Illustration by Grace Perkins
Illustration by Grace Perkins

The resurgence of natural hair acceptance has taken the nation by storm, causing curiosity and envy among those who can’t achieve a natural curl. With the influx of popularity for the natural hair community, there seems to be confusion about what determines if someone’s hair is naturally curly and coily or not. Hair-typing was introduced to help natural-haired people, as well as straight-haired people determine their grade of hair. It is used to identify if one’s hair is curly or coily, how small or large the curls are and how much moisture each type of curl can hold. To be more inclusive, natural hair experts have included wavy hair in the universal system for hair types to educate the community about what is curly, coily or not, which some incorrect sources are still confused about, i.e. Buzzfeed.

Wavy

2A- The waves are barely noticeable and are found in the surfer-chic look. This type is usually found with fine hair types that lack volume. The hair types should use lighter hair products that won’t weigh hair down such as mousse or styling/smoothing lotions.

2B- This hair type is the beginning of the mixture of waves and loose curls. It has more volume than 2A but still is flat and falls to the side of the head. Also, it reacts more to humidity. Mousse, lotions and light gels work well with this hair type.

2C- This hair type is thicker as it strays from being wavy and encroaches on being full blown curly. It’s harder to style and easier to frizz. Styling gels, light moisturizers and leave in creams work best with this hair type.

 

Curly

3A- This hair type has big, loose curls but can still be straightened like type 2’s. They are also frizzy and need the help of gels and styling creams to create defined curls.

3B- This hair type is between medium ringlets and tight corkscrews that are the size of a permanent marker in width. This type also needs the help of gels and styling creams

3C- This hair type is very thick with tight corkscrew curls and needs thicker hair products to moisturize such as hair butters, oils and styling creams to reduce frizz. 3C curls are usually are very defined.

 

Coily/Kinky

4A- This hair type is where the coveted “fro” begins.These curls are tightly coiled and coarse but well-defined. Because it is so coarse, the hair is more fragile and susceptible to breaking and shedding. It works well with deep conditioners, thick hair butters and oil, as well as styling pomades, gels and creams.

4B- This hair type has a zig-zag curl that doesn’t clump to form thicker curls that are common in the 2 and 3 hair types. It needs tons of moisture to stay hydrated. This hair type is also known for shrinking to 3/4of its length, so don’t be fooled by shorter “fros”.

4C- This hair type is very similar to 4B in the way it ranges from fine strands to thick and coarse strands. It is best to used heavy hair puddings and creams to penetrate the hair cuticle for maximum moisture. Deep conditioning is a must for the 4 hair type in general to stay soft and supple.

 

For more information on this hair typing system, check out are Naturally Curly and Black Girl Long Hair.