At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I was completely confused by all of these women describing their hair textures and curl patterns with letters and numbers. I thought it was just a really creative way women were categorizing all the different hair types. I had no clue that there was actually a formal curl typing system being followed by tons of women.
Beloved hairstylist Andre Walker came up with The Andre Walker Hair Typing some years back and the rest was history. Natural hair companies started creating products based on this system, women started typing their hair with info from this chart; it’s like everything is figured out for us right? Well, not quite.
I went through everything from getting my hair type wrong to not actually benefiting from some of the tips that were supposed to be perfect for my hair type. I started to feel restricted in my hair journey because here I am with a head full of type 4 curls and coils and things I’m “supposed” to do aren’t helping as much.
So I ditched it and did my own thing.
I completely stopped co-washing, I started buying products meant for type 3 textures instead of type 4, and I even straightened my hair more than once in a year.
Truth be told, this trial and error period was full of successes and disasters. And although my hair suffered a little bit, I did learn a very valuable lesson that I probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise: Always do what works for you.
I was following this system to a tee because my hair fit the bill, and I found out that so many other things, besides my hair being kinky* and coily, determine how I should care for it. Porosity, thickness, previous damage, length, coarseness, and a ton of other factors ultimately decided my routine and regimen.
It wasn’t that I shouldn’t follow the typing system or the advice given, it was that I didn’t have to take it as law. It was okay to mix and match, and accept that coconut oil* wasn’t going to work for me like it did with everyone else; or that a paddle brush* detangled my hair the best.
It ultimately came down to accepting the hair typing system as a helpful and very much needed basic guideline for what does and doesn’t work for my hair, and continuing to fill in the empty spaces for myself.