What's Your Curl Pattern?
No two curls are the same. Your hair’s curl pattern is determined by the amount of waves, curls, coils or kinks, which is grouped into three categories: Type 2, Type 3 and Type 4. Discovering your hair’s curl pattern will allow you to better select which hair routine to follow and which products to purchase. Learn about your hair’s curl pattern below!
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Type 2 - Wavy Hair
Hair that forms springy, defined, round ringlets. Typical characteristics include medium to high texture with volume. Wavy hair can be prone to dryness and breakage yet is highly receptive to styling methods. Soft waves in the shape of an “S”.
2A) Fine, thin and easy to style; hair stays close to the head and lacks volume, even when layered
Quick tips: Use sulfate-free shampoo; use lightweight sealants that don’t weigh down your hair, such as jojoba oil; plop your hair on top of your head to dry and to define your curls more
Celebrities: Scarlett Johansson, Naomi Watts, Cate Blanchett
2B) Wavy with a medium texture with less resistance to styling; defined “S” pattern that’s more frizz-prone – especially at the crown of the head
Quick tips: Use a cream-gel styling solution that will combat frizz and double as a moisturizer and hold styler; try a dry shampoo to absorb excess oil from your scalp and lift your roots
Celebrities: Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, Carrie Underwood
2C) Thick and coarse hair with more actual curls, versus waves – circumference of sidewalk chalk; more resistant to styling and will frizz easily
Quick tips: Diffuse wet, but not soaking wet, hair upside down for more volume; scrunch styling product into hair section by section
Celebrities: Taylor Swift, Daisy Fuentes, Adrienne Bailon
Type 3 - Curly Hair
Hair that forms lengthy ridges, similar to the pattern of an “S”. Typical characteristics include minimal frizz and silky to the touch. Curly hair is known to have natural movement and is receptive to most styling methods. Spiralled and loopy hair with a defined “S” pattern.
3A) Well defined springy “S” pattern; hair can be easily straightened or texturized
Quick tips: Use a medium-weight styling solution to define curls; use a gentle lather shampoo and cleansing conditioner; use a t-shirt or microfiber towel to squeeze excess water out of curls and plop on the top of your head while pushing strands up toward the scalp
Celebrities: Debra Messing, Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman, Lorde
3B) More voluminous and smaller circumference than 3A, size of a Sharpie marker; not as shiny as 2B, can be coarse and more dense
Quick tips: Use anti-humidity styling creams and styling milk to decrease frizz and define curls; refresh curls with style milk or leave-in spray moisturizer
Celebrities: Keri Russell, Melina Kanakaredes, Anna Shaffer
3C) Tight corkscrews about the circumference of a pencil or straw; higher in density and coarser, giving it more volume; tighter curls that are finer in texture
Quick tips: Deep condition once a week to retain elasticity; stretch curls without heat using bantu knots, twist outs, flexi rods sets, perm rods; use medium-hold cream gel to provide moisture and define curls
Celebrities: Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelis, Alicia Keyes, Jada Pinkett-Smith
Type 4 - Coily/Kinky Hair
Highly textured hair that forms tight spirals or coils. Typical characteristics include a high frizz factor and lack of definition. Most often there will be no visible curl, but rather a zigzag pattern, resulting in a “puffy , dense appearance.” Kinky hair is usually delicate, fragile to the touch and desires additional moisture. Responds well to textured styling methods.
4A) Tightly coiled with a defined S-curl pattern; very fragile and has less cuticles layers, which means it has less natural protection from damage from combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it
Quick tips: Co-wash with a moisturizing sulfate-free cleanser; use thick creams to maximize hair styles after washing
Celebrities: Teyonnah Paris, Macy Gray, Leela James
4B) Strands have a Z-shape (zigzag) and less curl pattern; hair experiences up to 75% shrinkage; hair can range from fine and thin to wiry and coarse
Quick tips: Keep coils moisturized with the LOC or LCO method; use a t-shirt or microfiber towel to dry hair after washing; stretch curls without heat using bantu knots, twist outs, flexi rods sets, perm rods
Celebrities: Solange Knowles, Esperanza Spalding, Jill Scott
4C) Hair will never clump without the use of styling products; hair can range from fine, thin, soft to coarse with densely packed strands; Tighter coily hair can shrink more than 75%
Quick tips: Use creamy, anti-humidity creams to maximize protection; cover hair at night to prevent breakage; deep condition once a week
Celebrities: Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis, India Arie, Erykah Badu