Choosing the Right Hair Care Products Based on Your Hair Type

So you’ve spent tons of time, money, and effort to get your hair care game on but nothing seems to be working out for you. What’s going on? Well, you can buy the most expensive hair products or you can drown your hair in conditioners and hair tonics for as long as you want but you’ll never actually get the results you want if you don’t consider your hair type when choosing your products and treatments.

Each and every person has his or her own hair type so it’s clearly impossible to have a one size fits all solution to all hair goals. Now, before you get lost in the hair product aisle, we’ve prepared a small guide to help you choose the right hair care products based on your hair type.

Girl looking puzzled about her hair against pink background wall


What’s my hair type?

The first step to hair product shopping should be figuring out your hair type and hair goals. The type of hair you have depends a lot on your lifestyle, your genes, and the environment you are in. Even if your mom has naturally silky, shiny hair, it won’t mean you’ll have the exact same hair type as hers. Wavy, curly, straight, or frizzy — these are the most obvious categories when we speak about hair types but we often forget about hair absorption and moisture in the scalp. This is important when choosing your products because it affects how the hair is able to respond and absorb the products you’re introducing it to.

To find out what your hair type is, let’s break down our criteria into 4 categories:

Hair Texture

The strands of your hair naturally follow a certain shape or pattern. You can tell the type of hair texture you have by washing your hair and letting it dry without using blow driers or fans. Don’t use any products on it. No leave-on conditioners, moose, oils, nothing! Also, avoid brushing your hair, tying it, or lying down on it as this can affect the shape of the strands.

Straight Hair - If your hair settles in straight without creating waves or curls, then you most likely have straight hair.

Wavy Hair - If your hair starts to create wide curves similar to an “S” shape, you may have wavy hair.

Curly Hair - Hair that dries out into loops and curls is considered curly, of course.

Coily Hair - The difference between coily and curly hair can be tricky but tight curls and hair that forms zigzags and spirals likely belong to the coily hair type.

Straighter hair is usually more prone to oiliness and product buildup so go for good cleansers to avoid oiliness and product buildup. On the other hand, curlier hair tends to experience frizziness and breakage more easily. Adding in moisture with water-based, low pH products will be helpful in keeping the hair cuticles intact if you have curly hair.

Blonde Girl lying on blue silk scarf next to a hair care beauty product


Strand Thickness

The thickness of your strands can determine how it holds up when styled and how it shapes up when a product is applied. You can have fine, medium, or coarse hair depending on the thickness of your hair strands. Find out which category you fall on by comparing your strands to a piece of sewing thread. If most strands are thicker than the thread, then you have coarse or thick hair. Thinner means fine and medium falls between the first two.

Fine hair usually doesn’t hold styling very well especially when curled so you may need to use more styling products to help it hold its shape. Medium hair can be easier to style and will keep in its styled shape longer. As for thick or coarse hair, it’s mostly easy to curl but can be difficult to work with because of the volume.

Hair Porosity

When hair is more porous, it absorbs moisture and products easily. One way to find out just how porous your hair is is by taking a strand of your hair and placing it into a bowl of water. If it sinks to the bottom of the bowl, this means your hair absorbs all moisture. If one end of the strand sinks to the bottom and the other end floats higher, then your hair has balanced or normal porosity. If the strand floats on water and doesn’t sink, this means moisture doesn’t absorb easily.

When hair absorbs so much moisture, this could mean that there are gaps or tears around the hair cuticle allowing moisture in. This also means it releases moisture just as quickly making hair dry and brittle. To help your strands repair and get protected, try applying hair masks, nourishing conditioners, and moisturizing oils. Avoid shampooing with harsh sulfates and protect your hair from the sun’s heat/ Styling hair with harsh chemicals and heat would also damage the hair more so it’s best to avoid them too.

Meanwhile, if you have low porosity hair, you’ll need to watch out for product buildup that could lead to scalp acne, dandruff, and oiliness. Because of this, it’s better to apply hair products while hair is still damp after washing so that the product clings to the hair and distributes better. Shampooing the hair with a clarifying cleanser every 10-14 days can be helpful to let the hair breathe as well.

Scalp Moisture

Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp but your scalp’s condition can be very fickle so you need to check on it constantly. One way to know if you have an oily scalp is by checking in after a day without washing. If the roots of your hair tend to lay flat and start to feel greasy, then your scalp is considered oily. Having an oily scalp would mean sebum production is high and hair products can easily build up and clog the scalp’s pores. To tackle this, a clarifying shampoo can help and a product detox can be a good relief for the scalp too.

Flaking is a good sign that your scalp is experiencing dryness. Hydrating products without harsh sulfates and conditioning cleansers are a good idea when dealing with a dry scalp. This is also the time to give the scalp some additional TLC by adding nourishing masks and oils in your hair care routine.

Your scalp’s condition isn’t set and it can actually shift from oily to dry in a matter of days or when changes in your environment and lifestyle happen. But here’s where it gets tricky: your scalp can actually be both oily and flaky at the same time. When this happens, product buildup and excessive oil may be the culprits. Your scalp needs some rest and it also needs some gentle, but proper washing to control oiliness and avoid irritation. Trying to balance this can mean trying out different products but it’s always best to go with the most gentle approach instead of the harshest products.

Final Thoughts

A good haircare routine relies a lot on how much you understand your hair’s needs and its ability to respond to the treatments you apply. Stop wasting time and money on products and methods your hair doesn’t need. By considering your hair type and your scalp’s health, your hair care choices become easier and you’ll have your best looking hair in no time!

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