Types of Curly Hair – Which Type Are You?

Curly hair is notorious for being high maintenance, but we curlies know there is nothing sexier than rocking ‘em curls! But did you know that when we say “curly,” we are generalizing a large category of hair type having many sub categories?  Yes, curly is used interchangeably for wavy, curly and coil-y.  Knowing your hair type will enable you to choose more suitable products and not be misled by marketing gimmicks.

Types of curly hair

But what makes curly hair so different? Curly hair is the driest form of hair. This is because the naturally produced hair oils (sebum) cannot trickle down to the tip of the hair strand due to the coiled physical structure of the strand. So we need to rely on external hydration and emollients. Curl pattern is determined by how evenly the two halves of a hair strand grow. When fiber grows faster on one side and not another, a spiral is formed along the cuticle of the hair strand.

An alphanumeric system is used to identify types of curls:

1,2,3,4 represent the amount of turns formed by hair strands. Number 1 is straight; 4 is extremely curly/kinky.

a, b, c determine the texture and sub-group of each curl type. The letter ‘a’ denotes a finer hair texture; b is medium; c, thick.

Let’s figure out which category you belong to:

1. Type 2a: Fine Waves:


Celebrity: Emma Stone

2a hair is fine and thin. It can easily be straightened or curled.

Products: Use lighter products such as mousses, lotions or gels that enhance the curls, but don’t weigh them down.

2. Type 2b: Well defined waves:

Types of curly hair

Celebrity: Mila Kunis

2b hair has waves that tend to adhere to the shape of your head.

Products: Use lighter products such as mousses, lotions or gels that enhance the curls, but don’t weigh them down.

3. Type 2c: Thick waves

Types of curly hair

Celebrity: Taylor Swift

2c hair frizzes easily and it is fairly coarse.

Products: Use a lot of gel to style the hair and manage frizz.

4. Type 3a: Loose curls


Celebrity: Shakira

3a hair is very shiny and loose.

Products: A variety of styling products can be used to achieve curl formation and definition.

5. Type 3b: Tight curls

Keri Russell

Celebrity: Keri Russell

3b hair has a medium amount of curls, ranging from bouncy ringlets (spiral like curls of hair) to tight corkscrews (spiral-shaped corkscrew curls).

Products: Gels and creams work best to reduce frizz and add definition.

6. Type 3c: Extremely thick corkscrew or spiral curls

Curly hair

Celebrity: Cree summer

3c hair has voluminous, tight curls in corkscrews with lots and lots of strands densely packed together.

Products: Use creams, butters and oils for taming the hair & providing hydration.

Type 4a, 4b, 4c are kinky coily hair and we Indians tend to majorly fall in the above categories only.

Image Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Hair Care Routine For Curly Hair
How to Manage Frizzy Curly Hair
How to Curl Hair at Home, Get Curly Hairstyle and Manage Curls
10 Best Hair Care Products For Curly Hair
Awesome Hair Care Routine For Gorgeous Curly Hair
How to Turn Thin Wavy Hair into Curly Voluminous Looking Tresses


14 thoughts on “Types of Curly Hair – Which Type Are You?

  1. I loved this article ….. My hairs are curly after wash and when I comb it, it looses all the curls and become horrible… sometimes it become wavy … Which hair curl type is it ? 🙂 🙂

    1. All curls lose definition if brushed. You shouldn’t use brushes or combs.
      That means you have a combination of curls (probably 2c and 3a).

  2. Mine is 3a , loose curls. If you comb your hair right after a shower,it will loose its shape.Its best to let it dry naturally and comb only when absolutely necessary.
    Less shampooing and more oiling helps as curly hair lacks moisture.

  3. I used to have really beautiful fine waves, “used to” because my hairdresser chopped off too much length 🙁 it’s been 1 month now and they’ve not grown an inch !!

  4. I guess I’m 2A, but I have lesser waves than Emma Stone does! I like straightened hair more than curls on me 🙂

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