Different Black Hair Types & Textures

Do you know what type of black hair texture you have? African hair comes in quite a few different textures, from curls about as thick around one’s pinky finger, to as tight as the spring in a retractable pen. There are several types of black hair textures, adjectives such as “kinky”, “nappy”, or “spiralled” are often used to describe natural afro-textured hair.

If you are growing black hair long it’s important to understand that the sun, the wind and humidity are all three environmental factors that can effect the balance of natural curly hair.

African Hair Textures

  • 3c: Springy, spiral curls of about 9 to 12 mm diameter.
  • 4a: Very tight zig-zag waves with peaks from 5 to 7 mm apart.
  • 4b: Very tight spiral curls of a diameter of 7mm or less.
  • 4a/4b Relaxed or “Kinky Straight”: Straight to mildly wavy, but with damaged cuticle, so it usually appears more fluffy than type 1 (bone straight.)


Black Hair Structure

Cuticle: This is the outer layer of the hair. All hair is made up of many thin colorless layers of scales which interlock with the cells of the hair’s inner root sheath, these firmly anchor it in the hair follicle. Cuticles are often damaged by brushing, using curling irons, perms and coloring. Black hair cuticle layers are twice the thickness of caucasian hair.

Cortex: Is the next layer of the hair. These hair cells are tightly bound around one another and give hair strength and elasticity.  It is partly hollow and contains melanin, which gives the hair color. This is the most sensitive part of the hair and can be affected by chemicals, hair dryers and curling irons.

Medulla: Is the very center of the hair and is made of a keratin structure and looks like a honeycomb, it’s almost like bone marrow found in the centre of bones.

Black Woman With Afro-Texture Hair Before 1912

Photo Credits: Alvan S. Harper (1847-1911)


Black Woman With Nappy Black Hair Texture

Photo Credits: Lisa Gray


Black Woman With Curly Afro Hair Texture

Photo Credits: Errol Douglas salon, London 020 72350110


African-American women have long tried to “change” the texture of their natural black hair by applying chemicals to straighten it. These days, more women are learning how to look after their natural locks and they are proud to display their natural beauty.

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