What’s Your Hair Type? A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Anatomy


Hair types are as unique as snowflakes, right? That’s what we’ve all been told, anyway. It’s also not completely true! While our hair will never look exactly the same, there are some commonalities in the way our hair grows and behaves that can help us achieve the look we want in our locks. In this beginner’s guide to hair anatomy, we cover how hair grows and how to figure out your own hair type so you can find the best hairstyles and products to make your hair look amazing!

The hair anatomy
There are three layers to the hair shaft: the medulla, cortex, and cuticle.
Medulla – Internal layer of the hair strand: The center layer is called the medulla. It’s a dense network of cells that help hair hold moisture and gives it its color. The best way to care for your hair when washing is by saturating it with water first then lathering shampoo in your hands before massaging onto scalp. Conditioner should be applied after shampooing and rinsed out completely. Additionally, hair with a medulla will be more difficult to lighten and will need a higher temperature to curl or straighten. Remember not to scrub too hard or you’ll end up causing more damage than good!

Cortex – Layer in the middle of each strand of hair: Next up is the cortex, which also has two layers. The outermost layer is where most of the hair’s pigment lives. What this means for us brunettes out there (and even blondes) is that if you want to change your color without bleach or dye, all you need to do is get some highlights put in! There are so many different ways you can go about getting them done- from headbands to clip-in extensions- but we recommend heading over to Sally Beauty Supply for a consultation today!

Cuticle – On the outside of the strand of hair: The final layer of the hair anatomy is called the cuticle. Contrary to popular belief, this part doesn’t make our hair curly or straight–that comes from hormones! It does protect against external factors like sun exposure and pollution though. So remember to always wear sunscreen on your face, ears, neck and chest every day! We may have the toughest time doing this during winter, but no one ever said beauty was easy!

Straight hair v curly hair
Ever wonder why your hair doesn’t look like the models in magazines? It could be because you have a different hair type! Let’s talk about the three main types of hair: straight, wavy, and curly. We’ll also go over the basic anatomy of hair so you can better understand how your locks work. Straight hair has a naturally smooth surface that is generally easier to manage. Curly hair tends to have more volume due to its spiral-like shape and often requires some styling effort on a daily basis. Wavy hair lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes; it has some natural volume but isn’t as curly as curly hair, nor as flat as straight hair. Read on for more details about each category!

Straight hair does not have any significant wave or curl to it, and has a smoothly uniform texture. With straight hair, most people find brushing easy without tangles or matting when they use a wide tooth comb. Styling tools such as curling irons and blow dryers are typically not necessary with this type of hair. However, it may be more difficult to maintain this hairstyle since an individual’s genes largely determine their natural texture, which means that no two people will share the same exact trait when it comes to straighter hair. Other factors such as age and heat exposure can also affect how well one manages their strands. If you’re new to having straight hair, check out our post on transitioning from curly to straight here.
With all three types of hair, every strand is made up of layers called scales. As these scales build up together and overlap, they form the protective outer layer around your strand known as cuticle scales.

Oily and dry hair
Oily hair results from overactive sebaceous glands, which produce too much sebum. This can make hair greasy, heavy, and difficult to manage. Dry hair is caused by a lack of sebum production, which can make hair brittle, frizzy, and unmanageable. The best way to determine your hair type is to consult with a professional stylist. A good salon will be able to tell you what products will work best for your hair. But if you want to experiment on your own first, it’s not always easy to identify what’s wrong with our locks.
Dry hair is usually a result of damage from chemical treatments or exposure to sun and wind. If you have dry hair that feels rough and has split ends, use products like serums or deep conditioners for moisture replenishment. These ingredients typically contain oils that hydrate the scalp, preventing further damage from occurring due to weather conditions or styling methods.

Understanding density
When it comes to hair, density refers to the number of hairs on your head. The average head has 2,200 strands of hair, but this number can vary depending on your hair type. If you have fine hair, you may have fewer than 1,000 strands. If you have thick hair, you may have more than 3,000 strands. The thickness of each strand is also a factor in determining density. Fine hair is thinner than thick hair.

So if you have thin hair, it will appear to be sparse and difficult to style. You’ll find that thicker hair is easier to manage because there are many more strands from which to choose when styling. Thick hair types often enjoy fullness and volume. They may not need much styling product or heat tools like irons and curling wands because their natural waves create healthy-looking locks with little effort!

Recommendations for different hair types
If you have straight hair, you can use pretty much any type of product. But if you have curly hair, you’ll want to use products that are specifically designed for curls, such as a leave-in conditioner. For frizzy hair, look for products that contain silicone or other smoothing ingredients. If you have thin or fine hair, avoid products that are heavy or greasy, as they can weigh down your hair. And if you have thick or coarse hair, you’ll want to use products that can help tame it. If you don’t know what your hair type is, consult a stylist.

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