The Perplexing Topic of Hair ‘Type’: How Do We Classify Hair? via Cosmetics & Toiletries

23 November 2016

November 18, 2016 By: Trefor A. Evans, Ph.D., TRI-Princeton, Princeton, NJ USA

We have an intimate and personal relationship with our hair. When asked to describe it, many will offer detailed accounts of texture, thickness, condition, manageability and other descriptors. Not surprisingly, then, a popular and powerful marketing proposition involves positioning hair care products as being custom-designed to meet the specific needs of an individual’s hair “type.” Yet, this begs the question, “How do we classify hair?”

From a marketing perspective, it begins with the consideration of consumer language. Here, we are familiar with terms such as dry, oily, fine, limp, thick, coarse, damaged and others. But as the recurring theme in this series has explained, consumer language is nebulous and imprecise—and it has been shown how such self-diagnoses frequently do not equate to technical knowledge. A more scientific discourse is required.

So just how different is hair from the heads of various individuals? Is all hair essentially the same stuff extruded out onto the scalp in different sizes, shapes and colors? Or alternatively, are less-obvious or hidden factors present?


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