Understanding your curly hair type is an essential step in figuring out the best routine for your locks. There are several ways to categorise curly hair, but the most popular classification divides the curl textures into 3 types:
These three curly hair types can also be referred to numerically (the higher the number, the tighter the pattern). These can then be broken down further into subcategories of A, B, and C, depending on how tight the pattern diameter is. Our ultimate guide breaks down the different hair types, explaining the differences and characteristics of each.
What Type of Curly Hair do I Have?
Knowing which type of curly hair you have is an important step in achieving the curls of your dreams. It doesn't necessarily influence which type of product you'll pick, but it will have a strong influence on your routine and how you apply them. Once you’ve discovered your curly hair type, you’ll have the knowledge to nail your hair routine. Although there are three different curly hair types, there is also a fourth: straight hair. Straight hair has no curl pattern and so is very easy to identify.
Product Development & Textured Hair Expert
Gaia Tonanzi, Product Development & Textured Hair Expert
Different Types of Curly Hair
For the three curly hair types you’ll need to take a closer look at your curl pattern:
- Wavy hair has the loosest curls of all and tends to bend in an ‘S’ shape.
- Curly hair has tighter curls than wavy, and these are normally corkscrew shaped.
- Coily hair, has the tightest curl pattern of them all and can either be small corkscrews or in ‘z’ patterns
What is Curly Hair?
Curly hair, also known as type 3 hair, is characterised by a springy, corkscrew-type texture. This curly hair type tends to be drier than wavy hair, as the scalp’s natural oils struggle to travel down the curls. Depending on how tight the curl pattern is, it can be further divided in 3a, 3b and 3c.
As curly hair tends to be a little drier, we recommend only washing it two to three times a week. This will give your natural oils times to coat the hair and keep it hydrated! An essential product for curly hair is deep conditioner, once you know how to use deep conditioner you’ll see the wonders it can do for your tresses! Using this treatment regularly will keep this curly hair type feeling soft, and looking healthy.
What is Wavy Hair?
Wavy hair, also known as type 2, sits in between curly and straight hair. It has an ‘S’ shape to it. Wavy hair normally sits flatter on the head and has less volume at the root than some of the other curly hair types. Depending on how tight the wave pattern is, it can be further divided in 2a, 2b and 2c.
When it comes to products for wavy hair, using a lightweight conditioner to add moisture without weighing locks down is essential!
What is Coily Hair?
Coily hair is often referred to as afro or kinky hair, as well as type 4. Coily hair can consist of very tight corkscrews or a ‘Z’ shaped pattern that starts right from the root. This curly hair type often appears shorter than it actually is due to how tight the curls are - this is referred to as shrinkage. This is the driest and most fragile curl type, as the tightly wound coils don’t allow natural scalp oils to travel down the hair length. Being the driest of the hair types, coily hair should only be washed once or twice a week.
The best products for coily hair focus on hydration, we recommend using a deep conditioner with every wash and using leave in conditioners throughout the week to give this curly hair type an extra boost!
Can You Have Only One Curly Hair Type?
Absolutely not, in fact quite the opposite is true. In most cases, people will have a combination of curl types in different areas of their head, because the hair tends to be curlier on top layers and looser in layers underneath. The curl type is not a perfect science, it is just an indication to help you compare yourself to other people and understand what routine might work best for you.
Whether you have curly, wavy, or coily hair, your hair will also have its own porosity. Hair porosity can be split into three different categories:
High Porosity: With cuticles that have a very open structure, moisture can easily enter high porosity hair, but it can also leave just as easily. This makes this porosity type particularly prone to dryness.
Medium Porosity: The cuticles in medium porosity hair are more open, allowing moisture to enter the hair quite easily but not losing it too quickly. This makes it an easy hair type to manage.
Low Porosity: The cuticles in low porosity hair are tightly closed. This makes it difficult for moisture to enter, but also difficult to leave. So once moisture is in the hair shaft it finds it easy to retain this hydration.
Each of these porosity types has its own special needs, which is why it’s important to discover which your locks fall into.
Why it’s Important to Know Your Curl Type
Depending on your curl type, you may think you need to switch up your routine. However, curl types have a limited influence on which products you should use on your hair. Our experience shows that the same products can work for all types of curly hair, from 2A to 4C, but the application technique is what will make a difference in the results.
Finding out your curl type will help you identify which techniques are better to apply the products,. From there you can understand how often you should wash your hair, how you should style it, how you should refresh and how you should protect your style in between washes. Whether you’re wavy, curly or coily, we have specialised guides that will help you get the best out of your beautiful hair texture.
About Curlsmith Gourmet Haircare
Curlsmith creates natural gourmet haircare that is gentle enough for all types of curly hair. Inspired by homemade hair remedies and kitchen cupboard staples, all of our products are enriched with curly hair loving formulas that really work. From our strength range that restores hair bonds, to our moisture range that provides ultimate hydration and our clarifying scalp range. We only use natural, clean ingredients meaning you won’t find any sulphate, parabens or mineral oils inside our bottles.