What is my curl type?

2nd Jul 2024

If you have curls, coils, kinks or waves then understanding what you’re working with is key to getting your hair care routine right. Curly hair needs plenty of moisture and care to keep it healthy, as it can be more prone to breakage and damage - and the first step is getting to know your curls a little bit better.

Ever wondered “what is my curl type?” or struggled to tell what your hair needs? Let’s take a closer look, so you can take care of your curls.

What types of curly hair are there?

The main classification that’s used to categorise curls is the system made popular by the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. It follows a scale that ranges from Type 2 (wavy) to Type 4 (coily or kinky)

 

Each type is then divided into subcategories based on the curl pattern, texture and structure of the hair. It sounds complicated but categorising your curls actually makes it easier to understand. You can have different curl patterns within your hair, so it can get a little confusing at times. Here’s everything you need to know to work out your curl type.

 

Wavy Hair
Wavy hair, falling under Type 2 in the curl classification system, usually shows an S-shaped pattern with gentle curves. This hair type tends to be less prone to frizz compared to tighter curls and often has a natural shine due to its smoother texture.

 

 

Type 2A

Type 2A has a slightly wavy pattern that is relatively easy to style and manage. It typically has a loose, subtle wave that’s more noticeable closer to the ends of the hair. For Type 2A hair, styling techniques that enhance the natural wave while adding volume can work wonders.

 

Air drying or using a diffuser on low heat to avoid disrupting the delicate wave pattern is beneficial. Styling creams, leave-ins like our Pre:Curl Creme can be used to add definition while maintaining the hair's natural movement. Enriched with protein, aloe and jojoba oil, it’s a moisturising formula that’s free from sulphates, which can dry curls out. Avoiding heavy products that can flatten the waves is key to preserving the effortless, airy texture of Type 2A hair.

 

Type 2B

Type 2B hair has more pronounced and defined waves that may have a slightly tighter pattern than Type 2A. This hair type often displays a mix of straighter strands near the roots with more defined waves starting mid-length. Type 2B hair tends to be prone to frizz due to the increased definition in the waves.

 

For Type 2B waves, you should prioritise moisture. Using hydrating shampoos and conditioners specifically formulated for wavy hair like Pre:Curl Cleanser and Pre:Curl Conditioner can help reduce frizz. Defining the waves a curl-enhancing cream while the hair is damp can help accentuate the waves and minimise frizz.

 

Scrunching the hair gently while diffusing or air-drying helps maintain the wave pattern without causing too much disruption. Avoiding heavy styling products and heat styling tools that can weigh down the waves or cause damage is important when it comes to preserving the natural bounce and definition of Type 2B hair.

 

Type 2C

Type 2C hair has thicker and more defined waves that are almost a loose spiral pattern. This hair type tends to be even more prone to frizz than its other wavy counterparts due to its thicker texture and increased wave definition. Managing and defining these waves needs care.

 

Moisture is so important for Type 2C waves and a hydrating shampoo and deep conditioning treatment is a must to help tame frizz and maintain moisture levels. Applying a moisturisng leave-in crème will help enhance definition, and using a small amount of lightweight oil to smooth the hair's surface and reduce frizz can work wonders.

 

Plopping or using a microfiber towel to gently scrunch excess water out of the hair can also help maintain the wave pattern while reducing frizz. Additionally, avoiding excessive touching or moving around of the hair when drying helps minimise frizz and preserves the defined texture of Type 2C waves.

 

Curly Hair
Curly hair comes under Type 3 in the curl classification system. It’s characterised by well-defined and voluminous curls that range from loose to tight coils. These curls form an O-shaped pattern and have plenty of shine when curls are cared for. Type 3 hair is prone to frizz and needs a little extra help when it comes to moisture and definition.

 

 

Type 3A

Type 3A hair has loose, well-defined curls that are springy and shiny. To enhance curl definition and control frizz using hydrating shampoos and conditioners formulated for curly hair helps maintain moisture levels.

 

Applying a curl-defining spray like our Pre:Curl Spray to damp hair aids in defining and accentuating the curls whilst also helping to reducing frizz. Skipping the heat styling (or turning it down really low) can also help with shine and bounce.

 

Type 3B

Type 3B hair is made up of medium to tight curls with more volume and density. Adding lots of hydration is essential to manage and style Type 3B curls effectively. Using a moisturising shampoo and conditioner plus adding in a deep conditioning treatment is an absolute must to keep curly hair types hydrated and looking their best.

 

Applying a curl-enhancing cream while the hair is damp helps define and shape the curls. To maintain hydration and reduce frizz, try layering with a curl-specific gel to seal in moisture. Avoid moving your hair around too much and use satin or silk materials when you’re drying and styling to keep your 3B curls in check.

 

Type 3C

Type 3C hair comes with tight, densely packed curls that form corkscrew patterns. Keep it hydrated with sulphate-free shampoo and conditioners that are filled with natural, hydrating ingredients.

 

Applying a rich, creamy styling product to damp hair such as Pre:Curl Crème helps minimise frizz, leaving you with defined curls. Regular deep conditioning is a must with these curls, especially if you use any heat or chemical treatments on your hair - if you must, go low and slow wherever possible.

 

Coily/Kinky Hair
Coily or kinky hair comes under Type 4 and showcases tightly coiled or zig zag-shaped curls. These curl types often have more fragile strands, are prone to shrinkage and need specific care to maintain moisture and prevent breakage.

 

 

Type 4A

Type 4A hair has tightly coiled curls with an Z-shaped pattern. You need to build a routine that focuses on hydration from start to finish. From shampoo to conditioners, leave-ins and detangling sprays.

 

Gentle finger detangling or using a wide-tooth comb while the hair is wet helps prevent breakage and retains the curl pattern. Protective styling, like braids or twists, helps maintain moisture and minimise manipulation, preserving the defined structure of Type 4A coils.

 

Type 4B

Type 4B hair also has a Z-shaped pattern but with with less-defined curls and more shrinkage. Moisture, styling, and protection are essential for managing Type 4B coils. Using hydrating, creamy moisturisers helps maintain moisture levels and defines the coils.

 

Layering your products and sealing them in with a gel or protective oil is incredibly important with this hair type as are protective hairstyles. Regular deep conditioning treatments and avoiding heat styling help keep your hair protected too.

 

Type 4C

Type 4C hair features densely packed coils that often lack a visible curl pattern. Hydration, detangling and protective styling are essential when it comes to your Type 4C hair. Moisturising shampoos, deep conditioning and leave-in conditioners or heavier styling products help when it comes to detangling and locking in moisture, as well as protecting your curl pattern.

 

Be gentle with your hair, especially when you're detangling or when your hair’s wet, and think about trying out some protective styles to keep your hair and scalp feeling healthy. Regular moisture and protective styling techniques are key to loving the natural beauty of Type 4C coils.

 

 

How to Identify Your Curly Hair Type

When it comes to working out your curl type, the best place to start out is by taking a closer look at your curls. Start by examining the shape of your curls when your hair is in its natural state without any products or heat styling.

 

●      Type 2 hair features waves that can range from loose to more defined S-shaped patterns.

●      Type 3 hair shows well-defined curls that form an S-shaped pattern, varying in size from loose curls to tighter ringlets.

●      Type 4 hair has tightly coiled or zigzag-shaped curls that range from small coils to densely packed, often lacking a visible curl pattern.

 

Take a look at how thick the stands of your hair are too and check out your hair’s porosity (aka how long it absorbs and retains moisture). Low porosity hair repels moisture, taking longer to dry. Medium porosity hair absorbs and retains moisture well. High porosity hair quickly absorbs moisture but loses it equally fast.

 

You’ll also want to check out your hair’s elasticity, shine and how your hair acts with different products, weather and environments. You can always cross-reference your findings with a curl-type chart too.