3C Hair: A Complete Guide to This Hair Type and How to Care For It

Twist and shout and wear it all out.

3C hair is a curly hair type that is made up of tight coils with volume and lots of strands that are packed together to create this texture. 3C was created and added to the hair type chart when it was clear that there was a missing type between 3B and 4A. Many women fall under this category but don’t know what it means when it comes to which hair care products they need to add to their lineup and how they should be implementing these products into their routines. We love 3C hair and know that it deserves lots of love and hydration. Keep reading to learn more about 3C hair and get the scoop on how to care for your curls.

3c hair afro tips
The tighter the curl, the bigger the need for consistent moisture from root to tip.

According to this charting system, hair is classified into four types depending on texture and level:

Straight (1A, 1B, 1C)
Wavy (2A, 2B, 2C)
Curly (3A, 3B)
Kinky (4A, 4B)

What earlier versions of this system allegedly failed to address was type 3C hair, an apparently unfortunate oversight, as there was a considerable number of women who fell between super curly, which was a 3B, but not kinky, which would be a 4A. This void was eagerly filled by subsequent hair typing systems to mean very curly hair that held on to its S or Z-curve shape even after being stretched out, and one that still retained a definite curl pattern and texture that isn’t a frizzy coil.

3c hair tightly coiled
3C hair has a distinct S or Z-shaped coil.

Caring for 3C Hair

In case you do fall into this hidden category, you’ll need to figure out how to take care of this particular natural hair type. 3C hair is first and foremost curly hair, so all the litanies hold true: It has a fuller volume and it’s prone to frizz and changes in weather and climate. Since sebum from the scalp doesn’t have a direct highway down the lengths due to obstruction from ringlets, oil doesn’t get distributed as evenly. Curly hair is then said to be more prone to dryness, dullness and yes, damage than straighter types. It’s also rather sensitive and particular in terms of how much moisture is optimal.

3C Hair Care Guide

Step 1: Wash and Condition Thoroughly

With curly or textured hair, the first day always begins with a good washing. Choose a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that removes oils and grease without stripping the curl of crucial nourishment.

Step 2: Deep Condition Your Hair

3C hair is the curliest hair can get without stepping into a dry, delicate kinky territory. This means that on the thirsty scale, your strands are pretty much parched. Don’t worry about deep conditioning after using regular conditioner. A quality hair treatment, such as The Good Stuff Intensive Nourishment Cream, won’t weigh strands down but will impart much-needed slip.

Step 3: Choose a Curl Cream

A styling cream that moisturizes ringlets while retaining their bounce and shape, such as Suave Curl Defining Cream, is similar to what mousse is for straight or wavy hair. It helps keep curls shiny and defines their shape, imparting that telltale highlight to each coil.

Step 4: Apply a Curl Refresher

It isn’t recommended for curly or natural-textured women to wash their hair daily. For that reason, most resort to a product akin to a leave-in conditioner to reconstruct or maintain their manes. For type 3s, this is commonly referred to as a curl refresher. And as the name suggests, a curl refresher like Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound Curl Recall Cream revives your ringlets without water. It also keeps things feeling smooth while offering some control and bounce for day 2 and beyond.

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