WHAT IS MY CURL PATTERN?
Knowing your curl pattern is the first step to understanding how your hair works and why it behaves and responds to different products how it does. Figuring out what your curl pattern can take ages. I don't mean a few weeks, it can even take up to a year or more. Through trial and error is how I learned how my hair works and what pattern, structure, and porosity it is.
Your experience with your hair will allow you to understand some of the unique characteristics that define it and how it behaves. Within time, you'll have acquired information that will help you in making better product purchasing decisions and become more aware of the styling possibilities that works just for you.
We will walk you through the steps to finding out what your hair type is. Always remember one thing, you can also have more than 1-2 curl patterns. This means than your front hair could be 3c curls while your back hair is 4a curls. This is perfectly normal, it's still easy to figure out what works for both hair types and what products will give the best results.
Let's start from the beginning!
In the ’90s, Hairstylist, Andre Walker, who worked with Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry and many other women of colour, came up with a hair typing system. This system consisted of 9 hair types ranging from straight to super coily.
Walker theorised that your curl pattern describe the shape and size of your wave/curl which is determined by the shape of your hair follicle. Generally speaking, the flatter or more oval-shaped the follicle, the curlier your hair; the more circular the cross-section, the straighter your hair. Additionally, your hair pattern is identified by the shape that the strands of hair make: Do they kink, curve, or spiral?
Hair types are broken up into 4 main categories (1, 2, 3, and 4) and each group is further divided into three sub-categories. The numbers describe the shape of the hair and the letters describe the size (width or diameter) of the curls themselves.
How to determine your curl type
To determine your hair type, you need to identify the shape of your hair follicles and the hair strand itself.
By having a clear understanding of these 2, you will be able to easily identify your hair type.
The best way to do is to wash your hair, get rid of any products in your hair, and wait for it to naturally dry. Since you more than likely have more than one curl pattern and texture on your head, we recommend choosing the two pictures that look closest (ex: 3b/c)
According to hairstylist Vernon François, “strands that wind, kink, or curve around themselves into spirals determines your curl type. But for follicle, you will have to look at their shape -which is the more circular the cross-section, the straighter your hair, and the flatter or more oval-shaped the follicle, the curlier your hair.”
Francois also said that “you may have a combination of kinky, coily, wavy, and curly.” This means that most of us have more than one type of hair pattern on our heads, but only the people with textured hair. Furthermore, the sub-classification of hair types is based on the diameter or width of your coil, curl, or wave pattern. So, the sub-classifications according to pattern size are as follows -As are wider, Bs are medium, and Cs are thinnest/smallest.
Most curly haired people find that they have more than one curl pattern, curl patterns that may differ depending on where they are on your head. For example: You might have 2C hair at your temple and 3A hair at the back of your head. It may be a little harder finding products that work for both patterns but it's definitely exciting and fun to have.
THE 4 HAIR TYPES
TYPE 1 - STRAIGHT HAIR
Type 1 hair is known to be perfectly straight with absolutely no signs of curls or waves. This type tends to be extremely soft and fine hair which means your hair is silky and shiny but can also become quite oily and dirty very fast. It also lacks volume and lays flat on your head. Depending on which sub-category your curls fall under, the volume level increasing with each sub-category but will never be as big as the other hair types.
Type 1A is the thinnest, flattest, and smoothest type — most ladies with this type like using bobby-pin or an elastic to hold their hair down. Characteristics: Flat, fine and silky.
Type 1B is thick and has volume near the roots. It is fuller and thicker than type 1A hair.This type is still straight, silky, but a bit thinner than 1a. What brings the visible difference, though, is a few coarser strands and some bends.
Type 1C is the coarser and thicker of the straight hair types. This means it is not as oily as type 1A, and thus it is prone to puffiness, frizz, and dryness. It has impressive volume, however, it’s almost impossible to naturally curl. This type of hair is most common among Asian women.
Now let's focus on the CURL types
TYPE 2: WAVY HAIR
Type 2 texture tends range between wavy and straight. This S- shaped wave varies with which sub-category your curls fall under. Raging from subcategory a-c, type 2 curls can either be a slightly straight with loose S shaped wave bumps or a clearer and tighter S shaped wave. Type 2 texture is typically flatter at the root and lays close to the head, getting curlier from the ears down.
Type 2A hair has weak S shaped strands, curls towards the ends. It’s very easy to style, whether you want to use products to make it super wavy or super straight. It has a slightly messy texture but finer and flatter which makes it easy to blow out or straighten.
They are type 2B hair is way more visible and has prominent s- shapes strands. It can also be slightly frizzy. It is usually medium-thick and fine, making it easy to style.
Type 2C hair combines wavy and curly hair, it’s very frizzy and thick. It quickly curls up in humid environments, has tons of volume and generally thicker waves. 2C hair is a bridge between wavy and curls. This is because the hair still possesses the defined s-shape texture ( with more waves) but mixed with a few coarser and loose curl textures.
TYPE 3 - CURLY HAIR
Curly hair is classified as Type 3 hair type, and actual curl patterns or tight ringlets characterizes it. It may also feature S-shape strands that are somehow flat in some areas. They tend to be finer in appearance as well as lighter in weight. Type 3 hair ranges from very loose big looped curls to tighter small looped curls.
Type 3a hairs are finer curls that consist of large, loose curls with circumference of a sidewalk chalk. It can be easily blown out and are more reactive to certain elements. This means it can be easily affected by dryness, wind, and humidity. Furthermore, the 3a curls are mostly made up of a few waves and loose curls.
Unlike 3a, 3b curls are springier and tighter and with a circumference similar to a sharpie marker or your finger. It is prone to frizz and dryness.
Type 3C hair has an s shape curl pattern that is tighter than type 3B and with a circumference that ranges from pencil to straw. The prevalent natural volume seen in 3C is due to densely packed strands. Despite the stunning looks it portrays, it can be easily affected by frizz.
TYPE 4 - KINKY/COILY HAIR
Kinky or Coily hair is classified as Type 4 hair, and it’s also known as Afro-textured or kinky hair. It can be coarse and wiry OR soft and fine and have a sponge like texture that is naturally very dry. This dryness makes it the most fragile type. Type 4 strands form very tight, small curls right from the scalp and are prone to major shrinkage. It is most prone to dryness and needs a lot of moisture.
Hair type 4a has S-shaped coils with a circumference of a crochet needle. It has a springy, denser, and smallest coils that are often mixed with 3c curls. These coils can easily lose moisture and definition. This means you will need frequent wash-and-gos styling to keep your hair healthy and strong.
Type 4b hair coils to form z-shaped sharp-angled, and the strands are densely packed. Because of its tightness and density, it is prone to shrinkage. It can shrink up to 70% and you aren't able to tell its actual length without stretching it.
Type 4C texture is tightly coiled curly strands. Due to its little amount of cuticle layers, it demands a lot of moisture. This is'nt clear to the naked eye but when you put a strand and stretch it out, you'll see that it's rather curly but tight. Type 4C usually skrinks up to 75% or more so there's more to it than what meets the eye.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCES
YOUR HAIR TYPE
There is more to hair than texture alone. Yes, the texture is important in pointing out which type of hair you have, and if it is Type 4c, then you will never have a Type 2a or any other type regardless of styling or products you use. When it comes to the health and strength of your hair, other things matter—for example, hair porosity, strand size, and density of your hair.
Ever wondered why you have the same hair type with your friend, but no matter what you do, you can’t get to style your hair juts like hers? Yup! you guessed it, you might have the same hair texture and type but everything else differs. For example, porosity can dictate the type of product you will use, whether it is Type 3A or 4B.
Remember, when all these factors are taken into account, you will always be assured of healthier and stronger hair.