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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!

Type 2a curls
Type 2b curls
Type 2c curls

Type 2 Curls - 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 3a curls
Type 3b curls
Type 3c curls

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 4a curls
Type 4b curls
Type 4c curls

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