I just saw an awesome article on curl pattern and it occurred to me that a lot of people don't know theirs. I personally am a 4c. I wear my hair in locs now but I wish I played more with different hairstyles before settling into locs. Mostly because I never really got a chance to get acquainted with my hair before settling on styles that altered it from its natural form. I'll add the link to the original article now before I forget.
The letters represent a sub-group of each hair category. The letter a: fine texture, b: medium texture, and c: thick texture.
1a: fine very straight little volume.
1b: medium lots of volume
1c: ‘bone straight’ usually the most hair density
2a: fine waves, some volume
2b: more defined waves, frizzy medium, can be hard to smooth
2c: thick waves, extremely resistant
3a: loose curls
3b: tight curls, most versatile hair type
3c: extremely thick corkscrew or spiral curls
4a: fragile, tight coils
4b: tight coils with lots of natural volume
4c: can be wiry (read:strong and free standing) with a ‘Z’ pattern, usually has second highest density and most volume
Now your natural curl pattern isn't the only way to analyze your hair. You can also use the following criteria:
For density, if you isolate a small patch of your hair can you see your scalp? If so, how much? The texture of your individual strand is not to be confused with your curl pattern, but it does refer to size of the strand though. Pluck a strand, is it thick or thin? The measurable scale for density and thickness runs from thick-medium-thin.
The strength of your hair is determined by two different standards, porosity and elasticity. Porous strands will retain more liquids but not moisture, as a result it is more easily damaged. Hair that is less porous is generally more healthy and can take more of a beating. A good way to determine this is when you get out of the shower and towel off the excess water what happens when you touch it? Is your hair mostly dry by then? Low porosity. Is your hair damp? Medium porosity. Is your hair already frizzing just by thinking about it? High porosity. The second substandard is elasticity, if you take a strand and pull it by both ends how long can you extend it before it snaps? The sooner it snap the less elasticity.
What's your hair profile hivemind? For instance, I'm a 4c with dense hair. My individual strands are thin with high porosity and medium elasticity.