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Identifying Hair Textures

The Ultimate Guide to Hair Textures

Last Reviewed: October 2021

Here at Philip Kingsley, we avoid using terms like ‘normal’, ‘dry’ and ‘oily’ to categorise hair, because after all, what is ‘normal’ for one person may not be normal for another. Instead, we pioneered the technique of classifying hair according to four textures:

Other factors we take into consideration include your hair’s length and level of processing. Combining all this information together helps us to advise you on a daily hair care regime that is right for you. Read on to discover our expert guide on how to identify your hair texture, as well as the products we recommend specifically for it, to help your hair look and feel its very best.

The 'Normal Hair' Myth

You might have come across labels on shampoo and styling products that say, ‘suitable for ‘Normal/Dry Hair’ or ‘Normal/Oily Hair’. However, what counts as ‘normal’ for your hair will not be the same ‘normal’ for everyone else (like your family, friends or children, for example). Your hair may be very fine and dry, while your friend’s might be very coarse and dry, and whilst both hair conditions are ‘normal’, they require completely different regimes and products to look their best.

The 'Dry Hair' Myth

‘Dry’ is a term that describes the condition your hair is in, rather than your hair’s natural texture, although some people’s hair will be more prone to dryness than others. The products best suited to combatting dryness will differ depending on your hair texture. Your hair can be fine, straight, limp and dry, or coarse, curly, frizzy and dry. On the other hand, it could be oily at the roots and dry at the ends. Your hair could also be chemically processed, as well as short or long. Each of these combinations call for different products to get strands looking their best.

The 'Oily Hair' Myth

It’s natural for your roots to get a little oily, especially if you have fine hair. Every scalp produces sebum, a natural oil secreted by the sebaceous (oil) glands attached to your hair follicles. But, unlike the common myth, washing your hair does not strip it of its natural oils! Washing simply cleanses away the build-up of old oil on your hair and stops your strands from becoming limp, greasy and smelly. Your sebaceous glands will soon secrete fresh oil to help keep your hair supple and soft.

Hair that is poker straight tends to look more oily than curly hair, and this is because sebum can flow easily down a straight hair, but a curly strand provides some resistance against this. The same thing can happen if hair is damaged and the outer cuticle layer is not laying smooth.