You know you’ve been there. You click onto a website and it tells you to click on your curl type for more info. Now you're lost. What the BLEEEP is a curl type? Well, I am here to demystify it all for you. Curl type is merely the shape and structure of your curls classified into three types: Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4. What about Type 1? Good question! Type 1 is straight hair. Let’s dive a little deeper:
Typing System Background
The curl type system was originally created by Andre Walker, Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist. He separated hair into four types. Since then other companies, stylists, etc. have worked off that system, and depending on where you look, the types might be slightly different and will all have an “a” and “b” but may or may not have a “c.” And, to make matters even more confusing, more than one hair type can be on the same head! For example, I am mainly Type 3a but have plenty of 3b curls sprinkled in!
So without further ado here are the types broken down. Pictures speak louder than words so refer to the attached picture boxes for examples of each type.
Type 2: Waves
Your hair is type two if it’s not straight and it's not curly. It’s smack in the middle with long S-shaped waves and a few curls. Type 2 waves tend to lay flatter on top of your head and widen and wave and curl more as you move down to the ends.
- Type 2a - Very loose S-shaped waves, often straight on top.
- Type 2b - Tighter S-shaped waves than 2a, still often straighter on top. Courser texture.
- Type 2c - S-shaped waves and curls tighten more and start higher toward the crown of your head. The texture is courser and somewhat frizz-prone.
Type 3: Curls
Type 3 ranges from loose to tight curls and is the group that can have the most mix of types on one head. Type 3 curls can be somewhat flat on top of your head but are more likely to have added volume and lift at the root.
- Type 3a - Large, wide, well-defined springy S-shaped curls. Curl circumference is similar to sidewalk chalk.
- Type 3b - Springier and tight than 3a. Coarser with more frizz and a circumference similar to a regular size sharpie marker.
- Type 3c- Curls are closer to coils. Often thick and voluminous. Lift at the root.
Type 4: Kinky/Coily
Type 4 hair ranges from thin and wiry to thick and course. It’s dryer and frizzes easily. Opposite of Type 2 hair, the curls can often be tighter near the top and then loosen a bit toward the ends.
- Type 4a - Dense, tight S-shaped coils with the circumference of a thin sharpie or thin highlighter. Wiry or coarse.
- Type 4b - Your hair is type 4b if the pattern is Z, rather than S, shaped. The change in curl direction is much sharper with tighter angles. Circumference of a ballpoint pen.
- Type 4c - Z-shaped coils tighter than 4b. Less definition and very densely packed, though delicate. The circumference is tiny, similar to the spring inside a pen. Tends to clump.
So there you have it! All the curl types defined for you. And, to add another layer onto all these types, curls can change over your lifetime! I was born with 3c/4a, yet after my second child, I now have 3a curls. And before you ask, nope, the third child did not return them back to 3c/4a! Crazy, right?