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Curly hair types: everything you need to know

Are you a curly haired bella like me and are struggling to find a proper hair care routine and the correct products to style your curly hair? Let me let you in on a secret! To have those glossy dreamy curls, you first have to understand what exactly your curl type is.

curly-hair-types (1)

You see, curly hair isn't just a hair type, but a wide spectrum. Curl types are different and sometimes these different curl patterns co-exist together. This makes it very difficult to understand your curl type and further makes choosing the right styling techniques and products even more daunting.

However, fret not, today we bring to you the most scientific and thorough curl classification that you will ever need. Read along to know more! 

The most popular and scientifically accurate curly hair typing system is based on the ideas of Celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker, who styles Oprah’s hair. Curly hair can be broadly classified into three types: wavy, curly and coily: 

  • Wavy: Type 2 
  • Curly: Type 3 
  • Coily: Type 4

All different types of curls & Curly Hair Chart


To understand this better, let's take a look at the Curly Hair Chart.

The Curly Hair Chart is a simple tool developed by many prominent hairstylists after years of carefully studying curly hair. It is an extremely helpful tool that lets you understand different types of curls at the glance

  • As you can see, the chart features two axes with numbers and letters.
  • The numbers tell you the texture of your hair
  • The letters give the further classification of curl types. 

To put it in layman’s terms, type 1 is straight hair, type 2 is wavy hair, type 3 is curly hair and type 4 is coily hair. 

However, further classifications are made based on the width and type of your curl or wave. Hence A, B, and C are subclassifications with A having wider curls, C featuring tighter curls, and B lying somewhere in the middle

Pretty straightforward right? However, there are further subclassifications of the hair based on your hair diameter. These range from A to C with type A featuring the widest curls and the type C having the most compact curls.

First let's talk about curly hair! Curly hair can be classified as:

Type 3: Curly hair

red curly girl

Curly hair, of course needs no introduction. This type of hair can often look wavy or even straight (surprisingly!) when it is wet, however the curls form a swirling 3D pattern once dry. Each curl has a texture and pattern of its own, making it vital to understand your curl type. 

  • Type 3A: The soft curl

This type features wide bouncy curls that are easy to manage and style. The Type 3A curly hair is bouncy, shiny and soft to the touch. This type of hair is also low-maintenance

  • Type 3B: Curly goodness

Type 3B hair is the one that comes to mind when we think about   typical curly hair. The curls in this type are well defined and voluminous. However, this hair type can suffer from frizziness and should be taken care of meticulously. 

  • Type 3C: Extreme curls

Type 3C hair is defined by tight curls that are extremely taut and packed. Because of the texture of this hair type, it can be immensely difficult to brush and detangle. Hence, investing in a good detangling brush is sound advice. 

Type 4: Twisted hair

type 4 twisted hair

People often mistake twisted hair for curly hair, however these two hair types are nothing alike. This hair type comprises a tight zig-zag pattern or tightly-wound S shaped curls. Sometimes the hair can feature a beautiful combination of the two. 

  • Type 4A:  Coily hair

This hair is distinguished by cute S shaped strands that loop themselves into tight rings. The Type 4A hair can become extremely frizzy and hence use of lots of conditioning products is recommended. 

  • Type 4B: The Zig Zag party

This gorgeous curly hair type is extremely fun to look at and is defined by funky zig-zag patterns. This type of hair is versatile to style and is very strong

  • Type 4C: Tight coils

This curl type is defined by delicate coils that form a zig-zag pattern. The Type 4C hair is extremely fragile and requires extra hair-care. Choosing the right styling products is a must!

The amazing science behind the curl type rankings 

Now that we know that each curl is different and there is a meticulous system in place to rank and classify them, let's take a look at the science behind the rankings to get to the roots of understanding curly hair. How exactly do these rankings work and what parameters do they consider while classifying types of curls

Read along to know more. 

Your curl type is typically determined by the shape of your hair follicle. People with curly hair have oval hair follicles that give it its lovely curly texture. Further parameter that is considered while ranking your hair type is your curl type.

Identifying your exact curl type is the first step to finding the perfect hair care routine for you!
Read our guide "Discovering curl types and hair styles".


Wavy hair types and their ranking

wavy hair blonde girl

So, now let's talk about wavy hair types. If you are a wavy haired girl, looking to understand your hair better, look no further! 

As we have talked about earlier, understanding your hair type is vital when it comes to choosing the right hair care products and techniques. This is also true for wavy hair. Thus, take a look to know more about wavy hair types: 

  • Type 2: Wavy hair

Type 2 comprises naturally wavy hair that can range from barely there waves to loosely defined curls. This is the hair that comes to our mind when someone talks about beachy waves. This hair lies somewhere between straight and curly. 

  • Type 2A: The soft waves 

This type of hair is straight at the roots but wavy towards the ends. The Type 2A hair is extremely easy to style and maintain. Most of the time, just air drying will help you achieve the perfect waves. 

  • Type 2B: The Beachy Waves

Type 2B is what we often refer to as stereotypical beachy waves and we don’t need to elaborate on how stylish and in trend this hair is right now! This type of hair grows straight but forms loose curls at the crown. 

  • Type 2C: Defined waves

Type 2C hair is often mistaken for curly hair. However, it is just wavy hair with defined waves. This type of hair features small curls that grow in a S shape. 

Is my hair wavy or curly? The forever dilemma

Wavy hair can be defined as being somewhere in the middle of straight hair and curly hair. This type of hair is not totally straight, however, it isn't completely curly as well. Wavy hair often gets confused with curly hair but it is important to note that these are two completely different hair types. Since these hair types are so different (yet can look similar), they have their own unique hair care needs and require vastly different hair products for hair growth and nourishment. Hence, it is important to know if your hair is wavy or curly. Are you one of the gorgeous girls facing this dilemma? 

Here are some tips that will easily help you identify if your hair is wavy or curly.

1. The Pencil test

Damp your hair and slide down a single pencil from the crown to your roots. If it slides down with just a few bumps, your hair is wavy. However, if you detect a crunchy texture, you have curly hair. 

2. The Wet hair test

Water usually reveals the true texture of your hair. Thoroughly wash your hair and then inspect the texture. If it is curling into waves, then you are blessed with wavy hair. However, if your hair curls into ringlets, you are rocking curly hair.

3. The Curly girl method

The Curly girl method is the sure method to take care of your hair structure and help you determine their true texture. Start by cleansing and conditioning your hair. Then proceed to plop your hair in a towel and move on to styling. The final step is to dry your hair with a diffuser. Following this technique for a couple of weeks will reveal your true hair texture, with curly hair getting more curlier over time

Methods of curling hair

As we have talked about earlier, curly and wavy hair can have a life and texture of its own. This can often lead to your hair not looking as defined as you would like. However, fret not, there are many techniques that you can use to get glossy defined cascading curls

How to have curly hair of your dreams? Are you a curly haired beauty who is looking to achieve more defined and voluminous curls naturally? Here are some of our favorite techniques for achieving curly hair naturally.

  • Zigzag parting

The way you part your hair can make a huge difference. With wet hair, use a widetooth comb to part your hair on the opposite side from where you usually do it. Remember to give it a ‘zigzag shape’. Then proceed with the most correct blow-drying method for your type and, once dry, move the hair to the opposite side of the parting. It’s easier than it looks!

  • Try plopping

This viral curling technique is a favorite of many tik tok and Instagram influencers and is extremely minimal effort. Detangle your hair after washing and apply and wave spray. Proceed to gather your hair by flipping your head upside down on a microfiber towel. Allow it to dry for two hours and then release. You will be shocked by the results

  • Pineappling

Did you know that pineapple is the favourite fruit of curlies? If you worry about lack of volume, this technique will become your favorite! Upside down, gently gather your hair with your hands, bringing it all to the front and tie it up with a very soft rubber band. Upon awakening, untie the hair and, head down, shake it with your hands and enjoy the increase in volume of your hair!

  • Invest in a diffuser

A good quality diffuser is a must-have in the hair care kitty of any curly haired girl. It is basically a hair styling tool that dries your hair using controlled air. It reduces frizz and does not disrupt the natural curl pattern of your hair. It also helps boost the volume of your hair and aids in providing longevity for your hairstyle

A diffuser can work wonders if you want to enhance your curls. One of the best diffusers in the market right now (and our absolute favorites) are the Diffon Supreme by Bellissima Italia.

Looking for the best way to style your curls?
Find all the best tips and tricks in our guide "All the steps for a perfect curl styling routine".


Bellissima Diffon gently diffuses all different curl types

Bellissima Diffon

Elevate your hair game with Bellissima Diffon, the ultimate solution that combines all the goodness of a hair dryer and diffuser to give you the glossy, bouncy curls of your dreams. This revolutionary product, with its 700 W of power, its 2 speeds and 3 temperatures guarantees a very gentle air jet that is the secret to not aggressing the curl and respecting its natural shape

Unlike traditional dryers, Diffon Supreme promotes definition and elasticity in your waves. With its Supreme Curl flow technology, ceramic, and argan oil infusion, it fights frizz and dryness while keeping your curls and waves hydrated and shinier. Approved by Curly Girl method, Diffon Supreme is the game-changer you've been waiting for. Say goodbye to bad hair days and hello to effortlessly stunning waves and curls. Grab your very own Diffon Supreme today and experience the transformation overnight. 

Your curls will thank you!

Receive a special discount for your first purchase on Bellissima Italia


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