Getting To Know Your Hair Type

by Rayiah Ross

As explained by CURLS, hair is composed of a protein called keratin, which grows from the follicle. All of the proteins become a part of the hair shaft and contain sulfur atoms. When two sulfur atoms pair up and bond, they form a disulfide bond. If the two sulfur atoms in the same protein are at a distance, and join to form the disulfide bond, the protein will bend. This is how your curls are created. Determining your hair type and texture is key to finding the right products and styles for your hair.  Below are a list of different hair types and an easy description to help identify them.


Type 1: Straight

Elle Fanning on the cover of Porter Edit
  • Straight Hair

Type one hair is classified as straight hair. This hair is the most resilient, reflective, and hard to damage hair. Because of the natural oil, sebum, tis hair is the most oily. If you have to wash your hair everyday or use dry shampoo more than the average, you most likely fall into this group.

Tip: Dry texturizing spray at the roots before drying or adding heat can help add volume to your hair.


Type 2: Wavy

Kate Hudson at the Golden Globes
  • 2a

2a hair is classified as a texture that isn’t exactly straight, but also isn’t curly. The curl pattern generally looks like loose S-shaped curls and can often be described as bed head. The texture of this hair is flatter and the the curls lay close to your head. There is a lack of volume and definition, making it easy for products to weigh it down.

Tip: Stick to light styling products like gels and air dry it to get the most definition.


Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge | Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
  • 2b

2b hair is classified as relaxed waves almost resembling “surfer hair.” The waves within the hair are a loose, tousled texture. The biggest challenge with this hair type is frizz, because the loose texture is hard to keep completely straight or completely curly.

Tip: These waves look best when finger curled with a diffuser.


New Zealand singer Lorde appears in 2013 video for ‘Royals.’ 
  • 2c

Unlike 2b, these curls are thicker and more sporadic. The waves are more defined and start at the roots. This texture is prone to frizzing just as much as type 2b is.

Tip: Try doing a deep conditioning every week and diffusing your hair while it’s wet for more definition.


Type 3: Curly

Shakira performs during El Dorado Tour opening night in Hamburg, Germany 
  • 3a

3a hair steps into the “curly” section because of its defined loopy curls. This curl type is very large and can also have a mix of wavy strands. This texture is easy to straighten, but it’s also susceptible to heat damage.

Tip: Try the ‘crunching method,’ where you squeeze your curls toward the scalp with a microfiber towel or t shirt to get the best dry results.


Jurnee Smollett-Bell at ‘True Blood’ Premiere
  • 3b

The 3b hair type is corse, dencse, and well defined. Because of the curliness, there is less space between each curve of the hair causing them to spiral down towards the shoulders.

Tip: Use sulfate and silicone free products while adding stylers in wet to stop build-up and achieve bouncy curls.


Chelsea Lauren/Getty
  • 3c

3c hair is the thickest and most prone to frizz. The clearly defined corkscrew coils can range in size, but overall, have the smallest space between the bends in the hair out of all other curly hair types.

Tip: Use stretching techniques like braids, twists, or buns to help achieve maximum length without heat.


Type 4: Coily

Dia Dipasupil/BET/Getty Images
  • 4a

4a hair is pen coiled hair that can shrink down to less than half of its size while dry. This hair type can retain moisture well, but is still prone to dryness.

Tip: The wash-and-go method works well on this hair type, and light heat from a diffuser can help keep your curls at the maximum length.


Janella Monae rocking her natural hair
  • 4b

4b hair consist of both Z shaped and S shaped curls that come with a fluffy and less defined appearance. This hair type shrinks up to 70% so without stretching out the hair it will appear shorter than it actually is. Frizz can also quickly overcome the curls original definition.

Tip: Roller sets, ponytail puffs, and twist outs will protect the hair from damage, while light butters and gels will help with moisture and definition.


Lupita Nyong’o, shot by Patrick Demarchelier for Allure
  • 4c

4c hair is often described as the typical afro. There is no distinct curl pattern in this type, which makes it extremely hard to detangle and define. Similarly to 4b hair, the curls are tightly coiled and hard to manage. Many 4c curls have shrinkage up to 70% or more.

Tip: Being the most fragile hair type, protective styles like twists, braids, or buns help to stop daily manipulation and breaking.


It is important to note that you may not fit perfectly into one category or subcategory. Having a combination of several hair types on your head is completely normal and nothing to worry about. Understanding your hair type is the first step in your hair journey. I do hope this helped you learn a little bit more about your hair and what you can do with it.



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