9 Tips to Help You Identify Your Curl Type (and Why It Matters)

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How to Identify Your Curl Type | If you've googled 'curl type chart' and felt overwhelmed, not knowing how to classify your hair pattern type, you're not alone. In this post, we break down everything you need to know about Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4 hair, and all of the subtypes within each category. It's important that you go beyond classifying your hair as straight, wavy, curly, or coily and identify the exact subtype so you can choose the right products and hair care routine. Click for tips!

Determining your curl type can be tricky, but it’s key to figuring out how to manage your hair and create a hair care routine that works for you. All curly hair tends to get lumped into one category, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not a one-size-fits all approach and identifying your curl type will help you know which products to shop for and ingredients to look for. From tousled waves to curly coils, here are 9 tips to help you identify your curl type.

Why Does Curly Type Matter?

Anyone with curly hair knows the maintenance that goes into it. Knowing your curl type can have a big impact on your hair care and getting ready routine. It will guide the products you use and ensure you’re not wasting time and money on products that won’t work for you. For example, if you have soft waves, you’ll want to use products that won’t weigh them down, and if you have a strong curl, you’ll want heavier curl creams that will hold your style. Knowing your curl type simplifies things. Once you’re aware of it, you can look for products and techniques to specifically style your hair.

How to Identify Your Curl Type

Type 2 – Wavy

Type 2 hair is wavy and bendable, can be fine to coarse, and has a definitive S pattern that lays closer to the head.

    • 2a – Soft Waves
      2a hair is fine with a loose wave and tousled texture. It’s super easy to smooth out with a flat iron and there’s very little volume at your roots. Be wary of using heavy styling products that can weigh your hair down, making them look limp and lifeless. All products you use should be light-weight in consistency. An airy hair mousse will help give volume to this hair type, making it look fluffier and fuller.
    • 2b – Wavy
      2b hair is flatter at the crown and has more defined S-shape waves starting from mid length, and thicker strands than 2a. You’ll notice your wave pattern gets progressively stronger towards your ends. It’s moderately wavy and medium textured. It’s relatively easy to straighten, but is prone to frizz and kinks in humid weather. Use a texture spray like the Ouai Wave Spray, which is enriched with rice protein and won’t crunch your hair.
  • 2c – Deep Waves
    2c hair has a thicker texture and is more prone to frizz. The S-bend starts right at the root and is very well defined. It teeters between wavy and curly, and is a true “in between” hair type. Cutting your hair in layers can help alleviate the weighed down feeling of your strands, and you’ll benefit from using styling creams over mousse to enhance the natural wave pattern. It’s super important to keep this hair type moisturized, so use a sulfate-free shampoo, which won’t strip natural oils and moisture away.

Type 3 – Curly

All type 3 hair is curly, and ranges from loopy S-pattern curves to tight ringlets.

  • 3a – Soft Curls
    3a hair typically has larger, loose curls. The hair tends to be fragile, so try to avoid touching it as much as possible to avoid disturbing the curls and creating frizz. Apply a curl cream to damp hair (make sure it has de-frizzing and moisturizing properties) and make sure to use a good, curl-specific conditioner.
  • 3b – Curly
    3b hair types have ringlet-shaped, voluminous, springy curls that can be more prone to dryness. It features a significant amount of volume and defined curl patterns. This type of hair tends to experience shrinkage from wet to dry and becomes puffy and frizzy when brushed. Focus on building and retaining moisture by layering products throughout the scalp. Use a rich shampoo and conditioner and look for products with hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, and oils. Opt for a styling gel containing humectants to give definition and reduce frizz.
  • 3c – Ultra Curly
    3c hair features tight, corkscrew curls that are densely packed together with natural volume. It’s impacted by humidity and frizzes quickly. To keep curls moisturized, use a sulfate-free shampoo and layer mousse and styling creams into wet hair for a softer, more natural curl pattern.

Type 4 – Coily

Type 4 hair is coily, kinky hair that is naturally very dry and can be soft and fine or coarse and wiry.

  • 4a – Coiled
    4a hair has springy S-patterned coils that are densely packed and require more frequent maintenance to keep hair manageable. Opt for a curl cream and leave-in conditioner with moisturizing ingredients to ensure daily hydration and define your curls without leaving them hard or crunchy. Use a diffuser to dry your hair to add more fluff and volume.
  • 4b – Zig Zag
    4b hair is densely packed and can bend in sharp angles like the letter “Z”. Styling creams like the CURLSMITH Styling Soufflé are great for this hair type because they’re thicker and good for texture definition. Since this hair type is prone to dryness, use a gentle cleansing conditioner, as well as a leave-in conditioner like the one by PATTERN to keep hair hydrated between washes.
  • 4c – Tightly Coiled
    4c hair has a super tight zigzag pattern, so is even more fragile and prone to shrinkage. It’s essential to stay away from sulfates that strip the hair from moisture. Look for natural oils like argan, shea butter, castor, and coconut oil, and use heavier creams like the PATTERN Styling Cream to keep hair moisturized.

Decoding your curl type will make all the difference in your routine and ensure you handle your curls in the best way possible!

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