A Guide to Different Curl Types and How to Nurture Them

“Porosity is hereditary or caused by damage,” adds Jennie Roberts, celebrity hairstylist, textured hair educator, and a global senior hairstylist for Curlsmith. “Low porosity is when the hair appears waterproof, so more hydrating products are probably needed. If the hair is high porosity, it gets wet very easily and can be very limp with overhydration.”

Another element of hair health to consider is elasticity, which is “if and how strands stretch when tension is applied,” says François. Elasticity helps prevent breakage when hair is being manipulated. “Elasticity is genetic but can be affected by chemical or bad hair practices,” says Roberts. “If there’s not enough strength and elasticity, hair might break or not hold the natural curl or coily pattern, [thus] moisture is needed. [On the other hand], if your hair is stringy and mushy when wet, then it needs protein to build the broken bonds back to strengthen the curl pattern.”

The Different Curl Types

Wavy, Type 2A to 2C

“Type two hair generally tends to have a smooth cuticle and is a gentle S-shape bend,” explains Roberts. Within the A-C spectrum, it comes down to “how defined the wave is,” says François. “A is elongated and C more of an obvious S shape,” he adds. Since types 2s often require less hold, he recommends a volumizing mousse applied to freshly washed wet hair. “Let the waves air dry naturally while gently bouncing strands upwards with a flat palm of your hand,” he instructs. For optimal health, look to a sulfate-free cleanser and conditioner, and nourish the mid-lengths and ends of hair with a repair oil to keep hair “looking and feeling healthy and hydrated,” says François.

Curlsmith Wavy Wash Day Bundle

Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam

Sienna Naturals Dream Curl Cream

Vernon François Repair Oils

Curly, Type 3A to 3B

“Type three usually means curly hair, with A, B, and C describing how loose or intense the curls are,” says François. Within this shape, you will find different tensions of corkscrew curls, says Roberts, who suggests focusing on the cuticle texture to determine how much moisture or hold you need. “Sulfate-free shampoos are a must because the more intense the curls, the drier they may tend to be, and the ideal is to gently cleanse hair while keeping moisture where it’s needed—in the strands.” For light conditioning in between washes, look to a leave-in conditioner, and for non-sticky, soft, and flexible curls, a styling cream or lightweight gel will be your best choice.

Vernon François Curl Shampoo and Conditioner

Oribe Curl Control Silkening Cream

Living Proof Curl Enhancer

CurlSmith Weightless Air Dry Cream

Ceremonia Pequi Curl Activator

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating & Defining Mask

Coily, Type 4A to 4C

“Type four hair is super texturized, presenting as tight or looser zig zag or tight and looser coily/kinky shape,” explains Roberts. “The cuticle texture is very raised, hence the texture. It can be molded, sculpted and texturized in so many ways.” In terms of care, type four hair needs a lot of hydration, as it can become dry and break easily. “Slippery moisturizing products are great for this texture as they will help with the detangling process, which can be the biggest challenge on wash day,” says Roberts. For styling, a stronger hold product can “capture the curl” that’s been formed when wet to switch up the texture for a wash-and-go style.

Vernon François Pure Fro Shampoo and Conditioner

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Soufflé

Salwa Petersen Chébé du Tchad Hair Cream

Carol’s Daughter Coco Crème Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Hair Mask

As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner

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