A Guide to Men's Hair Types

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Updated 06/05/2021

The arguable godfather of the hair typings system used in the world of style and beauty is actually Oprah’s OG hair stylist: a man by the name of  Andre Walker

Walker defined hair textures in the ‘90s with a system of four major categories: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.

It’s based on two traits: texture and curl pattern. At one end of the spectrum is 1a hair, which is straight and thin, and at the other end, 4b, which is tightly coiled with “z-angle” curls.

Walker’s system is really about directing people to the right practices and products for their hair type (he also produces product lines) but the system isn’t perfect.

Aside from the problems with a system that starts with straight hair as the default, it’s relying on hair texture as the primary organization as opposed to density or coarseness (both of which can be used to describe hair’s “thickness.”)

Density is defined as the number of hairs on your head, whereas coarseness describes the relative thickness of the individual hair follicles.

Still, it also arguably puts the most tools in front of people for communicating hair types.

Andre Walker’s Hair Typing System

As we mentioned, Walker’s system is built on four major categories with subcategories to further specify subtypes. As numbers move higher, the texture of the hair becomes less straight; as the letters go higher, the hair becomes more coarse. 

Type 1: Straight

Type 1 hair is straight, with a tendency to become shiny or greasy, in part because the oil from your scalp travels down a straight follicle more quickly. 

Type 1 hair is divided into three subcategories, 1A, 1B, and 1C. As the letters go higher, the hair gains both volume and thickness, with the individual follicles becoming more coarse.

Type 2: Naturally Wavy

Type 2 picks up where Type 1 ends: the hair in this category tends to have a subtle wave to it, and tends likewise to be thicker than hair from the previous category. 

Type 2 has three subcategories. 2A tends to be more fine, with S-shaped waves, with 2B becoming more frizzy and slightly thicker. 2C is the waviest, and is prone to frizz, which can make it harder to work with.

Type 3: Curly

The difference between wavy and curly is really a spectral one, but Type 3 hair is full of springy curls that are easier to style. It has three subtypes: 3A is shinier, with 3B having tighter curls and 3C having very tight curls. 

Type 4: Very Curly or Kinky

Type 4 represents the curliest and kinkiest hair, and typically the most coarse texture. Interestingly, while type 4A typically has well-defined curls, 4B and 4C types have such tight curls that it may make the hair appear less curly than some of the earlier hair types in this list.

Beyond Hair Types

As we mentioned, this system, while useful, is not an empirical guide to everything you need to know about your hair. 

One of the missing pieces of information regards texture. Different textures (described by the thickness of circumference of your hair) can affect how it looks and how it responds to products.

Hair can be likewise categorized in a couple ways: fine or thick/coarse. 

Fine hair can be considered thin and fragile, and as we mentioned, it can become greasy or oily more quickly because of its size. Fine hair also breaks more easily than coarse hair, and product can weigh it down.

Coarse or thick hair will always have a medulla layer in addition to the cuticle and cortex, and will always look the most full and thick of the three types. 

However, because coarse hair has a thinner cuticle layer, it will also be more prone to breakage. 

With coarse hair, you also need to worry about the weather making the problem worse: humid weather can cause frizz and make coarse hair take longer to dry.

There’s also the practical question of what this information is used for. 

While your hair’s texture will tell you a lot about how to style and care for it, you’ll benefit just as much from learning about your hair and scalp issues. 

Dermatologists will refer you to specific products based on dry scalp, dandruff, oily hair, or whether you’re in need of medication, hydration or thickening (Like what you’ll find in our “Thick Fix” Hair Thickening Shampoo). 

Shampoos are made for every kind of hair — remember, some are even designed not to hurt the eyes of babies. 

It’s official. Hims is a hit.

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Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.

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In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Parbhu, 28

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It has helped boost my confidence as well as give me a full head of hair to play with. I am so pleased.

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I notice a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.

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In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

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Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription-based products. Customers were compensated for their testimonials. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary.

Hair Type and Hair Loss

As you might already suspect, all hair types can experience hair loss. 

But one fair simple trick to see if you’re losing your hair is to keep an eye on your hair for signs that your follicles are becoming less uniform. 

Researchers found that changing hair diameter diversity produced a strong link with something called “follicle miniaturization,” which can be a sign of oncoming male pattern baldness, officially known as androgenic alopecia

If you see some thinner hairs (wispy is a good way to describe them), you may want to keep an eye out or consult a healthcare professional to see if they’re signs of a larger trend toward miniaturization, which is a flag bearer for oncoming alopecia issues.

Thickening your hair is possible in some cases — read our guide to the Best Hair Thickening Products for Men to find out more.

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

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This combo kit includes two treatments. The once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss. The alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth.

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Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

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This alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth

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What to Do Next

Whether you’ve learned some new information about your hair or had your previous suspicions confirmed, the good news is this hair information can only benefit you in the future. 

But this isn’t everything. Just because your hair fits a type doesn’t mean that dozens of other factors won’t make your own style and maintenance needs unique. 

Hair care is less of a flow chart and more of a form of art. It’s about finding what works for you and gives you hair that you can feel proud of. 

If you’re learning more about your hair, perhaps because you’re experiencing hair loss, check out our guides to learn more. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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