A Guide To Natural Curly Hair Types

Curly hair comes in a variety of different types and textures, and each head of hair is unique and requires unique care. Knowing your curly hair type will help you better understand your hair, why it behaves the way it does, and how you can give it what it needs to keep it looking its best.

Human hair is divided into four types  (1-4), with wavy and curly hair categorized from 2-4. Each type is divided into an additional three subtypes (A-C), which denote the diameter of the curl – A is a more open curl, while C is more tightly curled. Type one hair is naturally straight hair, so for the purposes of this article we will be focusing on types 2-4.

Before reading on to discover and learn about your curl type, keep in mind that curly hair doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into a box. Your hair can be more than one type in different parts, and that’s ok! Curly hair types are meant to serve as a general guide to help you better understand your hair and give you a basic understanding of your hair’s needs.

Type Two – Wavy Hair

Type 2 hair is hair that is naturally wavy, forming S-shaped tendrils. The waves may not be uniform throughout the length of the hair, and they are often less defined around the crown and at the roots. People with wavy hair often find that they have a hard time getting volume at the roots, as the hair grows out almost straight close to the scalp. For more volume at the roots, and to avoid weighing down your hair and disrupting the wave pattern, opt for lighter styling products such as CG-friendly water-based mousses or lightweight gels.

2A Wavy Hair

2A Curly Hair

Credit: Monique Alice Bourscheid

2B Wavy Hair

2B Curly Hair

Credit: Madelynne Ross

2C Wavy Hair

2C Curly Hair

Credit: Sarahs_hairs

Type Three – Curly Hair

Type 3 hair is hair that naturally forms ringlets or spirals. It is different from type 2 hair in that the curl forms a spiral rather than a two-dimensional S-shape, and is therefore more naturally voluminous than type 2 hair. Type 3 curls can range from loose ringlets to tight corkscrews in shape. Curls like these are more prone to dryness and frizz, and do best with a routine that focuses on imparting and retaining moisture. Look for products that provide your hair with hydration and nourishment, such as leave-in creams and conditioners. For extra hold and to minimize frizz, combine CG-friendly gels or mousses into you routine. To combat dryness and and keep your hair healthy, treat your curls to a CG-friendly hair mask or moisturizing oil treatment (like jojoba or almond oil) every week or two or as necessary.

3A Curly Hair

3A Curly Hair

Credit: Kristyn Joanne

3B Curly Hair

3B Curly Hair

Credit: JuliExplores

3C Curly Hair

3C Curly Hair

Credit: Melanie Woodruff

Type Four – Coily Hair

Type 4 hair is hair that forms tight coils or zigzags throughout its entire length. The curl pattern is resembles a z-shape rather than an s-shape. This hair type is very prone to shrinkage, and is the most prone to dryness that can quickly cause damage or even breakage of the hair. Type 4 hair thrives with a moisture-rich routine, and benefits from frequent intensive moisturizing treatments (heavier butters like Shea or Muru Muru butter) supplemented by sealing treatments and oils (such as castor, coconut, or jojoba oil).

4A Curly Hair

4A Curly Hair

Credit: Ana

4B Curly Hair

4B Curly Hair

Credit: Caroline Andrade

4C Curly Hair

4C Curly Hair

Credit: Victoria Esteves