Alright Ginas, it’s time to educate ourselves on all the different types of curl pattern out there.
A lot of us have some form of curl, wave or texture in our hair. In fact, multiple different textures can be doing their thing on one person’s head at any one time.
With each hair type comes a different set of hair care rules. So, to help you but your best tresses forward, I’m breaking down each curl pattern type.
Whether you’re rocking one curl pattern or many, keep reading so you can say hello to happy, healthy and bouncy hair all year round!
How Exactly Are Curls Formed?
We’re going right back to the very beginning!
Your curl type depends on the shape of the follicle that your hair grows out of from your scalp.
A round, circular follicle leads to straight hair. While an oval-shaped, flat follicle leads to curly hair. Variations of follicle shapes between those two lead to different types of curl pattern.
How Can I Tell What My Curl Pattern Is?
Award-winning celebrity hairstylist, Andre Walker, who counts Oprah Winfrey as one of his main clients, developed a curl typing system back in 1997. This has formed the basis for defining curl patterns ever since.
Walker’s system involves classifying hair into four main categories:
Type 1 - Straight
Type 2 - Wavy
Type 3 - Curly
Type 4 - Coily
(Obviously all you Ginas are here for the curls. So I’ll be focussing on Types 2,3 and 4 for this article).
Within each classification are the sub-classifications of A to C. These
sub-classifications define the diameter of your hair pattern. A refers to a wide curl pattern size, B is medium and C is the smallest or narrowest of the three sub-classifications.
Walker’s system is renowned for being useful in helping people to identify their curl pattern or patterns.
Why Do I Need To Know What My Curl Pattern Is?
Basically, it’s to help you know how to best take care of and style your hair.
Every hair type behaves differently. Understanding your unique curl pattern is key to keeping your hair healthy and strong.
What’s My Curl Pattern, And How Do I Take Care Of It?
Now for the fun part - I’m going to help you identify your curl pattern, and share some tips on how you can care for your tresses, depending on your hair type!
Type 2 hair is wavy and tends to be coarse, and has an S pattern to it.
2A - People with 2A hair have a naturally tousled texture to their hair, but lack volume at the root. If this is your curl type, steer clear of heavy styling products as these will weigh your strands down! Instead, use a light product like a water-based mousse to add volume to your hair and to keep your strands moisturised.
2B - Fun Fact, I’m a 2B! The 2B curl pattern is defined by S-shaped waves that tend to start from the mid-length of the hair strand, with hair at the crown of the head tending to be straighter and flatter. 2B hair has a medium texture, tends to be frizzy at the crown, a bit dryer at the ends and can be a little resistant to styling. Top tips to look after and style 2B hair is to apply conditioner to the ends of the hair only when washing your hair, and enhance those waves by spritzing a moisturising sea salt spray through the mid-length of your hair.
2C - If you’ve got a 2C curl pattern you are rocking waves for days! 2C waves are thick with a defined S-shape that starts at the crown on the head all the way down. 2C hair types are also prone to frizziness. To maintain your locks, use a sulphate-free shampoo to keep your strands moisturised. Using a leave-in conditioner will also help. Finally, like your 2A counterparts, use a light product like a water-based mousse to keep your waves styled and
Type 3 hair is curly and the curl pattern can range from loose, buoyant loops too tight, springy corkscrews which have some sheen but also tend to get frizzy.
3A - You’ll be rocking loose curls that have the circumference of a piece of thick chalk if you’ve got a 3A curl pattern. 3A hair tends to have a combination of textures, and the longer your hair, the more defined your curl is. Hair can have an S pattern and be shiny but frizzy at the same time. It also tends to be thick and full with a ton of body. To maintain curl definition twirl small sections of curls around your finger while your hair is still damp. Give your dry hair a boost with a leave-in conditioner spray and scrunch curls with your fingers.
3B - Say hello to springy and voluminous curls that range from ringlets to corkscrews. The 3B curl pattern tends to be similar in circumference to a sharpie. While dense and voluminous, 3B hair also tends to be coarse and try, so moisture is key! To look after and style your strands, use an anti-humectant (humidity blocking) styling cream or gel in your hair, especially when it’s wet. This will help give your curls definition, minus the frizz!
3C - This curl pattern is also known as ‘curly-coily’. 3C curls are tight corkscrews that range in circumference from a straw to a pencil. Hair tends to be densely packed together and is full of volume, yaaaas! The key to keeping your 3C curls happy, coily and bouncy is, you guessed it, moisture! Use a sulphate-free, creamy cleansing balm when washing your hair to avoid drying it out. To help define curls, use a combination of a styling cream and a mousse in your wet hair and let those curls dry naturally as much as possible. The 3C curl pattern tends to experience a lot of shrinkage from wet curls to dry and the best way to let your curls keep doing their thing is to avoid heat styling!
Type 4 is the coily curl patten. Hair can be soft and fine or wiry and coarse. Strands can form, densely packed coils or zig-zag shaped curls straight from the scalp. This hair type is prone to shrinkage.
4A - If you have dense, springy, S-patterned coils that are the circumference of a crochet needle then you are definitely a 4A! Using thicker natural emollients (aka ingredients that are incredibly moisturising and softening) like mango and shea butters will help keep your hair looking fabulous, and will keep your strands in a soft and pliable state.
4B - A curl pattern that bends in sharp angles like the letter Z is typical of a 4B. Your curls will be tighter and less defined and will be roughly the circumference of a pen. 4B strands range from being fine and thin to wiry and coarse. Because the curl pattern starts from the scalp, you want to retain moisture in your scalp. Use a coconut or castor oil treatment on the scalp and through your lengths to lock in that moisture! For styling, use a moisturising curl cream to distribute the product through your hair before palm-rolling or shingling to help stretch out coils and clump them for curl definition and elongation.
4C - Your hair will be similar to 4B, but the tightly coiled, zig-zag patterned, strands have less definition and experience a lot of shrinkages. Your strands are super delicate and will range from super fine, thin and soft to wiry and coarse. To keep your hair looking stunning, you want to keep it moisturised and keep it protected from the elements. Use a creamy leave-in moisturiser to lock in as much hydration as possible, and to help maximise the length of your strands.
Regardless of which curl pattern (or patterns) you are rocking, one thing is key: keeping your strands moisturised! In addition to the products mentioned above, don’t forget to use your Gina approved silk hair products to keep your strands protected and to lock-in that moisture!
Which of these curl types best define your hair? Share your thoughts with us, and don’t forget to share your sassiest and most fabulous curl moments with us via Instagram!