A Closer Look into the Andre Walker Hair Typing System
We, at Lëvor, know exactly what you are thinking, “Who is Andre Walker?” and “Why should I care?” Let us tell you that, you may not know who Andre Walker is; but, you are very much familiar with his contributions to the hair care industry.
To give you some background, Andre Walker is a world-renowned hairstylist. He has spent over 20 years working as Oprah’s personal hairstylist, blessed us with that signature Halle Berry look -- you know that effortless pixie cut -- and established the most common hair typing system used today.
Though, despite his great strides in the hair care industry, he has faced many controversies, which will all be discussed in a few. First, let’s take a closer look at his classification system and how it may relate to you.
The Andre Walker Hair Typing System
Andre Walker created a classification system categorized by hair type: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky. Then each category includes subcategories based on hair texture.
Hair Type 1: Straight Hair
All straight hair is placed into the type 1 category. This hair type is also characterized as the most resilient. This is because, when applying heat or color treatments, it can be very difficult to damage or curl. In addition, it is the oiliest considering that sebum, a natural oil produced by the scalp, easily glides down the strands with zero kinks or curls to interrupt its path.
Type 1 hair subcategories:
- 1a: ultra-fine, thin, and shiny straight hair
- 1b: more textured and has more body when compared to 1a
- 1c: straight hair has a coarser texture, plus it is most resistant to heat and curling
Hair Type 2: Wavy Hair
This category is placed in between Type 1 straight hair and Type 3 curly hair. It’s not quite curly, not quite straight, not too oily, not too dry.
Type 2 hair subcategories:
- 2a: fine and thin, yet can be easily manipulated into straight or curly hairstyles
- 2b: hair is straight at the roots, then at mid-length falls into a wavy pattern
- 2c: hair is coarser and more susceptible to frizz
Hair Type 3: Curly Hair
Curly hair has a defined S-shaped curl pattern along with an increase in texture. This hair type can be manipulated by heat or chemicals. However, hair is not as resilient as the previous categories. Therefore, too much manipulation may lead to breakage or damage.
Type 3 hair subcategories:
- 3a: curl pattern is loose and has a noticeable shine
- 3b: medium curls in the shape of ringlets or spiral corkscrews
Hair Type 4: Kinky Hair
Type 4 hair is kinky, tightly coiled, or tightly curled. It appears to be wiry, dry, or coarse. Yet, in actuality, it can be classified as fine and thin. This is the most fragile hair type and the most common hair type among those of African descent.
Type 4 hair subcategories:
- 4a: hair strands are tightly coiled and when pulled, they form an S-shape
- 4b: curl pattern is less defined, instead strands have a Z-shape
The Andre Walker Hair Typing Drawbacks
Now, let’s get into the controversy.
As you can see, his classification system is labeled and ordered numerically (e.g. Type 1, 2…). Accordingly, many perceive his groupings to represent a hierarchy of hair textures. Some believe his system is not only a ranking system but a grading system, as well.
Also, his system excludes other common hair types. Did you notice how Type 3c and 4c were not listed? Presently, these types are associated with the system. Yet, this is due to them being later added by another contributor in the hair community, not by Andre himself.
Lastly, Andre’s mantra is “All hair is good hair.” Yet, he has made troubling remarks that suggest otherwise. Years ago Andre stated, “Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”
Although Andre has since publicly clarified his statements, his comments continue to pain the kinky hair community he offended.
Other Factors to Consider When Determining Your Hair Type
Despite the backlash faced by Andre Walker, we do not take away his contributions to the hair care industry. His classification system is widely used today and is a strong foundation to help determine your hair type.
Aside from that, please keep in mind, his typing system only acknowledges hair texture and curl pattern. Other characteristics like hair density, porosity, and strand diameter are equally as important to recognize, as well. Hence why, his classification system should not solely define your hair type and the hair care routine associated.
And no matter your hair type, know that there is a product to support your unique needs. Lëvor chooses to not condemn nor isolate anyone based on their hair color, pattern, or texture. Instead, we created organic hair care products that celebrate all textures while promoting hair health. Learn more when you shop Lëvor today.