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Texture | Basic Hairdressing Design



To be able to recognise different textures is an extremely important attribute for any hair stylist. The type and texture of the hair can determine what style is worn successfully. When a client comes into the salon the stylist should know at a glance if the hair style the client requires is suitable to that particular hair texture. If any processes, such as perming or straightening the hair, have to be used in order to achieve the style, then the following factors must be borne in mind:

  1.  Is the client's hair texture suitable for the process to be used?

  2.  Will the client be able to cope with this new 'textured' hair?

Most people learn the limitations of their hair with the help and advice of their hairdresser, so when a client comes into the salon for a slinky fashionable bob, and her hair texture is incompatible, be honest but constructive in your advice. Don't just inform her that her hair won't go like that, but instead offer her something that would suit her, her hair texture and her face shape, and something that she will find easy to manage.

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The stylist might have the skill to scrunch dry body perms or straighten the hair with blow drying, but it is necessary to determine whether or not the client has the skills to cope with her own hair in this way. Although the client may be delighted with the results in the salon, the success of your creation also depends strongly on the after care.

In order to be able to identify the variations of texture, let us look at what it actually is.

What is texture?

Texture usually describes the sensation we experience from the surface of an object or substance. The ability to recognise different textures and their limitations is something that has to be learned mostly through experience, but a basic understanding of what happens when we see or feel a texture will help explain its properties.

Firstly, when we are confronted with a texture it arouses two of our senses:

  1. Touch. Our fingers help to identify the properties of a texture, e.g. smooth, harsh, spiky. Even though we might not be able to see the texture our touching fingers stimulate the memory automatically to provide a sensory reaction or sensation that identifies the textural qualities.

How often have you found your way along in the dark by feeling; being able to recognise and identify different surfaces by just touching them? Or do you dislike a certain food because the texture does not feel pleasant in the mouth.

  1. Sight. Although unaccompanied by our fingers, our eyes scan different textures, for instance when looking through a magazine, and our memory identifies the different textural qualities that are compatible with what we see.

You only have to look at magazines or newspapers to see a whole array of different surface textures that arouse your sense of touch, from photographs of food and fabrics to surfaces, such as wood and stone. Looking at different hair textures should arouse the same sensory reactions. When a client comes into the salon, first your eyes scan the hair, trying to identify its texture, then when you get to touch the hair the fingers usually confirm your predictions.

Hair types and textures

Variation in hair types and textures reflects the physical characteristics that exist in different races (Fig. 1.10) and this is an important feature to recognise and respect:

(1) Afro hair types are usually curly and their texture usually fine. The hair

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Fig. 1.10 Hair types characteristic of different races.

is quite dry and fragile and it needs a lot of care and attention. It is mostly dark brown or occasionally black in colour, due to the increased amounts of melanin present, which protects against the sun.

  1. Asian and Oriental hair types are usually straight and the texture is thick. The hair is usually very strong and has a tendency to resist chemical processes. The colour is dark brown or black, and occasionally the black tends to have a bluish tone to it.

  2. European hair varies immensely in type, texture and colour. The hair type ranges between straight, kinky, wavy and curly and the texture might be anything from fine to coarse. It tends to be of medium strength and usually accepts chemical processes. The colour can vary from blonde to red through to dark brown, but is very rarely black. There is less melanin in European hair so it is not so well protected against strong sunlight.

Hair types

There are six basic hair types:

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Fig. 1.11 Hair styles that are compatible with the six different hair types: (a) thick; (b) thin; (c) coarse; (d) straight; (e) curly; (f) fine.

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Fig. 1.12 Examples of different hair textures: (a) spikey; (b) bristly; (c) wavy; (d) curly; (e) frizzy; (f) soft; (g) smooth.

  1. Thin hair. The actual diameter of each hair is narrow, and so the effect tends to look sparse. The hair is soft and silky so it needs careful handling. Precision cutting is required to give shape, and perming, if suitable, to give body and style.

  2. Fine hair. Although each hair is narrow in diameter there is plenty of hair. It still needs careful handling because it tends to be fly-away and can be difficult to control. One of the common features of this type is that it can be difficult to perm and is usually best kept short or in long layers.

  3. Picture



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  1. Thick hair. The diameter of each hair is wide, so the hair tends to be heavy. There is usually quite a lot of hair and it can be difficult to handle. It is best kept under control by wearing it in shorter graduation or bob-type cuts.

  2. Coarse hair. This hair feels harsh to touch and tends not to shine very much. It usually appears abundant with the outer layers sometimes looking quite frizzy. The hair lacks elasticity and so does not hold a set or blow-dry very well.

  3. Curly hair. This hair has natural elasticity and curl. It can be worn any length, except that wearing it long tends to straighten the curl slightly so it can become wavy. Layering will increase the curl. This hair is quite easy to manage. Depending on the degree of curl, it can also be straightened with the use of larger rollers or by blow-drying.

  4.  Straight hair. This type has no natural movement whatsoever. It can be difficult to manage, and certainly difficult to curl or perm. Sets or blow-dries tend to drop easily. It is best cut into a style such as a bob.

Hair texture

The words we use to describe particular textures, e.g. soft, sticky, pitted, brittle, hard, fluffy, all conjure up images of a surface or object. The language we use to distinguish hair textures describes to us what we expect to feel when we touch it, e.g. spiky, frizzy, smooth, prickly, soft, curly, wavy.

Once the skill of being able to identify the combination of hair types and hair textures is gained, the hairdresser will be able to offer invaluable advice about suitable hair styles for particular types and textures. Some examples are shown in Figs. 1.11 and 1.12.

Exercises in identifying texture

Hairdressing trainees in colleges and salons can help themselves to identify different textures and to clarify hair types and hair textures in their minds by collecting photographs from magazines. A catalogue could be made up with a page or two for each texture, showing also suitable styles for the various textures. There could also be some pages for different hair types, including suitable styles for each type too.