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Type 1b Hair: What It Is and How to Care For It

BY Felicia Ler

Does your hair appear straight with a few loose waves here and there? Is it silky-soft and smooth all over? If that’s the case, you probably have type 1b hair.

Unlike type 1a hair, which happens to be the rarest hair type, type 1b hair isn’t 100% straight from root to tip. In this article, you’ll learn how to differentiate type 1b hair from the other straight hair types. You’ll also discover the common struggles of this hair type and how you can overcome them with ease. Get ready for some serious note-taking.

Type 1b Hair: A Bird’s Eye View

Knowing your exact hair type sets the foundation for a solid haircare and styling routine. You’ll find the hair typing system immensely useful in determining the specific hair type you belong to:

  • Type 1 hair (straight hair): Type 1a hair, type 1b hair, type 1c hair
  • Type 2 hair (wavy hair): Type 2a hair, type 2b hair, type 2c hair
  • Type 3 hair (curly hair): Type 3a hair, type 3b hair, type 3c hair
  • Type 4 hair (coily or kinky hair): Type 4a hair, type 4b hair, type 4c hair

Once you have a general idea of the different levels of straight hair vs. curl patterns, you can delve into more details. Let’s talk about the features of type 1b hair:

  • Generally straight from the roots to the ends, but with some subtle bends mid-body, finished off with gently curled ends
  • Shiny and sleek (just like type 1a hair)
  • Mostly fine hair strands interspersed with a few coarse fibers
  • Slightly more voluminous than type 1a hair (which is completely flat)

As you can see, type 1b hair is a close twin to type 1a hair, especially when your mane is wet and hanging straight. But once your hair completely dries, the subtle hints of waves from the mid-shafts to the ends become more pronounced, so you can distinguish it from 1a hair.

The Good and the Bad of Type 1b Hair

Based on the unique features of type 1b hair mentioned earlier, there are a few boons to this hair type:

  • It isn’t frizzy: As 1b hair is generally straight, it’s easy for the natural oils on your scalp to glide down most of your hair shafts. This gives off a naturally glossy and smooth appearance.
  • It can hold a curl: Comparatively speaking, type 1b hair is easier to curl into waves due to its natural bends. In other words, you or your hairstylist don’t have to work so hard when getting your locks ready for a night out.
  • It has some volume: Courtesy of the slight waves and mildly coarse texture, type 1b hair has some volume, sidestepping complete hair flatness.

Along with its benefits, you should know that this hair type has its challenges too:

  • It can appear greasy: Just as the natural hair oils can help moisturize your mane, they can easily make your hair look like an oil slick. That’s because the overall straight geometry of type 1b hair strands from the roots to the mid-shafts works in gravity’s favor and not so much in yours.
  • It’s drier at the ends: Although type 1b hair doesn’t have the distinctive S-shape curls present in other types of hair, its gentle waves (from the mid-length down) are enough to prevent some of your scalp’s natural oils from reaching the tips. This can result in drier ends.
  • It’s quite dainty (read: fragile): As mentioned, 1b hair strands tend to be on the fine side. In which case, natural and product buildup easily weigh them down, extinguishing the little volume this hair type possesses. Moreover, these fragile strands are highly susceptible to heat- and chemical-induced damage.

Whether these flaws make or break type 1b hair is highly dependent on your regular haircare routine.

How to Care For Type 1b Hair

In our article on type 1a hair, we mentioned using a shampoo and conditioner that add volume, regulate scalp sebum, and reduce buildup. If you’re part of the straight-haired crew, you also need to wash your hair regularly to keep scalp buildup under control. Those tips apply here, but that’s not the only thing type 1b hair needs.

Moisturize, But Make It Lightweight

Yes, the top one-third of type 1b hair is usually prone to oiliness. (Pro tip: You can add the “oil control” and “soothe scalp” hair goals to your next shipment to tackle this issue). But the slight waviness in the bottom two-thirds of your hair may mean scalp sebum has some difficulty making it to your hair tips.

No worries, though, as a lightweight leave-in conditioner can nip your dry ends problem in the bud. All you need to do is apply a dollop to your hair, starting from just below your ears all the way down to the ends. Doing so prevents adding more moisture to your roots while rehydrating your hair tips to minimize split ends.

If you’re on the hunt for an ultra-lightweight leave-in conditioner, try our custom leave-in. It hydrates hair without weighing down your ‘do. To avoid excess product on your fibers, start with half a pump before adding more if needed.

P.S. Our moisturizing leave-in treatment also works as the ideal hair detangler. Pair it with a wide-tooth comb for the dream team in ridding your mane of painful tangles and knots.

Go Silicone-Free

If your hair is forever falling flat, try passing on silicones. These polymers form a protective film on the hair shaft to add softness and shine while reducing frizz. It’s essentially a “waterproofing” ingredient widely used in hair care. For example, dimethicone is the most popular silicone out there.

But for all the many benefits of silicone, it may not gel well with type 1 hair. The reason being, the silicone-induced coating on your hair shafts contributes to product buildup. More buildup essentially translates to an oily scalp and a flatter hairstyle — exactly what you don’t need for your 1b hair.

Given that silicones are mainly used for all the features that type 1b hair is already blessed with — think enhanced shine, smoothness, and softness — leaving silicones out of your haircare products may be the wisest move toward a more voluminous ‘do.

If you think silicones don’t agree with your mane, Function of Beauty can help you with that. We offer a silicone-free formula for your custom shampoo and conditioner. Simply tick the “silicone-free” option when selecting your hair goals during our hair quiz.

P.S. If you’d like to learn more on the subject, hop over to our in-depth post on “So what’s the deal with silicones?

Give Your Hair a Break

Remember when we said type 1b hair is relatively delicate? That’s simply another way of saying it doesn’t do well with endless heat, chemical, and color treatments. So, give your hair a break every now and then. We recommend only occasionally breaking out the hot tools — don’t forget a heat protectant! — and changing your hair color once in a blue moon (or as infrequently as your hairstylist suggests).

On a related note, we get how much love the type 1 hair community bestows on hair extensions. It’s the fastest route to fuller-looking hair, after all. But regularly wearing a clip-in weft made out of human hair may do your mane more harm than good. 

Because hair extensions are a tad heavy, they put extra strain on fragile type 1b strands, potentially resulting in more hair shedding and breakage. Instead, reserve these extensions for special occasions or go without them completely.

Pro Tip: If you want some lift in your hair sans damage, add the “volumize” goal to your next Function of Beauty hair product shipment. Meanwhile, check out our hair hacks that will help make your thin hair look thicker.

Type 1b Hair Is Pretty Manageable

There you have it: type 1b hair is pretty manageable. The reason being, its virtues outweigh its imperfections, and you can overcome any flaws with the right products and techniques.

To start, go for lightweight moisturizing products to hydrate your dry ends without exacerbating scalp oiliness. If flatness is bothering you, try silicone-free products (like those available from Function of Beauty), and see how your tresses react. Last but not least, give your hair a break from harmful chemicals and strenuous hairstyles to minimize breakage.

Following these simple but effective tips for type 1b hair will bring you much closer to your own hair goals.