The Disappointing Truth About That Curl Type Chart

by Danielle Bennett

Many believe the curl type chart makes hair care easy. Simply match its corresponding code to your own curl pattern (4c, 3a, etc.) and then locate those products specifically designed for it, right? 

But, how do you navigate this chart if your hair is damaged, dry, breaking or transitioning?

The André Walker Hair Typing System (its original name), was created by Oprah Winfrey’s former hairdresser, André Walker. Its intent was to market Mr. Walker’s private line of curly hair products.

Because of Oprah’s fame and indirect endorsement power, the system amassed worldwide recognition. And although it remains universally favored today, it was never designed to bring you any closer to knowing your hair.

It does not account for differences in:

  • Varied curl patterns.
  • Curl diameter.
  • Levels of porosity.
  • Strand strength.
  • Damage.
  • Scalp condition. 

In addition, the chart does not interpret the complexities and nuances of textured hair; no two heads are alike. It’s why individuals with seemingly identical curl types can use the same products, but notice vastly different results.

Nonetheless, despite its lack of clarity and guidance, the chart isn’t altogether counterproductive. 

It aids in selecting the right leave-in products, to minimize residue and excessive weight. It also encourages meaningful conversations about hair texture (the codes are descriptive and inclusive), which defeats offensive language like “good” or “bad” hair.

My wish for us is to spend less time on a system that incorrectly ranks curl patterns above all else and instead, focus on personalized, qualified hair care

I think we deserve that. 

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