What’s Your Curly Hair Type?

All curly hair is not the same. From beautiful waves to bouncy curls and springy coils – there is an extensive range of different curl types, each of which is beautiful and unique.

That said, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of curly hair. So today, we will discuss the importance of curl type, how to identify it, and how to best enhance it.

Why does curl type matter?

If you have incredibly oily acne-prone skin, you won’t use products for dry skin types. The richness of these products aggravates your skin and exacerbates the issues you’re experiencing.

Well, the same goes for curly hair types. So, for example, a heavy styling cream designed for coily hair will weigh finer wavy hair types down, while someone with coily hair may find that products designed for looser curls may not hydrate enough.

It’s essential to know your curly hair type so that you can have a better understanding of its unique qualities and needs. In addition, understanding your curly hair type will make it easier to select haircare products like Curl Shampoo, Conditioner or Curl Cream that will work for your hair type so you can create a solid, healthy haircare routine.

What is the hair typing system?

The hair typing system is a widely recognized identification system that categorizes human hair into distinct types.

Curly Hair Types

The hair type system is broken down into four categories of hair types: straight (Type 1), wavy (Type 2), curly (Type 3), and coily (Type 4). These primary types are broken down further into subtypes A-C which refer to the tightness of the hair’s pattern. A is the loosest, while C is the tightest.

  • 1 – Straight hair
  • 2 – Wavy hair
  • 3 – Curly hair
  • 4 – Coily hair

What type of curly hair do I have?

The best way to start determining your curly hair type is by looking closely at the curls in your hair. Do your locks fall in more of an “S” pattern? Then you most likely have wavy hair. Is it more of a corkscrew type of curl? You might fall in the curly or coily hair category. If your curl pattern is exceptionally tight with ringlets the diameter of a pencil or resembles more of a zigzag “Z” formation, then you fall in the coily hair type.

Hair type 1 – Straight hair

Hair types
Hair type 1

As hair type 1 you have straight hair – and really straight hair without waves. But straight hair is not the same. I’ve met an incredible number of people with straight hair, but many straighten their hair every day. I always wondered then why you have to straighten your hair when it’s already straight. Today I am sure that they actually have hair type 2 and just do not know how to take care of it.

Hair type 2 – Wavy hair

Hair type
Hair type 2 has wavy hair

Many individuals with wavy hair miscategorize it and mistake it for “frizzy” straight hair. The main identifying feature of wavy hair is an understated or extreme S-shape curve pattern. It can range from a lightly tousled look to a distinct wave pattern that starts at the root and travels to the ends.

Wavy hair tends to be finer than other curl types, and the pattern can easily be disturbed, causing excess frizz if handled too roughly, brushed out, or if the curl is not enhanced.

Wavy hair is divided into three subcategories: 2A, 2B, and 2C.

  • Hair type 2a: This texture is the loosest of the wavy hair family that lends to a slightly tousled look. The roots and midshaft of the hair tend to be straighter and taper into a very slight wave pattern that resembles a capital S.
  • Hair Type 2b: This texture is a step up from 2A with a more defined and uniform “S” pattern that stretches from roots to tips.
  • Hair Type 2c: This texture is the tightest of the wavy hair family with a distinct S-shaped wave that closely resembles a lower-case “s.”

What products work best for wavy hair?

Because wavy hair tends to be on the finer side and can quickly become weighed down, it’s best to avoid using thick moisturizers, masks, and heavy oils and butter. Instead, opt for lightweight formulas that provide volume. In addition, ideal hairstyling products for wavy hair typically have a looser texture and runnier viscosity that readily absorb into the hair follicle without weighing it down or causing it to become greasy.

How can I best enhance my wavy hair?

Individuals with wavy hair should opt for lighter styling products with a gentler hold to enhance the natural S-curve pattern and avoid creating stringy or crunchy waves. The best styling products for wavy hair include mousse, light styling creams, and watery gels.

Start with damp hair out of the shower, flip your hair, and gently scrunch upwards. The scrunching motion will clump waves together and further enhance the shape of the hair. Next, use a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment on a low to medium heat setting to speed up the drying process. Don’t aggressively shake the blow-dryer back and forth across the hair, as the rustling caused by the airstream leads to excessive frizz.

Hair type 3 – Curly hair

Hair type
Hair type 3 – curls

Curly hair has a bouncy and springy texture that resembles a corkscrew or ringlets.

Curly hair tends to be dryer than wavy hair because the natural oils secreted from the scalp have a more challenging time traveling from the roots to the tips. It can also be more prone to frizz if brushed out, styled improperly, or doesn’t receive enough hydration.

  • Hair type 3a: 3a curls are the loosest of the curly family, with a diameter similar to a piece of sidewalk chalk. It has a more distinct S-shaped wave than wavy hair.
  • Hair type 3b: 3b curls have distinct spiral ringlets that typically have a diameter similar to a marker.
  • Hair type 3c: 3C is the tightest of the curly hair family, with a distinct corkscrew-type curl similar in diameter to a pencil.

What products work best for curly hair?

Because curly hair is more prone to dryness than wavy hair, it’s important to use hydrating formulas to reduce frizz and increase shine.

Look for hydrating products enriched with humectants such as glycerine, hyaluronic acid, or honey to attract moisture to the hair strands. Curly hair can also benefit from using oil-based products to prevent moisture evaporation. However, use it sparingly so it doesn’t weigh down the curls.

How can I best enhance my curly hair?

To enhance curly hair, incorporate styling products such as gels and creams with medium to strong hold. It’s best to work your styling product into wet hair straight from the shower for the ultimate definition and to reduce frizz. Then, let your hair dry completely before gently scrunching to break the cast.

Hair type 4 – Coily hair

Hair type 4
Hair type 4 – Coily hair

Coily hair is extremely tight with densely-packed corkscrews the size of the top of a pencil or a unique zigzag Z-shaped pattern.

Because coily hair has an extremely tight pattern, it has a ton of volume, but it can often appear significantly shorter or “shrink” when thoroughly dried.

Coily hair tends to be the driest and most fragile curly hair type because its extremely tight texture makes it unlikely that the natural sebum secreted from the scalp will travel down the hair shaft.

  • Hair type 4a: 4a hair has an extremely tight curl pattern that resembles more of an S-shape with a diameter similar to a crochet needle.
  • Hair type 4b: 4b hair has an extremely tight pattern that is densely packed and resembles more of a zigzag or Z-shaped pattern.
  • Hair Type 4c: Like 4b hair, 4c hair has an extremely Z-shaped pattern. However, unlike 4B, the pattern in 4C hair can be difficult to distinguish because the hair is so densely packed.

What products work best for coily hair?

Due to the tightness of the curl pattern, it’s challenging for the sebum secreted from the scalp to travel down the hair shaft to the ends of the hair. As a result, it often results in coily hair becoming extremely dry and can lead to brittleness.

The ideal products for coily hair tend to be on the thicker side. These products are more moisturizing and have many sealing agents, such as oils and butter, to reduce the rate that moisture evaporates from the hair cuticle.

How can I best enhance my coily hair?

Coily hair needs a styling product with a medium to strong hold to define the tight coils.

However, styling products such as gels can dry out the hair. Layer a gel over a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or a styling cream to keep the hair hydrated and hold the style. It’s best to work with soaking wet hair to clump the curls together and prevent frizz. Once the hair is dry, lightly scrunch it to break the cast. Don’t overly manipulate the hair, so the definition stays in place longer.

Remember that not all formulas are compatible and can cause flaking when they contact each other. A quick and easy way to test this out is by mixing the products in the palm of your hand. If it turns into a milky white and develops a grainy or pearled texture on the palm of your hair, it’s not a good combination.

Questions about curly hair types

Here I answer the most frequently asked questions about curly hair types.

What are the curly hair types?

There are 4 hair types, each called hair type 1-4. Hair type 1 stands for straight hair, hair type 2 for wavy hair, hair type 3 refers to curly hair and hair type 4 is coily hair.

Profilbild Laura
About the author

I've been a curly girl since I was little. 💝 But it wasn't until I discovered the right curl care for me that I learned to understand my curls. I'm happy to pass all this on to you - so that you too can learn to love your curls.

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