Hair typing is one of the first things naturals flock to when they begin caring for their curly hair. Originally created by Andre Walker, hair typing is a system that helps classify your curls to determine if you fall into the wavy, curly, or coily category. What many naturals don’t understand is that while the hair typing system can help you identify the styles that work best on your hair type, it doesn’t give you an accurate explanation of the best kinds of products for your hair and how to use them. This is why I do not use the hair typing system but choose to focus on other aspects of my hair to help me figure out the best ways to care for it.

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Photo Courtesy of @CurlsFoTheGirls

I honestly can’t remember the last time I used this system to manage my haircare. I found that it didn’t really explain the best ways for caring for my hair, other than explaining I had a corkscrew-like curl. Nowadays, I focus on other aspects of hair type, like the density, strand thickness, and porosity of my hair. These better explain my use of products -- which ones I use, how I use them, and other things that may be beneficial to the health of my hair.

I know that my hair is dense, my strands are fine, and my hair is highly porous. This means that I have a lot of hair, my strands are thinner than a thread, and my hair is more prone to dryness and the elements, because moisture escapes my hair just as quickly as it takes it in. Since I now have this information, I’ll give you an idea as to how it has helped me care for my hair and retain length!

Knowing how much product to use

Since my hair is fine and dense, I can use various products in a variety of ways. This means that if I use a heavy product, I’d have to use less of it so that it doesn’t weigh my fine strands down, and if I used a lighter product, I’d have to use more of it to successfully achieve my intended style. Learning this about my hair came from some trial and error with products and understanding how those products worked with my hair. The kind of product and the amount I use factors into the result of my style. I enjoy creamy stylers, butters, mousse and foam products when it comes to styling my hair. They all have different weights, which lets me know how much of those products should be used in a styling session.

Helping my hair retain moisture

Now, to focus on the porosity of my hair. Due to my hair being lightened, my hair is highly porous. Thus, my hair takes in and loses moisture quickly. It is important for me to find a balance when caring for my hair so that my hair isn’t too moisturized, yet it isn’t lacking moisture either. However, it is important that my hair is getting and retaining the moisture it needs in order to stay hydrated and healthy! This is where water-based leave-in conditioners come in handy, as well as creamy stylers. These stylers act as a block to seal in moisture and prevent it from escaping quickly. Thus, my hair stays hydrated longer!

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Photo Courtesy of @CurlsFoTheGirls

Applying products

The kinds of products I use and the way I apply them play a large role in the way my hair maintains moisture. I always use a water based leave-in conditioner and follow up with a creamy styler of some kind. This ensures that my hair is properly moisturized and stays moisturized for a few days before I have to reapply product. I apply my products in sections to make sure that my strands are evenly covered, and I apply them in a particular order -- leave-in conditioner first, followed by my styler of choice, and then a gel, mousse/foam, or jelly of some kind IF i want more hold. Although I think the order in which products are applied can help anyone, I found that this order really helps my hair in retaining moisture for a day or two longer.

Understanding the density, strand thickness, and porosity of your hair are better indicators of what kinds of products to use and how to use them. It’ll help eliminate a lot of trial and error moments and give you an idea of how to better care for your hair while making length retention and health your focus.

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This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated due to discontinued products.