Decoding your curl type can be confusing, but understanding your curl pattern and knowing how to take care of it is even harder! Several different textures can exist on one head of curly hair, which all have to somehow look cohesive when you style it. When the strands at the crown are looser than the ones on the sides, and even more different than the hair in the back, it’s easy to just throw up your hands in frustration and tie it up in a bun.
It’s no-brainer that curly hair can be a struggle, but understanding how your hair works and what products work best is the key to having happy and healthy hair. The first step to mastering the curls is understanding why they may need more attention than their straight-haired counterparts. Natural arcs and angles in curly hair expose cuticle layer pores, allowing natural moisture and nutrients to escape. Scalp oils can’t flow down the curly hair shaft as easily as they can with straight hair, curls are prone to dryness and crave nourishing and moisturizing products.
To identify the curl type and the right hair care for it, Healthshots spoke to Yuba Khan, hair care expert and Co-founder at Manetain.
Here’s the ultimate guide to recognizing and understanding curls type:
“When we talk about curly hair, it’s important to remember that not all curls are the same. Curly hair is divided into three curl patterns: wavy, curly and coily. Each hair type is numbered and lettered according to its curl pattern and level of curl frequency, respectively. A’s have the lowest frequency within each pattern while C’s have the highest,” says Khan.
Finding your curl type ranges from 2A to 4C
- Wavy hair patterns are 2A, 2B, and 2C.
- Tight curls follow with 3A, 3B, and 3C.
- Curl coils end with 4A, 4B, and 4C.
This classification system was created by hair stylist Andre Walker and later taken on by us, the proud curly-hair community! Indian curly hair type mostly ranges from type 2A to 3C, though a single head can have a mixture of more than one hair type.
Now that you are aware of the different curl patterns and curl types, let’s break down how you can properly take care of your curls
How to take care of your curl type:
1. For Wavy curls – 2B
Khan says, “With curly hair, you’ll always want to focus on products that help add moisture to the hair and avoid any hair product that’s going to dry out or weigh hair down. People with 2B hair have enhanced waves. This type of hair looks beautifully tousled and naturally styled but is prone to get frizzy too. But, 2B curls might develop frizz and get unmanageable, especially when exposed to humidity.”
2B hair type is light and easily weighed down by hair products. Hence, look for lightweight conditioners and styling creams that are packed with moisturizing ingredients to keep the curls healthy and bouncy.
- The best way to ensure that your hair remains healthy is by co-washing it every alternate day.
- You can also shampoo your hair about twice or thrice a week.
- Indulge in a deep conditioning treatment once every two weeks.
- If you do not notice excess grease or oil in your hair, do not create a habit of over-washing your hair.
2. Tight curls – 3B and 3C
“With 3B, as curl frequency grows higher, its management increases as well. Tight curls need products that are a bit heavier than wavy curly hair does. Many people with tight curls struggle the most with finding the right shampoo,” says Khan.
- Consider switching from a shampoo to a co-wash or shampoo-conditioner mix so your curls aren’t losing their texture.
- Being in the middle of the type 3 spectrum means your curls could also have a mix of 3A, 3C, or even 2C (wavy/curly) textures, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Focus on the biggest characteristics of your hair type—dehydration and frizz.
- Layer on a cocktail of moisturizing and humidity-blocking shampoo and leave-in conditioner to enhance your curls and keep them healthy.
- Co-washes also have cleansing ingredients that will not dry out your scalp and are safe to use daily.
3C curls are definitively tighter than 3B curls like the size of a straw and thickly packed together, giving your hair some major volume. 3C curly hair is in that sweet spot between volume and easy maintenance. It’s not that frizzy, and will never fall flat compared to other hair types. Type 3C curls are tight and precisely coiled. Because this hair type is prone to breakage, use a conditioner to detangle it.
Make friends with a leave-in conditioner for your curls
Any type of curls need moisture. Having said that, curly hair is more prone to dryness, dullness, and prone to damage than straight hair types. Hence, it’s also rather sensitive and particular in terms of how much moisture is optimal, suggests Khan.
- The best way to lock in the hydration is with a lightweight leave-in conditioner, which sets the foundation for good hair.
- After you style your hair, the next step is to seal it up with a gel to lock in the moisture and then dry your hair in the right manner.
- When your hair follicles are wet, they are fragile, hence always use a softer fabric such as microfiber and combed cotton that is super gentle on your hair and keeps frizz and dryness at bay as regular towels can strip out moisture and create frizz.
The bottom line is that curly hair has its own individuality and taking care of curls does take a little strategic thinking too. Having said that, there is nothing more beautiful than embracing your natural curls and being confident with your curls. Also, use products that hydrate and moisturize your hair to keep it healthy and strong. A few simple switch-ups to your hair care/hair-wash routine can greatly impact your hair’s health and appearance.