Let’s admit it: texture discrimination and curl envy existed far before there was a means of identifying or labeling different curl patterns. Remember the terms good hair, buckshots, baby hair, beady beads, mixed hair? Yep, that inferiority and superiority complex existed far before texture typing.If anything, curl pattern is very helpful when seeking styling techniques, especially when following YouTubers. Realistic expectations for your hair are major components in self-acceptance, confidence, and love along your journey.
I think knowing my curl pattern helps me finding products that work for my tresses. I also discovered that using products that were all natural gave me the best curls possible, and by following the Curly Girl Method I found another means of amazing moisture retention. By learning my curl pattern I was able to wash, condition, and style my hair better than ever, so don’t sleep on knowing your curl pattern. Here are reasons it is helpful to know you curl pattern.
When first going natural
Newbies usually ask others what is their curl pattern on Curly Q&A, in forums, groups, and even at hair events as they try to figure everything out. This person is new to the movement and trying to gain as much information and insight as possible. She’s vulnerable and eager to understand, so killing her spirit by balking at her for wanting to know is counterproductive and actually, quite mean-spirited.
Give her the 411 on curl pattern so she can figure out what’s she’s doing and if you don’t know just say that! There is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to understand your own tresses from all aspects. Everyone has a personal journey and what may not work for you may do wonders for the next curly or wavy girl.
Another thing to consider is that some people frequently used heat during their transition, so their attempt to share photo of their hair in every state, wet or dry, in order to identify their curl pattern can actually create a caveat to a conversation about heat damage.
Trying new products
Many company websites will tell you what type of curl pattern their product will work best with. Yes, they have done their homework and know what they are talking about. Does that mean you cannot use them if you don’t fall within that scope? Not at all, but it does mean the product has been either formulated for those hair types or tested on them with success. It’s no secret that a looser curl pattern may be more receptive to a curl defining mousse while a tighter texture might respond better to a gel or custard. These are not absolutes, but they help to provide guidance. A perfect example is our very own CurlyWavyDiane who has a wavy, curly texture, yet she cannot get enough of the SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque.
Achieving different styles
Not everyone will master every style. I can’t do a twist-out to save my life, but I can rock a mean wash and go and curly fro like a boss! Knowing your curl pattern can help you understand and accept whether reducing frizz and attaining curl definition is even an option. By nature, many Type 4 textures are frizzy, but this is not an indicator of dryness or damage; it also does not mean that everyone with Type 4 texture cannot achieve curl definition. If my hair is capable of achieving curl definition, I’m likely to use a technique from someone with a similar curl pattern. I have fine strands so flat twists and straight hair make my hair look thin. Knowing this, I am drawn to more styles that give me the volume I crave.
When trying to achieve a defined wash and go, wavies tend to scrunch with lighter products and coilies tend to shingle with thicker products. Notice I said tend, for these are not absolutes. These are all tips that help identify the best technique for the desired style, and when you couple that with the right product you see better hair days.
I’m a natural hair enthusiast that understands the healthy maintenance that my hair requires. I understand the science of these dead strands that I try to preserve as much as possible. Knowing your hair’s structure helps you understand how well your hair’s sebum travels down the length of the hair, how often you may need to wash or condition it, and which products yield the best results. If your scalp excretes sebum at an average rate then the tighter the curl, the more challenging it is for the sebum to travel, thus leaving tighter curls to demand more moisture than looser one.
It’s more about the hair shaft, cuticle, sebum production, and product buildup. By nature, the tighter the curl, the more porous it tends to be. It’s helpful, so next time someone asks “what’s my curl pattern?” take a deep breath and realize this person is just trying to understand this madness we call hair. Whether curly, coily, or wavy, we all need guidance on mastering our tresses.
Check out our discussion panel on Hair Typing: Does it Empower or Alienate Us with Miss Jessie's Original co-founder Miko Branch, Karen Tappin of Karen's Body Beautiful, & Imani Dawson, founder of the blog Tribe Called Curl.
Does knowing your curl pattern help? In what way? Do you use all elements of the texture typing system?