curly hair types

9 curly hair types: your definitive guide to textured hair

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  • It's time to get a good understanding of your curls, once and for all

    If you were blessed with curls atop your head, styling your hair can feel like a constant game of trial and error. Not anymore: enter our guide to all of the the different curly hair types out there.

    Broadly speaking, curls may be wavy, curly or coily, each broken down into three sub types. We spoke to Lizzie Carter, founder of Only Curls, for a more comprehensive break down of the different types of curly hair.

    Armed with this guide to curly hair types and the right curly hair products, you’ll be the master of your hair’s texture in no time. Because who said straight-haired people should have it so easy?

    9 curly hair types to know about

    Curly hair type 2: Wavy

    ‘Wavy hair lies somewhere between straight and curly in loose S shapes,’ explains Lizzie. ‘It has less sheen than straight hair and is more prone to frizz,’ she shares.

    ‘It needs some extra hydration, but not too much as it’ll quickly weigh the hair down – avoid heavy leave-in conditioners and creams; a styling gel or mousse works well for enhancing and holding gorgeous waves.’

    (You guessed it – we’ve jumped straight in with type 2 because type 1 is reserved for straight hair.)

    Type 2A

    Curly hair types 2A Sienna Miller

    ‘These are tousled, beachy waves that sit close to the head, with little volume.’

    Type 2B

    Curly Hair Types 2B Salma Hayek

    ‘These waves are more defined, but begin a few inches down from the root with slight volume.’

    Type 2C

    Curly Hair Types 2C Shakira

    ‘Waves begin at the root with a much more defined “S” shape throughout the hair, with more body and volume. Hair texture is usually varied, with some true curls in the mix.’

    Curly hair type 3: Curly

    ‘Curly hair strands clump together and wind around in a spiral shape, forming ringlets,’ says Lizzie. ‘This hair type can be dry, as the natural oil from the root struggles to make its way down the spiral strands; I recommend using one of the best sulphate free shampoos to avoid stripping the hair of its natural moisture.’

    ‘Curly hair should be brushed when wet, as combing or brushing dry curls will break them up and cause frizz. Curl creme and gel can be used to enhance and maintain curl definition.’

    Type 3A

    Curly Hair Types 3A Jess Glynne

    ‘These are defined loops about the size and width of the cork from a wine bottle.’

    Type 3B

    Curly hair types 3B Ella Eyre

    ‘Springy ringlets about the size of your index finger, but with more volume than 3a curls.’

    Type 3C

    Curly Hair Types 3C Fleur East

    ‘These are tight, corkscrew curls about the circumference of a straw, with lots of volume.’

    Curly hair type 4: Coily

    ‘Coily or kinky curls range from a very tightly coiled S-shape to a Z-shape kinky pattern. The hair can appear shorter than it actually is due to the tightness of the curl – this is known as shrinkage – and can feel soft and fine or coarse and wiry depending on the hair thickness.’

    Type 4 curls are prone to breakage, dryness, and tangles – lots of hydrating products, oils, and deep conditioning treatments are required to avoid this.

    Type 4A

    Curly Hair Types 4A Amandla Stenberg

    ‘Tightly coiled, S-shaped corkscrews about the size of a crochet needle, the coils are compact and dense but a visible curl pattern.’

    Type 4B

    Curly hair types 4B Solange

    ‘Bends in angles into a Z-shaped, less defined pattern. 4B curls are very tightly coiled, a bit like the spring in a pen.’

    Type 4C

    curly hair types 4C Lupita Nyongo

    ‘The tightest of the curly hair types, these are shaped like 4B curls, but are tighter and denser due to shrinkage.’

    Consider yourself now an expert in curls…

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