The Controversial Historical past of the Hair Typing System


When you or somebody you realize has pure hair, likelihood is you have had a dialog that touches on hair kind. Throughout these conversations, numbers and letters like 4A, 3B, 2C get tossed round and may be equally complicated and enlightening. “We frequently use hair typing programs to debate commonalities, product suggestions for pure hair, and even simply to grasp our personal hair higher,” Star Donaldson, Byrdie’s senior social media editor and the host and creator of Topped, explains. By defining your hair’s distinctive texture, you might discover higher styling methods, merchandise, and have a larger understanding of your strands total. Nonetheless, it is very important know the historical past behind the typing system and why it is closely criticized.

The Historical past

Whereas the hair typing system has been extremely related within the magnificence house lately, the idea has been round for the reason that early 1900s. Donaldson explains within the early twentieth century, hair typing was created to find out an individual’s proximity to whiteness based mostly on their texture. “It was about racial categorization to help racist ideologies,” Donaldson says. “One of many earliest hair typing programs was invented in 1908 by Eugen Fischer, a German Nazi ‘scientist’ who created the ‘hair gauge,’ to find out Namibians’ proximity to whiteness based mostly on their hair texture.”

The Apartheid Pencil Check additionally acknowledged that if people may maintain a pencil of their hair whereas shaking their hair, they may not be categorised as white. So whereas, at the moment, the hair typing system makes use of numbers and letters, the classifying side was used all through historical past to check and distinction the quantity of whiteness a Black individual displayed.

The Hair Typing System Right now

The hair typing system we all know and discuss with at the moment has completely different origins. Superstar stylist Andre Walker launched the hair typing system on the Oprah Winfrey Present within the Nineteen Nineties to advertise his hair product assortment. Walker categorized hair into 4 classes: straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Over time, as much as three subcategories per class have been added to the chart to categorise hair textures additional. Walker’s system begins with hair kind one because the straightest of strands, kind two hair options free waves, kind three has O-shaped curls, and in kind 4 you may discover the tightest coils.

In accordance with Donaldson, the fashionable hair charting system could assist determine how an individual’s hair responds to styling. “Hair sorts assist predict and describe how completely different chemical substances and processes may work together with hair,” she says. “This technique additionally helps us set expectations surrounding hair well being, but it surely’s essential to not confuse hair kind and hair well being.”

Donaldson breaks down three standards to find out hair well being: porosity, how the hair retains and absorbs moisture; elasticity, the hair’s capability to keep up its form after being stretched; and plasticity, the flexibility for hair to retain its form.

Understanding your hair kind (you can even have multiple) will help determine the most effective merchandise to your hair. For instance, on hair that is naturally straight or wavy, you might go for sprays and stylers that assist maintain form and curl. Your strands could crave further moisture for curlier kind three or 4 hair and profit from curl butters and leave-in conditioners.

The Hair Typing System and Texturism

Whereas the Walker hair chart is often utilized in hair care and dialog, it has its limitations. “The system has been broadly critiqued for favoring looser curls over coily textures,” Donaldson explains. This presents a extra important subject of texturism, the discrimination of Afro-textured hair in favor of looser curl patterns and clean textures. “Even the way in which we talk about completely different hair textures is inherently based mostly on the concept that Afro-textured hair is lesser,” Donaldson explains. An unlucky instance is when social media bullied Blue Ivy Carter for her tightly-coiled hair and in contrast hers in favor of North West’s looser texture. Texture discrimination goes past Hollywood and impacts folks’s lives in school and within the office each day.

Whereas the hair typing system is usually a helpful technique to uncover extra about your hair kind and texture, it is essential to acknowledge its murky grey space. “Categorizing texture, particularly Afro-textured hair within the 4 vary may be extraordinarily restrictive and limiting,” Donaldson says. “All hair textures deserve reward and acknowledgment, and embracing our pure hair is one thing we should always all be capable of do.”

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