Hair Texture and The Wonder of Shrinkage

Saturday, April 02, 2011

As my hair continues to grow, I am intrigued by the various textures that seem to be springing out of the different "zones" on my head (note: zones are explained further below). While I don't get caught up in hair typing, I do think that its helpful to at least be aware of the differences in the textures of one's hair and understand how those textures behave with respect to product usage and styling techniques. As a part of describing my texture, I also consider my hair to be normal-to-low porosity all around, which pretty much means that certain products may or may not absorb quickly (or at all) into my hair. So far, it seems that my hair has 2 distinct types of textures (curly and kinky) across 5 different zones.  I wouldn't be surprised if this changes and evolves as I gain more length. We'll see...

ZONE 1: Front & Center (Curly)

The hair in the front of my head closest to my forehead have a combination of small corkscrew/ringlets and s-curls that seem to be just a little looser curl than the majority of the rest of my hair. I often joke around and call these my "Michael Jackson" curls because they love to fall right down on my forehead most of the time - no matter how I style my hair. When my hair is wet the curls in this area are already fairly defined and start curling up without any product, but I like to layer a light gel over a leave-in conditioner to further define the curls in this area and give them a light hold.

ZONE 2: Sides (Curly and Kinky)

The area of hair on either side of my head closest to my ears is kinky and curly. There are fewer distinct corkscrew-shaped curls and much more tighter and smaller s-curls that naturally wants to clump together in one big mass. When my hair is wet, the curls/kinks in these zones are somewhat defined on their own without product, but I usually have to smooth in much more product to these areas for the curls to clump and separate to show a more distinct curl pattern. Of all the zones on my head, these are the zones that more than likely will not behave the way I want them to and I usually have to pin up one or both sides for my hair shape to look right.

ZONE 3: Crown/Top (Curly)

This section of hair at the top/crown area of my head seems to also have a few small but loose corkscrew curls, but mostly s-curls. When I do wash-and-gos, this is the area of my hair that seems to like to form a natural center part. No matter how I shake my hair, the hair around that area always seems to fall in such a way that I inevitably end up with either a vertical or horizontal center part.  I usually don't have to apply too much styling product to this area because the curls pretty much clump and define on their own when my hair is wet. However, I do like to smooth on some leave-in conditioner and a light finishing gel over this area for frizz control and light hold. This area tends to dry in an upward direction at my current length, unlike my "Michael Jackson" curls in the front which tend to dry in a downward direction.

ZONE 4: Middle/Back (Kinky)

The area of hair towards the middle/back section of my head is probably the thickest and most coarse zone on my entire head. It also tends to feel more dry than all of the other zones on any given day. Like zone 2 (sides), this area is kinkier than the rest of my hair. When wet, this zones feels like there is less of a distinct curl pattern than the rest of my hair, but it may coil tightly in random areas. I usually have to smooth in much more conditioner and styling product to this area than any other zone to ensure that it is adequately moisturized and defined. It is also by far the most difficult section to detangle.

ZONE 5: Nape/Back (Curly)

The section of hair at the nape area has mostly small corkscrew ringlets and few s-curls that seem to be almost as loose as the curls in zone 1 (front and center). I also believe that this zone is where I have the most length. When my hair is wet the curls in this area are already very defined and start curling up without me having to add any product. I like to layer a light gel over a leave-in conditioner to further define the curls in this area and give them hold, but usually never need much product in this zone. This section of my hair also feels softer than any other zone and is by far the easiest section to detangle. (Side Note: notice the distinct difference in texture and curl pattern between the hair at my nape area and the hair closer to my ear in the picture?)

The Wonder of Shrinkage

At the moment, I have no clue what the actual length of my hair is fully stretched. But what I do know is that when I stretch out individual sections by pulling on them, they appear to be 2-3 times longer than it looks when it is curly and shrunken. Shrinkage doesn't really bother me per se, but it always amazes me how much of my actual length I dont see due to shrinkage. Below are a few pictures comparing my shrunken/curly hair to sections of my hair that I stretched by pulling on it.

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  1. How did you get your hair to stick together and form curls?


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