Do You Know Your Hair Type? The 4 Men’s Hair Types Explained and Why It Matters

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by  Neal Sawyer | Last Updated: 

Do you want exceptional looking hair?

The first step is to understand your hair type.

It isn’t about throwing the nearest product into your locks. Your hair type dictates which products you should use. This tip alone will level up your hair game, tenfold.

I’ll walk you through the different men’s hair types so you’ll have all you need to make the most out of your natural hair.

What Does “Hair Type” Mean?

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To figure out your hair type, the first step is to look at your hair’s curl pattern.

The follicle shape plays a major role in your hair’s texture. A round follicle produces straight hair whereas a more oval follicle causes curls. To summarize—the flatter the follicle, the curlier the hair.

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The angle in which the follicle tunnels into the scalp is also a factor. If the follicle meets the scalp at a direct 90-degree angle, the hair will be straight as an arrow. The more acute the angle the curlier the hair.

To keep hair healthy, you must use products that complement your natural hair pattern.  There’s no one size fits all approach and there will be an element of trial and error to find your perfect match. 

But the first step is knowing your hair type so you can start narrowing down the search for the perfect product for you.

What Are the 4 Men’s Hair Types?

The Andre Walker system was first introduced in his book entitled ‘Andre Talks Hair‘. This system is a common go-to for determining both male and female hair types. We categorize the pattern into a typing system using the following four labels:

  • Straight: Fine and curl resistant hair strands that appear completely uncoiled.
  • Wavy: Ranging from fine to coarse with a pattern resembling a ‘s’ shape.
  • Curly: Strong curls with a corkscrew-shaped pattern of growth.
  • Coily: Tight and extreme ringlets that echo a ‘z’ shape pattern.
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1. Straight Hair

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Many women and even some men go to extraordinary lengths to achieve straight hair so if you’ve got it naturally, you’re already the envy of many.

Best of all—it won’t be too hard to keep your straight locks in line.

How to Care for Straight Hair

The good news is you can tame straight hair with minimal bother.

The bad news is straight hair is often fine and fragile. With this in mind, you’ll need specialist treatment to avoid it looking limp and lifeless.

So how do you care for straight hair?

The thickness or lack of can cause hair to become oily, so it’s recommended you wash daily. A thickening shampoo can not only cleanse but add some much-needed life to your locks.

If you have fine or thinning hair, Nioxin System 1 is an affordable and effective Shampoo and Conditioner set to incorporate into your daily routine. They not only offers a thickening cleanse but also injects life into dull and limp hair.

Nioxin System 1 for Natural Hair with Light Thinning
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The Best Hair Product for Straight Hair

Pomade works wonders on straight hair because of its thickening qualities. But you need to know what you’re looking for.

Pomade falls into two categories, high shine or matte finish.

High shine gives the hair a wet look and if overused can make straight hair look too greasy. But look no further if you’re searching for New York Stock Exchange slick.

A matte finish pomade is more natural and will add texture. This is ideal for a more casual appearance.

With plenty of brands to pick from, it might be a case of trial and error until you find the right one to suit you. Our favorite for straight hair is the Rocky Mountain Barber Company Pomade. It applies nice and evenly, dries semi-matte which is an attractive middle ground, and has a strong hold.

Our Pick
Rocky Mountain Barber Company Pomade for Men – 5 oz Tub
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If your hair is straight and fine/thin, a lighter weight clay may give you better results as it won’t weigh your hair down as much. My favorite lately is Moroccanoil Texture Clay.

It’s pliable, gives a true matte finish, and has a pleasant that doesn’t hit you in the face with that chemical-smelling waft that you get from other products. It’s a little pricey, but a little goes a long way—I’ve had my tub for 6 months and I’m only half way through (using it every day).

Moroccanoil Texture Clay
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The Best Hairstyles for Straight Hair

The Pompadour
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The pompadour has never really gone out of style.

Elvis and James Dean wore it with distinction as far back as the 50s. If they were alive, they’d fit in just as well with their style today as they did back then. It’s safe to say the pompadour has become a timeless classic.

This cut has had somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, albeit with more defined edges and skin fades to boot. It’s more popular than ever because it’s both stylish and practical. With a bit of product you can slick back straight hair with ease, and with a lashing of hairspray, it’ll hold throughout the day.

The French Crop
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The French Crop is another great option for straight hair, and incorporating layers can add weight and texture to lifeless hair.

There’s no uniform French crop so you can adjust the length to suit. Achieve a modern twist by incorporating a disconnect or skin fade on the sides.

2. Wavy Hair

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Wavy hair sits in the no-man’s-land between straight and curly. Before trying to defect to another type with the use of hot irons, let’s have a look at some options. 

Wavy hair is a gift of its own and has many positives. In particular, it’s extremely versatile.

How to Care for Wavy Hair

Ever wondered why humidity results in a hair day to forget? 

Wavy hair struggles to keep the natural oils that help achieve a healthy shine. The lack of oil results in dry hair and the dreaded frizz.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you to avoid this at all costs. Most of us love the sun, but unfortunately, harsh rays also contribute to dry waves.

So what can you do? First, let’s look at what not to do.

Don’t over-wash because this will strip the hair of natural oils. An aggressive shampoo will cleanse your hair to the extreme and you won’t need to go that far.

Drop the overly ferocious towel drying technique when you’re in a rush. Be gentle and pat your hair dry. Yes, it may take a few extra minutes, but you’ll be thankful when your hairdo doesn’t resemble that of a scarecrow. 

Lastly, use a lower heat setting on your hairdryer. Excessive temperature can cause brittleness—so keep it cool.

Here’s what you can do to care for your waves.

Use a moisturizing shampoo designed for frizzy hair. If you fancy trying something completely extraordinary, BRÖÖ Invigorating Shampoo uses craft beer as their chief ingredient. Full of vitamin B, it claims to improve hair health and shine.

BRÖÖ Craft Beer Invigorating Shampoo
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Beer in the shower? Why have I never thought of that?

Follow your wash with a conditioner around three times a week. If your hair’s health is noticeably poor you can further capture the moisture by using a leave-in conditioner like Floyd’s 99.

Floyd's 99 Refresh Hair and Body Conditioner
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When styling, engage a lower heat and use a wide-tooth brush instead of bristle brushes that’ll attack your hair.

The Best Product for Wavy Hair

If you’re a guy with waves you must lock in every drop of moisture. Look for products that you can apply to damp hair to help prevent dryness. Sea salt spray fits the bill and adds volume and giving your hair a natural-looking texture. 

Brickell Texturizing Sea Salt Spray
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To further refine the search for the perfect product, we asked our friend Greg Davies from The Groom Room Barbers:

Sea salt spray will give a dry natural curl but can create frizz and dry the hair out depending on the product. A good point to look for is if it has a unique selling point such as UV protection or conditioning agents such as a protein or natural oil.

The Best Hairstyles for Wavy Hair

Long gone are the days of ironing out those waves. You’ll have better results if you own them and use them to your advantage.

There’s nothing to say you can’t try out the pompadour. Your waves will give this cut a more textured look. But let’s fully showcase your coils with layer and texture. 

A messy tapered cut that leaves some length on the fringe makes a huge statement and screams individuality.

If that’s a bit too adventurous for you, an ivy league cut suits wavy hair well and is suitable for both professional and casual attire. This cut works from short to medium length so the length you should go for depends on how much time you want to spend grooming.

3. Curly Hair

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Curly hair screams individuality. But can it be a blessing in disguise? If you’re in the dark, caring for it can be a burden. So let’s shed some light on those curls. 

How to Care for Curly Hair

One of the biggest debates around hair care is how often should you wash it? 

The answer depends on your hair type. If your hair type is straighter it’ll need more cleaning because of its proneness to oil. According to dermatologist Susan Bard, a long curly mane only needs a wash every third day. 

If you need a little refresh between wash days, try a wet wash or give your curls a blast with dry shampoo. I’m a big fan of ROCKAHOLIC by Tigi, it’s a sweet-smelling fast method to de-grease hair.

TIGI Bed Head Rockaholic Living The Dream Dry Shampoo
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This is only a guide so prepare to use your initiative. If you’ve sweated it out during a workout grab your shampoo because water alone won’t remove the dirt.

To display your style to its full potential, you’ll want to nourish your curls rather than control them with styling products. With no daily wash, you could splash out on a premium shampoo.

Krieger + Söhne Shampoo is a salon-quality shampoo that lathers well without being harsh on your curly locks. It smells really nice (for quite some time) due to its infusion of peppermint oil.

Krieger + Söhne Man Series Shampoo
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The Best Product for Curly Hair

Wax and putty can work to crunch the curls into shape when styled with the diffuser nozzle on your blow dryer. This technique however can be difficult to master and will take practice. 

Curl cream can add protection, moisture, and definition to your shape-shifting hair. My top pick is the Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream—it smells great and gives great definition without the crunchiness that you get with cheaper creams. But note, it’s not really a “wet and go” type product—it’s best in dry hair.

Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream
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But let’s not forget about mousse. Over to you Greg:

Mousse can tighten the curl and add hold and separation. The negative being there are a lot of mousses on the market—the strongest isn’t always the best. The strongest often result in a static crunchy curl that dries the hair, causing flakes.

So tread with caution when picking a mousse, it may be worth investing in a premium brand for effective results.

Sculpting Foam For Men (7oz) by Avenue Man Hair Products - Strong Hold Volumizing Mousse
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The Best Hairstyles for Curly Hair

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Remember gents: curly hair is desirable. Don’t dull your natural curls.

Medium and longer length cuts allow curls to reach their full potential. 

The ‘don’t give a damn’ messy curl look screams rock-and-roll. Ironically, you may have to give a damn to get this look and it takes some time to master. To get it, use a mousse and scrunch your hair with your fingers as your hair dries. 

For a shorter cut, ask the barber for a fade and fringe. Blow-dry forward and when you’re happy with the look, lock it down with hairspray.

4. Coily Hair

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Coily hair (sometimes referred to as “kinky”), sits on the throne as the king of the curls. The characteristics of Type 4 hair are tight ringlets best exemplified in afro-style hair.

How to Care for Coily Hair

Like curly hair, you won’t need to perform a daily wash, but you may need to be careful with shampoo selection. Your hair will reap the benefits of a shampoo rich in oil such as castor, coconut, or jojoba.

Castor oil is fantastic for locking in moisture to achieve healthy hair as it provides essential nutrients and proteins for your hair follicles. 

Majestic Pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil
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For further treatment, use a moisture-infusing product like Sheamoisture Conditioner once or twice a week. It’ll work wonders in smoothing the cuticles should you need rapid repair.

Sheamoisture Conditioner Red Palm Oil and Cocoa Butter with Flaxseed Oil
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The Best Product for Coily Hair

You should avoid strong hold gels with this hair type. Coily hair has a natural shape that requires no aggressive tampering.

Running a balm through your ringlets will encourage and hydrate your curls. Aesop produces a great molding balm that helps tame unruly and dry hair. Run it through your ringlets once your hair is dry and bam—you’re ready to go.

Aesop Violet Leaf Hair Balm
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The Best Hairstyles for Coily Hair

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Why not show off your voluminous ringlets in their full glory with an afro blowout? Model Yassine Rahal rocks this look to perfection and points to argan oil as his secret weapon.

To achieve this look, try blow-drying the roots in a direction away from the scalp. If you want something tamer an undercut can work a treat with kinky hair. Ask for sharp edges around the sides and a bit of length on top.

Conclusion

So there we have it.

There’s no cut-and-paste formula because every individual is unique. Experiment to find your sweet spot.

I’m always a huge advocate of asking your barber for advice, especially if you’re looking to mix up your hairstyle. Use this article as a guide, and don’t be afraid to seek advice on your next cut.

For more hair and grooming tips, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Wishing you health in hair, body, and mind.

FAQs

How do you determine your hair type?

You may know your hair type from observation. To confirm your hair type, find a stray hair in your comb or brush and lay it on a flat surface. Here you’ll be able to inspect its natural curl pattern. Refer this the Andre Walker typing system to match with the corresponding hair type. Or, next time you’re having a trim at the barbers, just drop the question to a professional.

What is the rarest hair type?

We can further categorize the hair typing system by dividing the types into 1A, 1B, and 1C with 1A being the straightest. 1A is the rarest of all hair types and shows no sign of a curl or kink and is most common among people of Asian descent.

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