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curly hair types

Why is the curl in my hair?

The shape of the actual hair follicle determines the curly hair types, which can range from pin-straight to curly. According to Rolanda Wilkerson, Senior Scientific Communication Manager at Procter & Gamble, “Our hair follicles’ shape and how the hair emerges from the follicle are major contributors in the degree of the hair curl pattern, its shape, and ultimately what we refer to as texture.”

Similar to the hair fiber, the follicle can come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Round follicles produce straight hair, whereas oval and twisted oval follicles produce wavy and curly hair. The size of the follicle also affects hair thickness because thicker hair strands have larger growth zones.

That’s not all, though. Your hair’s chemical bonds also play a role in the pattern of your curls. According to Wilkerson, cysteine, an amino acid containing sulfur, is the main component of hair. The cysteine groups are dispersed in naturally straight hair so they cannot interact. Since they are closer and more likely to bond in wavy or curly hair, they increase the tension in the hair fiber and aid in curling.

What your curl pattern looks like

Scientists have tried to categorize curliness over the years by evaluating various aspects of the hair fiber. The L’Oréal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research conducted one of the most widely cited studies, classifying hair shapes into eight categories after examining 2,450 participants from 22 countries and five continents. The scientist developed a system for classifying hair types from 1-5 by measuring curl diameter, curl index (the ratio of the stretched length of the hair to its length at rest), and counting waves and twists in each participant’s hair. According to Wilkerson, “the higher the number, the curlier the hair and the tighter the coil.”

Why it’s important to know your curl type

While your curl pattern is typically fairly obvious just by looking in the mirror, Shai Amiel, a hairstylist who goes by The Curl Doctor on Instagram, says that listening to it makes a significant difference. Curl types serve as a useful guide when planning your routine. So if you have prominent curls, avoid wasting time with inadequate products and opt for potent curl creams. Alternatively, if you have small waves, you can concentrate on the things that won’t slow them down.

According to celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois, knowing your curly hair types also makes it easier to focus on buzzwords when you’re browsing the hair-care aisle because most products aren’t categorized by a numerical system. This makes it easier for everyone to determine their hair texture and how to enhance it, he claims. “From there, you can conduct any necessary research.”

The typical routine consists of a leave-in product and a curl definer, but Amiel and Francois concur that there are additional elements to enhancing your texture. Even though there has been some debate about it, the system developed by the curly community generally works well.

Type 3: Curly Hair

Type 1A

S-shaped curls form loose loops in the hair of type 1A. The circumference of the curls is slightly larger than the large end of a taper candle. One crucial styling point: Brushing this kind of hair can ruin the definition of the curls and result in a frizzy mane.

The Curl Whisperer, a Miami salon with a focus on hair types 3 and 4, was founded by master stylist Silvana Castillo, who also offers advice on hairstyles and products that emphasize natural curls. Her best piece of advice? Put the ponytail away.

It’s acceptable if you are en route to the gym or if it is necessary for your job, Castillo said. Curls, however, lose their shape when you pull your hair back into a ponytail. Additionally, you will begin to notice thinning and hair loss at your hairline if you consistently pull your hair back into a bun or ponytail.

Type 2B

The diameter of Type 2B curls is comparable to the width of a Sharpie marker’s barrel. Curls have a lot of volumes and sprout from the roots. These ringlets typically require moisture to maintain their distinctive spiral shape.

However, stay away from sulfates and silicone in your curling products. They may temporarily control frizz, but over time they can dry out hair and cause breakage.

Type 3C

These curls would perfectly coil around a drinking straw because they are tight and springy. Take a hands-on approach to maintain the definition in these corkscrew curls.

Use a leave-in conditioner and rake your fingertips through wet hair instead of combing, which can cause frizz and breakage. The American Academy of Dermatology advises against using a blow dryer when drying off.

Type 3: Wavy Hair

Type 1A

You would identify as 1A if your hair has a slight bend but still hangs fairly close to the head. With the right product, “this type of wave can be easily manipulated to straight or given more wave,” claims Lemonds. Many people with type 1A may not even be aware that they have wavy hair, she continues, as the slight bump is frequently weighed down. She advises using a curl amplifier or volumizing product to style your delicate curls and drying with a diffuser to maintain the wave. Here are a few of our favorites.

Type 2B

This curl pattern lays close to the head, much like 2A strands, but you’ll notice that the hair is consistently arranged in an S-shape. For a soft, touchable hold, Lemonds advises using lightweight products like Briogeo Curl Charisma Frizz Control Gel.

Type 3C

The S-shaped pattern is very noticeable and may start closer to the scalp in this hair type, which is the waviest in the group. The large waves may also show up as ringlets all over the top of the heads of women with 3C strands. Consider a product with a light hold and frizz protection for this curl pattern, such as Aveda’s Be Curly Curl Enhancer.

Type 3: Coily Hair

Type 1A

This curl pattern resembles a corkscrew, just like 3C, but it’s about the size of a chopstick. Consider a very tight coil. We advise using a high-hold gel like Oribe Curl Gloss that will lock in your curly hair types pattern without drying out strands because you should concentrate on hydrating and taming frizz.

Type 2B

Due to their tightness, 2B strands sometimes make it difficult to distinguish the curls. According to Lemonds, “they’re more zigzag and need a product to weigh down the curl to get more length.” Lemonds suggests using a shine spray because the curly hair types are so dense. The Drybar Sparkling Soda Shine Mist has a fantastic fragrance, adds a tonne of sheen, and tames flyaways.

Type 3C

The pattern is difficult to see because this curl is the tightest of all the curls. A white, gritted film could be left behind if you apply too much product or moisture to this coil. For this texture, we advise using As I Am Double Butter Rich Daily Moisturizer, a heavy styling cream packed with hydrating ingredients, and finishing with a shine spray or oil.

The conclusion

The pattern of your hair’s curls determines your hair type. Straight hair is of type 1. Wavy is the best way to describe type 3. Curly type 3 hair is coily type 3, and vice versa. On various areas of your head, you might have different curl patterns.

You’ll need to test out various products to find the ones that keep your curls healthy, bouncy, and defined. Your hair is more likely to need intense, frequent moisturizing to stay healthy the curlier and more porous it healthy.


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