The Andre Walker Typing System. It is the hair typing system most referenced in the natural hair community. But is also quite confusing. Often naturals post pictures on the web asking others to tell them them their hair type. Sadly, you can also find people arguing over someone’s true hair type. Here, we will simplify the Andre Walker system in an easy to follow guide. This typing system is a great starting point for understanding your hair. Once you also learn the other aspect of hair typing — texture, porosity, density, elasticity– you will be armed with an arsenal of knowledge for product selection. But remember, it is not the end all be all. Hair typing does not replace old-fashioned experimentation with your hair.
The Andre Walker typing system includes both a number and a letter to typify hair. Essentially 1=straight, 2= wavy, 3= curly, 4= kinky. Most African-American women have 3 or 4 hair. With 4 hair, being the tightest curl pattern. Women of other races and ethnicities tend to fall under 1, 2, or 3 hair. “4” hair is unique to African-American hair. (Although there is new trend in Asia where you can find the “Afro perm”.)
The letter portion of the typing system refers to the diameter and type of curl. In the 3 range, “a” is the diameter of sidewalk chalk;”b” curl pattern is the diameter of a sharpie; and “c” is the diameter of a pencil.. In the 4 range, “a” is the diameter of a needle. “b” is a zigzag, while a “c” has no curl pattern.
Based upon curl pattern, it can be assumed that the tighter the curl pattern the drier the hair and greater the shrinkage. These characteristics have some implications when it comes to product selection. It is important to note that you can have more than one curl pattern on one head. It is also important to note -and often overlooked- that there are other aspects of hair that should be considered . When choosing products and styling techniques, you should also consider hair texture, porosity, density, and elasticity.
So far we have reviewed hair texture, and the Andrew Walker typing system. In the next installment of the hair typing system, we will cover “density”.