We all know about straight, wavy, and curly hair types; however, did you know that hair typing can be much more specific? In fact, there are 12 types of hair, and you can identify yours based on the curl pattern, hair texture, and thickness of your strands.
This comprehensible guide with a curl type chart will help you understand what type of hair you have. More than that, it will explain why your hair behaves this or that way and what you can do to bring out its natural beauty and strengths.
Hair Type Chart with Different Types of Waves and Curls
The universal hair typing system was developed by Andre Walker. It distinguishes between 12 hair types subdivided into 4 larger categories:
- Type 1: Straight hair. Straight hair that tends to be shiny, oily and almost unresponsive to common curling techniques. While it has three subcategories: 1A, 1B, and 1C, the differences between them does not call for different hair care routines, so these are often described together.
- Type 2: Wavy hair. Type 2 hair is the happy medium between straight and curly hair; not too oily and not too dry. It has three specific types of wavy hair: 2A, 2B, and 2C, all with soft S-like curl shapes.
- Type 3: Curly hair. While wavy pattern hair stands between straight and curly types, type 3 hair is in the middle of the curly hair scale. This type of hair has naturally defined curls with the form of ringlets and is quite dry because the natural oils found in the scalp do not reach the entire hair strand. This type of hair also has three subtypes: 3A, 3B, and 3C.
- Type 4: Kinky Hair. This natural curl pattern stands for tightly coiled hair that is common for African American women. Unlike in type 3 hair, the curls are not defined and tend to be very fragile, even though several strands packed together make it look very thick and strong. Like in all other hair types, it has three different subcategories: 4A, 4B, and 4C.
Knowing your hair type will help you pick the right hair care routines, products, and even hairstyles!
How to Identify Your Hair Type
Have you assumed that you can figure out your hair type category by simply looking at the curl type chart?
Let’s be frank here, finding your hair type isn’t that easy because of this wicked circle: wrong hair care and styling doesn’t let you see your natural curl patterns, and not knowing your hair type makes you carry on the same hair care and styling mistakes. Let just mention a Tik Tok hair trend that made thousands of women reveal that they are curly by simply introducing them to a curly girl method!
To get out of the wicked circle and get a clear idea what your hair type is, you need to refuse from permanent curling, straightening treatments, and even using heat tools for at least a few months. To speed up the transition to your natural hair texture, you can cut off hair damaged by heat or chemicals.
If you haven’t used any perms and didn’t engage in frequent styling with hot tools, it might be enough to wash your hair with a gentle shampoo and allow it to dry naturally without the use of blow-dryers or even towels before inspecting your hair type. A simple 5-step experiment that will help you know if you might have any curls in your hair after just one wash is described here.
Remember that the length of your hair can weigh it down and affect the way your curls look like. Thus, if your hair is very long, plop it to let it dry and assess your curls’ type before they stretch under their own weight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s normal to have more than just one type of hair! You can have a combination of waves and curl shapes in your hair. However, do not get discouraged here: these types will be close and will share basic hair care rules. Read on to know them all.
1A Hair Type: Completely Straight
Type 1A hair is completely straight and tends to be extremely flat, thin, with little to no body, but with a noticeable shine to it. It is quite rare but many Asian women fall within this category.
1A hair is almost impossible to curl. If you want to add texture to this type of hair, go for dry shampoos or other texturising products. At the same time, better skips hair care oils and sprays, as they can cause excessive grease and oiliness to the already oily hair type.
1B Hair Type: Straight with Some Texture
Type 1B is straight but not as flat as 1A and is characterized by its medium texture. It can hold a curl, especially at the ends, and it has more body and texture.
Again, you need to avoid heavy butters and serums and frequent shampooing, especially if your straight hair is fine. Instead, learn to add volume to the crown to make hair look full and alluring.
1C Hair Type: Straight with Soft Bends
Out of the three types, 1C is the one that has the most body and soft bends. It is the one most likely to hold a curl and is loose in texture.
In fact, owners of this hair type may go for any hairstyle recommended for their face shape without having to worry that the cut will change its form in humid weather. The same recommendations as for other type 1 hair types apply here: less shampooing and oily products will help to retain fresh and healthy hair look.
2A Hair Type: Tousled Hair
Type 2A hair owners have those natural beach waves that many of us wish for. It is fairy straight from the roots till about the eye level – here is where a wavier structure starts. 2A hair is not as frizzy as the other type 2 hair categories, making it quite easy to style either curly or straight.
Oil based and creamy products are not a good choice here; instead, go for mousses and gels that will help to define the waves and hair powder to add fullness to the roots.
2B Hair Type: S-Shaped Waves
Type 2B hair is composed of defined, tight waves that tend to stick to the shape of your head. This type of naturally wavy hair is usually accompanied by a bit of frizz. Like 2A type, it is flatter at the roots and has a more refined curl pattern starting an eye area.
Try mousses, gels or cream-gels to define or sea salt sprays to enhance your hair texture, and fee to experiment with all sorts of wavy bob hairstyles.
2C Hair Type: Wavy Hair with a Few Actual Curls
The frizziest hair out of the three, type 2C hair consists of waves that are very tight making them curl around themselves, adding a bit of bounce and erasing a clear distinction between wave and curly hair patterns. The hair strands also tend to be a bit rougher than the other type 2s.
If you brush waves over and then straighten them to fight the frizz, you can easily ruin this splendid hair type. Key to keeping these gorgeous waves is using the modified curly hair method, anti-frizz stylers and products that fight the impact of humidity on your curls. Another anti-frizz recommendation is to learn not to touch your hair often.
3A Hair Type: Large, Loose Curls
The 3A hair texture consists of your typical Shirley Temple curls that are loose. Because of its lack of tightness, it gives the hair some shininess. This type of natural hair is convenient since it doesn’t require much styling or product to look great. At the same time, the lack of proper care makes the curl dull and damaged.
Scrunch curls with a cream or curl refresher to get a necessary boost to your bouncy spirals. If you live in a humid climate and feel overwhelmed by fighting frizz, learn to do these easy hairstyles for frizzy hair.
3B Hair Type: Springy Ringlets
These curls are either spiral ringlets with a bit of a bounce or tight corkscrews. This hair type can be very frizzy and may require styling gels or hair creams. Many half-black women tend to have this type of hair.
If you have 3B hair, you need to take care of moisturizing your tresses, as they tend to become dry. Not to cause unnecessary frizz, apply the product when your hair is wet and steer away from frizz-taming products that contain silicone and sulfates: these will dry the already prone to dryness hair type and can cause hair breakage. Olaplex hair treatment is one of the alternatives to try.
3C Hair Type: Tight Corkscrews
Type 3C hair was not originally part of the Andre Walker hair typing system. It was later created by NaturallyCurly.com. The hair type consists of tight and highly textured curls and has much natural volume in it. Curls are reasonably defined; however, they are not as smooth as the other two types of curly hair.
If you have 3C hair type, dryness would be your key issue to address. Besides using some moisturizing leave-in conditioners, refuse from blow drying and combing your hair. To be sure that you get the best possible haircut, ask your stylist to use a deva cut technique when working with your curls.
4A Hair Type: Dense Springy Coils
Type 4A hair typically involves tight coils that when stretched demonstrate an “s” pattern. The curls tend to be cylindrical and springy in nature, forming yet another level of curly hair in the overall curl classification. This type of hair has more of a defined curl pattern and is looser than the other type 4s.
Despite incredible volume, type 4 hair is the most fragile and prone to damage. Because of the highly textured curl pattern, the natural oils produced at the scalp don’t reach more than one or two inches down the hair shaft. Thus, taking care of type 4 hair involves moisturizing the curls and embracing natural hairstyles while cutting down on chemical and heat styling.
4B Hair Type: Z-Shaped Curl Patterns
Unlike the cylindrical pattern of 4A, this type of hair takes on more of a tight and crimpy curl pattern that, when stretched out, forms more of a “z” instead of an “s”. The ends of the hair shaft tend to have a more clearly defined curl pattern than the roots.
If you have this hair type, you need to use a shingling method: apply a leave-in conditioner and a curling cream and then define each individual curl wrapping it around your finger. You may also attempt these protective hairstyles to avoid frequent washing and styling.
4C Hair Type: Curls with Zigzag Pattern
Like type 3C, this hair type was not originally part of Andre Walker’s Hair System. However, type 4C hair is different from other kinds of 4s, as it consists of zigzag-patterned curls that tend to show very little or no definition at all.
An interesting fact about 4C hair is that it tends to shrink when dry by a little more than half of its length, which can be somehow addressed with leave-in conditioners. The most fragile of all types, 4C hair also requires much nourishing, this is why your favorite products would be natural oils and shea butter creams.
Additional Hair Care Tips
While hair structure type largely defines what and how many products you should use, do not forget about other aspects that come into the equation, such as your hair thickness and porosity level.
In particular, heavy products flatten low density hair, so it is better to choose lighter mouses to lift it, no matter the hair type. The same with porosity (the ability of your hair to absorb moisture): if your hair porosity is high, it will frizz more and will absorb more moisturizing products.
As we can see, there are more than two types of hair, and more than two ways to treat it the right way. One thing can be sure – all types of hair can be genuinely flattering to their proud owners. Thus, start with the list of hair types to figure out your unique hair code and learn to nurture rather than fight it.