Bad hair days just shouldn’t happen anymore. We have all the science and technology to understand how hair works, why it does what it does, and, most of all, how to make the most of what you have. This is your ultimate guide to understanding your hair then making it the best it can be with all natural hair products, heat styling tools, and lots of tips on how to give it the right kind of TLC.
What Type of Hair Do You Have?
To give your hair what it really needs, start by understanding how hair works and figure out what type of hair you have.
Basically you either have Oily/Greasy, Normal, or Dry hair and Straight, Wavy, Curly, or Coily/Kinky hair.
Think of hair strands as little bridges from your scalp to the ends of your hair. Natural oils, proteins, and sebum are produced by sebaceous glands in the scalp, so the straighter hair is, the easier path these nourishing oils have to find their way to the ends of hair. These oils keep hair nourished, shiny, and hydrated.
Hair becomes too oily or dry when natural oils get out of balance. Too much oil causes build up and oily hair. And too little oil or if hair is so curly if can’t reach the ends and we get dry hair. So, where do you stand and how can you take care of your hair the best way possible?
How to Find Your Hair Type
Not sure what hair type you have? Shampoo hair, allow it to completely air dry, then take a piece of tissue (Kleenex) and press against the roots on the crown of your head and behind your ears. If there is residue on the tissue, you have Oily hair, a little bit of residue is Normal hair, and no residue is Dry hair.
Your Hair Type
Your hair type gives it shape, it’s talking about all those lovely curls, waves, coils, or straight hair. A commonly accepted system of hair typing is the Andre Walker System. Andre Walker was Oprah’s hair stylist and he actually came up with this handy classification system which can help you understand your hair a little better.
Type 1: Straight hair is that naturally sleek and mostly straight type that has no problem getting natural oils from scalp to ends. The oils can get straight from the scalp to hair ends without having to get through waves and curl. It’s literally a straight shot to the ends of hair making them nourished and healthy. According to the Andre Walker System, straight hair is either fine and fragile or coarse and thin, but always resistant to holding curl even after heat styling.
How to Get Fine Straight Hair to Hold Curl
- Shampoo and condition, as usual
- Gently towel dry
- Add a golf ball sized dollop of mousse (for short hair) or a baseball sized dollop of mousse (for long hair) while hair is still damp
- After it’s about 80% air dried, put in Tifara Beauty 42-pack 7″ Flexible Curling Rods. You can adjust for tighter or looser curls by how tight you wrap hair.
- Let hair dry naturally the rest of the way then remove curling rods.
- Shake your hair out from side to side- avoid the temptation to run your hands through it!- and spray with a healthy hairspray. Your straight hair should be voluminous and bouncing with curls or waves.
If you don’t mind the heat and use a protective thermal spray, substitute the curling rods for a hot curling iron on moussed-up hair after it’s totally dry.
Type 2: Wavy hair has a bit of beachy-looking soft semi-curl to it. It’s not quite Curly, but not quite Straight. Oils can have a harder time getting from roots to ends than with Straight hair and the result is hair more prone to being dry, especially at the ends. Wavy hair tends to be fine and thin or coarse and frizzy.
How to Give Fine and Thin Wavy Hair More Texture
- Shampoo and condition, as usual
- Gently towel dry
- After it’s about 50% dry, spray in an all natural sea salt spray like Beauty by Earth Sea Salt Spray for Hair
- Vigorously shake your head up and down like a headbanger (nobody’s watching!)
How to Give Coarse and Frizzy Hair More Control
- Shampoo and condition, as usual
- Gently towel dry
- Spray in a lightweight leave-in conditioner that’s made for your type of frizzy hair, like all natural and Vegan Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave In Conditioning Spray with Coconut Oil & Argan Oil
- Blow dry with a Ceramic Blow Dryer and large round brush using downward motions away from the scalp. The Leave In Conditioner will help protect against heat damage.
- Once dry, finish with an all natural Anti-Frizz Serum packed with omega fatty acids to nourish hair, like Giovanni Ultra Revive Super Potion Anti-Frizz Serum
Type 3: Curly hair is a range of loose curls to corkscrew curls. Natural oils have a harder time getting from scalp to ends with curly hair than with Straight or Wavy hair. This can make Curly hair frizzy, dry, and unmanageable. The biggest focus for Curly hair is keeping it hydrated which makes curls healthy and bouncy.
Shea Moisture has a great set of organic hair products for curly hair that will keep it hydrated and healthy. The Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Combination Pack comes with a Curl and Shine Shampoo and Conditioner plus Curl Enhancing Smoothie with silk protein and neem oil. It’s made to add back moisture and shine and make curls as gorgeous as possible.
Type 4: Kinky/Coily/Thick hair is more curly than Type 3 and has loads of volume. Type 4 curls are either tight coils or Z-shaped coils and have the hardest time getting natural oils from scalp to ends because of all the twists and turns it has naturally. This makes it especially prone to breakage and dry ends.
Coily hair tends to be dry and hard to manage when it’s not properly cared for. The biggest focus is hydration and keeping it safe because it tends to be more fragile than other types of hair. A leave-in conditioner with Argan or Shea Butter will help give it a big hydration boost.
Shampooing and Conditioning by Hair Type
Shampooing hair controls oils produced by the scalp plus removes dirt and sweat. Post-shampoo, conditioner adds in hydration, moisture, and shine. But shampooing and conditioning too little or too often can actually do more harm than good.
Oily or Greasy Hair
Oily hair is caused by overactive sebaceous glands in the scalp. It tends to look heavy or greasy when not washed often enough or with the wrong shampoo.
According to Experts, this is usually caused by:
- Poor diet
- Medications, like steroids
- pH imbalance
- Oily skin
Reducing oil production from the sebaceous glands themselves, depends on the reason. But while working to improve your diet or talking to your doctor about medications which may be causing it, there are some things you can do to make oily hair look less greasy.
How to Make Oily Hair Less Greasy
- Shampoo daily and only use conditioner on hair ends
- Use a clarifying shampoo especially made for oily hair. These are made to remove dirt, oil, and products which can not only weigh hair down and make it feel greasy, but can actually prevent hair from growing as well as it should. We love 100% Vegan and All Natural ACURE Curiously Clarifying Shampoo – Lemongrass & Argan.
- Dilute a 1:8 solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and water (1 part ACV and 8 parts water) and rinse after shampooing in the shower. This will help restore pH balance which can help those sebaceous glands stop overproducing for a while, then repeat when you notice oily hair again.
Normal hair means it’s not too greasy and not too dry. The scalp is producing just the right amount of oil. Your hair doesn’t look weighed down or feel greasy like oily hair, but it also doesn’t get a bunch of fly aways or feel bone dry like dry hair. It’s pretty much the perfect type of hair. Whether it’s straight, wavy, curly, or coily your hair tends to look nourished and healthy.
Unless there’s a reason for your hair to be prone to getting oily (genetics, medications, etc) you’re more likely to have it go dry. This is simply because of everyday living. Heat styling tools, being out in the sun, or even the seasons can make hair prone to dryness.
How to Shampoo and Condition Normal Hair
- Shampoo and condition 5-7 days a week
- Use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner like All Natural Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner
- Skip the heavy cream rinse conditioners as this can cause normal hair to be weighed down
- Protect hair when heat styling with All Natural Hair Food Coconut and Argan Oil Heat Protectant Spray Blend
Dry or Damaged Hair
Dry or damaged hair needs a lot of love. It’s usually from chemical processing, damage from heat styling tools, UV damage, saltwater, hard water, or chlorine. It feels dry, is often frizzy, and has lots of fly-aways. If you have dry or damaged hair, you know you have it.
How to Take Care of and Improve Dry, Damaged Hair
- Shampoo no more than 2-3 times per week but condition daily
- Use a shampoo made to improve dry, damaged hair, like all natural Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo which is made to dramatically improve chemically processed, heat styled, UV damaged hair. It’s a Vegan hair care product, has no parabens, phthalates, or phosphates, and works wonders.
- Use a cream rinse conditioner daily on ends daily, like Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner or a leave-in conditioner like Pureology Colour Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner Hair Treatment Detangling Spray
Think of wet hair like a piece of silk; it’s delicate and can be damaged easily. Wet hair needs a tender touch and lots of TLC.
Tips to Keep Hair Healthy When Drying
- Use a microfiber towel. Cotton bath towels can actually cause damage to the cuticle, making hair frizzy, cause split ends, and give it a dull finish.
- Be gentle when towel drying hair, wet hair is the most fragile hair there is
- Always protect fragile hair types from heat styling with a heat protectant spray
- When possible, air dry or use non-heat styling tools
Types of Blow Dryers
Blow drying can damage hair and make it more frizzy than it should be. But, finding the right blow dryer for your hair type can help prevent damage and make hair look fabulous.
Ionic Blow Dryers
Best for thick, Curly, and Coily hair. Sends negatively charged ions into wet hair which quickly absorbs the positively charged water ions. Hair dries faster than other types of blow dryers and because the cuticle doesn’t open during drying it’s safest for thick, Curly, and Coily hair. Fine, dry, and damaged hair types should avoid using an ionic blow dryer because it can quickly lead to over drying hair and damage.
Ceramic Blow Dryers
Best for fine, dry, and damaged hair. Coated with ceramic to distribute heat evenly making hair less prone to heat damage. This helps maintain hair’s cuticle and prevents more harm to fragile hair. Always use the lowest heat setting possible and blast with cold air for at least 30 seconds at the end of blow drying to close the hair cuticle.
Traditional Blow Dryers
These are not really great for any hair type, but they’re cheap and get the job done. Traditional blow dryers are your drugstore brands and can cause hair damage. If you must use one of these, opt for the hair diffuser attachment which distributes heat and limits damage and use the lowest heat setting. And, of course, always spray hair with a thermal protectant spray.
Types of Flat Irons
Flat irons work wonders to make hair sleek, straight, and shiny. Positive ions in the environment, from humidity and the water content in hair cause frizziness, damage, and breakages. Many flat irons work by using negative ions to counteract these positive ions which helps hair look sleek, shiny, and straight.
Best for Thick, Coarse, Frizzy hair. Titanium is a durable metal that transfers heat quickly and evenly by producing negative ions. Frizzy hair is tamed by infrared heat that comes from negative ions. Titanium flat irons work fast.
Best for Dry, Damaged, Frizzy hair. Tourmaline produces both positive and negative ions making it work fast but also will retain moisture in hair. It needs less heat than titanium to get the job done which helps limit damage. Most flat irons with tourmaline have a dusting of it over ceramic. This works great to create a nice smooth surface and can actually repair hair damage by protecting it from excessive heat and locking in moisture.
Best for Thin and Fragile hair. Ceramic distributes heat easily, has a smooth finish, and does a good job of keeping heat at a manageable temperature to avoid causing damage. Ceramic flat irons are super popular and affordable.
Best for Dry, Damaged, Curly, Coily, and Frizzy hair. Ionic flat irons generate negative ions and neutralize positive ions. This helps limit positive ions in hair which makes it frizzy while adding in negative ions which generate infrared heat to help repair hair. Be sure to keep the temperature as low as possible.
Wet to Dry
Best for Thin or Thick, Coarse hair. If you don’t want to buy a blow dryer and don’t have super frizzy hair, then the wet to dry might be for you. It’s made to literally take wet hair and dry it like a regular flat iron, but most of them aren’t as good at it as other types. It’s not great for frizzy hair and won’t make hair as smooth and shiny as other irons.
Sometimes any hair type craves luxurious curls. Either you want to add them into straight or wavy hair or polish them in curly or coily hair. Here’s what you need to know about curling your hair.
Curling irons come in the same materials as flat irons, Titanium, Tourmaline and Ceramic and the same rules apply for heat transfer and hair type. But, curling irons also come in 24K Gold, oh ya.
The Gold Curling Iron
Best for Thick Coarse hair. Gold and gold-plated curling irons deliver quick heat at a high temperature and distribute heat evenly. They get hot and stay hot. They’re usually made of 24K gold and can be a little spendy, but if you have thick hair and not a lot of time, the results might convince you it’s worth it.
Curling Iron Sizes
Curling iron barrels come in different diameters which all create different results.
- 2” Barrel
- Creates beachy waves
- Best for long hair
- 1 ½” Barrel
- Creates tousled curls
- Best for medium hair
- 1” Barrel
- Creates classic curls and defined waves
- Best for all hair lengths
- ¾” Barrel
- Creates corkscrew curls
- Best for short hair
Curling Iron Temperature
Like all heat styling, using the lowest temperature possible for your hair type is wise. But there’s a balance between getting results and hair damage.
- Up to 300º F
- Fine, damaged, chemically processed hair
- 300º to 380º F
- Healthy or medium-textured hair
- 350º to 450º F
- Coarse, thick, and curly hair
Keeping Hair Healthy at Bedtime
Some hair types are more fragile than others, but everyone’s hair needs to be kept out of harm’s way while we sleep. Try these tips to keep hair safe and improve it at bedtime.
- Spray leave in conditioner for fine, dry/damaged, and fragile hair
- Wrap hair in a bun or loose braid
- Pile on top of your head and secure with a silk scarf
- Sleep on a silk pillowcase to prevent tangles and breakage
To Sum It Up
Knowing and understanding your hair type is the best way to keep it healthy. Shampooing and conditioning with the right products and the right amount of days per week will make your hair look it’s best. Choose the best blow dryer for your hair type and keep it healthy at bedtime.