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Different Types of Hair Curls

different types of curly hairstyles, how to style naturally curly hair

60% of people have curves in their hair and it took our society long enough to accept this basic fact. Straight hair was considered as the beauty ideal for long while curly was treated as a deviation. This societal pressure caused both men and women to straighten their naturally curly locks since time immemorial. But the wave of equality in the 21st century has offered greater inclusivity in terms of a person’s physical appearance with curly hair cherished and celebrated just like its straight peers.

Mainstream brands can also be seen promoting specially curated products to address curly hair concerns with models flaunting their bouncy curls to perfection. But did you know that curly hair can be further classified depending upon a combination of volume, curl pattern, and consistency? Read on to know more about the classification of curls so that you can identify your type and care for your tresses in the best possible way.

Different Types of Hair Curls

A. Wavy Hair

  1. Wavy 2A
  2. Wavy 2B
  3. Wavy 2C

B. Curly Hair

  1. Curly 3A
  2. Curly 3B
  3. Curly 3C

C. Coily or Kinky Hair

  1. Coily 4A
  2. Coily 4B
  3. Coily 4C

Wavy Hair

Wavy hair serves as the middle ground between curly and straight hair with higher characteristics of the former. They look straight when wet and ripple on drying out. However, wavy hair often falls prey to frizz and you need to deep condition it from time to time for taming the flyaway. Wavy locks lay flat at the roots and loops while going down. They are characterized by a definitive S pattern lying closer to the head having fine to coarse texture. While wavy hair is less shiny when compared to straight tresses, it reflects more light than curly hair. You can naturally dry wavy hair with minimal product usage. Styling heatless waves also become easy by damping your hair and tying a braid. The key here lies in keeping them nourished and imparting adequate volume for free movement. This is why it is advised to apply styling products minimally in a gentle manner.

Caring For Wavy Hair

  • People having wavy hair can combat their frizz by applying mousses and leave-in serums. These products do not weigh down your tresses but are extremely efficient in defining the waves.
  • You can use lightweight shampoos followed by conditioner two to three times a week.
  • Styling tools serve as a regular ally of people with wavy hair and here rises the importance of using heat protectant sprays to buffer your locks from the continued usage of curling and straightening irons.
  • Plopping your hair using a soft cotton t-shirt can add definition to your tresses while drying away your wavy hair. It can also work magic by protecting your hair from breakage and damage.
  • If you are planning on detangling wavy hair, then the wide-toothed combs can serve as your best bet as they do not disrupt the naturally curly pattern.

A. Types of Wavy Hair

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1. Wavy 2A

wavy hair routine naturally curly
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wavy hair types 2a 2b 2c
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2A wavy texture is characterized by hair growing straight at the crown and slight wave at the ends which can be straightened easily. Combing these tousled waves is easy and the waves take shape when you naturally air-dry your hair. They can even pass off as straight and can be styled as curly or straight using heating tools. However, excessive straightening can impart a limp look to your tresses by rendering them lifeless.

  • Problems: Slight wave causes frizz which can be dealt with by adequately moisturizing your hair. You might also fall prey to oiliness given the thin texture of hair strands.
  • Best Products: For adding a dash of fluff and oomph, you can use a sea salt spray and lightweight styling mousse at the base of your hair becomes too lanky.
  • Products to avoid: Stay away from rich creams which can weigh down your waves and flatten the curls.
  • Celeb with 2A hair: Emma Stone
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2. Wavy 2B

wavy hair with bangs 2021
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wavy bob with side bangs
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2B hair is defined by S-shaped waves starting midway down the hair length and a flatter crown. Individual strands of hair are thicker when compared to the 2A variant and you need to put in some effort with your straightener for flattening it out.

  • Problems: People with 2B waves often complain of frizz at the top of the head and difficulty in styling.
  • Best Products: Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner for preserving its bouncy texture and preventing tangles. Gels and mousses work magic on type 2B waves.
  • Celeb with 2B hair: Salma Hayek
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3. Wavy 2C

wavy hair style for girl
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wavy curly hair hairstyles
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Type 2C waves are more defined than both 2A and 2B. They have a well-defined S-shaped curl pattern that starts right from the roots and might even feature a few well-wound ringlet curls. Over-washing can dry out your hair and lead to breakage. You can shampoo a maximum of 2-3 times a week.

  • Problems: Thick texture makes the 2C variety more prone to frizzing.
  • Best Products: A hair diffuser can unfurl these waves to their fullest glory. You can use a non-lathering sulfate-free wash between shampoos for preventing essential moisture from being stripped off your strands. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner followed by a mousse for locking the natural wave pattern of your hair while offering adequate hydration.
  • Celeb with 2C hair: Lorde

Curly Hair

The utterly versatile curly hair ranges from well-defined ringlets to loose buoyant curls and can be both coarse and frizzy. Curls look like waves when the hair is wet and take a three-dimensional shape on drying out. Often this type of hair might have a sheen covering a certain portion of its length. They have a lot of volume ranging from the roots to their tips. However, the curls prevent natural oils from getting evenly distributed throughout the length of the hair and this causes your strands to become dry. People with curly hair often complain about excessive frizz and need to follow a good hair care routine for adding more definition to their curls and preventing it from appearing lifeless.

Caring For Curly Hair

  • Opt for a sulfate-free natural shampoo that will prevent the natural oils from being leached out of your hair.
  • A liquid-Oil-Cream method is advocated for people with curly hair as this can keep their tresses optimally hydrated. You can use a hydrating shampoo followed by a conditioner for regularly washing your hair. Natural oil or a special cream can be applied for defining the curls.
  • Curly hair gets easily damaged by excessive use of heating tools. This is why it is advised to avoid straightening as much as possible.
  • Sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase can buffer your curls from getting excessively dry and breakage.
  • The pineapple method promotes tying your hair in a loop bun over your head and covering it in a bonnet or silk scarf. This allows retaining the curl definition between washes.

B. Types Of Curly Hair

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1. Curly 3A

curly hair hairstyles female
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3a curly hairstyles
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The big and loose 3A curls follow an S-shape pattern with each curl having a similar thickness as that of a piece of sidewalk chalk. Slight sheen covering these cheeky little shape-shifters tags along with pleasant shine to your tresses. The large loose curls have sizes similar to a wine cork. You can style them in a variety of ways but they are highly reactive to fluctuating weather conditions. Your main aim here should be to touch your hair as little as possible for avoiding frizz build-up. It is best to style these curls when your hair is dripping wet. While taking care of 3A curls requires substantial time and effort, the end result in form of beautiful ringlets is bound to turn heads wherever you go.

  • Problems: People with 3A curls suffer from excessive frizz and curls which lose definition.
  • Best Products: Apply some nourishing curl cream onto dry hair for emphasizing the texture of your curls. Opt for a wide-toothed comb to distribute the cream evenly. You can spritz some curl refresher for maintaining those juicy springs.
  • Celeb with 3A hair: Zendaya

2. Curly 3B

curly hair 3b male
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curly hair to straight hair shampoo
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The coarse-textured 3B curls are characterized by comparatively tighter wounds and curls having a width similar to a marker pen. While these curls don’t stand out in the department of shine, they can surely make it up in terms of volume. They are springier and coarser than 3A curls and can be easily wrapped around your index finger. It is recommended to dry 3B curls with a cotton t-shirt. Using a regular cotton towel can damage your hair and cause it to appear dull.

  • Problems: Tends to get dry and brittle very easily and requires intensive deep conditioning.
  • Best Products: Use styling products like gels and conditioners which are specially designed for combating frizz and adding more definition to your curls by blocking humidity. These should be applied over wet hair for getting the definition of your desire sans the frizz. You can layer your strands with a cocktail of anti-frizz and moisturizing creams for adding lots of shine.
  • Celeb with 3B hair: Beyonce

3. Curly 3C

curly girl method wavy hair
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curly hair with bangs 2021
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3C varieties are described as ringlet curls having the circumference of a pencil. These tight corkscrew curls have a finer texture causing loss of definition. They are packed tightly on your head and look exceptionally voluminous. You need to use a detangling comb from tip to root for reducing damage.

  • Problems: Fine texture causes them to shrink and look shorter than their actual dimensions. People with this type of hair also complain about fizz.
  • Best Products: Creamy sulfate-free cleansers can be applied to your hair while it is wet for keeping frizz under check. You can also layer a curling mousse over-styling cream for allowing those curls to dry faster by clumping together.
  • Celeb with 3C hair: Yara Shahidi

Coily or Kinky Hair

The fine texture of the tightly coiled hair looks very voluminous as the coarse coils remain tightly packed on the scalp. However, this is actually the most fragile type of hair texture as a lower number of cuticle layers cannot protect the strands from dryness. People with Coily hair often complain about shrinkage issues due to the tight curls. Coily hair is also known as Afro-textured hair and feels very spongy although the hair strands can have textures ranging from wire and coarse to soft and fine. This type of curl might follow a zig-zag pattern starting from the scalp or an even pattern.

Caring For Coily Hair

  • Apply natural oils and hair creams for moisturizing your hair every 2-3 days. Tightly wound coils do not allow the natural oils to taper down the length of your hair and so you need to moisturize generously.
  • Coily hair should be deep conditioned twice a month for keeping it adequately hydrated.
  • Blow-drying can further damage Coily hair by causing breakage.
  • While detangling your hair, use a wide-toothed comb-over small sections for preventing hair breakage right from the middle.
  • Sleeping on a satin pillowcase will prevent Coily hair from getting dried up or tangled during slumber time.

C. Types Of Coily Hair

1. Coily 4A

coily curl pattern , coily hair vs curly hair
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curly hair cut style for girl
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The tightly wound type 4A coils have a fine and wiry texture. They have a width similar to a crochet needle and follow an S-shaped pattern. 4A type is better at retaining moisture than 4B or 4C curls and also less susceptible to shrinkage. You can opt for the classic scrunching technique for adding more definition to your curls. After washing your hair, you should gently pat it dry and avoid excessive rubbing.

  • Problems: Tends to lose its moisture and shine very quickly which is why regular care is necessary. The curls become frizzy and feel crunchy to touch.
  • Best Products: Thick natural creams such as shea butter can moisturize this type of curls to the core. You can also opt for curling creams and leave-in conditioners for providing that extra bit of conditioning to your curls.
  • Celeb with 4A hair: Skai Jackson

2. Coily 4B

3c curly hair deep conditioner
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curly hair for women, curly hair for short hair
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If your hair curls in a densely packed sharp Z-shaped pattern, then you fall under the 4B category. Here the width of the curls is similar to a spring inside a pen. They can be either coarse or fine-textured and tends to become very dry. It is advisable to apply the hair products from root to end by sectioning wet hair and defining each section by curling it around your finger.

  • Problems: Shrinkage, moisture loss, and breakage.
  • Best Products: Retain the natural sebum of your hair by applying castor or coconut oil prior to washing it. Spritzing some non-aerosol spray before styling can impart a hydration boost to your strands. Your hair can handle rich formulas like thick natural creams applied through shingling or palm-rolling method for stretching out the curls and clumping them for elongation and better texture.
  • Celeb with 4B hair: Issa Rae

3. Coily 4C

curly hair gel or cream
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curly hair method for wavy hair
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The 4C type coils resemble 4B to a great extent. However, the only difference lies in the fact that the former lacks definition and is pretty prone to shrinkage causing it to look shorter. 4C curls are extremely delicate and susceptible to breakage. You can barely perceive its tight zigzag pattern which makes the hair look unruly at times. More than 75% shrinkage causes it to pull up on the head in a gravity-defying manner. You need to be extremely gentle while styling these curls.

  • Problems: Very fragile, dry, and lacks definition.
  • Best Products: A creamy humectant needs to be applied gently prior to detangling. You can use a generous amount of leave-in moisturizer to amp up the curled length while castor oil serves as the perfect hydrator for sealing in moisture.
  • Celeb with 4C hair: Lupita Nyong’o

Styling curls is anything but easy. However, identifying them is a completely different ball game. But we hope that our detailed guide has helped you in decoding your curl category so that caring for your locks becomes easier.

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Cheryl Carter

After completing her master's degree, Cheryl Carter started her career as a content writer. She has completed 8 glorious years in content writing. She believes that everyone needs a wee bit of fashion knowledge in their life. Hence, she joins Looksgud to share the latest fashion and style tips to look trendy and stylish in every sense.

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