How to Figure Out Your Curl Type
We feel you. Decoding your curl type can be confusing. Several different textures can exist on one head alone, which all have to somehow look cohesive when you rock a style. Plus, there’s been some debate as to whether the typing system, originally started by hairstylist Andre Walker and modified by folks in the curly community, is divisive or even too narrow. But controversy aside, many people have found that even if it isn’t perfect, it can be super useful in at least being able to identify your curl pattern (or patterns) so you know where to start when it comes to hair care. It’s a lot to think about, so we asked two industry texture pros to break down some of the finer points of the texture typing categories. Follow our easy tip sheet below (complete with recommendations for your hair-care stash) to help you better ID your curl type.
Type 3 curly hair can range from loose, buoyant loops to tight, springy corkscrews which have some sheen but are prone to frizz.
3A strands, like Zendaya’s pictured here, tend to be shiny with large, loose curls that are about the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk. Scrunch It’s a 10 Miracle Defrizzing Curl Cream into your dry hair to help emphasize the curl texture. But keep your hands (or brush or comb, for that matter) from touching your curls afterward, or you run the risk of having a halo full of frizz. To maintain those juicy springs, simply spritz your hair with a curl refresher, like Carol Daughter’s Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Refresher Spray, when it needs a boost.
3Bs have coarse, springy ringlets with a circumference similar to a Sharpie marker. This hair texture can get dry, so look for styling gels that have humectants in them to attract moisture to strands. Try Mielle Organics Honey & Ginger Styling Gel. “Apply when [your hair is] wet,” advises Dickey, “so you’ll get definition without frizz.”
3C curls are tight corkscrews that range in circumference from a straw to a pencil. Yara Shahidi is a great example for 3Cs. Strands are densely packed together, giving way to lots of natural volume. Frizziness can be an issue with this type, so use a sulfate-free, creamy cleanser, like Oyin Handmade Ginger Mint Co-Wash, so as not to dry out your hair.
Dickey also favors layering a mousse, such as Cantu Wave Whip Curling Mousse, over a styling cream (like Marc Anthony True Professional Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Curl Cream) when the hair is sopping wet to allow curls to clump together and dry faster. “Your co-wash reveals your curl pattern, while your styling product captures [it],” explains Dickey.