Knowing your curl type is ideal so you know where to begin when shopping for hair-care products and what should be included in your hair-care routine.
Most people with textured hair have more than one type of pattern on their head, leaving them with a combination of, for example, kinky, coily, wavy, and curly hair. You can best determine your curl shape and pattern (or patterns) when your hair is sopping wet.
To break it down for you: Type 1s are straight, Type 2s are wavy, Type 3s are curly, and Type 4s are coily.
All sub-classifications of A to C are based on the width or diameter of your wave, curl, or coil pattern. As you can see, Type As boast a wider pattern size, Type Bs are medium, and Type Cs are the smallest of all three.
Type 2 (Wavy)
As seen, Type 2s are wavy and bendable. These can be fine to coarse, and there’s a definitive ‘S’ pattern closer to the root.
Type 2As boast a fine, barely-there tousled texture that can be easily straightened. People who have this texture should be wary of using heavy styling products as these can easily weigh strands down, giving you hair that looks almost lifeless.
To boast volume, consider trying an airy, water-based mousse to help make your hair look fluffier and fuller.
Type 2B hair appears flatter at the crown with defined S-shaped waves that begin at mid-length. The diameter of these strands are thicker than that of 2A, and will require a bit more work when straightening. If you’d like to enhance your natural waves, consider trying a sea-salt hairspray, that will give you great texture and strands that aren’t crunchy or stiff.
Type 2C waves are thick and a lot more susceptible to frizz. The S-shaped bends are well-defined, and these begin at the roots. In between washes, consider using a non-lathering, sulfate-free co-wash to ensure you don’t strip any essential moisture from strands.
You can also consider trying a leave-in conditioner under a mousse to add hydration and ensure your hair’s natural wave pattern is locked in.
Type 3 (Curly)
As you can see, Type 3 strands can range anywhere from loose with buoyant loops to tight, springy (almost corkscrew-like) curls, which have some sheen but are frizz-prone.
Type 3A hair strands are often shiny with large, loose curls. For the best definition, consider trying a curl cream that you can scrunch into your dry hair to help emphasize the curl texture. Be wary of touching curls afterward whether it’s with your hands, brush or comb and you could trigger a halo full of frizz. To maintain and get the juiciest curls, try using a curl refresher spray when a boost is needed.
Type 3Bs boast ringlet strands, but this hair texture can get dry, so consider adding a styling gel that will retain moisture.
Type 3C strands are tight, corkscrew-like curls that can range in circumference from a straw to a pencil. These strands are quite densely packed together, allowing for loads of natural volume. Frizziness can be an issue with this hair type, so consider using a sulfate-free, creamy cleanser, that will help you avoid drying out your hair.
You can also consider layering a curling mousse over a styling cream (e.g. curl defining cream) when the hair is sopping wet to allow curls to clump together and dry faster.
Type 4 (Coily)
Coily hair, which is also commonly referred to as Afro-textured or kinky hair, is often naturally dry and spongy in texture. It can be soft and fine or coarse and wiry. Type 4 strands tend to form very tight, small curls in a zig-zag pattern right from the scalp and are often prone to large shrinkage.
Type 4As boast dense springy, S-shaped coils that are the circumference of a crochet needle. People with this hair type who love wash-and-gos should consider having their styling done more frequently to maintain this coily texture boasting with soft, pliable strands.
Consider adding a curling cream with a leave-in moisturizer to your daily wash-and-go styling routine.
Type 4Bs are densely packed and these can bend in sharp angles similar to the shape of the letter Z. For instant hydration, consider trying a mist-nourishing water which serves as a primer before styling in a non-aerosol spray.
Should you prefer a styling cream, try a coconut milk curl hydrating curl cream which will help to stretch out coils and gather them for better texture definition and elongation.
Type 4Cs are quite similar to that of Type 4B, but these tightly coiled strands are much more fragile and boast a tighter zig-zag pattern. People will this hair type experience the most amount of shrinkage (up to 75% more).
If you have type 4C, shrinkage and dryness could be one of your greatest concerns. Consider using a good amount of leave-in moisturizers with cocoa butter or castor oil to max the length of your strands and hydrate them.