Okay so this is going to be a trip on the curly hair controversial train. But I think its a journey worth taking, so buckle up! I’ll be showing you type 2 wavy hair, type 3 curly hair and type 4 coily hair. But also, why your curl type doesn’t matter when it comes to finding the best products that will work for your wavy and curly hair, and how to care for your curls. I’ve got type 3a curly hair, but I’ll be going through all the wavy, curly and coily hair types in this post.
Type 2 Wavy Hair
I figured I should probably explain what curl types are. Type 2 curls are wavy, swavy and loose, almost stretched out, tousled curls. Think of the hottest hair trend in recent years, boho waves, which everyone from celebs, models on the runway to the girl next door have all been trying to achieve! 2a – the most subtle curly hair pattern/type, a slight wave or kink to the hair. 2b is loose and bendy S-shaped strands but still more of a wave than a curl. 2c are more defined S-shaped curls which start from the root. It’s also worth saying, type 2 wavy hair is not failed curls!
Type 3 Curly Hair
Type 3 curly hair is springy, bouncy, defined curls and ringlets. 3a curly hair is more defined and less elongated than type 2 wavy hair, but rather a more compact, bouncy S-shape. 3b curls are more defined, bouncy spirals. 3c curly hair is tighter, corkscrew-like ringlets. My type 3a curly hair crush is Ayesha Malik, or @spisha on Instagram. Growing up and all through my teens I had healthy, type 3a curly hair. After years of heat and colour damage, I had type 2 wavy hair – barely! Now, after embracing my naturally curly hair, developing my Curl Maven Method, I’ve got my healthy type 3a curly hair back again!
Type 4 Coily Hair
Type 4 coily hair, commonly referred to as Afro-textured or kinky coily hair, are compact coils, ranging from tight S-shaped to Z-shaped curls. This curl pattern usually has lots of body and volume, and is very prone to tangles. Type 4a curls are like ringlets, but more compact and dense. 4b curls follow a Z-shaped pattern, which is less defined but very coiled. 4c curls are the tightest curl pattern. Curls rarely clump together without help, and shrinkage can be up to 50% of the natural length. I absolutely love Whitney White, or @naptural85 on Instagram. Her YouTube channel is amazing, not to mention her (updated) DIY flaxseed gel recipe!
Why Your Curl Type Doesn’t Matter
The first and biggest reason why your curl type doesn’t matter is because it can, and almost always will change. Buying products for your wavy or curly hair according to your curl pattern/type is like shopping for clothes according to your weight. Admittedly it’s not the best analogy, but it’s the best one I could come up with! We could go shopping for clothes together, both be a size 10 but our weight could be completely different.
You may start out with 2a or 2b waves, and after following the Curly Girl Method or my Curl Maven Method, your curl type could evolve to 3c ringlets! That’s why embarking on your curly hair journey is so exciting. Because it’s a journey, it’s a process. Wait until you see what my hair looked like before I started the Curl Maven Method, the picture’s at the end of the post!
Here’s another reason why it doesn’t matter, because you can have multiple curl types on one head of hair! My curly hair has a mix of all the type 2 waves and type 3 curls. Back in the day, before heat and colour damage, I still had multiple curl patterns in my hair! Curly hair is rarely ever just one curl pattern!
A lot of people have combination skin, most people have one breast larger than the other and one foot that’s bigger than the other. And don’t get me started on the brows! So the likelihood that all your curls are going to be the exact same type and pattern is pretty small. No matter where you are on your curly hair journey.
Here’s What Does Matter
Go with me on the clothes shopping analogy, because it’s all I’ve got. Just like we shop for clothes according to our size, we should learn how to shop for products and care for our curly hair according to our hair’s porosity. This is what really makes a difference when it comes to what products do and don’t work for my curly hair, and all the different curl types on my head. You can click here to read my ultimate guide to hair porosity, how to find out what your hair’s porosity is, and what products work best for each type of porosity too.
But this post is for anyone stressing over what curl type their hair is, especially for those starting out on their curly hair journey. It really doesn’t matter, it’s just a great way to measure your growth and progress. In ten months, I’ve gone from a solid 2a wave (see picture below) to a 3a curl (see picture above). Before I ruined it, my hair was a 3b – 3c, so I’m looking forward to getting to that point again, and appreciating every single one of those curls!
Here are my favourite curly girl products and where to find them – with discount codes and mostly worldwide shipping!
Check out these curly girl techniques which will enhance and encourage curl pattern and reduce frizz – great for all curly hair types!
And finally, here’s my ultimate guide to hair porosity – what really matters when it comes to finding what will and won’t work for your hair.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the tips, advice and product recommendations. Click here for more information on my Curl Clinics™. A completely bespoke curl consultation service tailored to suit you and your hair. Designed to help get your waves and curls back and achieve your healthy hair goals. Or book in here!
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Gratitude & Support
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Hi my name is Teresa, I’m on the curly girl,with nearly twelve months it going ok,still struggling with getting my products right as I am low porosity and protein sensitive,and suffer from product build up.it so good too no that someone in Ireland is doing curly hair advice would you be able to help me to get better at knowing the right products I watch YouTube bloggers,but there hair is different,and I get so confused with one person saying one thing and another saying differently,I am 3a curl I think,and I love my curls.thank you for taking time to read this
Hi Teresa, Product build up is a common problem for low porosity hair. It can be difficult listening to conflicting advice, but I have found that if I follow fellow curlies who have the same hair porosity type as me, I tend to get the same results they do. General hair health can have a big impact too though, someone’s healthy hair is going to respond better to things than unhealthy hair. Do you want to use the contact form on my contact page to send me a message and I’ll reply to your concerns that way? Gabriella xoxo
I have just begun my curly girl journey and I’m struggling to figure out the best products for styling. I think I have low porosity hair, it’s relatively fine but LOADS of it and lots of frizz. I also get flat roots. Should I apply a mousse to the roots? And then a leave in conditioner and get from mid lefty downwards? Should I apply on sopping wet or damp hair? ( my hair takes ages to dry )
I’d really appreciate your help and advice. 🙂
Few typos in my message, it should have read -mousse at the roots and then leave in conditioner and GEL from mid-lengths dowards.
Casey Threatte says
Help! I have been addicted to high heat tools for years. I’ve got at least 5 different tools in the bathroom right now. Lucky for me, I just clicked on some links as I was researching B b Curl products and found Curly Girl. Am I ready? YES!
From what I can tell at this point I have 2A hair, high porosity, fine, but thick hair. It has always had an inconsistent ‘wave’ action going. More wavy in the front, with the back strands going flat with a wave underneath.
What products do you recommend?
Figure I need a co wash, a leave in conditioner?, and a gel/cream?
It would be SO nice to stop spending 40 minutes on my hair because I’m not getting any younger (62!) How much more of my life do I want to waste ;o).
Just as an FYI, I live in Richmond, VA and summers are high humidity and heat.
Hi Casey, that’s amazing that you’re ready to start your journey to healthy curls! And you’ve already got so much key information about your own hair which is always a great start. So the back strands that are flat, is probably due to how you are washing your hair in the shower. Check out this post for more info on that, https://curlmaven.ie/how-to-beat-halo-frizz/ As for products, you’re on the right track. Check out this post on how to build a curly girl hair routine and some product recommendations, https://curlmaven.ie/how-to-build-a-curly-girl-hair-routine/ Hope that helps!
Hi, I’m new here at your blog in this is the first post of you that I’m reading and I like the way you are writing+your hair is stunning!!! if Eyesha is your crush you literally made your dream come true because your hair is as amazing as her! like you I have multiple types of curls and most of them are 3a, 3b coils, and then I have a specific area in my head which is 2b/2c waves… and some rarely times I can see a big 3c curl (something between 3b-3c..) the thing with my hair is that my roots aren’t curly at all and not even wavy…my hair starts to curl from under the brows…but from my eyebrows and up my roots are completely straight and falling downs…do you think that it’s something that I can do to change it or it just might be ny natural hair? also my scalp is VERY prone to buildup…I am using the cg method for less or more a year… so yesterday I decided that I want to try not to use styling products AT ALL and see what happens…abviously my hair is a lot frizzier only with water..( I mean I’m now using only water to refresh..) so yeah…do you think there might be a connection between the buildup thing and my straight roots?
Hi Yam, thank you so much for your kind, sweet words! And yes, even Ayesha herself says we’ve got the same hair – which is so amazing coming from your ultimate curl crush! Okay, so everyone has different curl patterns and types in their hair – it’s very common so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Sometimes however, it can be due to how you are washing your hair. If, for example, you’re washing it stood up in the shower with high pressure and high heat beating down on the crown of your head, it’s going to make that area drier, frizzier and it will pull the curl pattern and straighten it out. So try washing your hair upside down instead, turn the pressure and the temperature down. I’ve got a great post called How I Get Root Volume in my Curly Hair which is full of more tips and tricks like that. But, in saying that, it may just be how your hair curls. @marisacurls on Instagram has amazing curls, but rather straight at the roots and similar to what you’re describing. It’s about embracing YOUR natural curls. Personally, I can’t go without styling products, I just get big, poofy, frizzy hair. But see how it works for you. Hope that helps lovey xoxo
You may not see this because this is an older post. I was lead here on my research of rice water. I am a “curly girl” with 3c/4a afro hair…and I have to let you know that I totally agree with this! Now…I wouldnt go putting shea butter in 2a high porosity hair because that heavy a butter isnt needed for hair whose natural oils can travel down the hair more easily than my hair…which requires butters many times a week…but…porosity trumps curl type. When I was a “straight natural” my hair was very long but damaged because of heat and it had a 2c/3a curl. The reason my hair was able to grow long was because I was very consistent with my protein treatments and applying oil to my hair daily. I have struggled with curly hair, growing it long…and it was because I forgot about porosity…the need for protein treatments WITH butters throughout the week. I did rice water randomly on a wim and hair felt amazing, I did more research (which lead me here) and I realized I forgot the success of my straight hair was understanding the building blocks not focusing on the styling of the curl. Now I rice my hair with rice water (boil it…let it cool…..cut it with water or aloe juice…spray in my hair…let it sit for 20-30 min with oil on top and then apply heat) then wash as normal…any left over I may spray on my roots because I deep condition) and its done wonders for my hair. I also spray my scalp mid-week because as a black woman I only wash my hair once every week or two weeks and it keeps my scalp healthy and free from build up. I know you that you know what ur talking about…but as someone with a TOTALLY different hair texture than you…I just wanted to reinforce the importance of what you are saying, understanding porosity and keeping that as a focus in your hair health is a game changer. THANK YOU.
YES Michelle!! Thank you so so much for that affirmation! I absolutely agree that porosity trumps curl type! And so does products used, I just wrote a post about glycerin and humectants and how I now think that’s just as important if not moreso than porosity when it comes to choosing products for your hair – and climate/weather. As for the rice water, have you tried my modified rice water treatment method? I’ll link it here for you just in case. https://curlmaven.ie/my-rice-water-rinse-routine-results/ Thanks again for your lovely comment, it’s given me a great start to the day! Gabriella xoxo
Help!! I don’t know what to do with my hair. I have mostly waves with some defined curls more towards the bottom half of my hair but the top half is straight. Any curly hair products i use dont define my curls, the next day my hair is a frizzy mess. and the products leave the top half of my head with my straight hair stiff. I think I have low porosity hair but Im not sure. I want healthy curls, i dont know what to do.
I don’t know if you’ll see this reply, but I have similar hair except mine is curlier at the top and front sections and frizzy straight underneath. I’ve found that finger curling the straighter sections helps to support them whilst you dry you’re hair so that they can form without frizzing so much. It makes mine curlier, for the naturaly curlier sections, I suggest denman brushing because it will make is curlier than if you finger curl them. At least, this is what work for me, hope it helps!
Raechel S says
I have FINE low porosity hair. Think 5 yr old child FINE (not baby thank goodness). So in that way a lot of things do not work on my hair. So I am kinda confused by what you are saying.
In this post, I’m saying your curl type has no bearing whatsoever on what kind of products or techniques will or won’t work, or you should or shouldn’t do on your hair. It’s like saying your height has an effect on what skincare products you use. For you, having fine hair is more important in how you look after, cleanse, condition and style your hair than what curl pattern type you have. Does that make sense? People get so caught up on what curl type they have, and based on their curl type what products should they buy, or will “x” technique work, and this post is to show people that curl type has no importance or bearing on stuff like that. Hope that helps xoxo
J. Haub says
You say, “I’ve gone from a solid 2a wave (see picture below) to a 3a curl (see picture above). Before I ruined it, my hair was a 3b – 3c, so I’m looking forward to getting to that point again.” What did you do to “ruin” it? Sometimes what-not-to-dos are just as helpful! Thanks!
Hi, I detail how I ruined my hair in other posts but I “ruined” my curls in just a few years from straightening it using a variety of high heat tools, and continuous balayage and colouring and lightening and highlighting my hair. Using products that contained sulfates, silicones and harsh drying alcohols all contributed too. Hope that helps.
Hi, I’m Maggie, I am new to this curly hair method thing. My hair started curling 2 years ago and I didn’t realize it was curly until last year. I was wondering what you would do for hair washing if you swim in a chlorine pool two to three different times a day. I know your not supposed to shower every day but my hair gets gross if I don’t wash it after every swim.
Hi Maggie, if I’m reading that correctly and you swim in a chlorine pool 2-3 times a day, I recommend you read my post on clarifying, I’ll link it here for you: https://curlmaven.ie/why-when-you-should-clarify-your-hair/ and use a chelating shampoo such as the ones I mention in that post, once a week. Followed by a deep condition using a heat cap (I sell them on Etsy) and use plenty of conditioner when you wash your hair. You could also wet your hair and apply conditioner to your hair and leave it in before you go in the water, and wear a rubber/plastic swim cap to keep as much chlorinated water out of your hair as possible. Hope that helps x
This post helped me big time. I only figured out I have wavy hair two years ago at age 38 and went to a CG type routine but always had heavy/flat hair to accompany the wave. Also, no way that I could go 2 days in a row without styling; I always had to wet my hair, add product and air dry. I have 2B hair but didn’t think anything about porosity.
About a month ago I figured out that I have low porosity hair and switching products as well as deep conditioning has made a big difference: no frizz, no residual weight. Also, gel! I didn’t realize how important gel was. I bought a satin pillow case, pineapple my hair and can go 2 days without doing anything and keeping my waves. I’m so happy.
I bought expensive shampoo for low porosity but cheap conditioner and gel. If you have any recommendations for low porosity shampoo or low porosity cleansing conditioner, I’d love them. Thanks for this helpful post.
Hi Sarah, I’m so glad you found the post helpful. Yes, clarifying and deep conditioning are two huge game changers when it comes to looking after curly hair. I have lots of product recommendations on my blog of favourite products and how to build a curly girl routine if you want to check those posts out.
Finally someone I ca understand. Very new to the curly girl method, as in am on my first week. I was not born with curly hair but it changed when I hit puberty and I ended up with a frizz ball of a head as no one knew what to do, until eventually I hit uni and learnt a bit better to not brush unless conditioning, air dry and use curling products. Then I thought I was losing my girls during pregnancy but they have recently come back just not in the way I thought I’ve gone from ringlets type 3 to type 2. A friend recommended curly girl method but I was struggling to make sense of it all. From reading this I’ve realised a lot of it I actually used to do but I would wash everyday as my curls on day 2 were just frizz so I guess I just need to check my products and poss do some plopping.
I disagree on what you stated in this article i do not believe your hair actually changes on its own its like saying if you was born dark skin one day you get light skin thats not how things go you are given what you are given. And hair types 100% matters what i use on my 3b 3c 4a hair a girl with 2c hair or 4c hair can not use.
That’s okay, you don’t have to agree with what I’ve said. I’m speaking about what I know to be true and have seen with myself, my kids, family and friends. Curl patterns, textures and porosity can all change. Nothing is forever, our skin changes, as does our hair. Things like puberty and pregnancy, chemo therapy, childhood, lots of things can alter and change our hair.
Curls often change with hormones .. my hair was much curlier after I had children.. and 3/4 of my hair is ringlets and the top bit is wavy lol – I have combo hair
Have to disagree- curl type actually DOES make a difference for both styling and hair care. 4c women will tell you our hair behaves VERY differently from type 2, 3 and even 4a/b hair. Yes, over time, as we learn what works for our hair regarding porosity, thickness, density, etc. we learn to manage it as well, BUT we first have to realize many things that work for looser curls will not work for us. Many of us spent years treating our hair like 3c hair and quickly realizing that isn’t going to cut it. Many products that 3c girls rave over simply don’t even touch my hair (regardless of density and porosity) whereas the products that are a God send for me and numerous other 4c’s are far too heavy for them.
Nicole Williams says
I have to agree with you. You have to take porosity,curl pattern and texture into account. You can also have different curl patterns. But I dont think you will see a 2 go to a 4 any time soon without doing an extreme straw set, like i have seen some asians do.
Thank you for sharing all of the information you do, I’ve learned so much. I try to only use low toxicity products but have a very hard time finding them for curly hair. Do you know of any low toxicity products specifically for curly hair? Do you know the reason it is so hard to find products for curls that are non-toxic?
It depends what you determine toxic? Innersense Organic Beauty and Boucleme are the two cleanest brands I’ve come across which are CG friendly.
Again, I’ve been loving your posts and following you on IG now. You are so funny! 😛 Anyway, I have two questions:
1. If my hair is 2B/2C-ish on the top layer, but spiral ringlets on the bottom, should I treat them differently? Like the top part is a little more porous and needs more protein, so should I section it and do different methods with them?
2. I feel like my hair has never curled from the root. Even when I started transitioning 2 years ago and then DC f’ed up my hair, I’m wondering if maybe my hair just doesn’t begin it’s curl until the mid-shaft and down. I have fine/medium, low-ish porosity hair, and low density. I’ve been using a mousse on the roots and I love it for volume. But is there a way I can begin training the hair to curl from the root?
Thank you so much for your time! <3
Hi Toni, thank you so much! If your hair is a looser curl pattern on top than underneath, it may be due to how you’re washing it in the shower. I suggest reading this post, https://curlmaven.ie/how-to-beat-halo-frizz/ and do everything up side down. As for your curl pattern to the roots, not everyone’s hair curls straight from the root, especially if you’ve got more 2 type waves. They often don’t form waves or curls until further down the hair. So don’t stress too much over it and just work with what you have x
Love this post! And yes mine is changing constantly. I started CG 2 months ago almost (a few more days), and it’s gone from mostly 2c to mostly 3b. Only 1 3a in there. LOL. I still have some 2c on top as that’s my most damaged but I had no clue my hair could look like this at all! Looking forward to my humid Virginia summer for once so my curls will be awesome. I’ve done what my porosity on my hair needs and that has made a world of difference.
Yesss. Sooo true!
I am surprised to hear so little Europeans have curly hair. My brother and sister are both half Irish. I am half Slavic/German descent and have stereotypical wavy but can be curly hair but my sister has extremely thick wavy hair and my brother has extremely kinky hair from their Irish side
Kalla Fudge says
Hi, My name is Kalla and I want to get started on the curly girl method, but I have no clue how to start. My hair is already curly, but at the same time it super frizzy. I love my curls, but I can barely wear them, bc they are so frizzy. Can you please give me some advice to get me started on the curly girl method and help this frizz.
I’m Ri. I have 2c to 3a low porosity curls, and I have absolutely no idea where to start with the CG method. My curls are frizzy and almost never do what I want them to do. I also want tighter curls. I only whip out the heat tools for special events, otherwise I am totally natural. I also have no set hair routine, and no idea what to use on my hair. Can you help?
Hi Ri, I have a tab called CG Basics, full of helpful, easy to understand information, tips and advice for curly girl newbies. I also offer 1:1 Curl Clinics, they’re a 30 min consultation via video where we go through all the products you’re using and the issues your experiencing. I then put together a routine and recommend products to suit your hair’s needs, your budget and any other requirements you have. If that’s something you’re interested in, please fill out this form, and I’ll get back to you via email with all of the details. http://www.curlycailin.ie/contact
The top layer of my hair is very different in texture than the under layers. The top is thin, frizzy, and porous- underneath is thick, smooth and less porous. Is that totally unusual? Because of this my hair is really hard to deal with, I try to use much less product on my top layer (which is difficult) but it ends up weighed down and dirty looking or dry and frizzy.
It is definitely normal to have different curl patterns etc on one head of hair. However, from what you’re describing, it sounds more like damage. If you wash your hair standing up in the shower, I recommend turning the temperature down, the pressure down and turning your head upside down too. All that heat, pressure and friction is damaging the top canopy layer of the hair and it needs time to heal.
This is most likely due to washing your hair standing up in the shower, with the temperature too hot, and the pressure too high. Hot water beating down on the top of your head, hair canopy and crown area will cause damage and all the things you described. I suggest you turn the temperature down, turn the pressure down and turn your head upside down. However, you will need to do this for at least 4-6 weeks to see any signs of improvement, but may take much longer.
Hey…… I just love curly hair and when I was child…my hairs were super curly but as I grew up it becomes wavy…nd now it’s like 2A,2B,2C curls…..and now I’m wanna to start the cg method….to acquire my natural hairs once again….as I’m a beginner to this method….I wanted full knowledge about this…and waana some details of the products to be used in a budget…. because I’m just starting…. suggest some more tips,do’s nd don’t s… Thanks btw of all the information you have given.
Hi Blair, there’s a tonne of information available on this site if you want to check it out. I’ve also got helpful videos on YouTube, and my Instagram. Alternatively, I offer 1:1 Curl Clinics, they’re a 30 min consultation via video where we go through all the products you’re using and the issues you’re experiencing. I then put together a routine and recommend products to suit your hair’s needs, your budget and any other requirements you have. If that’s something you’re interested in, click here: http://www.curlmaven.ie/services