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 types tend to be shiny, oily and almost unresponsive to common curling techniques. While there are subcategories: 1A, 1B, and 1C, the differences between them does not call for different hair care routines, so these are often described together in the hair typing system.
- Type 2: Wavy hair. Type 2 hair is the happy medium between straight and curly hair; not too oily and not too dry. There are three specific type 2 wavy hair types: 2A, 2B, and 2C, all with soft S-like curl shapes.
- Type 3: Curly hair. Type 3 curly hair is in the middle of the curly hair scale. It has naturally defined curls in the form of ringlets and is quite dry because the natural oils found in the scalp do not reach the entire hair strand. The curly hair type also has three subtypes: 3A, 3B, and 3C.
- Type 4: Kinky Hair.Type 4 coily hair texture is characterized by tightly coiled locks that are 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 all other hair types from the typing system, it has three different subcategories: 4A, 4B, and 4C.
Understanding your hair texture will help you pick the right hair care routines, styling products, and even hairstyles! Here is how to use the system to decipher the true nature of your strands.
How to Identify Your Hair Type
Have you assumed that you can figure out your hair type category by simply looking at the chart only?
Let’s be frank here, finding your hair textures isn’t as easy as that. The main reason is this wicked circle: wrong hair care and styling don’t let you know your natural curl type, and this makes you carry on the same hair care and styling mistakes. A Tik Tok hair trend that made thousands of women reveal that they are curly by simply introducing them to a curly girl method is a prominent example!
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 that is 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. 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, let it dry in a plop and assess your curl type before locks stretch under their own weight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s normal to two different hair types at once! However, do not get discouraged here: these types will be close and will share basic maintenance rules. Read on to know them all.
1A Hair Type: Completely Straight
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 skip 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 such hair textures may go for any hairstyle without having to worry that the cut will change its form in humid weather. The same recommendations apply here: less shampooing and oily products will help to retain a fresh and healthy hair look.
2A Hair Type: Tousled Hair
Type 2A hair has those beautiful beach waves that many of us wish for. It is fairy straight near the scalp, a wavier structure starting near the eye level. 2A hair is not as frizzy as other type 2 textures and can be styled 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 is composed of defined waves and 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, cream-gels or sea salt sprays to define and 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 and curl around themselves, which adds a bit of bounce and erases a clear distinction between wavy and curly hair patterns. The strand also tends to be a bit coarse, compared to other wavy hair types.
If you brush waves over and then straighten them to fight the frizz, you can easily ruin this splendid hair type. The key to keeping these gorgeous waves is using the wavy hair styling routine, anti-frizz stylers, and products that fight the impact of humidity on your curls.
Type 3A Hair: 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 more shine. This type doesn’t require much styling or products 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.
Type 3B Hair: Springy Ringlets
These curls are either spiral ringlets with a bit of a bounce or tight curls that twist around themselves as corkscrews. This hair type can be very frizzy and may require styling gels or hair creams.
3B hair tends to become dry, so take care to provide enough moisture to your tresses. Not to cause unnecessary frizz, apply the product when your hair is wet. Steer away from frizz-taming products that contain silicone and sulfates though: these will cause additional dryness and hair breakage. Instead, deep condition your locks on a regular basis.
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 volume in it. Curls are reasonably defined; however, they are not as smooth as the other two types of curly hair.
If you have a 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. 4a coily hair has a more defined curl pattern and is looser than 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 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 protective hairstyles while cutting down on chemical and heat styling.
Type 4B: Z-Shaped Curls
Unlike the cylindrical pattern of 4A, this type of hair takes on more tight and crimpy textures 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 pattern than the roots.
In addition to a big afro, you have style your locks using a twist out or a shingling method. You may also attempt protective hairstyles to avoid frequent washing and styling, which can be quite damaging for type 4 coily and kinky hair.
4C Hair Type: Curls with Zigzag Pattern
Like type 3C, this hair type was not originally part of Andre Walker’s Hair Typing 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 requires much nourishing, this is why your favorite products would be natural oils and shea butter.
Looking Beyond Hair Texture
While hair structure 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, diameter of the strand and porosity level (the ability of your hair to absorb moisture).
For example, heavy products flatten thin, fine hair, so it is better to choose lighter mouses. The same with porosity: even type 1 hair will need moisture if its porosity is high due to bleach or heat damage. Likewise, coarse hair will require heat to make conditioning treatments penetrate the shaft, whether you have wavy, curly or coily hair.
As we can see, there are many different hair types, and each requires its unique formula of TLC. 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.