Quote of the Day: On Hair Typing

Earlier today, I was on my Facebook page, throwing some shade at hair typing. Yes, yes I was. Now, before you get all hurt, let me be clear, I was not throwing shade at the people who follow hair typing. Here’s what I said:

Here’s a thought: If hair type is so objective and important, you should be able to look at the pics and figure out your (or someone else’s) type easy as pie. Yet…hair forums are inundated with threads with folks asking their hair type. Okaaaaay…

As a whole, I give the system a side eye because it basically implies that you can find out everything your hair needs simply by the shape of your curl. This is laughable to me. Also, I don’t see how something that is supposed to be helpful has women making hair forum threads by the hour asking people to diagnose them. I refuse to believe there are that many women who just need people to tell them they aren’t a Type 4 (if you read hair forums – you know what I’m talking about – a common rationalization for asking about hair type is so people can reassure the poster that they lucked out and dodged being a 4). Point blank. Moving on. Anyway, one of the comments from my pals had me fist pumping and cuttin’ some steps like the spirit had caught me, so I felt the need to share it with you all.

This is exactly why I dont subscribe to the hair typing. Like Lavern I have at least 4 different textures…when ppl ask what my hair type is…I say just MY type. The key to growing healthy hair is learning your own hair period…watching YT reading blogs is helpful but in my opinion (32 years relaxer free total, last relaxer 12/95) there is no better way to understand what works for your hair and what doesnt then taking the time to learn your own hair. Asking someone what product they use is senseless….what matters is what YOUR hair likes. Trial and error baby…there is no way around it. At the end of the day there are only four types, straight, wavy, curly and kinky…those sub-types were supposed to help but as a stylist who’s clientele base is either transitioning or chemical free, it is highly confusing to 90% of the women I speak to. Take the time to learn your own hair and forget about typing. You empower yourself when you are able to assess your hairs needs by touch, sight, and smell, to know what it needs…only time and effort you put into caring for it will allow you to do that. It will also help assure you’re not a victim in the salon because you don’t know your hair needs or what products agree with it better than someone you just met.

– Amber

When I read this comment, all I could say was, “YES.” Often, people come on my blog, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook and ask me what they should use or what they should to to their hair. 99% of the time, my answer is vague or I refer to my HG List and/or Regimen as a starting point. I’m pretty sure there are some ladies out there thinking, “This heffa…” But the thing is, I’m not a liar. It’s simply impossible for me to tell you what is best for you to do to your hair. I can offer knowledge, and share my experience as an example, but at the end of the day, I simply cannot express how important it is for people to do their own research and learn their own hair. If I’ve never touched  and styled your hair or examined a hair strand, I can’t tell you what your porosity/texture/density is with certainty, no matter how thoroughly you try to explain it to me. I can’t tell you what combination of products will give you moisturized, perfect hair. And honestly, if you don’t feel the need to learn about your own hair, neither do I.

As for Amber…well…I don’t even know why she’s on my blog anyway…because she’s clearly got it down pat. Hittin’ the nail all kinds of on the head. Giving me warm fuzzies and stuff.


P.S. If you haven’t liked my page on Facebook yet, here’s the link – https://www.facebook.com/QFTPC. We have some great discussions on there, and the more, the merrier! Warning. Do not come if you do not like PJ temptation.


24 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: On Hair Typing

  1. Bruna says:

    I agree all the way with Elle. I think people often confuse hair type with curl type. Your curl type is the size of your curl. Your hair type what your texture, porosity, density and elasticity are. When trying to figure out what products to use, CURL type doesn’t mean jack. You need to know your HAIR type. You cannot tell what someone’s hair type is by simply looking at their hair. Two people can have different curl types but may be able to use the same products because their hair type is similar. Two people can have the same curl type but not be able to use the same products because their hair type is different. Also, just because you have tightly coiled hair doesn’t automatically mean that your texture is course. Lots of people with tightly coiled hair have fine to medium texture. I have heard many Asian women say that the texture of their hair is very coarse despite having bone straight hair.

  2. Ms Lici says:

    so true! I read blogs and watch YT videos to get an idea of what to do. Not a BIBLE for what to do. I think to myself ‘ how does elle apply products’ try it and adapt to MY hair. This is just a lead in. People will be better off once they realize that. I remember you saying in a video that you recommend New Naturals do wash n’ go’s for a month to learn their hair. 7 months later, it is still the best advice I’ve received to date. Thanks hun

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think porosity is way more important than curl type. Every time I try a product that works that is touted to work with low porosity hair it works like a charm. Case in point, your cherry lola treatment video changed my life. My moisture retention and hang time has made a complete 180! I also love the Ingredients to Die for conditioner.

  4. Janel L says:

    you hit it dead on with the Type 4 comment….seems nobody wants to be a Type 4 oh no im a 3C 4A…..I say im a chick with a full head of thick natural hair….envy me…..

  5. Sierra says:

    Love this post! I always get stopped randomly by women asking what I use on my hair. Sometimes I have a blank stare because I’m thinking “I don’t have the same hair as yours, so what I use may not work for you.” I never say that because I don’t want to come off offensive to anyone, but yet it is so true. Like you said, it truly takes trial and error. I’ve been natural almost 4 years and of course the first few years are the hardest. We get drawn into the hair types and thinking “well it worked for them, it must work for me.” No ma’am. Wish it was that simple. I finally figured out what my hair likes and I can finally buy at my local BSS. It takes time but it is worth listening to your hair.

  6. Amelia McGee says:

    Katie, I think if most of us learn about ingredients as you say, we would be more successful at finding products that work well for our own hair types. Elle is like the queen of ingredients! so maybe my new year’s resolution should be to do more research.

  7. Amelia McGee says:

    Oh I agree with you Elle. Some folks are just plain lazy about their hair. Unfortunately we don’t have that “wake up and go” type of hair. It basically needs to be babied. But I can definitely relate. Since I was the first woman to go natural amongst my friends and co-workers, of course they came running to me for advice. All I could do was what you do, tell them what I like and what seems to work for me. But I had to stress to them that it may not work for them. I think thats what alot of ladies forget. They see your beautiful thick hair (Izzy) and believe if they use what you use their hair will look like yours. And when it doesn’t, then oh well, they get annoyed and inpatient. Similar to women with relaxers who take a picture of Halle Berry to the salon and expect to come out looking just like her. LOL Not gonna happen! But the product junkie in me can’t help but turn into the green-eyed monster when I can’t try certain products you love just to see how they work on my hair 😦

  8. Brittany says:

    I agree 100% some people put to much emphasis on hair type, that’s irrelevant because hair type doesn’t matter. As long as you take care of your hair correctly your hair will grow strong and healthy no matter what hair type you are. Though sometimes it helps because sometimes you may look at another vloggers twist out thinking your hair is gonna come out looking like hers, but it won’t because her texture is different. So it’s mostly good for newly naturals but once you been natural for a minute hair type doesn’t even matter

  9. Katie says:

    I agree about the hair typing. When I did the hair typing it

    a). Introduced me to a lot of products that made my hair oily
    b). Cut out a lot of products for me

    Since I have been learning more about ingredients and what works well with my hair the products that were “not designed” from my hair type worked.

    It made me very frustrated and very depressed when I could not find anything, and when I did find something it worked for a few weeks and then quit.

    It’s still a journey for me, but I am getting more hits than misses now that I am understand what ingredients work with my hair.

  10. Amelia McGee says:

    I kinda of feel bad for the women out there who are clueless about their hair. Because there are times when the pocketbook does not allow folks to go around trying every product out there on the market just to see which one works for your “hair type.” I can relate to the ladies who need guidance. Yes it does take trial and error but it also takes time. Some of us HAVE the time, some of us don’t. As for me, I’ve been natural since 2002 and I am still on a mission to find the perfect product for my hair type. Yes, I have my favs but I know there is something out there better somewhere. However, being a mom, working full-time AND going to school, I don’t have the time like alot of the ladies. So I try to stick with what I know and every now and then, when I can afford it, I treat myself to something new based on your product reviews as well as other youtubers.

    • Elle says:

      Amelia, I understand what you are saying, but most of the time spent on your hair is really first hand experience – washing, conditioning, doing your hair. Unless someone only gets their hair done at a salon, they are “learning” about their hair. Even if someone does not have the time to read books or Google ingredients all the time, they can still use first hand experience to determine what is good and bad for their hair, even if they don’t necessarily know why. Furthermore, I do not believe that natural hair needs to cost money. Do I like products? Yes, of course! But if I did not have the means, I would have a huge bottle of $6 AV gel and some olive oil in my cabinet, and I’d go to town. I don’t think there is a perfect product, and I don’t think one can always avoid a bad hair day – there are too many mitigating factors beyond our control for that to be the case. Often (and I’m not saying this applies to you b/c your post didn’t come across like this at all), when someone is searching for a perfect product, they are looking for their hair to do something that it will not do. Lastly, there is a HUGE difference between guidance and “hand holding.” The endless counts of posts and videos across the web serve as the guidance, but beyond that, a lot of the time it’s just best to jump in and try a technique out, and most of the time people no not even need to spend additional money. Just as a random example, why would someone ask a YouTuber if cowashing will work for them? Surely they already have conditioner in their shower, why not just try it out? Why would a stranger know what the outcome would be? I’m sorry but things like this just baffle me.

      • T.D. says:

        Well said Elle. I agree with both you and Amber as it relates to figuring out what’s good for one’s hair by trial and error as opposed to watching a video and copying what one sees just knowing it is going to work for them. I have watched many videos and read many blogs, but the bottom line is I have to try products myself and listen to what my hair says. You impart a lot of valuable information as far as I’m concerned, especially the info about dew points and glycerin in a product…thank you girl!!! Your random humor in various posts also brings me back [think hair rape in Baltimore..still laughing about that post, I thought I was there for a moment watching].
        I look forward to more posts & etc.!

  11. Jamaica says:

    I agree with you 100 percent. I am so tired of these women posting their hair hoping someone will say it’s 3c instead of 4a.

  12. Angie Fran says:

    Aww Elle Screw the Haters Gurl lol Your Reviews and Posts have helped me through out my Whole Journey and I cannot thank you enough we have a completely different hair texture and it really doesn’t matter it. Its all about the knowledge !!! Love ya 🙂

  13. Nic says:

    Great post…so many people complain that they can’t look at certain blogs b/c everyone there is X hair type. I always kind of have to roll my eyes a bit at people who want 100 strangers to tell them that they have curly hair. I had to stop looking after a while. (Or the other phenomenon is that once someone’s hair grows to a certain length, which of course you know, extends their curl/kink a bit, people suddenly decide that they don’t really have black/kinky/afro-textured hair and can’t give them advice, even though a year ago, they clearly did-and still do).

    I mean, if I didn’t know my own hair when I stopped getting a relaxer, I’d be going through all of these things that don’t help me. I try to explain that when people ask me what I do/use on my hair. B/c here’s the thing. I had natural hair until age 18, then had many years of relaxer, then wound up natural again by accident. So unlike a lot of people, I had many years of experiencing my own hair long before anyone had made up all of the 21st century natural rules. So nothing about my hair matches what you are supposedly do with my “hair type” which is why I agree with you and your friend about trial and error.

    I love beauty products and did try a lot of the new stuff and basically have wound up with the same shampoo and jar of hair grease that I had in high school(but I do love that Organical conditioner you mentioned b/c it’s a cheaper version of what I was using and worked out well for me). And I have hair that people totally want.

    Plus I find the self-esteem issues wrapped up with people feeling as though they’ve wound up at the bottom of the genetic barrel to be disheartening. Everyone’s hair can look great if you figure out how to work with it and not against it. I can look at your hair and say, oh, that is really pretty and knowing that my hair won’t look or behave like yours doesn’t make me feel bad or hate what I have.

    And yes, thanks for commenting on the texture of products b/c I’m totally that person in the beauty supply store who is looking over my shoulder as I open a jar of stuff to see what it looks like.

  14. Hair Of Heritage says:

    Thank you for bringing this up! I think that thanks to the hair typing hype a lot of naturals don’t choose products from their needs and then get disappointed. I think the whole 1-4 typing is outdated and honestly it hasn’t helped me much either. I think, just like you ladies, that we need to learn to get to know our own hair. We live in a time when we still think that everyone else will fix our problems from hair care to our love life to what our career should be. If you can’t answer the questions about things that are yours as an individual how do you think that someone you have never met will answer them for you?
    It’s all trial and error, there is no easy button. 🙂

  15. Rockell says:

    So does that mean all these blogs that has product reviews are useless and a waste of time read and watch the videos? Basically everyone”s hair is different right so why try what the blogger is saying to try?!

    • Elle says:

      I hope you’re kidding. Product reviews (at least mine) go over a number of objective properties of hair products, like ingredients, consistency, smell, etc. I know that personally, I don’t like ordering a product online without knowing the consistency first, because that helps give me an idea of how my hair might react to it. Also, it’s nice to hear others’ opinions as a starting point, but it’s certainly not the end all, be all. You need to take in the knowledge, then apply it to your own hair properties and experiences.

    • Dwaynia says:

      I’m not sure if you’re joking or not but that’s definitely not what she’s saying. I believe she’s saying that even as you look to blogs and video for help, you STILL have to do your research…period. If you are often on blogs/videos you should have noticed that some people ask the bloggers to dictate to them exactly what they should do with their hair…i.e. cream or water based products; gels or creams; leave in or moisturizer. Those are things only YOU can decide for YOUR hair.

      To be honest, my starting point was questfortheperfectcurl. I mean this lady is on point with the info, but I did HAVE to conduct my own research and at 9 months in I can basically look at a product and tell whether or not it stands a chance with my hair (that may sound weird but I’m serious, I know what my hair likes). Quite frankly, if folk would focus less on curl type and more on moisture and hair health, they’d see much improved hair in both health AND appearance regardless of curl pattern or the lack thereof.

  16. Chilisa Walker says:

    I agree with you 100%. I’m a newbie, BC’d July 2011. And I have learned from you and others on YT that what works for you may not work form me. It’s trial and error. I have found out that I can use glycerin all year but my son can’t. Just like with the Wen products some won’t use it because someone says that it took out their hair. Well did they over moisturize? Because over moisturizing can take out your hair, just as well using to much protein.

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