5 Simple Tests to Determine Your Hair Type So You Can Treat It Right

5 Simple Tests to Determine Your Hair Type So You Can Treat It Right

brunette woman hair brushing

Admit it: You're probably guilty of grabbing that deep conditioning treatment at the drugstore, even if you're not totally sure that your hair is dry. And maybe you've always had thick hair, so you're sticking to the same old sprays and mousses, even though they're hit or miss.

"Hair typically changes every four to six years," says L.A.-based celebrity hair stylist Mitch Stone. "Hormones, stress, and aging are the most common causes for changes to your hair texture and quality. Often, it gets more or less curly, more or less thick." In other words, your hair may not actually be the type you thought it was at all!

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Although Stone notes that you can go to a local cosmetology school to analyze your hair type and elasticity with a special machine, it's also possible to do several "tests" yourself to determine details about your tresses. Here, five ways to figure out what your hair type really is, so you can style it accordingly.

Now tells us: What's your hair type?

hair type tests

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  • Hair Density Test


    Image © Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

    Your hair density is defined as how many strands cover your head. You can figure this out by checking closely in the mirror, in bright light or using a flashlight. You want to look at your roots and consider how much of your scalp shows. If you don't see much scalp, you have thick hair. Some scalp? You have medium density. And if there's a lot of scalp, you have thin density.

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  • Hair Diameter Test


    Image via Michael/Flickr

    Different from density, because it's about the actual size of your individual hairs vs. how much of it you have, the most popular "test" for diameter is called the thread test. You pull a single hair from your head and compare it to a piece of sewing thread. If it's the same width as the thread, your hair has a medium texture, but if it is thinner, your hair is thin/fine, and if it is thicker, your hair is thick.

  • Hair Porosity Test


    Image © violetblue/Shutterstock

    The porosity of your hair is defined as the amount of water retained by your hair. Ideally, you want low porosity, which won't absorb as much liquid or chemicals from hair products. Higher porosity means you may want to use caution when going for chemical treatments like perms or dyeing.

    You can figure out the porosity of your mane by blotting excess moisture from freshly washed hair using a towel. If your hair feels very dry right away, you have low porosity, or in other words, your hair expels excess water quickly and is "full." If your hair still feels damp or mostly wet, it has normal porosity. And if it's sticky, it's very porous and takes in too much water. (Blonde hair tends to be the most porous.)

  • Hair Elasticity Test


    Image via James Lee/Flickr

    Do the strand test. When your hair is fully dry, take one strand from the crown of your head and grab both ends. "Pull until it snaps," suggests Stone. "If it breaks within a second, it's time for a deep treatment." The longer it takes, the more elasticity it has, and the healthier it is overall.

  • Hair Texture Test


    Image © Augustino/Shutterstock

    "The best way to determine what hair [texture] you have -- straight, curly to wavy, or coarse and textured -- is to let it air dry," says NYC-based celebrity stylist Lacy Redway. Do this without manipulating it with your fingers or a brush, she says. Then, see what it looks and feels like when it dries.


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