Types of curly hair

Did you know that when we say ‘curly’, we are actually generalizing 3 hair types? Curly is a loose term used to describe wavy, curly and coily hair. Knowing your curl pattern will help you to choose the right type of products and techniques for your hair.

An alphanumeric system is used to identify types of curly hair. 1,2,3,4 represent the degree of the number of turns formed by hair strands. Number 1 is straight (meaning there are almost no turns); 4 is extremely coily/kinky (meaning there are lots of turns within a strand). a, b, c determine the texture of the hair. The letter ‘a’ denotes a finer hair texture, ‘b’ is medium and ‘c’, thick. What makes curly hair curly (or straight hair straight).

Types 1a, 1b, 1c are straight hair so I am going to start from 2.

Here are the different types of curly hair – Come on, let’s figure out which type you are! After which, you can use it to find suitable products – Beginner Friendly Products – Curly Hair Starter Kit

Wavy hair

Type 2a: Fine Waves

drew barrymore 2a curly
Drew Barrymore

2a hair has slight waves towards the end of the hair. It can easily be straightened or curled.


Type 2b: Well defined waves

tyra banks 2b curly
Tyra Banks

2b hair has waves that retain their shape easily and don’t easy become straight like 2a.


Type 2c: Voluminous waves

Salma Hayek 2c curly
Salma Hayek

2c hair is the on the border of being called curly and is fairly coarse.


Curly hair

Type 3a: Loose curls

mariah carey 3a curly
Mariah Carey

3a hair has large sharp curly “S” shaped bends. It is loose and voluminous.


Type 3b: Tight curls

beyonce 3b curly
Beyonce Knowles

3b hair has a mix of spiral shaped hair to tight corkscrew shaped clumps. It is springy and bouncy.


Type 3c: Thick spiral curls

halle berry 3c curly
Halle Berry

3c hair has voluminous, tight screwy curls with hair strands densely packed.


Kinky/Coily hair

Type 4a: Tight curls/coils

yaya da costa 4a curly
Yaya Da Costa

4a hair is tightly curled and is the last group with a visible defined “S” like curl pattern


Type 4b: Thick tight coils

solange knowles 4b curly
Solange Knowles

4b hair has a “Z” type zig-zag pattern with almost no curl definition or pattern. The problem of shrinkage is large here.


Type 4c: Extremely tight coils

lupita nyongo 4c curly
Lupita Nyongo

4c hair is the tightest coil structure and has no curl definition. The Z pattern is so tight that it can cause kinky curls to shrink up to 75% of the hair’s actual length.

I am 2c/3a

Now that you have figured out your type, here is a post to help you take care of your curly hair- My curly hair routine .




  1. Detailed info Anjana … Actually my hair type is same as yours … 🙂 🙂

    Anjana .. waiting for the hair cut suggestion for curly hair … I’ve to attend a wedding in next two weeks .. Hope you will write it soon 🙂 Thanks in Advance 🙂

  2. Hi! I think mine is 3a on the inside, 3b on the outside. The outside appearnce bothers me a lot. It’s too bouncy and springy. too much volume too. I feel like it’s a big puff fluffy cotton candy.. what should I do with this type of hair? To make it look less thick? I want to attach a picture but unfortunately can’t. Thanks!

  3. Hello, m new to your blog. Inspired a lot by your daily routine for curly hair.
    M having mix of 3a 3b curls. And a lot lot of frizz. M confused which product to start with

    1. Hey Riddhi, if you have more than 1 curl type, you can try the product for the hairtype that is more pronounced.

  4. Hey anjana. I have 2a type. But I m not sure if it is fine or coarse. How do I conclude which type. Do suggest me a protein shampoo under 500 .

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