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Hair

What type of hair do I have? How to work it out according to a top stylist

June 23rd 2021 / Victoria Woodhall / 0 comment

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Photography by Tom Newton

Nothing in a bottle will improve your hair until you know your real hair type, says Luke Hersheson. Here’s how to recognise yours

'What type of hair do I have' has shot up 500 per cent in Google searches over the past year – no doubt in part thanks to being apart from our beloved stylists for the best part of the year, leading us all to take our hair matters into our own hands.

No matter how many hair masks and special hair towels we buy, if we don't know our hair type, we could be wasting our money on products that don’t work – or worse, are completely wrong for our hair, says Luke. We could all do with a refresher on our hair type (frizzy hair is not a hair type FYI, but curl type is key). “Nothing in a bottle will improve your hair until you really know exactly what you’re dealing with,” Luke explains.

Here, in an extract from his book Great Hair Days, he tells us how to work out your hair type.

How to tell if your hair is straight:

  • Can be thick or fine

  • Quickly becomes greasy and limp

  • Frizzes at the drop of a hat

  • Can be reluctant to hold a curl or wave

  • Often sleek and shiny

Straight hair ranges from baby-fine wisps that are almost impossible to curl to a super-thick mane that might hide the odd wave underneath and frizzes up at the first sign of humidity.

Straight hair can become greasy and limp quickly, so it’s important that it is washed frequently; dry shampoo should become your staple product. The right cut is as much – if not more – important than the products you use. The more you chop into it the more life and guts you give it.

Have I got a wavy hair type?

  • Wavy hair can be thick or fine

  • Can include soft wave to definitive kinks

  • Is easier to manage when layered

  • Drier than straight hair

Most women mistake their wavy hair for curls and frizz. You’re just as likely to have waves whether your hair is baby fine or thick. A great cut is essential - cleverly positioned layers and tapered ends will encourage movement and make hair easy to style.

MORE GLOSS: How to know your curl type and the products that work

Is my hair curly?

  • Curl shape can be irregular or uniform

  • Hair is drier than straight and wavy hair

  • Prone to frizz

For decades, curls have been on the receiving end of straighteners but thankfully women are finally learning to love them. We’re seeing more naturally curly models on the catwalk and in advertising campaigns. Curls can lack uniformity, which I know some women find a challenge when it comes to styling. Curly hair tends to be dry, as the shape of the hair prevents oils travelling from the scalp to the ends. It may not feel as soft as straighter hair. Hydrating masks and products are essential.

MORE GLOSS: How to know your curl type

Have I got coily hair?

  • Coily hair is much drier than straight, wavy and curly hair

  • Texture can feel coarse

  • Curl shapes range from tight coils to ringlets but also irregular curl patterns

  • Prone to breakage

Coily hair includes everything from miniature curls and tiny ringlets, to a full head of glorious tight curls that can be a nightmare to detangle. The lack of uniformity is what gives curly hair its character and makes it so cool. Think back on all those naff curly hair commercials in the nineties; what made those looks so terrible was that every single curl looked exactly the same. Oils from the scalp can have a hard time travelling down strands which can result in your coils looking and feeling dry and brittle. Diffusers can bring definition to softer coils but for tight curls, twisting your hair while still damp and allowing it to dry naturally is best.

MORE GLOSS: Why it took me 15 years to love my curly afro hair

Is my hair mixed texture?

It’s not uncommon to see hair that is relatively straight on top but with strong kinks underneath, or maybe an erratic and frizzy surface hiding much smoother hair underneath.

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An edited extract from Buy Great Hair Days by Luke Hersheson (Ebury Press, £20). Photography Tom Newton. Buy online.

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