How to Categorize Hair Types

Young women with different types of hair
Photo: Popcorner/Shutterstock
Q: How do you categorize hair types? Do you categorize by ethnicity: European, Asian, Indian, or do you categorize by curly, straight, etc.? What are the different categories?
A: In most cases, hairstylists learn to categorize hair types in regard to the basic traits all hair will have: wave pattern, density, texture, porosity and elasticity.
We learn these because while you do learn that people of different ethnic groups will often have very similar hair types (for example, persons of Asian descent tend to have mostly straight, thick {as in dense} hair that is black in color) you can sometimes find any of the listed traits in any ethnicity.
In some cases, hair will be classified using ethnic tags because of the commonality of the traits of the hair on most members of an ethnic group. Using these generalities can help give an idea of what to expect in a person's hair.
For example, if you know that a client is African-American and has virgin hair, you don't expect to see them enter with hair that is straight, fine, thick, and blonde. Much in the same way, you don't expect an Asian to have hair with a very kinky wave pattern.
Just remember, that in order to be truly accurate, you want to avoid generalities and ethnic profiling with regard to hair. There may be commonalities in ethnic groups as it pertains to the hair, but there are nearly infinite variations to be found in these groups that can only accurately be classified using a more specific approach.
See also:
Hair wave pattern
Hair density
Hair texture
Hair porosity
Hair elasticity