Curly hair types: Your complete guide

Not sure whether you're a 2A or a 4C? About time you find out!

We know what you’re thinking: “curly hair types? ” Granted, it might sound strange to anyone hearing this term for the first time. However, 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 get the most benefits from. To understand how the categorisation works, remember that the numbers and letters refer to the tightness and density of each hair type (2A being the lowest and 4C being the highest).

Do you know which one is yours? Here at All Things Hair, we believe that hair education is really important, so we’ve compiled an easy, yet comprehensive guide to help you get to know your hair type better, so that you can care for it better.

curly hair types infographic
Curly hair types: Which one are you?

Curly hair types

Type 2

Generally speaking, type 2s have a pretty light curl pattern, traditionally with loose waves or soft, S-shaped curls.

Type 2A

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. Natalie Dormer’s locks are a great example of what this category looks like.

Type 2B

This one has a more prominent S-shape than type 2A. While some might call the curl pattern casual and carefree, this medium-thick hair has a tendency to be a touch frizzy. Singer Charli XCX’s wavy tresses are the epitome of this hair type.

Type 2C

This is the thickest of all the type 2 hair types. Coarse with a pronounced S-shape and slightly susceptible to frizz, it usually requires more styling products than the others. Want to know a celebrity who has this hair type? When she doesn’t straighten her locks, Salma Hayek is actually a type 2C.


Type 3

Lightly to very curly, these hair types have a clear curl pattern and a soft texture.

Type 3A

Does your hair have a clear S-shape with a bit more spring to it? Then you probably fit into 3A. This type of hair is prone to frizz and loss of definition – at least in comparison to type 2C. Brit singer Lorde’s locks are the perfect example of these ‘classic’, ringlet-like curls.

Type 3B

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.

Type 3C

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.


Type 4

This hair type ranges from coily to kinky and is also the most fragile – so be gentle!

Type 4A

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.

Type 4B

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.

Type 4C

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!

Now that you know all the curly hair types, have you found yours?