what mine was because I could be doing all the right things but for someone else’s hair. So the first thing I wanted to know was what does porosity mean for my hair and what is my hair’s porosity? Luckily, I kept all of my old hair in a bag…yes, I agree, that is weird.
How much moisture can your hair take? I think mine can take a lot. I definitely have a habit of overindulging with products but often feel that my hair is dry, is this because of my porosity or from using the wrong products? Will the porosity test reflect what I think about my hair?
I found a few versions of porosity tests but decided to follow a video by Journey To Waist Length as she seemed so straight forward. Please note, none of the tests discussed here today are 100% accurate. She does, however, suggest three tests, the first being the Water Test.
The Water Test – This is pretty simple, you get a strand of your hair, put it in room temperature water and wait about five minutes. Where your hair is in the water is an indicator of its porosity. If it sits on the top of the water you have low porosity hair. If it sinks to the middle of the water you have medium or normal porosity (this is the dream!). And if your hair sinks to the bottom, you have high porosity hair. The results are in and my hair sits on the top, poking out like the Loch Ness Monster. So this test says low porosity.
Bumps and Ridges – The second test is gliding your fingers along a strand of hair, if it feels smooth you have low or normal porosity hair. If you feel the “Bumps and Ridges” then you probably have high porosity hair. So again, the results say I have low porosity hair as my hair felt smooth like silk.
There was also a shower test which is basically seeing how quickly your hair dries after being in the shower versus how quickly your body dries. But ain’t nobody got time for that and I am not jumping in the shower again today, getting myself all wet, when I have 2 out 3 for low porosity hair. That’s fairly definitive I think. But if you want to try it, she describes high porosity hair drying faster than your body and low porosity hair drying slower than your body. This is based on you being dripping wet coming out of the shower. Like I said, I don’t have time for that as I have no idea how fast my body will dry but I know my hair, maybe not right now, but in its longer state took an age to dry. I suppose I’ve done shower test already then! Again, it looks like low porosity wins the day!
So what does all this mean for how I treat my hair?
Low porosity hair needs lots of moisture. I have always known my hair needed a lot of moisture but now I know why! I need to start looking into oils and creams that will penetrate the hair shaft and actually moisturise effectively and are on the lighter side to keep my hair from getting overloaded. I have heard that low porosity hair may not benefit from protein treatments but I will need to look into this further as I know protein treatments help your hair stay strong. This sounds like a bit of a catch 22 to me, protein may make my hair stiff and brittle but protein may also make my hair stronger. Hmmm…
And now for density.
I feel like my hair must be dense. It doesn’t move AT ALL! I assumed that’s what density meant. Then I saw that people where saying it’s the thickness of each individual hair strand. I have no idea how the heck I am supposed to know this, I would think all hair strands to human eyes look pretty fine and pretty similar. Do I need to borrow someone else’s hair to compare it with?
The first thing I read started talking about counting the number of strands in a square inch of my scalp and I said “Bye”. I found a better and easier test on Naturally Curly which says you should place your hair in a ponytail and assess how thick the ponytail is. Low density hair will have a diameter of less than 2 inches. Medium density is 2-3 inches. High density is 4 inches or more. I assume this is just a loose ponytail and although my hair has the appearance of being really thick when in its free state, I think, from memory, my ponytails are probably on the slimmer side. I would say that I have low to medium density.
So what does this mean for how I treat my hair?
Again I need to be using lighter products to not weigh my hair down, which is actually what I want to hear because if one test said I need to use lighter textured products and the other said I need to use heavy creams, I would be so confused! I would be tempted to give up if it wasn’t for the fact that I have no hair and I want it back!
Strand thickness is also an indicator of density but seems to be a less accurate way of measuring it. TheStir.com suggests that you compare the thickness of a single strand of hair to the thickness of some sewing thread. Hair that is the same width as the thread is a medium texture, thinner is a thin texture and thicker is a thicker texture. This test seems pretty straightforward and I have fine hair. This surprises me because I would always think I have thick hair but it turns out I just have a lot of fine hairs on my head! I did note however, on closer inspection of my hair strand, that within this single strand there were varying thicknesses. You may need magnifying glasses to see i on the picture but overall my hair is thinner than the beautiful purple cotton I used.
I am coming to the end of my current oil mix and I may need to adjust some of the ingredients to better suit my hair’s needs now I know I have FINE, LOW TO MEDIUM DENSITY, LOW POROSITY, KINKY hair. I hope this is not a bad combination! I’m sure there are really any bad combinations of hair types and textures. I will probably test again when the hair on my head has grown out a bit more rather than relying on 3 week old hair that is being stored in a bag under my bathroom sink! But I am pretty sure the results will be the same.
That was all a bit scientific! Let’s keep growing (smarter).
xx Lee xx
Comments welcome below (what’s your hair type?)
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