I Learned About My Hair Type When I Was 17 Years Old...

A young black girl with natural hair staring at a collection of books

Hi y’all, my name is Joy and I learned about my hair type when I was around 17 years old.

I’ll tell you how it all went down. I was on Aunty Google’s search page and I found an image chart along with the characteristics of my hair type. According to my research, I was a 4C. 4C hair is described to be tightly coiled and consist of a zig zag shape. The strands of 4C hair can be  more fragile than its counterparts (4B & 4A). Though 4C hair is described to have a lot of shape - when the hair has been freshly washed and has no products, parts of the hair may not have a defined curl pattern. 


Cartoon images of girls with Type 3A, Type 3B and Type 3C hair curl patterns
Cartoon images of girls with Type 4A, Type 4B and Type 4C hair curl patterns


I think as humans we naturally want to belong to a category, so that we can share similarities with other people. Belonging to a hair category can also mean that you won’t have to pioneer your way through a hair care routine but easily find one online – or so I thought.

I’ve been learning that I’ve really got to know my hair for myself. Within the last year or so, I’ve been forcing myself to feel my hair more often, to play around with it, to test products and explore. I discovered something those YouTube videos couldn’t fully reveal to me, I unveiled and located the different hair textures I have throughout my head.

I have a looser (4B or 4A) hair pattern near the nape of my head, a very defined 4C pattern on the crown of my head and a not so defined 4C hair pattern in the front. You see, you and I can share the same 4C hair pattern, and still be different.

Ultimately, I think that what took me so long to learn my hair textures was the weariness of exploring my hair. Instead, I would tuck my hair into braids, looking for convenient ways to not have to pay attention to it.

Wherever you are on the hair type spectrum, 1A to 4C, hair is a journey and to really know it for yourself, you’ve got to get your hands “dirty” and explore the shaft of your hair, and maybe even consult with a hairdresser.

The journey can be exhausting, but don’t let that discourage you. The thing with hair is that it’s a lot like life: there are good days and bad days. With every lesson learned, there is a new layer of lessons waiting to be revealed. Discovering your hair type is just the beginning, there are other topics to be discovered such as hair density, hair porosity etc..

Hair is a journey and because it’s a journey, it can sometimes be trial and error. The perfectionist in me had to learn that, and I hope you can too.


About the Blogger: Joy Boka

A picture of Joy in a striped shirt smiling at the cameraThis article was written by our Blog Contributor, Joy Boka. She runs a blog called www.joydelasoul.com. Some of her hobbies include theater, dancing , singing , and poetry.

She is passionate about being part of - as well as creating - a community and safe spaces to bring healing to people’s lives. She strongly believes that life is not meant to be done alone. Instead she has learned that there is no dishonor in asking for help and that there is wealth, love and shared resources in being part of a community. She is happy that you are choosing to be a part of this one.

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