Do you know the difference between type 3C and 4A hair? Don’t worry, understanding hair textures can be confusing. There are lots of hair texture definitions and categories that differ based on the stylist. Despite this, it’s useful to know what hair type you have.
Generally knowing your hair types can help you understand how to care for and style your hair. For example, certain hair types need more conditioning than others, while others have specific styling needs.
We’ve put together this guide to walk you through the different types of hair textures and what you need to know to take care of yours.
What Is Textured Hair?
Textured hair refers to hair strands that create a shape like coils or waves. Contrary to the name, textured hair doesn’t have anything to do with how your hair feels. Some people use the term “textured hair” when talking about Black people with natural hair, but these things are not mutually exclusive.
What Are the Different Hair Textures?
There are four types of hair textures: type 1 (straight), type 2 (wavy), type 3 (curly), and type four (coily or kinky). Andre Walker created the original hair texture classifications in the 1990s to market his line of hair care products. Since then, many stylists and brands have adopted the original categories and created their own versions with more, less, or different hair texture types. To keep it simple, we’ll stick with these four hair types in this post.
What Is a Curl Pattern?
There are three curl patterns: type As have wide patterns, type Bs are medium-sized, and type Cs are the smallest. Everyone has hair textures and curl patterns. For example, someone with really tight, thick curls could have 3C hair.
How Do I Determine My Hair Texture?
You can figure out your hair texture by looking at your hair after it’s cleaned to see the shape of your strands. Look closely at the shape of your individual hair strands. For example, if your hair has a slight curve but isn’t completely curly, you probably have type 2 hair.
You can get a sense of your curl pattern by looking at the tightness and definition of your curls, coils, or waves. For example, if you have tightly coiled hair, but can still see defined curls, you probably have type B hair.
We’re going to dive deep in the next section on different hair texture types. We’ll also give you some examples to help you understand your hair texture types.
Type 1: Straight Hair
Type 1 hair is straight and naturally shiny due to its shape. Natural oils flow easily from the scalp down to the ends because of the lack of curls. This also helps hair get the nutrients it needs, resulting in strong hair that’s resilient against breakage. Type 1 hair also grows fast.
In exchange for strong and shiny locks, type 1 hair tends to get oily faster than other types. It also takes extra effort to style straight hair.
To care for type 1 hair, experiment with products like shampoo and hair masks. You’ll need to do some trial-and-error to keep your hair clean without overdoing it with products. Using fewer products can help cut down on oil production in your hair. But in order to achieve most styles, you’ll probably need some products.
Hairspray and other styling products will be your best friends to help you lock in styles. Volumizing products are another go-to if you want to go big with your look. You can also opt for choppy layers and fun cuts to naturally add body and volume to your hair.
Type 1A Hair
This type of hair is thin, straight, and doesn’t have any curls. This wispy hair type doesn’t have a lot of volume and doesn’t hold curls well. However, you can still experiment with different cuts and bangs to mix things up. Type 1A hair is rare.
Type 1B Hair
Type 1B hair holds a little more volume and holds curls better than type 1A. It’s also thicker than type 1A, but still naturally straight. Have some fun with feathery layers or intricate updos to spice up your look. Asymmetrical bobs and other blunt cuts also look great and edgy on type 1B hair.
Type 1C Hair
This hair type sometimes has a few waves. Layering type 1C hair can lighten the weight of your hair while giving you a low-maintenance look you can easily style every day. Since type 1C hair has lots of body, you can experiment with big and bold curls.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Type 2 hair is wavier than type 1 hair, but not as curly as type 3 or type 4 hair. Wavy hair tends to take on S-shaped patterns and can look and feel different depending on the weather.
Waves and curls are more prominent the farther from the root you go. Type 2 hair is a middle ground between straight and curly and oily and dry hair, but it still requires some specific care to keep it healthy.
Wavy hair tends to get frizzy. Explore shampoos and leave-in treatments to keep your hair moisturized and frizz-free. Avoid touching your hair to keep your frizz to a minimum. You can also minimize frizz by limiting hot styling, avoiding towel rubs, and getting regular haircuts.
Too many heavy products can especially weigh down type 2 hair, so stick to lighter products like mousse. You should also use a light hand when you’re applying product to your hair.
Type 2A Hair
This type of hair naturally looks like beachy waves thanks to its loose, tousled curls. Products can especially weigh down 2A hair, so opt for lighter styling products like gel or mousse. Shoulder-length cuts show off your waves well and can help make your waves a little more defined. The shorter your hair, the less weight on your strands, giving you tighter waves.
Type 2B Hair
This hair type tends to have straight hair from the roots with curls forming further down your strands. Type 2B hair has a more pronounced S-shape than type 2A hair. One-length haircuts look great on 2B hair and can give you an extra boost of volume.
Type 2C Hair
Type 2C hair walks the line between wavy and curly. 2C curls are a little tighter than 2B, but not as tight as 2A hair. This type of hair requires some extra care to fight frizz. Type 2C hair also takes some extra effort to style, but the right cut can give you an effortlessly chic look. Consider adding in some color to make your curls pop.
Type 3: Curly Hair
Type 3 hair features naturally defined curls with some sheen. This hair texture type has much more volume and body than previous types. Type 3 hair tends to go flat when wet and curls again when dry. This type also tends to be drier than the previous two since oil can’t easily travel down the strands.
Moisture is key to keeping healthy and happy curls. You’ll need a healthy mix of anti-frizz and moisturizing products in your hair care routine. Heat styling can be especially damaging to type 3 hair if done too often.
Instead, look into heatless styles and creative cuts to help you switch up your day-to-day look. Other protective styles like buns and twist-outs are great for protecting your hair from the elements and giving it a break from constant styling.
Type 3A Hair
Type 3A hair has big, bouncy curls and doesn’t need much product to define it. These curls are looser compared to type 3B and 3C hair and about the size of sidewalk chalk. Halo braids and braided chignons look extra special with type 3A hair since the natural curls in 3A hair add flair and volume to these looks.
Type 3B Hair
This hair texture type has tight ringlets and lots of body. These curls are sometimes compared to the size of a marker. Pixie cuts and lobs look great with 3B hair. You can also stand out with longer hair and a deep side part or some color to emphasize your curls.
Type 3C Hair
This hair type features lots of springy corkscrew curls about the size of a pencil. These tightly coiled strands give you lots of volume and movement. You can pull your curls together in a cute half-up top knot or a pineapple. 3C hair is also great for wash-and-go styles if you prefer to wear your hair down.
Type 4: Coily Hair
Type 4 hair has lots of densely packed, tightly curled strands. This hair texture type features S- and Z-shaped hair. Coily hair is versatile and beautiful, and needs some love to keep it untangled, moisturized, and healthy.
This hair type is easily damaged since it’s difficult for natural oils and nutrients to travel down heavily textured strands. It’s also most prone to shrinkage when wet. Moisturizing is a must, but you also need to strike a balance between nourishing your hair and over-cleansing it with frequent washing.
Long-lasting protective styles like crochet braids and knotless box braids are great low-maintenance looks to protect hair from breakage. You can also add a couple twists or braids in your hair to keep it out of your face while letting the rest of your hair flow freely.
Type 4A Hair
This hair texture type tends to keep an S-shaped pattern and is soft to the touch. It has the least shrinkage and most defined curls compared to other type 4 hair. If you want something different, ask your stylist about adding some bangs to your look. Curly bangs are perfect for framing your face, especially if you have your hair up.
Type 4B Hair
Type 4B hair has Z-shaped strands and tight coils. These curls aren’t as defined as type 4A hair, but still more noticeable than type 4C hair. Pre-poo treatments, like adding oil to your scalp, can help you retain moisture. If you want to add more definition to your curls, flexi rods and perm rods are great choices for 4B hair. Other styles like crown braids and a tuck and roll also look stylish and embrace your natural texture.
Type 4C Hair
This hair type has a sharp Z-shape and has the least defined curl shape. It’s the thickest hair type and gets easily tangled. You’ll need to include daily moisturizing in your routine and handle your hair with care. However, your thickness is your advantage! Hairstyles like twist-outs and space buns look very chic when they have lots of body.
Can I Have More Than One Hair Texture?
Yes! Most people have more than one hair texture. You can be born with many hair textures and your texture types can change over time. Hair coloring, diet, climate, hormones, and many other things can affect your hair texture.
Having more than one hair texture isn’t any cause for alarm! It also doesn’t mean that your hair care routine is difficult. All it means is that you’ll need to pay a little more attention to your hair and how it reacts to different products. For example, some parts of your hair may need extra moisturizing than others. You can ask a Pro for help figuring out your textures at your next appointment.
Knowing your hair textures is a great place to start, but you’ll need to do more research to learn what products and hair care steps work best for you. It’s also important to remember that specific products and treatments that work for your friends may note work for your hair. If you’re still unsure, you can chat with one of our Pros near you to get expert guidance while you’re experimenting with treatments and styles.