The Ten Types of Hair: Part One, Straight

Genetics: nature’s lottery.

It feels that way, doesn’t it? So much of our life-- our looks, our health, our minds--is determined, in part, from the genes we were born with. Now, I’m not here to get into the “nature vs. nurture vs. culture” debate, but there’s no doubt that how we look in the mirror can determine a lot, both in the way people regard us, and how we regard ourselves. Yes, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a nice saying--and, ultimately, great advice--but it’s also quite literally impossible. Within a tenth of a second of seeing something, the human brain has already made instinctive assumptions about it. To quote a friend of mine, “don’t judge a book by its cover is for your second thought, not your first. The first is what was drilled into you. The second is who you really are.”

Okay, so, where am I going with this? This is a beauty article, not freshmen philosophy.

Your “look” makes an impression on others and on yourself. Someone dressed in a typical “lady lawyer” suit pushes a different vibe than a Victorian-style nightgown, club dress, or sweatshirt and sweatpants. But, as easily as you can throw on makeup and change your clothes, hair is a little harder. Why? Your genes dictate what your natural hair will look like, and thus how easy it is to get certain looks. Simply put, hair isn’t something you have that much control over.

So, this new series is a handy-dandy guide that will go through the ten main natural textures of hair--four types, most with 3 subcategories--as determined by geneticists, and go through tips on how to manage it so you can sculpt the image you want to project. This week we’re starting simple: type 1, straight hair.

Diagram below by Ruth Basagoitia via Most of the information comes from a dissertation from the Journal of Medicine that I’ll link at the end.

Straight Hair

This one’s nice and easy, because there are no sub-categories. Straight hair is defined by the absence of curls, frizz, and volume. If you’ve got straight hair, you can blowdry your hair sans hairbrush or attachment and it’ll look like you just ran it through a straightener. It tends to grow in length on the faster side, frame the face, and lay flat.


  • You don’t have to worry about frizz, which means that blowdryers are more about speeding up the drying process than controlling your locks.
  • Updo’s will usually hold better without hairspray because you don’t have to worry about a ton of layers pulling at each other.
  • Society likes iron-straight hair right now, so you’ll easily fit that trend without much effort.
  • If you like long hair, great, cause it’ll grow in length quickly, since it doesn’t waste time curling and coiling.


  • You have a lack of volume, which makes a lot of down/hanging hairstyles more difficult to hold.
  • Your hair grows a lot faster, which means short cuts and bangs are more difficult to maintain.
  • Certain chemical hair treatments like bleaching will make the limpness of the hair much more noticeable, which can give off a “dead hair” kind of look.
  • For those with long heads/faces, the straight hair emphasizes its length, which can make the face look narrower than it actually is.


  • If you would rather not do up your hair, but don’t like the way your hair falls, bobs that fall somewhere between the lip-line and nape of the neck are an easy way to avert that issue.
  • Bobs are also great if you don’t like the length/narrow illusion straight hair emphasizes, as these medium styles will round everything out as it frames the face.
  • Angled bangs are also a great style to combat the narrow face, and, since they’re angled away from the eyes, the fast hair growth doesn’t serve much of an issue.
  • Finally, if you want more volume, layers at the hairdresser will be your best friend!
  • If you want to try your luck at a curling iron, using ones with a smaller diameter can also increase volume… though be sure to use strong hairspray.
  • If you have longer hair, braids will be your best friend (check out my three-part series “the Basics of Braids” for many, many different options).
  • U-style headbands tend to fair better than O-style headbands since O-style create a bump near the bottom of the neck.
  • High-ponytails tend to work really well with this kind of hair, especially if your hair is waist-length or longer.

The rest of these articles will be longer as I go through each subcategory, but this one I’ll stop here.

Come Through, Growth!

Source:, the Science of Medicine’s Common Variants in the Trichohyalin Gene Are Associated with Straight Hair in Europeans, and various bits of advice from local New York hairdressers.

By:Melody Rose