Andre Walker Hair System: Hair Type or Hair Hype?

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Will Knowing Your Hair Type Really Give You Happily-Ever-After Hair Days?

Have you ever been fortunate enough to have experienced the effects of a hair genius? I assure you, if you’ve had a hair genius work on your hair, you know it.

First of all, they won’t tell you they’re a genius. That would be trying too hard. These ‘unicorn-like’ hairstylists are a rare breed. They eat, sleep and daydream about the mysteries of black hair. They invest in education to stay current on what the latest looks and trends are. And they take pride in perfecting their craft.

I had one of these hair geniuses in the early part of my hair journey and haven’t found anyone like her since. I mention this because my hair genius spent time educating me about my hair whenever she had me in the chair. Helping me help myself came first and gossip came second—that’s definitely a unicorn!

I hung onto her every word, absorbing as much as I could so I could try it on my own at home – I never could quite get my hair to look the way she did but it was pretty close.

During  these marathon hair sessions – I have “Big A** Hair” – I heard about the thickness of the hair shaft, the density of hair coverage, elasticity, the action or inaction of the cuticle and of course the condition of my scalp. Not once did I hear her mention a hair type according to the present day classification systems.

My natural hair is its own type

So as soon as I heard about the term hair typing, I had to know more. I wanted to put my “Big A** Hair” into context and apply all of the information my hair genius had fed me over the years.

I learned there are three main hair classification systems in use:

There’s one thing these all have in common and that’s 4 broad categories of curl patterns:

  • straight
  • wavy
  • curly, and
  • very curly or coily, also called kinky.

At least they all start from the same place. Today, I’m focusing on the Andre Walker system as I try to increase my chances at achieving a happily-ever-after hair day.

Natural hair patterns: There’s solidarity in having a type

The Andre Walker hair typing system seems to be the most widespread, although there have been reported omissions in some of the more specific hair subcategories. I’ve already mentioned the broad categories, but with the numbers applied we learn:

  • 1 is Straight
  • 2 is Wavy
  • 3 Is Curly, and
  • 4, Andre calls, Kinky.
Andre walker hair typing system

Photo source: https://www.andrewalkerhair.com/whats-my-hair-type/?utm_source=blackhairspot.com&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BHS-2018-Blog-Post

Then these are subdivided even further to reflect subtle, or not so subtle, variations.

 

Straight hair can be:

  • 1A, thin and fine
  • 1B, thin and coarse
  • 1C, coarse with no specification of strand thickness.

Photo source: https://www.andrewalkerhair.com/whats-my-hair-type/?utm_source=blackhairspot.com&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BHS-2018-Blog-Postafrican-american-kinky-hair-types/

Wavy becomes:

  • 2A, fine with a slight ‘S’ wave at the ends; tends to lack definition and volume
  • 2B, more defined ‘S’ curl pattern with slight frizz at the crown of your head
  • 2C, coarse with a lot of volume and it’s obvious you have an ‘S’ curl pattern

Photo source: https://www.andrewalkerhair.com/whats-my-hair-type/?utm_source=blackhairspot.com&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BHS-2018-Blog-Postafrican-american-kinky-hair-types/

Curly branches into:

  • 3A, loopy ‘S’ pattern and tends to be more susceptible to frizz and loss of hair definition
  • 3B, coarse and full of volume with a smaller curl pattern than 3A

Photo source: https://www.andrewalkerhair.com/whats-my-hair-type/?utm_source=blackhairspot.com&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BHS-2018-Blog-Postafrican-american-kinky-hair-types/

Finally, Kinky is broken down into:

  • 4A, can be fine or wiry with high density and fragile in nature; it is tightly coiled in a tight ‘S’ pattern; experiences shrinkage
  • 4B, can be coarse or wiry with high density and very fragile in nature; hair pattern favors a ‘Z’ with less of a defined curl; also experiences shrinkage

Photo source: https://www.andrewalkerhair.com/whats-my-hair-type/?utm_source=blackhairspot.com&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BHS-2018-Blog-Postafrican-american-kinky-hair-types/

According to Andre Walker’s system, my ‘Big A** Hair’ is 2c, 3b and 4a with a smidge of 1b… I kid you not.

Depending on which part of my head you are looking at, the results are diverse at best. Luckily for me, 3b and 4a tend to dominate so that I don’t walk around looking like a badly pruned bonsai tree.

Black hair typing hype… pulling it all together

I think it’s fair to say that Andre Walker’s hair typing system was meant to simplify a very complex process. His deliberate lack of detail in the descriptions of hair types allows them to be more inclusive than exclusive.

Perhaps his way of helping us feel as though we aren’t alone.

We put together this chart to show you a side by side comparison of the three most recognized systems. Just in case you were wondering whether one was more accurate than another.

LEGEND: Y=Yes N=No NS/G=Non-specific / General

  • Hair Traits
  • Straight
  • 1A
  • 1B
  • 1C
  • Wavy
  • 2A
  • 2B
  • 2C
  • Curly
  • 3A
  • 3B
  • 3C
  • Very Curly/Kinky
  • 4A
  • 4B
  • 4C
  • Thickness
  • Texture
  • Volume
  • Porosity
  • Elasticity
  • Moisture Content
  • Andre+ (Combo)
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • NS/G
  • Y
  • NS/G
  • NS/G
  • N
  • N
  • Andre Walker
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • N
  • NS/G
  • Y
  • NS/G
  • NS/G
  • N
  • N
  • LOIS
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • N
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • N
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • N
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • N
  • Y
  • NS/G
  • N
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • FIA
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • N
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • N
  • N
  • N

LEGEND: Y=Yes N=No NS/G=Non-specific / General

You can’t judge a book by its cover and black hair is no different

Even though I’ve gone through the motions of identifying my hair type number or category, along with my personal special features, I’m still left pondering the implications.

I mean, knowing whether or not I’m a 3b or 4a or some combination of the two, doesn’t actually tell me how to deal with my hair.

At best, it tells me I have a group of sisters out there that share similar haircare headaches. (Shout out to the “2c-3b-4a, with a touch of 1c sisters” … I feel your pain!)

I’m all for solidarity but I need answers not just moral support.

As you start your journey of figuring out your hair type, narrow the field first by applying Andre Walker’s numbered system, or letter system if you prefer LOIS. But don’t stop there.

In order to have a true hair type assessment, you need to go beyond how your hair looks. You need to analyze your hair’s characteristics and behavior. That is the only way to know which products will work best for you. Andre’s system doesn’t tell us much about this so don’t assume you are a perfect representation of your number, whatever it may be.

You can consult your own hair guru (genius status must be earned) and ask for your personal hair assessment or you can do-it-yourself and consult this Wikihow article on determining your hair type.

It takes you through the characteristics my hair genius shared with me so many years ago: density, diameter or thickness, porosity, oiliness, elasticity, moisture content and curl pattern. When you add in the health of your hair cuticle, then you have what you need to get the results you are looking for: happily-ever-after hair days.

I do hope that one day Andre will crack open the door to the vault a little wider and give us a little more than the extremely brief overviews currently associated with each sub category. Hey, Andre Walker, we’re waiting…

How many of you have used Andre Walker’s hair type chart to classify your hair?

Did it help you to know how to better care for and style your hair or were you also left with questions?
Would you like to be informed about hair products that suit your hair type?
Let us know in the comments below.

 


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