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Understanding the 10 Curly Hair Types
Understanding the 10 Curly Hair Types
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Are you under the impression that all curly hair looks and acts the same? Think again. There are, in fact, 10 curl types that hairdressers and beauty professionals use to treat hair and make important styling decisions. If you're wondering where your hair fits on the spectrum, start by examining the shape of your hair when it is wet. This will help you to determine the natural curve of the curls, which could be obscured by heat and humidity when dry.

01

Type 1: Straight

Straight hair CoffeeAndMilk / Getty Images

Yes, this is the opposite of curly, but the spectrum wouldn't be complete without including this very common hair type. If your hair is poker straight without any natural curl, wave, or coil, then it fits comfortably into this category. Although you may be a little jealous of your friends with gorgeous curly locks, the good news is that type 1 hair is usually easy to style and can be transformed into bouncy waves with the help of high-quality hairdressing tools. Just remember to spritz on a layer of heat-protection spray beforehand.

02

Type 2A: Tousled

Tousled hair Richard Drury / Getty Images

Type 2A hair is often mistaken for straight hair. However, its texture is tousled and shapely and often requires specialty hair products to stay looking fabulous. People with this type of hair often find that it lacks volume, meaning a volumizing mousse or shampoo may be in order. You should also avoid using heat styling tools too frequently on type 2A hair, as it tends to be fine and vulnerable to breakage.

03

Type 2B: Defined waves

Defined wavy hair Sofia Zhuravets / Getty Images

2B hair is usually relatively straight at the crown of the head, descending into defined curls towards the root. It is thicker than type 2A hair, meaning it will require a little bit more work and patience if you want to straighten it. Fortunately, 2B hair can look great with hardly any work — simply spritz it with a nourishing hair mist on a regular basis to maintain a casual surfer-babe aesthetic.

04

Type 2C: Thick waves

Thick wavy hair Alys Tomlinson / Getty Images

Type 2C hair is the thickest in the wavy category and is vulnerable to frizz when the weather gets humid. To keep it in top condition, use a sulfate-free shampoo so that your hair hangs on to valuable moisture and doesn't end up frizzy and straw-like. If you feel like pampering yourself, you could even indulge in a hair mask to lock in your natural wave shape.

05

Type 3A: Loose curls

Loose curly hair CoffeeAndMilk / Getty Images

Type 3A hair involves big, loose curls and is often coveted by straight-haired folks. To ensure that friends remain jealous of your 3A curls, you will need to keep your locks well-moisturized at all times by regularly using conditioner and a suitable shampoo. You may also want to carry a curl refresher spray around with you when you're on the go; give your hair a quick spritz when it starts to look a little dull at the end of the day.

06

Type 3B: Ringlet curls

Curly hair in ringlets Yuricazac / Getty Images

Often considered one of the cutest and most unusual curly hair types, 3B hair is formed of springy ringlets. Most people with this hair type find that they can get away with using minimal styling products. However, if you are lucky enough to have been born with this hair type, you will need to keep it well-moisturized and use styling products that feature humectants, as this will lower the risk of frizz.

07

Type 3C: Tight curls

Tight curly hair Mireya Acierto / Getty Images

Type 3C curls are very tight and have an appearance akin to corkscrews. Typically, people with this hair type are fortunate enough to enjoy plenty of volume thanks to how densly packed the individual strands are. As ever with curly hair, frizz is an issue but can be avoided with sulfate-free cleansers and special styling products. To ensure your curl pattern stays looking fresh and well-defined, you may also wish to use a curling mousse or styling cream before heading out of the door.

08

Type 4A: Springy coils

type 4A curly hair

Type 4A hair is dense and springy, featuring S-shaped coils that are around the circumference of a pencil. To ensure that this type of hair remains soft and easy to style, you should use a leave-in moisturizer after washing your hair, at least two or three times a week. Regular use of curling cream would also serve you well.

09

Type 4B: Dense coils

Dense coiled hair Tara Moore / Getty Images

People with 4B hair have densely packed strands that can sometimes bend at sharp angles. This type often features a range of shapes, making it one of the most interesting coiled hair types to work with. Regular use of a nourishing mist is usually enough to keep dense coils looking great. However, if you want your coils to look sharply defined, you should run your hands through your hair with a curling cream, making sure to roll the coils between your fingers as you go.

10

Type 4C: Zig-zag coils

Coiled hair with zig-zag pattern Mads Perch / Getty Images

Last but certainly not least, we have Type 4C hair. It is similar to 4B hair but features an intricate zig-zag pattern that can be spotted when examining the coils closely. It can be susceptible to breakage, so it is important to keep 4C hair thoroughly moisturized and avoid overloading it with too many heavy styling products.

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