Human hair

What is Hair Grading?

Published By: Dasia

Last Updated: June 20, 2022

What does grade have to do with hair? You may have heard of the term hair grading and been a little confused about it.

In this article, we will discuss what hair grading is and why it’s so important to know about. Having a better understanding of the grading system will greatly help you in your search for hair.

Let’s take a further look.

What is hair grading?

Hair grading is a system made to distinguish the overall quality of hair. Suppliers came up with this system to easily help buyers find out the quality and help reassure they aren’t receiving low-quality hair.

3A is the lowest quality available to buyers. They go up in increments of one and increase in quality each grade. The system upgrades and is not regulated and many changes have been made over the years.

The system originated in 2010 and at the time 5A was the highest quality. Every year or two the system seems to get an update. Companies offer grades up to 14A at this point, over 10 years later. 

Keep in mind that as the quality gets better, you are likely going to have to pay more. Since you aren’t able to fully trust the grading system, it’s important to know what standard the hair should be held to. 

How to Determine the Grade of Hair

The hair strands themselves determine the overall grade of the hair extensions. High quality hair should have cuticles that feel thick and durable. This allows the hair to have less tangling and hold your desired style better.

Generally the hair will come from one donor. This allows the cuticle to be original and all run in the same direction. Higher grades will likely be unprocessed, this ensures the hair is at its healthiest point.

Taking a look at the ends of the hair will also help you to find out if the hair is really worth the grade it was given. The hair should be dense throughout and have ends that are just as thick as the rest of the unit.

Researching the company you are purchasing from will also help you feel more confident in receiving hair in the accurate hair grade. Reviews are another helpful area in determining the hair grade, look specifically with ones with photos.

Pros and Cons of Hair Grading

Let’s take a look at some of the areas to consider prior to purchasing hair because of a specific hair grade.


  • Shopping – This makes online shopping easier as you can get a feel for the type of hair you will be receiving without seeing it in person.
  • Easy to determine – Real photos of the products should back up the quality of the hair. You can quickly and easily determine if the grade matches the quality.
  • Human hair  – This system was made for real human hair not synthetic.

Read more: Synthetic vs. Human Hair


  • Regulations – The hair grading system isn’t regulated therefore you can’t always trust that you’re getting high quality hair. It’s essential to shop with reputable companies.
  • Updates – The hair grading system is consistently upgraded meaning you have to stay up to date to determine whether you truly are getting the highest grade.

Common Misconceptions

Some people feel that because a high grade is attached to the product you will be receiving the best quality hair. As we had highlighted, this system is not regulated therefore this is not always true. It’s extremely important to find real photos of the product to back up the quality of the hair.

Another misconception is because a supplier has a product with a lower grade, the hair is automatically bad. As we had discussed, the grading system is updated every year or two which suppliers may fall behind. Hair with a 8A grade is just as high quality as 9A.

This is why it’s extremely important to understand what determines the grade of hair. Hair may be extremely similar or exactly the same but, due to upgrading, the grades given may differ.

What are the most common hair grades?

Even number grades often have more of an impact on buyers. While odd numbers have come out in between, they aren’t as popular as these grades.

  • 8A – This grade was made available sometime in 2016. This hair, although close to 6 years old, is still high quality. 8A hair is also priced relatively well making it an affordable option.
  • 10A – This grade was introduced around 2018 making it right on time for the update. This is also when the higher quality hair started to get more expensive. The hair is a step up from 8A hair but you could get away with not spending the extra money and sticking with a lower grade.
  • 12A – This grade came into existence sometime around 2020, it’s extremely similar to the previous grade and so you don’t really have to spend extra money on this grade. Since it has a higher grade, there is always someone to buy.

What do grades mean in hair?

When hair is given a grade, it allows the buyer to know the overall quality of the hair. This can be extremely helpful when shopping. It’s important that you know how to determine the quality of hair instead of solely relying on the grading system as it’s not always accurate. A general rule of thumb is purchasing hair that has a higher grade means better hair.

What grade of hair is the best?

The higher the number, the better the hair grade is. The grading system changes every year or two meaning the highest grade you can get changes. Grades range up to 14A now which is quite high. 

By selecting a unit that has a higher grade this allows you to receive better quality hair. You can easily find the grade in either the description, title, or details of the product. Do keep in mind after around the 12A mark, the hair quality can’t improve much so you don’t always want to spend a huge amount of money on hair.

Is the grading system regulated?

No, unfortunately the system is not regulated meaning you have to ensure you are buying from a reputable supplier. The best way to ensure the hair is as high quality as it states is by feeling the hair in person. 

This is difficult to do when you purchase online so it’s important to know who you’re shopping with. 


The hair grading system can be extremely helpful if you are shopping in the right places. This system is extremely helpful for those who like to shop online. 

Determining the quality of hair is quite easy to do and is helpful to back up the quality you anticipate to receive. 

Since the hair grading system does change, it’s important that you do your own research on the hair itself.  The grading system itself is a great back up. 


A lover of all things beauty related whose been in the industry for about 5 years. While I'd love to say I'm a self-taught prodigy, I'm actually a licensed cosmetologist who has spent countless hours studying hair. I quickly learned sharing valuable information with like-minded individuals allows everyone to make the right choices when dealing with their hair. As a curly girl myself I love to experiment with different styles on a regular basis. While I do have a busy schedule between work, freelancing, and school; I always seem to find time for my hair.

Read More

Leave a Comment