Hair Typing 

Many naturals are interested in determining their hair type and some find the typing system as divisive within the natural hair community.  There are multiple hair typing systems – including the Andre Walker Hair Typing System, LOIS, and FIA’s Hair Typing System.  It is important to realize that just because many have a similar hair types, that not all products will work for all types equally. Our hair is as unique and individual as we are.  The typing system can act as a guide, especially for newly naturals, on your natural hair journey; but it is important to “learn” your own hair and treat it individually.

I do not endorse or recommend any particular hair typing system.  I have included the FIA system as a broad reference.


FIA System


First classifier – Your curliness (or lack thereof)
The straight ones
1a – stick straight
1b – straight but with a slight body wave, just enough to add some volume, doesn’t look wavy
1c – straight with body wave and one or two visible S-waves (e.g. nape of neck or temples)

The wavy ones
2a – loose, stretched out S-waves throughout the hair
2b – shorter, more distinct S-waves (similar to waves from braiding damp hair)
2c – distinct S-waves and the odd spiral curl forming here and there

The curly ones
3a – big, loose spiral curls
3b – bouncy ringlets
3c – tight corkscrews

The really curly ones
4a – tightly coiled S-curls
4b – tightly coiled hair bending in sharp angles (Z-pattern)

Second classifier – What (most of) your individual strands look like

F – Fine
Thin strands that sometimes are almost translucent when held up to the light. Shed strands can be hard to see even against a contrasting background. Similar to hair found on many people of Scandinavian descent.

N – Normal
Strands are neither fine nor coarse. Similar to hair found on many Caucasians.

C – Coarse
Thick strands that where shed strands usually are easily identified against most backgrounds. Similar to hair found on many people of Asian or native American descent.

Third classifier – Your overall volume of hair
Put your hair in a ponytail with as much hair as possible in it. Don’t bother with the way it looks – the goal is to have most/all of your hair in there. If it means it sits smack dab on top of your head, put it there.

Measure the circumference of the ponytail. If you have bangs and/or you can’t get all of your hair in there adjust according to how much of your hair you have measured.

i – thin (less than 2 inches/5 centimeters)
ii – normal (between 2-4 inches or 5-10 centimeters)
iii – thick (more than 4 inches/10 centimeters)

If you are having difficulty determining the thickness of individual hairs, this might help:

Take a strand of hair from the back of your head. Roll the strand between your thumb and index finger.

Fine Hair — Your hair is difficult to feel or it feels like an ultra-fine strand of silk

Coarse Hair — Your hair feels hard and wiry. As you roll it back and forth, you may actually hear it!

Medium Hair — Your hair feels like a cotton thread. You can feel it, but it isn’t stiff or rough. It is neither fine or coarse