Somewhere between no-iron-needed, pin-straight hair and bouncy, beautiful curls lies my hair— think almost wavy but not quite there, easily tamed but with an oil-spewing scalp and drier ends. There are certainly pros and cons to the type. Pros: air dries wonderfully, easily straightens, easily curls, and maintains any and all styles. Cons: the aforementioned Sahara-level dry ends, seriously overactive oil production, and delicate strands prone to buildup.
Sound familiar? You might also live in 1B land. Read on for everything you need to know about caring for type 1B hair, according to me (your fellow 1B friend), celebrity and editorial hairstylist Harry Josh, and hairstylist and specialist Marilisa Sears.
What Is Type 1B Hair?
Be forewarned: Type 1B hair can be deceiving at first glance. According to Sears, while type 1B hair falls straight, there’s a slight softness to it, a natural bend if you will. While not all-out wavy, there’s a hint of a wave to the hair. In general, type 1B hair has mostly fine strands interspersed with a few coarse fibers. Fine to medium in thickness, type 1B hair has a bit of motion and volume with subtle bends throughout the body. Think Kendall Jenner’s hair, Sears suggests.
Differentiating Between Type 1 Hair Patterns
It’s important to remember that most people don’t fit neatly into a single hair type. Those with a B-level hair type (regardless of the number) are likely to have a mix of all types within their number. For example, someone with type 1B hair is likely to have some super-straight hair, some bendy hair, and some downright wavy hair, too.
For that reason, type 1B hair can be hard to differentiate from the others in the type 1 spectrum, especially when it’s wet (type 1B hair tends to hang straight when wet, making it look like type 1A). A quick method, Josh says, is to see if the hair has any wave to it. Type 1A hair is stubbornly straight—you must invest in getting a wave or bend. Meanwhile, type 1C hair is thicker with more defined waves. Somewhere in between lies type 1B.
While type 1A hair’s primary concern is likely flatness and type 1C’s primary concern is usually frizz and poofiness, type 1B hair’s biggest enemy is greasy roots, according to Sears. I concur.
How Should You Care for Type 1B Hair?
Both experts are in agreement when it comes to the best ways to care for type 1B hair:
Make use of oil-control products
Type 1B hair tends to be, unfortunately, oily at the root and dry at the ends. The overall straight nature of type 1B hair, paired with the tendency to have a finer texture, causes hair to appear greasier from even the smallest amounts of oil. Meanwhile, the gentle waves from the mid-length down are enough to prevent some of the scalp’s natural oils from reaching the tips, Josh says. Since hair can look greasy naturally, Sears warns it’s important to avoid over-washing which can ramp up oil production. She suggests washing two to three times a week for optimal results. I try to aim for that, but end up somewhere closer to every other day depending on the week.
Avoiding weighing down your strands
Josh says to opt for oil-controlling shampoos and lightweight conditioners (scroll down for our favorite picks). When it comes to conditioning, focus product on the ends and avoid applying it directly to the scalp. Type 1B hair is easily weighed down by natural and product buildup, Josh says, so adding in a clarifying shampoo once a week is key to your keeping hair voluminous and scalp feeling fresh. Plus, it’ll help calm oil production. Between washes, use dry shampoo as needed to keep oil and grease at bay.
Limit potentially damaging hair practices
As mentioned, the strands of type 1B hair tend to be on the finer side—which unfortunately means they’re also on the weaker side. These fragile strands are highly susceptible to damage of all types—chemical, heat, color treatment, build-up, etc. To avoid as much damage as possible, consider giving your hair a break every now and then. Limit getting your hair colored as you or your stylist sees fit and try to save the hot tools for special occasions. Luckily, type 1B hair tends to be highly moldable when wet—simply scrunch damp hair with (or without) a wave or texturizing spray for waves, or apply an air-dry balm to damp hair for straighter locks.
Protect, protect, protect
And, finally, protection is always important. Sears says she’s a believer in silk pillowcases for all hair types—they really do make a difference in terms of frizz and tangles. When possible, use silk scrunchies or other gentle hair tie options. And of course, always use a heat protectant before applying heat to the hair.
The Best Hairstyles and Cuts for Type 1B Hair
Good news: People with 1B hair can rock a ton of different styles and cuts. When it comes to styling, type 1B hair straightens and curls—and holds those curls—easily, so you can bounce between the two as you’d like. (Though try not to overdo it on the hot tools.) Those with 1B hair have the luxury of pulling off a variety of hairstyles—styled down, updos, braids, etc. Just try to keep product use to a minimum to avoid build-up and grime. And consider a half-up, half-down look: There are a ton of half-up, half-down styles, they’re fairly easy to recreate, and they help create the illusion of volume.
When it comes to cuts, the world is your oyster. Josh suggests incorporating long layers, which highlight the natural wave pattern of the hair while adding the appearance of volume. Sears agrees, sharing that longer and layered cuts add a fullness that’s especially great for type 1B hair. It’s worth noting I wear my hair this way and love it.
Both experts are also fans of shorter, shoulder-to-chin length cuts for type 1B hair. According to Josh, a tighter crop helps the hair seem lighter and fight some of the gravity that can pull down and straighten out the hair.
Sears has only one warning for 1B hair: Be mindful not to overdo it with the layers. Type 1B hair tends to sit best with long layers and slightly choppy ends, which add extra texture. Over-layering might overwhelm the hair and mess with the built-in waves and texture.
The Best Products for Type 1B Hair
I picked up this shampoo on a trip to Paris and haven’t stopped using it since. It can be pretty hard to find a shampoo specifically meant for oily hair and even harder to find one that actually works well. Leave it to the French to figure it out. This gentle shampoo leaves my hair light and bouncy and allows me to extend a hair wash a few more days.
Prepare to see a few more Ouai products on this list; I’ve had amazing results with everything I’ve tried from the brand. This clarifying shampoo deeply cleanses away dirt, oil, and product (read: dry shampoo) buildup with apple cider vinegar and chelating agents. But the real kicker is the keratin in the formula, which helps strengthen hair and add shine and softness. Use once a week for best results.
I know, I know. Putting oil on oily hair sounds like a recipe for disaster. But stick with me here. Much like with an oily face, continually stripping an oily scalp causes the body to produce more oil. You need to properly nourish the scalp in order to find peace with your grease. Apply a dropper of oil to the scalp (I like to use it along my part and anywhere prone to oiliness), massage in, wait 10-15 minutes, and wash it out in the shower. It helps promote healthy hair, nourishes the scalp, and smoothes frizz. I promise you’ll see results after your first use—trust me.
This conditioner is everything you want it to be for type 1B hair: lightweight, color-safe, volumizing, strengthening, and hydrating. I apply a quarter-sized amount to the mid-lengths and ends of my hair, and it leaves my strands strong and shiny without looking like a grease ball.
I try to use as few leave-in products as possible in my hair, and this is my tried-and-true pick for air-dry days. After letting my hair air dry just a bit, I work a dime-size amount through my mid-lengths to ends, scrunching and flipping my hair as needed. It adds soft waves sans any crunchiness or heaviness and smooths frizz without making my scalp oily.
This is the only volumizing heat protectant I’ve found that doesn’t weigh down my hair or make it greasy. The lightweight blend of protective plant proteins like quinoa, acacia, and moringa extracts leaves hair full of body and volume.
This dry shampoo is a classic for a reason: It works. It’s a great everyday dry shampoo to keep hair looking refreshed and clean. That being said, it’s not as effective for oil spill-level situations.
For more oily situations, reach for Drybar’s Detox Dry Shampoo. The super-absorbent formula features micro-fine rice powders that, as they absorb excess oil, become translucent and naturally blend into all hair colors. It also adds a bit of volume and eliminates most oils and impurities.
In the hierarchy of dry shampoos, this one reigns supreme. The blend of rice starch and volcanic minerals absorbs oil and cleanses the scalp, giving serious results. The packaging makes the product quite literally blast out, soaking up grease and adding back volume like no other dry shampoo I’ve tried.