No two curl patterns are exactly alike and figuring out your hair type and curl pattern is one of the most essential steps in tailoring a great hair care routine that works for you. With the correct information you’ll be able to make product selections most suited to your hair, as well know how best to handle, moisturise and protect your hair from damage. We know determining your curl pattern can be a difficult and confusing process; many women are overwhelmed with the amount of information and are simply at a loss with where to begin.
So without further ado: Curly & Wild’s Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Curl Pattern. We hope this guide will give you the help and tools you need to fully embrace the beauty of your natural hair.
Why It’s Important to Know Your Hair Type
Knowing your hair type and curl pattern is the key to understanding your hair’s unique characteristics and administering the correct care which will help you maintain strong, healthy and well-nourished hair.
Understanding the Hair Type Chart
The hair type system was modeled after famous celebrity stylist Andre Walker’s definition of hair types; the chart ranges from 1 – 4, with subgroup classifications from A – C. 1 is straight, 2 is wavy, 3 is curly and 4 is coily. The subcategories A-C are based upon the density and depth of the hair pattern. A is fine/thin hair, B is medium/thick and C is dense/very thick.
However, it’s important to note that many women do not fit perfectly into just one category, and it’s common for most ladies, particularly with textured hair, to have a combination of multiple hair types on their head.
The curly and coily hair types begin at 3a and range all the way up until 4c. These tend to be the hair types most common amongst black women. They are the hair types that are described to have the most defined curl and coil patterns.
3a marks the first of the classified ‘curly’ hair types and is recognised by the lightweight appearance of its well-defined and loose curls. The curls have a wide “S” shaped pattern and tend to be smooth with a fine to medium texture. The ringlets are compact with a shiny appearance and lots of body and buoyancy. The curls are on the wider side with a circumference that’s about the size of a piece of chalk. Due to the looser curl pattern, type 3 hair doesn’t suffer from as much dryness as type 4 hair. However, 3a hair can still be quite prone to dryness, as well as fizziness and lack of volume.
Characteristics: Well-defined loose spiral curls, fine to medium texture, lots of body and buoyancy
3b hair is distinguishable by its loose “S” waves with a spiral to corkscrew-like appearance and has a diverse curl pattern that ranges from loose corkscrew curls to tight waves. The curls are well-defined, with a circumference similar to that of a large marker or sharpie and have a fine to medium texture. Similar to type 3a, this hair type benefits from lots of body and buoyancy and is also prone to frizzing and dryness.
Characteristics: Spiral bouncy curls, loose curl pattern, fine to medium texture
3c hair is made up of defined, tight corkscrew curls, and is the tightest of type 3 curls. The circumference of the curls wrap snugly around a pen or pencil and the hair strands are densely packed together. Just like 3a and 3b, it has an “S” pattern when stretched. Unlike the previous types though, 3c curls are unique in that they can grow outwards instead of down, meaning that it grows in the same direction the hair shaft points to. This means when 3c hair is grown out longer it tends to form a “curly fro”. 3c hair generally has a medium texture and can be prone to dryness, tangling and a lack of curl definition.
Characteristics: Tight curls, dense, medium to thick texture
Common Concerns of Type 3 Hair: Tangling, frizziness, dryness
Type 4a hair marks the beginning of the ‘coily’ hair types and is full of tight coils. Like 3c hair, it often takes on an “S” pattern when stretched out, which makes it easy to identify in comparison to the other type 4s. The hair has a visible curl pattern with spirals and a circumference close to that of a knitting needle. The texture is often fine or wiry, but its high density can make the hair appear thicker and darker. 4a hair has fewer cuticle layers than the other hair types thus far, making it quite fragile and prone to breaking.
Characteristics: “S” pattern when stretched, thick appearance, visible curl pattern, dense, fine or wiry texture, shrinkage
4b hair is the second coily hair type, to determine whether you have 4b hair you should observe the pattern of your coils. 4b coils take on an angular “Z” shape, are usually as wide as a pencil or pen but are not very well defined. The texture of 4b hair is diverse, ranging from thin and wiry to rough and coarse. This hair type is prone to shrinkage, meaning that the coils can become quite tightly packed together. This can be frustrating for many women, as it means the hair length looks much shorter than it actually is. Like all type 4 hair, 4b hair also has a propensity to drying out and breakage.
Characteristics: “Z” coil pattern, undefined coils, dense and tightly packed, thin to coarse texture, shrinkage
Type 4c is made up of fluffy strands with a similar “Z” shaped curl pattern to type 4b hair, but it has tighter coils. The coils can range from defined to not very defined and are very densely packed together. 4c hair requires lots of moisture due to the tightness of the coils and is the most susceptible to shrinkage. It is not uncommon for 10-inch 4c hair to shrink down to 3-inches or less after washing. 4c texture can vary from fine and soft to thick and coarse, meaning the appearance of 4c hair can be quite diverse. It is considered to be the most delicate of hair types due to its tightly coiled curl pattern and succumbs easily to breakage when dry.
Characteristics: Fluffy strands, “Z” coil pattern, tight coils, dense, thin to coarse texture, shrinkage
Common Concerns of Type 4 Hair: Fragile, dryness, breakage.
🔥HOT TIP 🔥 If you are still having difficultly identifying your hair type a good trick is to see what your hair looks like after it has been freshly washed as there is no product in it allowing you to see your hair in its natural state.
We hope with guide you’ve been able to correctly identify your hair type and are now armed with the knowledge you need to confidently embrace and take care of the natural beauty of your hair. It’s no secret that natural hair can sometimes require a lot of maintenance but with a better understanding of your hair type, you’ll be more equipped to find the products, treatments, and styles best suited to your unique hair type and curl pattern. Taking a break with a protective style also becomes easier once you’ve determined your hair type and can correctly identify your hair’s texture.
Here at Curly&Wild, we have a diverse range of 100% virgin human hair extensions uniquely tailored for type 3 and 4 natural hair. With the help of this guide, you’ll now be able to confidently select the clip-ins that best match your hair texture for a flawless and seamless look.
Always remember, be it curls, kinks or coils, rock your locks with pride!
*If you are still not sure what your curl pattern is take our quiz here to help you decide*