Textured hair is found among many races all over the world. It is well-known that slightly wavy and wavy hair is quite prevalent among the Caucasian race in Central American countries, the Middle East, Southern Europe and Southeast Asia. Super curly hair is found in the United States among African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans and Caribbean Americans, including inhabitants of the Dominican Republic. Surprisingly, even 47% of Japanese women have wavy to frizzy hair.1
There appears to be no uniform or easy way to describe somewhat curly hair, as compared with super curly hair, other than through racial descriptions. Racial descriptions, however, can be cumbersome, lead to socially embarrassing situations and even cause offense among certain groups. It is therefore with the intent of finding unobjectionable descriptions that some attempts have been made to categorize hair into various types and to subcategorize these types with numbers, rather than to describe them by alluding to nationalities or the ethnic background of individuals
Renowned hairstylist Andre Walker, who styled the hair of many celebrities including that of Oprah Winfrey, made one such attempt.2 Walker’s classification of hair types was the beginning of hair descriptions in terms of hair waviness or curliness (see Figure 1). He described Type 1 as straight hair without curl and classified the next three types of hair based on the increasing degree of waviness and curliness: Type 2 was somewhat wavy; Type 3 was wavy to very wavy; and Type 4 was super curly.
Walker further divided each hair type into three subtypes based on hair diameter; from fine to medium to large. For example, Type 1A was straight hair with a small diameter (fine), Type 1B was straight hair with a medium diameter, and Type 1C was straight hair with a large hair diameter (coarse). This subcategorization was also carried into Types 2 and 3 hair—but based on waviness and not in terms of fineness or coarseness of the hair. Walker divided Type 4 hair into two categories, 4A and 4B, depending upon the hair thickness, which again was based on fiber diameter. Notably, he did not depict the properties of these hair types based on fiber physics or in relation to the physical and chemical properties of hair; he also did not plot properties of straightness or curliness on a continuum.
De La Mettrie, et al.,3 also studied the shape of textured hair, this time with respect to curve diameter, curl index, number of waves and number of twists and classified textured hair into eight types. The researchers did not, however, compare the properties of these hair types during their research. Classifications also were not based on previously adopted nomenclature by consumers and hairstylists.
It is important to correlate consumer terminology of hair types with those determined objectively for the proper adoption of scientific findings. It is also important to compare and contrast the properties of hair types to develop appropriate products for each hair type.
Here, the author proposes a modified Periodic Table of Global Textures based on the waviness and curliness character of hair, along with the properties of each hair type, quantified objectively. Each type is described next, followed by a discussion of related formulation strategies.
- Nagase, S., Tsuchiya, M., Matsui, T., Shibuichi, S., Tsujimura, H., Satoh, N., . . . & Tsujii, K. (2008). Characterization of curved hair of Japanese women with reference to internal structures and amino acid composition. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 59, 317–332.
- Walker, A. (1997). Andre talks hair. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- Mettrie, D. L. R., Saint-Leger, D., Loussouarn, G., Garcel, A., Porter, C., & Langaney, A. (2007). Shape variability and classification of human hair: A worldwide approach. Human Biology, 79(3):265-281.