Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Hair Type
What’s your hair type? It’s a question that can determine a lot about your daily styling routine, but isn’t exactly easy to guess if you don’t know what to look for. For example, does your hair fall flat with just the hint of humidity? Are you spending hours twisting your kinks into curls? There are 12 hair types in total, which all fall under one of four categories: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.
To discover your natural texture, wash your hair and examine it in the mirror without any styling products. If you still can’t decide which category you fall in, don’t worry – your head could have a mix of two or three textures. We know it can be confusing, so we’ve arranged this comprehensive guide from fine, superstraight ends to coarse, spiral curls (and every hair type in between). Plus we’ve added celebrity examples to each of the 12 categories so you can be totally sure.
Ahead, you’ll find product recommendations and styling tips for your specific hair type’s needs. It’s like the every person’s guide to getting their best hair day ever.
– Additional reporting by Danielle Jackson
Type 1: Straight Hair
Greasy, oily, limp, lifeless, frizzy, boring – all adjectives people often use to describe their straight hair. Still, there are many variations of this hair type – and plenty of upsides to boot. If you wash your hair every day and live and breathe for dry shampoo, it’s likely you fall into the straight-strand group.
Hair Type 1A
Baby-fine, straight hair is the epitome of the 1A category. These types don’t hold a curl well and can be difficult to style. Common complaints include oiliness and a limp look. Keep dry shampoo on hand for an afternoon reboot, and avoid thick conditioners that can weigh hair down, giving hair a greasy look.
Hair Type 1B
Straight hair isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. Type 1B hair tends to have fuller individual strands with a slight bend at the ends, but no real curl. To give this type volume and texture, use a dry texturizing spray at the roots before styling with a flatiron.
Celebrity examples: Kendall Jenner, Freida Pinto
Hair Type 1C
The 1C category is primarily straight with a few waves hiding in the underbrush. It’s superthick and particularly prone to frizz. This hair type can hold curls very well. However, to keep from looking like a fuzz ball after stepping outside, use a smoothing serum and the cool-shot setting on your blow dryer.
Celebrity examples: Rachel Bilson, Constance Wu
Product recommendations: Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray Anti-Frizz Treatment ($28), Babyliss Nano Titanium Straightening Iron ($160), Drybar Full Pint Medium Round Brush ($40).
Type 2: Wavy Hair
Some people consider people with natural waves to be the lucky ones. They have the happy medium between curls and straight hair, but still, it can be tough to get waves to behave. Without the right combination of products, the winding ends can fall flat.
Hair Type 2A
The 2A hair type can be classified as classic bed head. There’s the occasional bend in each strand. People with this type can either straighten their hair to get a sleek style or air-dry it and use a curling iron to add extra bend to bring out its natural wave.
Celebrity examples: Kate Hudson
Hair Type 2B
While some people get these relaxed waves using salt spray, others are born with the textured look. These waves look best when finger-styled with mousse and a diffuser. The secret is to keep your hands off as much as possible. The less you touch the hair, the more waves you’ll have in the end. Avoid the crunch by finishing your dry style with a few drops of hair oil.
Celebrity examples: Becky G, Kate Middleton
Hair Type 2C
Call to mind that perfect S-bend wave that you can achieve with a waving iron. Picture thicker waves with sporadic curls throughout the head. Just like curlier hair types, these waves benefit from moisture and finger-styling. Schedule your deep-conditioning treatment at least once a week, and embrace all that is big, bouncy hair.
Celebrity examples: Lorde, Priyanka Chopra
Type 3: Curly Hair
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the resurgence of curls. Numerous big beauty brands have been coming out with products geared toward ringlets and spirals. If you fall into the type-three group, we’ve got five words for you: put the blow dryer down.
Hair Type 3A
This curl type is largest in diameter and can also have a mix of wavy pieces. To get the maximum curl definition, use the scrunch method to style. Apply product to wet hair. Then, use a t-shirt or microfiber towel to squeeze curls while scrunching up toward the scalp. This texture is easy to straighten, but it’s also susceptible to heat damage.
Hair Type 3B
Type 3B curls are stretched-out spirals that cascade down toward the shoulders instead of growing out away from the roots. Light gels mixed with leave-in conditioners can create smooth curls that bounce without the sticky residue. It’s best to add stylers to this type while soaking wet, then let it air-dry.
Celebrity examples: Tinashe, Rihanna
Product recommendations: Pattern Beauty Leave In Conditioner ($28), SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie ($12)
Hair Type 3C
The curls of the 3C category are the thickest and most prone to frizz. The clearly defined corkscrew coils can range in size from a pencil to a small marker. To avoid crunchy curls, consider washing with a cleansing conditioner. This will cut down on flyaways and maintain shine.
Celebrity examples: Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi
Type 4: Coily Hair
Type-four hair is the kinkiest, coarsest, and driest of all the hair types. Because of the many twists and turns of this texture type, it is very hard to get moisture to the scalp and maintain shine. The hair also tends to shrink down, making it important to determine the actual length of the hair. Despite all this, there’s nothing more showstopping than an oversize Afro.
Hair Type 4A
The 4A texture is denoted by a head full of miniature curls. The diameter of each small ringlet can range from that of a pen coil to a pencil. However, the hair can shrink down to less than half its length when dry. The wash-and-go method works well on this hair type. However, keeping a blow dryer with a diffuser on hand will help stretch curls to their maximum capacity.
Celebrity examples: Issa Rae
Hair Type 4B
When wet, the Z-shaped kinks and S-shaped coils of 4B hair can be spotted. However, without the proper product regimen, frizz can quickly overcome any natural curl definition. Turn to light gels and styling butters to twist hair damp. Then, release the style for a more defined look.
Celebrity examples: Solange Knowles, Janelle Monáe
Product recommendations: Aunt Jackie’s Flaxseed Don’t Shrink Curling Gel ($8)
Hair Type 4C
When you think of 4C hair, flash back to the picked-out Afros that Pam Grier and Angela Davis rocked in the 1970s. There is no distinct curl pattern in this type, which makes it extrahard to detangle. This dense texture makes it very difficult to get any definition.
Celebrity examples: Lupita N’yongo
Product recommendations: Curls Creme Brule Whipped Curl Cream ($14), SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque ($14)