Is the Hair Typing System Due an Update?

Published 21st Aug 2023 by Charlotte Grant-West

Since the 1990s, the Andre Walker Hair Typing System has been used to determine hair types. Ranging from 1A (straight, fine) to 4C (tightly coiled), does the hair type system still have a place in today’s industry?

Three hairdressers share their views..

Pashcan'el Mitchell, Avlon Art Team member: "I do use the texture chart/classification system in everyday hairdressing, but it all depends on the service I'm giving. I use the system like I would a colour chart, as a reference point. It does help identify the texture I'm working with, and the process and steps that I'm going to take. I always recommend my clients to come in and see me, a professional, and we can have a consultation about their hair type. During the consultation I can reference the chart, but also look at my client's hair and let them know what they need. As with anything in hairdressing, if you use the wrong products you will not get the results you're looking for.

A word of warning though – the hair classification system can be misleading as it's only a reference point. Client’s hair may look and feel different to a picture or they may have multiple curl types in their hair. It's just a starting point to reference if you're looking to find out the curl pattern, but always stress that consulting a professional is always necessary."

Lisa Farrall, Founder, Wig London: "The Andre Walker Hair Typing system is dated and I don’t tend to use it on my clients. However it can be a great starting tool to use in education. The best way to explain its limitations is by comparing it to the body shape chart – you know the one that determines whether people are apple shape, pear or hourglass. But that can lead to feelings of not belonging, because not one body type fits in one box and not one dress ‘flatters all’. Plus, who is to say what ‘flattering’ is? A brand that wants to sell what it’s putting on the shelves – that’s who! So we h ave to understand that this system was originally designed and put in place to sell products. As with body shape, it’s not a one-size-fitsall approach – in fact, most heads are filled with numerous hair type patterns not to mention taking into account density, scalp and style wanted. The hair scale is a tool and sets a bench mark in education to get people talking. 

Before this classification system, if we are honest, all hair types were not discussed equally. So now the conversation is happening we have to level up and talk about porosity, moisture, density and hair needs too. This chart has a place in education and as an ‘aid’ for those that feel lost in a world where there are so many products. But self-diagnosis will always lead to confusion. My advice is to position yourself as an expert and give a full consultation to diagnose all your client’s curl types, then recommend products to suit their unique, individual hair."

Diane Tuffuoh, haircare expert: "My journey into the curly and textured industry actaully began with a simple yet crucial observation: the lack of a comprehensive platform that offered accurate information, valuable resources, and premium quality products all in one place. It was this realisation that drove me to establish my own business, with a mission to bridge the gap I had encountered during my personal hair journey.

Through research and a profound commitment to understanding the nuances of natural haircare, I uncovered a shared struggle among numerous individuals. I had experienced first-
hand the frustration of seeking guidance and inspiration from platforms like YouTube, where people with similar hair types appeared to have the answers, I sought. However, what became abundantly clear was that hair type alone couldn't unlock the secret to a truly
healthy hair regimen.

The complexity of achieving optimal hair health extends far beyond the classification of hair type and the system falls short of capturing the intricacies that define hair needs. Factors such as hair porosity, density, chemically treated hair, as well as overall hair and body health
play pivotal roles in crafting a personalised approach.

When engaging with my customers in hair consultations, rather than focusing solely on hair type, I delve into the character of their hair. This encompasses an array of variables that paint a more accurate picture of their hair's unique attributes and requirements.

I believe the classification system once served as a foundational stepping-stone for those seeking a basic grasp of their hair texture. Yet, as time has evolved, so too has our understanding of natural hair care. This is why businesses like mine, The Afro Beauty Company, alongside other dedicated brands, have committed to revolutionising the landscape of curly and textured haircare education.

The objective for finding products suitable for heathy hair should be to provide in-depth education that empowers individuals to truly comprehend their hair texture, type, and individualised needs. This knowledge forms the bedrock of cultivating and maintaining hair health through tailored regimens. As the landscape evolves, so must our methods and attempts in providing accurate and specific information for curly and textured haircare."

Charlotte Grant-West

Charlotte Grant-West

Published 21st Aug 2023

Charlotte oversees the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. With over a decade of experience as a journalist, Charlotte was formerly Editor of Modern Barber and HJ Men, Social Editor at Netmums and Features Writer at Boots Health & Beauty magazine. She loves any products that make her hair bigger and more voluminous, and loves a behind-the-scenes peek at anything hair-related – whether it's a factory tour, BTS on a shoot or backstage at fashion week.

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