Types of Hair: How to Style and Care for Your Hair Type (2023)

Your hair type is primarily based on your hair’s curl pattern. The amount of curl in your hair is determined by your hair follicle. The shape of your follicle determines whether your hair is:

  • straight
  • wavy
  • curly
  • coily

The more oval or asymmetrical your follicle is, the curlier your hair will be.

Your hair type is determined by genetics.

You can alter your curl pattern with heat or chemicals, and your curl pattern can changed somewhat by hormones or medications you’re taking, but your basic curl pattern is in your DNA.

Every time your hair goes through its growth cycle, those genetic characteristics are reasserted.

Andre Walker, known for decades as Oprah Winfrey’s stylist, is credited with devising a system that classifies hair according to one of four curl patterns:

Type 1Straight hair
Type 2Wavy hair
Type 3Curly hair
Type 4Coily hair

These types are further divided into subcategories based on the tightness or looseness of the curls and coils. It may sound simple, but like most attempts to define human characteristics, it isn’t.

You could have type 4C at your crown and 4A at your temples. Your hair could be straight at the root and wavy at the ends. The key is to understand what each type needs so you can style it well and keep it healthy.

Type 1: Straight

Type 1 hair has no natural curl. The individual strands may be fine or coarse, thick or thin, but they fall without waving from root to tip.

Type 1 hair has a tendency to become oily, so many stylists recommend that you check the label to be sure the product you’re buying isn’t going to add extra oil to your hair.

Stylist Kristi Lovelace also suggests avoiding heavy serums or butters. “With straight or fine hair, I’d recommend texture sprays instead. Dry shampoos are also a good idea,” she said.

Washing your hair too often can cause your scalp to overproduce oils, so dry shampoo is a boon for people with straight, oily hair.

Lovelace says most women come into salons with Instagram or Pinterest photos of the style they want.

“I usually recommend styles based more on face shape than on hair type,” she said. “One style that’s really popular right now is a chin-length blunt cut, which works really well with straight hair.”

Type 2: Wavy hair

Type 2A

The natural state of type 2 hair is a gentle, tousled texture. From the roots to around eye level, your hair is fairly straight. And from eye level to the ends, you have a loose, undefined wave.

To keep from flattening out that wave, steer clear of oil-based or creamy products. Instead, stylists recommend that you boost the base with a light mousse or use a gel to define those waves.

Type 2B

As with 2A, type 2B hair curls from the midpoint to the ends. The curls have a more defined S shape. It may require a little more effort to straighten, but it’s easy to create that beachy look with a spritz of salt spray.

Type 2B is ideal for the balayage trend, where stylists hand-paint color on the outer layer of hair.

“When people come in with pictures of balayage,” Lovelace said, “the photo is always going to show wavy hair because when that hair curls around, it’s getting dimension from the back side. People with wavy hair don’t have to go out of their way to style this look.”

Type 2C

The most well-defined S-shaped waves are type 2C. The wave pattern may begin close to the crown and tumble downward. Type 2C hair is often thick and can be prone to frizz in damp weather.

Lovelace recommends using a diffuser, a toothy devise that snaps onto the end of your blow dryer and helps eliminate the frizz.

“I am a huge advocate for products, especially where you’ve got environmental factors like hard water and salt water,” Lovelace said. “Anti-humidity products are huge.”

People with 2C hair may be frustrated with alternating between daily straightening, which can damage hair, and trying to find ways to enhance and control their waves. The good news is that many lightweight mousses now contain anti-humidity ingredients along with moisture.

Type 3: Curly

Type 3A

With type 3A hair, S-shaped curls form loose loops. The curls have a circumference a little wider than the large end of a taper candle. One important styling note: Brushing this type of hair can wreck curl definition and lead to a frizzy mane.

Silvana Castillo, master stylist and founder of The Curl Whisperer, a Miami salon specializing in hair types 3 and 4, recommends styles and products that define natural curl. Her best advice? Lose the ponytail.

“It’s OK if you’re on the way to the gym,” Castillo said, “or if it’s required for work. But pulling your hair back into a ponytail causes curls to lose their formation. And if you keep pulling your hair back into a bun or ponytail, you will also start to see thinning and hair loss at your hairline.”

That hair loss happens because the weight of the ponytail pulls against the front of the hair for prolonged periods.

Type 3B

Type 3B curls have a circumference about as wide as the barrel of a Sharpie marker. Curls spring from the roots and have ample volume. To maintain their characteristic spiral shape, these ringlets generally need moisture.

Avoid silicone and sulfates in your curl products, though. They may temporarily tame frizz, but they can dry hair over time and lead to breakage.

Type 3C

These curls are tight and springy — they would coil perfectly around a drinking straw. To preserve the definition in these corkscrew curls, take a hands-on approach.

Instead of combing, which can lead to frizz and breakage, use a leave-in conditioner and rake through wet hair with your fingertips. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you air-dry instead of using a blow dryer.

Type 4: Coils

Type 4A

The curl pattern for 4A hair is an S-shaped coil you could wrap around a chopstick.

“Type 4 hair is the most delicate hair type,” Castillo said. “You have to be very gentle with it, and it needs a lot of moisture.” But getting moisture doesn’t necessarily mean using oils. Deep conditioning masques, butters, and creams are good options for preserving hair health.

“We recommend that people wear it loose in wash-and-go styles,” she said.

One thing The Curl Whisperer salon doesn’t advocate for is protective styles like weaves and braids.

Though some stylists swear by styles that allow you to tuck away fragile ends to protect them while they grow out, Castillo says these styles often do more harm than good. While the hair is out of sight, it’s also out of reach for conditioning treatments.

“When you have had your hair in a protective style for weeks, the curl formation is completely gone. The cuticle is so dry and open that it becomes like little fish hooks that catch on each other and break when you take out the braids,” Castillo said.

Better to wear it in a style that lets you keep moisturizing.

Type 4B

The curls in 4B hair zig-zag. One popular technique for defining and accentuating your curls is shingling.

Shingling begins with wet hair. Gently detangle with your fingertips, using liberal amounts of leave-in conditioner to moisturize and condition. Then separate your hair into four sections.

Work curling cream or gel down the length of each curl, twisting the strands around your index finger as you go.

Type 4C

Type 4C coils are the tightest and most fragile. It’s really easy to break them if you comb roughly or too often, and it’s vital to frequently nourish the hair with rich conditioners.

Coconut oils are still popular, as are shea butter creams. More people are ditching shampoo for co-washing, or rinsing the hair with conditioners instead.

In terms of style, 4C hair is having a moment.

“What we’re seeing is the younger generation wants their hair to be bold,” Castillo said. “They want the hair to be big and round, almost like a sun. And they want to experiment with fun colors — always keeping in mind the health of the hair.”

The hair care-health connection

The growing popularity of natural hairstyles for people with 4C hair doesn’t just reflect a changing aesthetic — it has promising implications for women’s health.

A 2013 study found that the desire to maintain a hairstyle prevents around 40 percent of African American women from exercising regularly.

More than 60 percent of the women who participated in the study wore their hair in a chemically relaxed style.

There are some steps to take to protect natural hair during a workout, but more and more type 4 naturalistas are discovering that healthy bodies and healthy hair really can coexist.

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When hair professionals talk about porosity, they mean your hair’s ability to soak up moisture. If your hair is highly porous, it has a lot of holes in its surface layer, called the cuticle.

You may have naturally porous hair, or chemical and heat processing may have made your hair more porous than it normally would be.

Those holes in the cuticle allow your hair to absorb more moisture. If the climate where you live is humid, your hair may tend to frizz. That’s because the cuticle is drawing moisture from the air.

The good news is that porous hair also absorbs moisturizing products well. A wide range of products, from leave-in conditioners to rich butters, can seal the holes and make your hair easier to manage.

Hair that’s less porous is tightly locked and tends to resist moisture, whether that’s environmental humidity or chemical processing.

To avoid product buildup that could weigh down and dull your hair, wash with a clarifying shampoo weekly and choose lighter products, like hair milks and mousses, to create volume.

You may find that products work better if you use a blow dryer. The heat can open up the tight cuticle and allow moisture to seep in.

Hair porosity test

  • Lay a few strands of your hair in a bowl of water.
  • After a few minutes, take a look.
  • Hair that floats has low porosity. Hair that sinks has high porosity.

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Hair density refers to the number of hairs on your head. If you can’t see your scalp clearly, you probably have dense hair. If you can see your scalp even without parting your hair, you probably have low hair density.

Your hair’s density can be affected by a number of factors, including stress, hormones during pregnancy or menopause, and nutrition.

It’s a good idea to take stock of the products you’re using if your hair density has changed.

Heavy products can flatten low density hair. Look for texture sprays and light mousses to add volume and lift. High density hair can benefit from thicker creams and butters to add shine and control.

Wherever you are on your hair journey, others have probably been there before, too.

One of the most helpful things you can do is use social media to find and follow someone whose hair type is similar to yours. Try products they recommend. Use techniques that worked for them. You’ll save time and money and find a supportive community.

Hair type is all about your hair’s curl pattern. Type 1 hair is straight. Type 2 is best described as wavy. Type 3 hair is curly, and type 4 is coily. You may have different curl patterns on different parts of your head.

To keep curls healthy, bouncy, and defined, you’ll need to experiment with products to find the ones that work best for your hair. The curlier and more porous your hair is, the more likely you are to need intense, regular moisturizing to keep it healthy.

If you’re not sure where to start, consult a professional who specializes in your type of hair, or follow someone with your hair type on social media.


What are the 4 types of hair styles? ›

Type 1 hair is straight. Type 2 is best described as wavy. Type 3 hair is curly, and type 4 is coily.

How do you take care of 4 types of hair? ›

Hair care for the 4C hair type is all about moisture retention and protection. This means avoid frequent shampooing and heat, deep condition, try the LOC/LCO method, gently detangle, protect your hair while you sleep, and always keep your water bottle nearby.

What does Type 3 hair look like? ›

Type 3: Curly Hair

This category encompasses hair that curls into springs and corkscrew shapes. When hair is wet, curls usually look like waves but take on a three-dimensional swirl shape as they dry. Each strand of this hair type can be unique.

What is a 2B hair type? ›

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!

What does 4c hair look like? ›

4c hair is the queen of thick, bold afros. From afar, 4c hair looks like a thick fro, but if you look closely, you'll notice very tight, small springs or coils on each strand. Coils are pretty different from curls.

What does 1C hair look like? ›

Meet type 1C hair: the waviest of the straight hair without being definitively wavy (confusing, we know). So what exactly does that mean? Type 1C hair tends to feature strands that lie flat at the root with subtle body, arcs, and bends throughout the mid-sections. It can hold a curl and air dries like a dream.

What do 3C curls look like? ›

Type 3C. 3C curls are tight corkscrews that range in circumference from a straw to a pencil, like you see her on Nathalie Emmanuel. Strands are densely packed together, giving way to lots of natural volume.

How do I know my hair type? ›

Hair Texture

If it dries straight without a bend or curl, then you have straight hair (or type 1 hair as it is commonly referred to). If it dries with a slight curve or “S” shape, then it's considered wavy hair (type 2). If your hair dries with a defined curl or loop pattern, you have one of two curl types.

What is 4C vs 1A hair? ›

The scale is broken into four overall categories; 1a-c are “straight” hair textures, 2a-c are “wavy” hair textures, 3a-c are “curly” hair textures and 4a-c are “kinky” hair textures.

What does Type 4 hair look like? ›

At a glance, type 4 hair appears as a mass of tight coils brimming with vitality. This hair type comes with a spongy hair texture that can feel soft and fine or rough and coarse, depending on individual hair thickness.

What's my hair type -- 2C or 3A? ›

Type 2C hair has a defined S-shaped pattern. The curls are well-defined, but they're not as tightly wound as type 3A curls. Type 3A is characterized by the tighter curls forming ringlets that hang down loosely. They are loopy, springy curls.

What is the rarest hair type? ›

Hair type 1A is super-straight. It doesn't even hold a curl! 1A is the rarest hair type. It is usually found on people of Asian descent.

Which type of hair is most attractive? ›

A general observation across experiments was that straight hair was perceived as younger, healthier, and more attractive than wavy hair and darker shades (medium copper and brown) were perceived more positively than blonde hair.

Is my hair 3A 3B or 3C? ›

If your curls easily wrap around the sidewalk chalk, then you have type 3A hair. If the permanent marker is the best fit, then your hair type is 3B. If your spiral curls are the size of a pencil, you have type 3C hair.

What does 2A hair look like? ›

Type 2A hair is the loosest of all wavy hair. Type 2A waves are loose and lax S-shaped waves and can sometimes be hard to determine if not styled properly. At the root, this curly type may be straight, but the shaft and/or ends of the hair have a slight bend that creates the wave.

What is Type 1 hair? ›

Type 1 hair is hair that lies flat, or straight. Straight locks tend to be on the shinier side because the hair's natural oils are able to travel from root to tip. This hair category includes divisions 1A, 1B, and 1C. Type 1A is “stick” straight hair that has no hint of curl or wave.

Is my hair 2A or 2B or 2C? ›

2A - A slight wave to your hair. 2B - Medium Wave form in the hair. 2C - Wavy hair that starts to form ringlets, especially when hydrated (wet) and styled correctly.

What do 3B curls look like? ›

What is 3B Hair? If you have the 3B hair type, your curls are likely big, bouncy, and voluminous. The “S”-shaped curls are usually about the circumference of your index finger or a sharpie marker and may vary between tight spirals and loose waves.

What is 2C curly hair? ›

The 2C hair type is characterized by loose, “S”-shaped spirals that start at the root and continue all the way down the hair strand. The “S” shape is more pronounced than other type 2 subcategories, but the curls are not as defined as type 3 or 4 hair.

What is 3C hair? ›

3C hair is the curliest of the type 3 curly hair pattern. And since type 4 hair is considered coily instead of curly, type 3C hair is the curliest of curly hair. If you have 3C curls, your curls have the width of a pencil and are shaped like corkscrew-like ringlets. Type 3C hair is also very dense and full of volume.

What is a 4A hair type? ›

The 4A hair type is the first type attributed to the Black community. It's characterized by tight coils the width of a pencil or a crochet needle, forming an “S”-shape when stretched, and experiencing about 50-60% shrinkage when wet.

What are 3A curls? ›

3A hair is made up of well-defined and springy curls that have a loopy, “S” shaped pattern. Their circumference is the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk. 3A ringlets have a fine to medium texture. This curl type benefits from lots of body and movement, but is prone to frizzing and dryness.

What do 1A curls look like? ›

Type 1A Hair

There is no hint of curl pattern or wave, it's simply straight and flat as a pin. Another defining feature of type 1a hair is its thinness. Each strand of type 1a hair is extremely fine and therefore, easily falls out or sheds.

Is 3C hair soft? ›

While 3C hair is soft to touch it is prone to frizz, dryness, and breakage. At whatever stage you are in your natural 3C hair journey, learning about your hair type and its needs will make a whole lot of difference in your hair care and maintenance routine.

Is my hair 2A or straight? ›

If you have hair that is straight from the roots to near the eyes and then falls into gently tousled waves, you have 2A type hair. It is best described as not quite straight and slightly curly hair. The slight S-shaped bends in the hair provide a natural bounce and body.

What do 1b curls look like? ›

Let's talk about the features of type 1b hair: Generally straight from the roots to the ends, but with some subtle bends mid-body, finished off with gently curled ends. Shiny and sleek (just like type 1a hair) Mostly fine hair strands interspersed with a few coarse fibers.

What do Type 2 curls look like? ›

Type 2 Characteristics

The type 2 pattern is neither straight nor curly, but instead sits in the middle of the two, ranging from loose loops to large S-shaped waves. The waves sit close to the head and become curlier from the ears onwards.

What are 3b curls called? ›

To put it simply, all type 3 hair is definitively curly. The size, texture, and volume of those curls are then broken down into three subcategories: 3A, which has S-shaped, loose, softer curls; 3B, which has ringlet-shaped, voluminous, springy curls; and 3C, which has corkscrewed, tight, stiff curls.

Do I have type 1c or 2a hair? ›

Type 1c hair tends to curl under toward the base and hold a slight curl. While type 2a hair is naturally wavier than straight hair (type 1), but definitely not classified as being curly.

Am I type 3 or 4 hair? ›

Type 1 – Straight hair, no natural curls. Type 2 – Wavy hair, no complete curl only "bumps" or "waves" Type 3 – Curly hair, curls resemble the letter "s" Type 4 – Kinky hair, curls resemble the letter "z"

What does Type 5 hair look like? ›

Texture Type 5

If your hair is undeniably curly (like tight corkscrew curls) with defined S-shapes forming into coils, you have type 5 hair. If you're unsure whether or not your hair falls under the type 5 umbrella, Brown says curls should stretch with immediate spring back.

What is type 4B hair? ›

4B hair is a type of coily hair and is typically densely packed. If you have 4B hair, your curls will have a Z-shaped or zigzag pattern, but the curls should still be identifiable. 4B hair tends to be very porous, dry and prone to breakage. To discover your curly hair type, you want to start with wet hair.

Why is 4c hair so weak? ›

4c hair is naturally fragile due to its tight, coily shape, which causes it to easily break and shed. Too much tension. If you love combing, physically manipulating, and twisting your hair, you may be contributing to the breakage.

What does 5C hair look like? ›

5C hair refers to hair that has been relaxed or chemically straightened to remove or loosen the curl pattern. 5C hair is initially very dense, with thick and tight curls, coils, or kinks.

What hair type shrinks the most? ›

As you probably already know, 4C hair types experience shrinkage the most because the curls are tighter than the other curl patterns. And this can make it difficult to detangle, manage, and style. In fact, shrinkage can be downright discouraging when you want to do hairstyles like a low bun or twist-out.

Do I have 2A or 2B hair? ›

Type 2A hair is fine and thin with individual strands forming an “S” shape when dry. It is easy to use styling products to curl or straighten Type 2A hair. Type 2B hair is wavy and slightly frizzier than Type 2A hair. When dry, individual strands create an “S” shape with some frizz.

What is the best haircut for 2B hair? ›

“The best type of haircuts for 2B texture—or any texture, in fact—are round layers with graduation,” Roberts says. “Layers are important to encourage the curl and add volume. I find this technique works best as it allows the texture to support itself without creating a triangular shape.”

What does 2B and 2C hair look like? ›

2B hair consists of 'S' shaped waves in the lengths, but sits relatively straight at the roots. 2C hair has even more defined 'S' shaped curls that start from the root and continue down the lengths of the hair.

What is the 1 rarest hair color? ›

The rarest natural hair colour is red, which makes up only one to two percent of the global population. You commonly see these hair colours in western and northern areas of Europe, especially Scotland and Ireland. However, natural redheads may not exist for much longer.

Which hair type is Frizziest? ›

Curly hair and wavy hair tend to get a lot more frizzier when compared to straight hair. Your hair type is determined by the shape of your hair follicle. If you have a rounded follicle, your hair grows straight. If you have flat hair follicles, your hair type becomes wavy or curly, making it more prone to frizz.

What is the rarest curl in the world? ›

Coily Curls

The last, but most rare type of curl is the coily curl. This curl type is similar to that of an afro and when observed carefully, looks like the angular letter 'Z'. These curls require the most amount of moisture, as the hair type is much thicker than the other curl types.

What height is most attractive for a girl? ›

The ideal height for a woman, according to the average man, is 5'6”. Notably, this excludes 10% of men who say there is no such thing as too short and 9% who say no height is too tall. Similarly, there is no "too short" for 4% of women and no "too tall" for 7%.

Which ethnicity is most attractive? ›

According to the data, people from India are considered the most attractive people in the world, followed by those from the USA and Sweden. The rest of the top five most attractive nations are Japan and Canada.

What hair do men prefer? ›

When men are asked to rank features they find most attractive on the opposite sex, maintained manes always dominate the list. The truth is that long hair triggers a primal, instinctive response within men. Evolutionarily speaking, long hair serves a purpose.

What are the 3 types of hair? ›

Humans have three different types of hair:
  • Lanugo, very thin, soft usually unpigmented hair that covers the unborn or newborn human.
  • Vellus hair, the short, fine, “peach fuzz” body hair that grows in most places on the human body in both sexes. ...
  • Terminal hair, longer, coarser, thicker and darker fully developed hairs.

What makes your hair type? ›

Genetic factors appear to play a major role in determining hair texture—straight, wavy, or curly—and the thickness of individual strands of hair. Studies suggest that different genes influence hair texture and thickness in people of different ethnic backgrounds.

What are the 12 hair types? ›

These 4 types of hair are further categorized into A, B, and C subtypes creating 12 total categories:
  • Type 1A Straight Hair.
  • Type 1B Straight Hair.
  • Type 1C Straight Hair.
  • Type 2A Wavy Hair.
  • Type 2B Wavy Hair.
  • Type 2C Wavy Hair.
  • Type 3A Curly Hair.
  • Type 3B Curly Hair.
Nov 15, 2021

What is 3A vs 3B vs 3C hair? ›

If your curls easily wrap around the sidewalk chalk, then you have type 3A hair. If the permanent marker is the best fit, then your hair type is 3B. If your spiral curls are the size of a pencil, you have type 3C hair.

What is the most attractive hair type? ›

A general observation across experiments was that straight hair was perceived as younger, healthier, and more attractive than wavy hair and darker shades (medium copper and brown) were perceived more positively than blonde hair.

Which parent determines hair type? ›

Both of your parents give you two pieces of genetic information, called alleles, that determine what your hair type will be. The two alleles from your biological father combine with two alleles from your biological mother, giving you four in all.

How do I know what hair texture I have? ›

You can help determine your hair texture by using a piece of thread. Compare that piece of thread to a strand of your hair. If the hair is thinner than the thread, then you are fine-textured. If both are equal, then it is medium, and if it has a bigger diameter than a thread, then it is considered coarse or thick hair.

What hair type grows fast? ›

Asian hair is also the fastest growing, at over half an inch per month. Caucasian hair can be stick straight, wavy, or curly. The follicles have a slight oval shape, making it quite dense with an average hair growth of just under half an inch a month.

What style makes hair grow fastest? ›

Protective hairstyles like flat twists, cornrows, and box braids can help promote hair growth and prevent breakage.

How do you style weak hair? ›

Dry the hair on a lower speed or heat setting. Replace styling tools by blow drying the hair. Create curls or waves with a diffuser (Try to minimize movement to the hair which will cause frizz). Dry the hair and put into plaits or use an Aurora band to create curls or waves.


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