Hair textures have traditionally been classified by Nos. 1-4. Hair textures with a lower number are straight and the higher the number the more tightly coiled the hair. Recently, kinkier textures of hair that have been relaxed are assigned numbers 5A through 5C. Individuals with kinkier-textured hair have to be careful with the products they use because the hair tends to be drier than other textures. Those with experience working with ethnic hair recognize hair textures 4A and above as kinkier grades of hair. Be aware that not all hair care professionals acknowledge textures 5A through 5C.
Individuals with hair types 4A and up have tightly coiled hair. The texture is soft if the hair is properly cared for. Regular washing and conditioning are required to maintain healthy tresses. When the hair is classified as 5A, it has been chemically treated with a texturizer or relaxer to slightly loosen the curl. 5B hair is often tightly coiled in its natural state. In order to be considered 5B, the hair has to have been chemically straightened. 5C hair is also chemically altered to a more relaxed state than when it is natural; there is the risk of overprocessing at this stage.
Hair types 5A to 5C and up tend be very wiry and fragile. Even though the hair appears coarse and strong, it can be more susceptible to breakage than finer hair textures. Because the hair is so fragile, it is important use a wide-toothed comb when styling. The use of texturizers and relaxers often causes the hair to break.
One major difference between a hair type 1 and hair type 5A through 5C is the sheen. Even the healthiest hair in the 5A classification will not shine without the use of products. The hair has a natural sheen, but oil based products may just sit on top and result in greasy hair rather than shiny, healthy hair. In order to maintain natural sheen, individuals with 5A through 5C hair should get regular hot oil treatments; especially since the hair is chemically treated. Hot oil treatments will improve the health of the scalp and result in natural, healthy hair with sheen.
A 5A hair texture forms an S pattern when stretched and textures 5B and 5C have less of a defined curl pattern and may form a Z pattern when stretched. However, when the hair has been chemically straightened, the natural curl pattern is altered.
References and ResourcesHoney Fig: Hair Types
Black Hair Media: Hairstyles
Black Voices Hair Talk: Understanding Your Hair Type And Texture
ResourcesSophisticated Black Hair Styles: Braids And Naturals
The Grio; Black News Anchors Breaks The Mold By Going Natural; Tonya Mosely