Natural Hair Type Guide: Which Type Are You?

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Over the past few months several readers have asked us to break down hair typing. Whether or not you feel that hair typing is important, the fact remains that it can be difficult to follow along with online discussions without knowing the various texture references. After some searching we found NaturallyCurly.com’s hair typing guide to be the most comprehensive — although it does not include a type 4c category — so we’ve included excerpts here.

Type 4 – Kinky Hair

• Type 4 is kinky, or very tightly curled, with a clearly visible curl pattern
• Circumference: Crochet needle or even smaller
• The hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled and very, very fragile
• Type 4 hair can range from fine/thin to wiry/coarse with lots and lots of strands densely packed together
• Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, which means that it has less natural protection from the damage you inflict by combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it
• Type 4 hair is known to shrink up to 75% of the actual hair length

There are two Type 4 subtypes:
•4b: Has a “Z” pattern, less of a defined curl pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter “Z”; has a cotton-like feel
•4b celebrities: Shingai Shoniwa


Shingai Shoniwa, 4b hair

•4a: Tightly coiled hair that, when stretched, has an “S” pattern, much like curly hair. It tends to have more moisture than 4b; has a definite curl pattern
•4a celebrities: Esperanza Spalding


Esperanza Spalding, 4a hair

Tips
• Use styling creams, butters and oils for type 4 hair
• This hair type needs extra moisture and tender-loving care because it can be fragile
• Detangle hair with a lot of conditioner in your hair and use a comb or detangling brush
• Let hair air dry or use a hood dryer
• Do not use a brush or comb on your dry curls
• Reduce tangles by sleeping on a satin pillowcase or wrap hair in a satin cap

Type 3c – Curly Kinky Hair

Subtype 3c is really more than a subtype. It’s a type NaturallyCurly members developed because the original system left out this hair type, which falls between 3b and 4a, having its own special characteristics.

• Type 3c hair has tight curls in corkscrews
• Circumference: Pencil or straw
• The curls can be either kinky, or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together
• Getting this type of hair to blow dry straight is more challenging than for 3a or 3b, but it usually can be done
• The very tight curls are usually fine in texture
• 3c celebrities: Alicia Keyes, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Tracee Ellis Ross


Tracee Ellis Ross, 3c hair

Tips
• Use styling creams, butters and oils for type 3c hair
• This hair type needs extra moisture and tender-loving care because it can be fragile
• Detangle hair with a lot of conditioner in your hair and use a comb or detangling brush
• Do not use a brush or comb on your dry curls
• Reduce tangles by sleeping on a satin pillowcase or wrap hair in a satin cap

Type 3 – Curly Hair

• There is a definite loopy “S” pattern
• Curls are well-defined and springy
• Type 3 hair has a lot of body; it is easily styled in its natural state or straightened with a blow-dryer
• It isn’t coarse, like many believe, but soft and very fine—there’s just a lot of it
• Combinations of Type 3a and 3b curls are common

There are two Type 3 subtypes:
•3b: Medium amount of curl, from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews.
Circumference: Sharpie size
•3b celebrities: Keri Russell, Bernadette Peters, Melina Kankaredes


Keri Russel, 3b hair

•3a: Curls are naturally big, loose and usually very shiny.
Circumference: sidewalk-chalk size
•3a celebrities: AnnaLynne McCord, Debra Messing


Debra Messing, 3a hair

Tips
• 3a’s: Use gels and creams that offer light moisture and curl definition
• 3b’s: Use gels and styling creams with extra moisture and serious frizz control
• Use duckbill clips on the crown of your head to lift top curls
• Let hair air dry or use a diffuser
• Once your curls are dry, rub a little pomade into the palm of your hands and smooth over your hair gently
• Do not use a brush or comb on your dry curls
• Reduce tangles by sleeping on a satin pillowcase

Type 2 – Wavy Hair

• The wave or curl forms throughout the hair in the shape of the letter “S”
• Type 2 hair sticks close to the head; it won’t bounce up, even when layered

There are three Type 2 subtypes:
•2c: Thick and coarse and more resistant to styling and will frizz easily
•2c celebrities: Jennifer Nettles, Daisy Fuentes, Brittany Snow
•2b: Medium-textured and a little resistant to styling; has a tendency to frizz
•2b celebrities: Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, Carrie Underwood
•2a: Fine, thin and very easy to handle; easily straightened or curled
•2a celebrities: Scarlett Johansson, Naomi Watts, Cate Blanchett

Tips
• Use lighter products such as mousses or gels that enhance curls, but don’t weigh them down
• Use duckbill clips on the crown of your head to lift top curls
• Let hair air dry or use a diffuser
• Once your curls are dry, rub a little pomade into the palm of your hands and smooth over your hair gently
• Do not use a brush or comb on your dry curls
• Reduce tangles by sleeping on a satin pillowcase

Ladies, which hair type are you?

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm moderating a Facebook group for black mothers called Black Moms Connect.

 

435 thoughts on “Natural Hair Type Guide: Which Type Are You?

  1. So i found out i have 4a hair thanks for the info. Now all the fuss about 4c not being mentioned is silly, from what i see the 1st young lady’s hair is a 4c/4b they group those two together . It’s not like they started at 3a. Live long and be nappy

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