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Read about all the hair types below.


Kinky hair types (type 4 hair)

4a hair type4a hair has a defined curl pattern almost like a “s” shape. Generally speaking it retains moisture fairly well, but as with most curly hair types can still be prone to dryness. Being that this hair type has a naturally defined curl pattern wash n’ go styles may be a great option as it can be easily achieved with the right product and technique. Gentle sulfate free shampoos, conditioners and rich creamy products or butters will be helpful for keeping hair moisturized.

 
 
 
 

4b hair type4b hair has a “z” shape pattern and has a more fluffy cottony appearance. Due to the bends and curves in the hair strand it is highly susceptible to dryness and breakage. This hair type shrinks up to 70% so without stretching out the hair it will appear shorter than it actually is. Naturals with this hair type will benefit from protective (buns, twists, braids)  and low manipulation styles (roller sets, ponytail puffs, twist outs) to protect the hair from damage. A lot of moisture, gentle cleansers and frequent deep conditioning will be helpful for naturals with 4b hair.

 
 
 
 

4c hair type4c hair looks similar to 4b hair type only it is more tightly coiled. In its raw state (no products added and freshly washed) it does not have a defined curl pattern. Coils have to be defined by either twisting, braiding, or shingling through the strands. Many 4c naturals have shrinkage up to 70% or more. So while your hair may be 10 inches long it may appear like you only have 3 inches of hair if you do not stretch your hair out. It is the most fragile hair type, so if you desire to grow your hair long protective styles like twists, braids, or buns should be your go to style choice. These styles do not require daily manipulation (combing/brushing) giving hair less chances to break off.  You can then wear your hair out for a couple of days in a low manipulation style (puffs, roller sets, twist outs) and then repeat the cycle for a balanced routine.

Curly hair types (type 3 hair)

3a hair type3a hair has well defined loopy curls. It may be prone to frizz, so it is best to use light products that will give you a nice hold. To avoid dryness for daily cleansing of the hair try cleansing your hair with conditioner only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

3b hair type3b hair curls are well defined with less space between each bend and curve than 3a hair. The texture may be coarse and dense. To prevent buildup use light products and use cleansers that are sulfate free and silicone free.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3c hair type3c hair as a defined corkscrew shape and has the smallest space between the bends in the hair strand of all the type 3 hair types. Avoid heat use when possible by instead using stretching techniques: braids, twists or bunning your hair. Cleanse and deep condition once per week and moisturize often with light botanical gels free from harsh ingredients.

 
 
 
 

More than one hair type?

Curly-Hair-Type-ChartIt’s quite common for us to have more than one texture in our hair. Your edges may be 4b while the majority of your hair is 4a type. Or you may have 4a hair with some 3c strands for example. Remember no two heads of hair are alike. Hair type systems are good for learning about your hair or what could potentially be best for it, but they are by no means an absolute standard. Use it as guidance and always go by what you know works best for your hair.

Next we are going to talk about porosity. Knowing this will help you to understand how to keep your hair moisturized.

What’s In the Guide

#1 Why to Go Natural
#2 What You Should Know About Natural Hair
#3 How to go from Relaxed to Natural Hair
#4 Know Your Hair Type
#5 What’s Your Hair Porosity Type
#6 What Products Do I Need?
#7 How to Create a Natural Hair Regimen
#8 Natural Hair FAQ

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286 Comments

  1. actress says:

    Sweetheart, I have 40 years of EMBRACING it (long before natural was popular and probably long before you were a thought) so YOU calm down. When you make statements like “there’s no such thing” and “wash and go is not good for the hair” I chuckle. You DO NOT have to comb your hair out; it’s the comb (and the way you utilize it) that does more damage. Is that what they teach you in beauty schools these days, or are you picking up your random facts from perusing internet sites or from friends as uninformed as you? 40 years hun! So your attempt to be condescending and your efforts to try an school me… EPIC FAIL! Oh, wait! Did I mention “40 years” of experience, hair care, and scientific study in natural hair?? Just try to tell my healthy, long, natural hair that “wash and go’s” are bad and that it has to be combed out; It would laugh at you too. Study…scientifically! Learn for yourself by experience! And speak to others who have been doing this MUCH longer than the past 20 years! But for goodness sakes, until you do… DON’T go around proclaiming things like this to the public. It’s statements like these that keep our people confused! Evidently, that’s what happened to you… and I am NOT sorry.

    1. Benita Sanders says:

      I have been on my natural journey for 5 months and I do wash and goes daily and my 3c/4a hair loves it. I am of African descent. I totally agree with you in all you said. Its reading post and taking advice from the veterans that has my hair beautiful, and my journey is not full of road blocks. My journey has been like a research project at school, I have my notebook and pen and take notes. Most of all I listen, research, implement or archive until needed. Very well said.

      1. Benita Sanders says:

        Oh I forgot I haven’t used a comb or brush on my tresses in 3 months, and my curls are always pop’n, wash and goes or damp and goes. I don’t have to 2 strand twist either to have curls, my hair loves water.

      2. actress says:

        This is awesome! Keep learning! Keep challenging and pushing! That is truly what our Brothers and Sisters need to do to move further; not just in hair care… in everything! Do what is right for you and your hair. As long as you keep learning, listening and showing humility to those who have really “walked it out”, you position yourself for excellence!

  2. Calm down! Your true curl pattern remains no matter how much you comb it; it’s called nappy or kinky hair, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Embrace it. Now, unless you’re born with “naturally curly hair” the only other way to perpetrate curls is with chemicals and a curling iron or twists. Twists are too time consuming to do every night just to maintain that corkscrew look. Chemicals and heat are damaging, and a wash and go (which I believe you utilize), is not good for the hair because it has to be combed out…sorry.

    1. mhaven says:

      I had that misconception until I experimented with my own hair. Combing the hair as a whole will produce an afro effect…or nappy hair…as you call it: The curls become disorganized.

      Combs were not exactly designed for curly hair. Combs are meant to organize the strands of straight hair so they line up all in a row. The problem with that is, each curl doesn’t line up perfectly. The only way to use a comb on curly hair and maintain the curls is to comb curl by curl. It’s more efficient to use your fingers to de-tangle curl by curl than to use the comb.

      If you comb curl by curl, you have to comb gently, not snapping the hair like a slingshot when the comb reaches the end, and not combing through multiple times. Comb through only until no resistance is felt..one or two times.

      The point is that curly hair is different…REALLY different! It needs very special handling. What was designed for straight – or near straight – hair doesn’t work well on curly hair. THAT is what natural women need to come to terms with!

      If we mishandle our hair, we’ll get undesirable results and think that it’s just the way things are…though, I wouldn’t characterize an afro as undesirable; it’s one type of handling that produces a certain effect. If afro is what you’re going for, then comb away!

      If you want to keep your curls organized…then you have to handle carefully.

  3. These models look like their hair has been twisted, loosened, then styled. If those styles were completely combed out, it they would all have kinky (nappy) hair. There is no such thing as “4a, 4b, 4c” hair.

    1. actress says:

      What are you talking about? When I wash my hair and air dry (NO STYLING), it looks like the model 4b. If you comb it out, you will not be able to understand what your curl pattern truly looks like.

    2. mhaven says:

      I think when 3c to 4 hair curls are disorganized when they’re picked out as a whole…it’s as if you’re trying to create one giant curl on your whole head, which produces the afro effect. You can comb the curls individually without disorganizing them.

    3. danitannica says:

      hmmm…. the hair on my head would say otherwise, seeing as I have all three and then some

  4. Raven says:

    This was helpful thanks a lot.

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