Everyone’s hair is different and has specific needs and best practices to achieve healthy, moisturized, and defined hair. It can be difficult to know which tips to follow without knowing your hair type. This hair type guide serves to explain your hair type, and includes a few tips to best care for your hair.
What is hair type vs curl pattern?
Hair type and curl pattern describe the specific shape of your hair strands, the way it naturally grows. Your hair type is actually dependent on the shape of the hair follicle on your scalp. Similar to pores in the skin, hair follicles are the holes from which your hair grows. The more oval shaped your hair follicle is, the curlier your hair will be! While we can manipulate our hair into different shapes with methods like chemical or heat straightening, your DNA and genetics is the most prominent factor in hair texture.
“Hair types,” or the classification of each hair texture, is most often broken down into four main groups (1, 2, 3, and 4), with each group further divided into three subcategories (a, b, and c).
Types 4a, 4b, and 4c hair are very tightly curled or coiled. Types 3a, 3b, and 3c hair have coils or spirals in the hair. Types 2a, 2b, and 2c have a wavy or S-shaped curve. And type 1 hair is straight.
As you can see from the graphic, the numbers describe the shape of your curls, while the letters below describe the width or diameter of the curls themselves with “a” being widest, “b” as medium, and “c” as the tightest curl.
Note: If your hair has experienced heat or chemical damage, you probably aren’t seeing your true curl pattern. An easy way to identify heat damage is to examine the hair strand and the difference between the texture at your root, versus the texture at the hair’s tip.
For product recommendations tailored to your specific hair needs, try our Hair Quiz which generates your perfect hair regimen based on your answers!
Myths and Misconceptions about Hair Type and Curl Pattern
Unfortunately, as with any index of information, some believe that hair type also denotes a hair hierarchy. We at NaturAll stand firmly against this notion. All hair is beautiful, and your hair in its healthiest state will always be the best option for you. The following are a few more myths about curl patterns and hair typing in general.
"If you know your hair type, you'll know how to take care of your hair."
This is a myth. While knowing your curl pattern can point you in the right direction, it’s actually less important than other hair properties like hair porosity. And while learning your hair type can be helpful for establishing rules of thumb about your hair regimen, your hair is unique. What works for one person with your curl pattern might not work for you. Learn the best ways to care for your UNIQUE hair by experimenting and noticing what your hair likes best, and taking our Hair Quiz to get a personalized regimen for your specific hair needs!
“Most people have just one curl pattern."
The truth is the opposite- most people have two (or even three) curl patterns. This is completely normal! Just as the skin on your face is different from the skin on your leg, your scalp’s hair follicles can vary significantly around your head.
“Certain hair types are more manageable.”
Every hair type has the possibility of becoming damaged or otherwise unhealthy, and requires maintenance. Some hair types might seem to have an easier time detangling, achieving certain styles, or maintaining moisture, but the truth is that every hair type is beautiful in its own way with all of the benefits and complexities that make it so.
How do I find my curl pattern?
Scroll through the photos in this blogpost, and look for the person who's hair looks most similar to yours. There might not be a perfect match, and that's okay! Similar curl patterns have similar care methods. It's also very normal to have multiple curl patterns on your head.
How to Care for your Hair Based on Curl Pattern
As we previously established, you may have multiple hair types throughout your head. So choose what looks most similar to the larger portion of your hair. For example, if your hair is mostly 4c, but the front is 4b then you can consider yourself 4c/4b. Remember that hair typing only serves as a guide for hair care, and not a prescription for what your hair can and will always do or look like. Your haircare routine might be different based on your hair porosity, hair density, or other important factors!
Type 4: Coily/Kinky Hair
4a 4b 4c
- Washing tips for type 4 hair:
- Shampoo infrequently: no more than once a week, and as little as once every 2-3 weeks. Experiment with your regimen to see what works for your hair.
- Avoid sulfates at all costs, along with any other ingredients that dry out your hair. Use a sulfate free shampoo like NaturAll's Avocado Kiwi Shampoo.
- If your hair feels dirty in-between washes, wash with a conditioner instead, like NaturAll's Hydrating Avocado Conditioner.
- Moisturizing tips for type 4 hair:
- Moisturize your hair daily by using a lightweight product that does not contain harmful ingredients that can dry out your hair. NaturAll's Avocado Leave In Conditioner is a great option, and is made with natural ingredients.
- Moisturize every day with a leave-in conditioner, moisturizer, or steam.
- Use oils to seal moisture into your hair (roots and ends).
- Deep condition every 1-2 weeks with a deep conditioner that's rich in moisture.
- Styling tips for type 4 hair:
- Always wet the hair when you detangle, and look for products that provide a lot of slip. NaturAll's Fresh Frozé Treatment Deep Conditioners are ultra hydrating and full of natural oils to lubricate the hair and make it even easier to detangle your hair.
- Limit the use of heat on your hair as it can cause irreparable damage.
- Fight frizz by using a light gel or styling custard to define your curls. NaturAll's Avocado Twisting Paste is non sticky, and available and has an extreme hold that can define even the kinkiest curls.
- Always remember that your hair is fragile and prone to dryness and breakage, so make use of protective styles to give your hair a chance to rest and avoid over manipulation.
- Learn more hair tips specifically for 4C hair!
Type 3: Curly Hair
- Washing tips for curly, type 3 hair:
- Avoid sulfates and other ingredients that can dry out your hair. Choose a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that won't strip your hair of oils.
- Shampoo once a week, or even less often if your hair can manage. If your hair gets oily mid-week, swap shampoo for conditioner and do a co-wash.
- Moisturizing tips for curly, type 3 hair:
- If you notice your ends are dry, apply a conditioner meant for daily use, like NaturAll's Avocado Leave In Conditioner.
- Seal in moisture, by applying a lightweight oil when hair is wet. Avocado oil is all natural, and won’t weigh your hair down.
- Deep condition your hair every 1-2 weeks. We recommend NaturAll's Curl Defining Fresh Frozé Treatment Deep Conditioner to reduce frizz and prevent dry hair.
- Styling tips for curly type 3 hair:
- Layer a light gel or custard over moisturized curls to define them. NaturAll's Hydrating Avocado Kiwi Curl Custard has a medium hold to keep frizz at bay.
- Stay away from heat tools as much as possible.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
- Washing tips for wavy, type 2 hair:
- You don’t have to stay away from sulfates, but be careful. 2c hair in particular can still benefit from sulfate-free products. You can use NaturAll's Avocado Kiwi Shampoo for a gentle cleanse.
- Shampoo every 2-3 days (2a and 2b) or 3-5 days (2c).
- Moisturizing tips for wavy, type 2 hair:
- Natural oils (coconut oil, Jamaican black castor oil, olive oil, etc). are great for your hair and scalp, but they can make your hair look and feel greasy. Try using them as a pre-poo treatment, washing them out afterwards with shampoo.
- Deep condition your hair every two weeks. We recommend the Strengthening Fresh Frozé Treatment Deep Conditioner for loose/wavy curls- it will strengthen your hair, refresh your waves, and enhance volume.
- Styling tips for wavy, type 2 hair:
- Use a mousse or leave-in serum to style your hair. Creams and gels will probably be too heavy and weigh your hair down.
- Your curl pattern is less sensitive to heat, but less is always better.
We hope these tips were helpful! Let us know one of your tricks for taking care of your unique hair in the comments, and take our hair quizzes for even more advice tailored to your specific curl pattern.