Baffled by the descriptions you hear about hair that describe it as being “4A” or “2C”? You’ve probably gotten used to taking care of your hair without worrying about the nitty gritty science of its type.
It may sound like madness to delve into the structure of your natural hair, but there’s a method to go with it. Once you know your hair type, it can make it easier to buy the best products for cleaning, conditioning, repairing, and styling it.
This list goes beyond straight and curly and jumps into the shape and texture of your strands in its purest, unadulterated state. 1 is considered straight, 2 is wavy, 3 is curly, and 4 is coiled. Let’s take a look at which description fits you and how to take care of it!
Bone straight, fine hair with no curl or wave. Hair tends to be shiny because light reflects off the natural oils in it. Serums and oils can weigh this hair down, so skip those and go for thickening shampoos, a dry shampoo, a volumizer for body, and a light mousse.
This hair type has medium thickness but is still straight like 1A. Sleek styles and updos look great, but this hair has more body and can hold a curl better than 1A. Try out cleansers that focus on the scalp to remove buildup and lightweight spray conditioners. For styling, again go with thickening creams or lotions, and a light volumizer.
This hair type is straight but the thickest of the 1 bunch, causing it be frizzier, coarser, and not as shiny. You can get away with washing every few days with a moisturizing shampoo. For conditioning, go with a thick detangling version. Serums work well for you when combed through the hair with fingers. Oils or sprays that add shine can tame the frizz and help the hair to stay hydrated.
You’ll notice an “S” shaped bend in wavy-headed gals, and 2As tend to have classic beach hair. 2A is the finest of this category, and it’s best not to weigh it down with thick creams. Pass on silicone styling products but go for those with oils like argan or wheat germ. Frizz management is key, so use a light spray and finish it off by running it through the ends with your fingertips. Curling irons are your friend for a quick curl revival.
Medium thick waves are manageable with a little bit of light mousse, salt spray, or styling oil. Air dry and use your fingers to style. Since you’re frizz-prone, use an anti-frizz shampoo and a light leave-in conditioner.
These thick spiral curls should be cared for with wave definers and styling creams. Avoid heavy gels, pomades, or creams that straighten. Apply styling products when hair is damp or wet for definition and hold.
Pretty ringlet curls are the signature of a 3. 3A people can be taken over by frizz so moisture is key. Focus on the scalp when washing and use a cowash or thick, detangling conditioner in between washings.
Whatever you do, don’t dry with a regular towel. Use microfiber or a t-shirt, and nix the blow dryer. Heat can dry out your curls and promote frizz. Style with curl creams or gel on wet hair and comb through to the ends to give your curls moisture and bounce.
3B can be described as springy but stretched-out curls, and moisture is important here. Use sulfate-free shampoos and a lush conditioner like olive oil to maintain shine. Curl definers and leave-in conditioners can help you maintain sheen and curls. Don’t use hair spray but go with a mist instead. Apply your styling products when hair is wet and air dry.
3C curls tend to be tight and a lot coarser than other 3s. To soften them up, use a curl cream or light mousse that will both moisturize and define. Heavier products like olive or shea will weigh down your hair, so stick to silks or lightweight oils.
In the kinky/coiled category, 4A is tight and dense. This lovely hair type is prone to dryness and damage, so using shampoos and conditioners that are moisture-rich help. For styling, there are a lot of awesome products including leave-in moisturizers, styling creams, oils, and curl-defining custards. Start with a smoothing shampoo to beat frizz and follow up with a deep conditioner.
4B hair has more volume than 4A, but can be thick or thin. Curls are tight and can form “Z” shapes, and this hair is also prone to shrinkage. Water-based conditioners, curl jellies, and oils work well.
Twist-outs and protective styles help to keep the hair healthy without using heat. Avoid too much heat but use a diffuser if necessary when drying. Coconut, castor, argan, or olive oils are all good choices for locking in moisture and fighting dandruff.
4C is the kinkiest of the 4 bunch, and the curl pattern can have more of an “S” shape. Though very dense in curl, it is susceptible to breakage and dryness. Daily moisturizing is needed!
Using a cowash instead of a regular shampoo can cleanse without stripping moisture. Jojoba and castor oils are wonderful for growth and moisture, and using a conditioning masque will also help to lock in strength and moisture. Don’t do too much brushing or it can cause breakage.
Some of you may find that your hair is a combination of types rather than one. If that sounds like you, then mix and match methods until you find what works best for your hair.
Do you know your hair type? Are you a combo or a straight shot? Which tricks work best for you?