The Ten Types of Hair: Part Two, Wavy

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 2, wavy 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.

Wavy Hair

First off, what is wavy hair? How do you know if you have it?

Well, wavy hair is essentially the “junk drawer” of hair types. It can range from I-think-it’s-straight to it-can-pass-as-curly depending on what subcategory it is. The general rule of thumb is if your hair has noticeable volume, but is otherwise mostly straight, you’ve got wavy hair. In other terms, if both straightening irons and curling irons make a significant change in appearance, you can probably claim it as wavy.

If you still aren’t sure, here are some other characteristics of wavy hair:

Wavy hair will have more volume and texture than what’s considered type one straight hair. Usually, wavy hair starts pin straight close to the scalp, but begins to bend somewhere at or above the nose line (this will depend on its subcategory, so stay tuned!). The further down you go, the more it’ll squiggle. Wavy hair is also the hair type that’s most likely to noticeably frizz, because you’ve got the double whammy of hair more voluminous than type one, but still straight enough that the hair will naturally clump individual strands of hair in larger locs.

In short, if you have to debate whether your hair is type one or type two, it’s almost definitely type two.

I want to be clear: you can call/consider your hair straight in terms of appearance but still have what would be considered type two, wavy hair. Wavy hair is much more about volume than the bends itself. It has a much larger range than any other hair type, especially the very distinct type one.

There are three distinct subcategories of wavy hair: tousled, s-curve, and ringlet. Let’s go through them one by one.

Type 2A: Tousled

The straightest of the bunch, tousled hair is the trickster, the one that will fool you into thinking it’s a type one. Tousled hair is defined more by its texture than actual, visible waves. It will fall perfectly straight until it’s long enough to hang loose, which usually happens somewhere between the eye line and nose line. You’ll be able to visually identify its individual locs more easily than other type twos.

Tousled hair has the least volume of the other wave categories, but what it loses in volume is made up for by its convenience. Tousled hair is less likely to frizz or knot, which means you can get through it with a fine-tooth comb as easily as a hairbrush. Because it’s lightweight, it also holds hanging hairstyles without need for a strong holding agent like hairspray. Mousse, hair clay, or similar products will be enough to keep freshly-ironed hair from reverting back to its original form, and you can rely on bobby pins over hair gel to keep updo’s in place.

Type 2B: S-Curve

With the S-Curve, there won’t be a type one/type two debate. The curve begins much earlier than tousled hair–usually around the eyebrows, if not higher. Light frizz at the scalp will give this hair category more volume than the other type twos. It grows thicker than the other categories and piles into natural layers. Because of this, it’s much harder to identify separate locs without studying it closely in the mirror. The locs will usually cling to each other–that’s what creates those natural layers and distinct volume–so, if you’re trying to make a half-pony, you may need to use a comb to separate one bit from the next.

While the S-Curve does frizz pretty easily, sometimes its natural layers hides the frizz from everyone but you (however this does depend on a few factors like the level of frizz, volume of the hair, and how it’s styled). S-Curve hair works great with bobs of all lengths because it’ll keep your natural bounce and keep unwanted frizz at bay.

Type 2C: Faux Curl

Faux curl hair is close to a type three, but just misses the cut. This category bends in a way that makes it naturally crimped, which can create the illusion of curls at a quick glance. It won’t be long past the roots before the wave begins, which will give off the appearance of heavy locs with limited volume. It’s usually pretty thick, but, unlike the S-Curve, there’s no natural layers or bounce. It’s the most prone to frizz up, so be wary of keeping it hanging on wet, humid days.

Stay tuned for more!

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