There’s something you should know: knowing how to classify curls, coils and kinks is a great way to help you select the right products and build a hair care regime that your locks will love. The best way to do this is by using our curly hair types guide, which is based on the curl typing system.
This system focuses mainly on wavy, curly and coily hair types. These hair types are broken down into further subtypes (e.g. 2A, 2B or 4C) that are determined by the shape and pattern of your curl. The numbers and letters in the curl typing system refer to the tightness and density of each hair type (2A being the lowest and 4C being the highest).
While curl typing isn’t always accurate, it can help you understand your curl pattern better, so you can select the right products and build a hair care regime that your locks will love.
How to Figure Out Your Curly Hair Type
Understanding your unique curl pattern will make looking after and styling your hair a whole lot easier, which is why it is so important for you to use our guide.
Below we detail all the traits of each hair type and how you can keep it looking fabulous. Keep scrolling to figure yours out, now.
Type 2 Hair
Generally speaking, type 2 hair has a pretty light curl pattern, traditionally with loose waves or soft, S-shaped curls.
This hair type is the least curly. It’s quite fine with light, S-shaped waves that don’t have a lot of definition. Although 2A hair lacks volume, the good news is that it’s easy to manipulate.
2B Hair type is best described as wavy hair. This hair type is not quite curly and it’s not quite straight. If your hair is mostly flat and straight at the roots but gets wavier and more “S” shaped toward the bottom, then you have 2B hair. Singer Charli XCX’s wavy tresses are the epitome of this hair type.
Type 2C hair is the thickest of the type 2 hair types. 2C hair has well-pronounced S-shape waves which start at the roots. This hair type is generally coarse and can be susceptible to frizz. Want to know a celebrity who has this hair type? When she doesn’t straighten her locks, Salma Hayek is actually a type 2C.
Editor’s tip: If you’re looking for a product for your type 2 curls, try the TRESemmé Botanique Air Dry Curl Cream! This nourishing cream is great for nourishing the hair and giving curls more definition.
Type 3 Hair
Light to very curly, type 3 hair types have a clear curl pattern and a soft texture.
Does your hair have a defined S-shape with a bit more spring to it? Then you probably fit into 3A. 3A hair is often lightweight but full of body and shine. Kiwi singer Lorde’s locks are the perfect example of these ‘classic’, ringlet-like curls.
This hair type is slightly smaller and more spiralled. It also lacks a bit of shine because the curl pattern is tighter and a little denser (which can affect the distribution of natural oils along the hair shaft). Not that we’ve noticed any lacklustre locks on Keri Russell when she played in the series Felicity or Anna Shaffer in the Harry Potter movies.
This hair type is the coarsest of all the type 3s and has a lot of volume. You can easily identify it by its corkscrew curls, which are about the width of a pencil. Need an example? Singer Kelis and Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel are the poster girls for this category.
Editor’s tip: Want to wake up to the best curls ever? Just apply the VO5 Overnight Curl Cream to your hair before you sleep and that’s it! This anti-frizz formula is the perfect thing to add to your daily curl routine.
Type 4 Hair
This hair type ranges from coily to kinky and is also the most fragile due to its unique structure.
This one is slightly smaller in width than 3C, with tighter coils that still have an S-shape. It has a somewhat visible curl pattern, just like Hotel Rwanda actress Sophie Okonedo and singer Lianne La Havas.
The curl pattern is less noticeable with this hair type. The strands have more of a Z-shape and can shrink substantially. And if you belong to this category, you’re in good company: Solange Knowles and Erykah Badu are just a couple of well-known 4Bs.
This type of hair is very similar to 4B, but the strands have much tighter kinks with a less visible curl pattern – just like actress Viola Davis. Because of the very dense Z-shape, its biggest problem is retaining moisture. So handle and treat it with extra TLC!
Editor’s tip: If you want to give your curls a real treat, try the Love Beauty And Planet Hope & Repair Magic Masque. This hydrating mask is infused with organic coconut oil to nourish and repair – for smooth, healthy-looking curls.