Grading System For Natural Hair Types, Are They Annoying You Too?

Hair Grading Systems

Ok, Ok, I guess I have no choice but to ride with the pack on this. It seems that natural hair now has to have a grading  system in order to interpret hair types.

I wish we could go back to times when your hair was either kinky or straight. But with companies cow-cashing in on curl pattern specific products, I don’t think the grading system is going anywhere anytime soon.

I guess my gripe is that it kinda leaves out certain natural hair types like your 4a-4c girls. I have noticed a surge in hair product campaigns that target natural hair wearers, and I have yet to find a single ad with a girl in an afro.

Raven Symone is going natural too!

I’ve seen recent pictures of Raven Simone sporting her 3a hair, and I heard from an industry colleague that she made a deal to be the campaign spokesperson for an upcoming launch of Bronner Brother’s new natural hair care line!

If this is true, I know she must have gotten a shiny penny for endorsing their products. Raven has a good reputation for business and has managed to keep her ‘brand’ in tact and her name out of the mud so this could be payola for Bronner Brothers if it actually goes through.  I’m sure Raven will keep making Bill Cosby smile!

What happened to one size fits all?

Ok, back to my beef about this hair type stuff. Can anyone remember when your momma bought  shampoo, and nobody’s hair fell out? I remember Fantasia shampoo, Ultra Sheen Hair Food, Vo5 for hot oil treatments, World of Curls Oil Sheen Spray and Brass for dandruff.

Does the ole stuff still work? Yup! But now we’re caught up in the new marketing with the 3 and 4 numbers , (no parabens, no mineral oil, no sulfates). But it doesn’t end there, cause then you’d have to ditch the chloride and formaldehyde in your favorite ice cream too, but that’s another story.

What happened to the Afro ads?

I don’t see any 70’s  inspired, Angela Davis type fro’s from any major manufacturers, and I’m not talking about mom and pop operations, I’m talking about heavy hitters like Revlon or Johnson and Johnson manufacturers.

I talked with my good friend, (Tonya Reed,CEO of Uncle Funky’s Daughter natural hair products), about the grading system for natural hair and she agreed that girls with coarse hair sometimes feel unsatisfied if their hair didn’t get ‘curly’ from using a hair product.

As a cosmetologist, I’ve had the opportunity to work with ALL hair types and I see what products can and cannot do for the hair. My concern is the divisiveness of putting us into a,b,c categories, call me overly sensitive, but I won’t be satisfied until I see women with short afro’s have their own shampoo, conditioner, sheen spray all packaged in a sophisticated, high fashioned way. Hmm maybe I need to talk to Alec Wek about this!

Well My Work Is Done!

I hope you ladies can forgive my little rant , but I had to give a some deeper thought to this system for natural hair types. I’d like to know if anyone else feels this way too. Leave your questions and opinions on this please!

Originally posted 2011-11-06 03:52:10.

About salkis

Hi! This is Salkis Re,The Queen from Queens,NY, a true renaissance women. Peek over my shoulder and you'll see me offering hair style tips, writing self-help books, instructing natural hair classes, filming You Tube video tutorials, Oh!, and did I mention I'm a crazy mom, wife and professional blogger too!

About salkis

Hi! This is Salkis Re,The Queen from Queens,NY, a true renaissance women. Peek over my shoulder and you'll see me offering hair style tips, writing self-help books, instructing natural hair classes, filming You Tube video tutorials, Oh!, and did I mention I'm a crazy mom, wife and professional blogger too!


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  1. Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas
    Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas

    unnecessary and divisive…all hair needs to be clean & moisturized that’s universal for all hair types…styling & products that work are always trial and error regardless of hair type…u find what works for u & u use it.

  2. Chelsea Mspeaches Hammond
    Chelsea Mspeaches Hammond

    No, why should it “annoy” someone? No one has to use them if they don’t feel they work for them. What someone else views necessary for them is NOT necessary for others..Smh. For those who do use them more power to them, it doesn’t annoy me but I know of a lot of women who are new naturals found them helpful and beneficial for them. So to each It’s own

  3. Shelly Thom
    Shelly Thom

    @Keletso, that’s what I don’t subscribe to. That there is a different routine for each different hair type. Of course, you wouldn’t treat fine and coarse hair the same, but you’re trying to tell me that I (4a) won’t have the same/similar routine to a person with 3B. That’s what doesn’t make sense to me.

  4. Chelsea Mspeaches Hammond
    Chelsea Mspeaches Hammond

    I don’t think it’s the routine, I think it’s the products and such. Most naturals I’ve seen and blogs I follow pretty much have similar routines, just different products and some use the same products but in different ways. IMO

  5. Shamika Burden
    Shamika Burden

    I never joined the 3b 4q etc’ve been natural since 05 before the system was put in place and like someone stated above..all you need is moisture and seal the moisture in. I’m not against ppl who use it it may be beneficial to some but in my eyes it’s pointless..I may use certain products for my hair type but that still doesn’t guarantee it’ll work for the next girl with the same curls…

  6. Dishauna Kirksey
    Dishauna Kirksey

    It’s not annoying but when some women think their hair is better than another’s that’s what annoys me. My “hair type” isn’t on any of these hair charts

  7. Kelly Watts
    Kelly Watts

    I think knowing the hair type helps people to understand what styles work for their hair. My daughter is a 4C by this chart and she has tried styles that a 2 or 3 has tried and it comes out differently and not as appealing. That can get frustrating!

  8. Tamara Jackson
    Tamara Jackson

    Very annoying. I have multiple types over my head and, I promise, you on the same strand. The types only describe how your hair LOOKS, not how it should be treated or what products to use. Following it sent me in the wrong direction. The BEST ADVICE: Find what works BEST for YOU! 🙂

  9. April Jenkins Torres
    April Jenkins Torres

    I think it’s a good basis of learning to take care of your hair but I don’t use it anymore. I too have different textures( which i figured out from these charts) and I think porosity is more important than pattern 🙂

  10. Micky Blue Skies Stewart
    Micky Blue Skies Stewart

    Heck no. I am grateful for them because until I found out what type of hair I had I wasted a boat load of money on products that didn’t work for my hair type. So, no it does not get on my nerves.

  11. Ashley Jean
    Ashley Jean

    I don’t think it’s really “annoying” so much as it is helpful or not. I say that because I’ve seen hair charts, but what if the products that are recommended doesn’t work in your hair.

  12. Valerie Johnson
    Valerie Johnson

    My hair is very curly at the root and gets progressively straighter as it grows out…what does that fall under?

  13. Ansley Judie-Rooks
    Ansley Judie-Rooks

    I totally feel annoyed by it due to my short super tight curls and most products to cater to the longer spiral curl type like a short fro is too natutal to be put on a shampoo bottle or to be advertised to the masses. Not saying that all of our regimes arent similar but the products certainly arent inviting for those that have that short tight fro who have been 5yrs natural or more. I love all hair natural or permed but i understand what shes saying and i do get annoyed sometimes with products.

  14. Chazni Gotham
    Chazni Gotham

    Only Thing I find slightly offensive (if I were going to go there..) .. IS That Of course You have fairer skinned in the first categories and Darker at t he end as if You are dark you have the 4c etc.. So it’s the basic idea not .. For every and a day with the hair issues society puts it out there and seems no one is fitting exactly into the charts.. ( frustrating because I am NOT the Norm and My BF sister / I spose we switched hair at birth 🙁

  15. Dawn Crystal Chaffin
    Dawn Crystal Chaffin

    Is this referring to when your hair is dry or wet BC dry my hair is 4c but wet it’s not. I’m confused still all I know is my hair is fabulous weather it’s a 3a or a z5!!!

  16. Cynthia Lawson
    Cynthia Lawson

    If you have different textures on your head it makes it a difficult task to treat your hair, so I say find what works to keep it moisturised. I just wonder who comes up with these things.

  17. NubianPrize

    What I find crazy is the fact that when you look at photo examples of different hair types, the same person can be used as an example of 4a, 3c, 4b,etc depending on which website photos you’re looking at. To me that makes hair typing almost useless. I wore a huge afro back in the 70s & back then there was only AfroSheen, S Curl, StaSofFro, ( which are still around because they still WORK and on multiple hair textures!) and a few others plus the usual hair grease. I remember using blue Alberto VO5 for gray hair because it sure made my jet black hair shine ! I say just try out stuff & use what works. I have fine 4a/b hair & some products for 4 a/b type don’t work on my hair because mine is fine. Just use what works folks !!

  18. Denise L. Davis-Whitley
    Denise L. Davis-Whitley

    We never had to follow something like this a decade ago, everyone has different types of hair of course!! So, if you want to follow this hair guide, go right ahead! Your hair has always been the way it has been, we dont need anyone to tell us what type of curl we have and what we should do with our hair. ITS CRAZY, INFORMATIVE FOR SOME, BUT WE ALL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR OWN HAIR AND HOW TO TAKE CARE IT.

  19. Andrea Simpson-Jones
    Andrea Simpson-Jones

    Yes, I am soooo sick of this!!! I hate when somebody shares a pic of a hairstyle or loads a hair tutorial and people constantly ask “will this work on 4b hair?” or something like that! It annoys me because so many of us have different textures and curl patterns on one head and it just seems like another way to divide and conquer. I am a hairstylist and no two heads are alike even if they have the same curl pattern or “hair type” and I have found that no matter what, different products work for different people, regardless of shared hair attributes! Let it go already!!!

  20. Andrea Simpson-Jones
    Andrea Simpson-Jones

    I also think it puts limitations on people in their own minds. They automatically think, “well, I have such and such type hair so I can’t use that product or wear my hair in that particular style.” and as a hairstylist I have found that to be not true. I say try anything and everything before you start limiting yourself. We used to hold onto the belief that black hair couldn’t grow long because it was not like Caucasian hair but we have found that to not be true and we didn’t realize it until we let go of our hair versus their hair stuff.

  21. Andrea Simpson-Jones
    Andrea Simpson-Jones

    I also think it can be insulting because someone might say “oh, this or that won’t work for you because you have 4b hair.” which is basically saying “your hair is too nappy or kinky to try and wear this style or whatever.” None of that holds water for me. It’s just all b.s.!

  22. Akua Colley
    Akua Colley

    Annoying because I have at least two or three of those textures in my one head of hair. All hair is beautiful.

  23. LaShaye-Shante Lynniece
    LaShaye-Shante Lynniece

    Annoying as hell… it feels like a hyeirchy system to me. I just can’t stand it. Another way to classify, and separate.
    I don’t have a letter, and number.. just DOPE HAIR

  24. AntLina AjNikki TiceJacob
    AntLina AjNikki TiceJacob

    I hate the “grading” of hair. Some say you can’t do this to a certain grade, others say you can’t do that to a certain grade. Well hell, I have 3-4 of these “grades” and I’m not about to buy a million products for each. All my types get the same product SMH

  25. Ashara Wilson-Johnson
    Ashara Wilson-Johnson

    Annoying as f*#k cause as a stylist who still has her hair books & just recently been through a natural hair course no where is this messin either book

  26. Anna Ogonji Smith
    Anna Ogonji Smith

    Yes it’s annoying, because it doesn’t mean anything as to which products you should really use! Also I have multiple textures of hair. I have a patch of course hair that won’t curl on its own also lol.

  27. Pamela Smith
    Pamela Smith

    This just pisses me off!!! When I was wearing a TWA, my hair was so curly. Now, as my hair is growing, it will only coil. Couldn’t get it to curl if my life depended on it. The longer it grows, the crazier my hair is. I loved it curly but I love my coils even more. There is no real way to know how to classify your hair until it either gets to the length you desire or you keep it at a certain length. But then, who the hell really cares what it is as long as it’s healthy. I think they need to get rid of the whole dayum thing and just let us grow our hair!!!

  28. Leewan Bell
    Leewan Bell

    No, not to me it’s very helpful. & it has helped me figure out what to use on my natural hair…. Why are black women Soooooo negative? I have 4c hair & I’m proud of it.

  29. Valerie Johnson
    Valerie Johnson

    Mine is African no alphabets needed…never liked those grading systems…always the same dumb hierarchy.

  30. BlueCornMoon

    I for one am a bit sick of it..Our folks have too many gradations of hair & no matter what people say, there IS texture discrimination. Most of the ads promise to end shrinkage, make your hair curly,etc and they show women with the coveted type 3 hair. For some folks it’s not gonna be possible because they have an undefined curl pattern. And that’s not the only kind of discrimination. I happen to be a WEN girl, but they only show type 3 in their ads. I’m a type 4ab & in an online survey they sent me, I called them on it. I told them that WEN works wonderfully on my hairtype & on the 4C hair of a why not show women with kinky hair in their ads? We’ll see if that ever happens. That’s the dark side of hair typing women spending tons of money trying to get hair they don’t have & in some cases deciding not to go natural because they don’t have the right kind of hair..Old school products like Blue Magic,S Curl, Pink Oil, or anything with grease….mineral oil & petrolatum…that have stood the test of time & that most of us grew up on & had long healthy hair have been demonized in favor of expensive new products. Nothing works for everyone so grease works for some & not others & the same goes for the new products. Some, like me, can use BOTH. .

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