Tips on how to identify hair types 3 and 4

Photo by Tamas Pap on Unsplash

When it comes to hair types, hair is broadly divided into four categories: straight (type 1), wavy (type 2), curly (type 3) and coily (type 4).

The hair’s shape is determined by the shape of the hair follicle itself, which can determine different shapes and sizes. Straight hair emerges from a round follicle, while wavy and curly hair emerges from oval or twisted oval follicles. The more oval the follicle, the more curly the hair. Follicles also play a role in the hair’s thickness (texture) – the thicker the strand of hair, the larger the follicle.

Thus, a person’s hair type is dependent on the shape of the hair follicle itself. Most people with textured hair have a combination of curl patterns, with some pieces wavier, other curlier, or kinkier. It’s sometimes easiest to determine your hair type when your hair is wet.

Once you’ve determined your hair type, you need to look at the sub-classifications of A – C, which are based on the diameter (or width) of your wave, curl or coil pattern. In essence, type A’s have a wider pattern size, type B’s medium and type C’s the smallest of the lot.

Hair types 3 and 4 are sometimes the trickiest to identify; type 3 curly hair ranges from loose curls to springs to corkscrew shapes. When type 3 hair is wet, the curls often look wavy, but take on a tighter swirl shape when they are air dried.

Type 3A

Type 3A curls are some of the easiest curls to manage. These are usually large, soft curls that roll down from the crown and are bouncy and soft to the touch.

Type 3B

Type 3B curls are more defined than 3A. Resembling springy ringlets or corkscrews, this hair type appears full and bouncy, but is vulnerable to frizz and breakage.

Type 3C

Type 3C curls resemble tight corkscrews. Strands are densely packed together, and this hair type is prone to plenty of natural volume. Type 3C curls are prone to frizz.

So how does type 3 differ from type 4? Type 4 (kinky or coily) curls can have a compact zig-zag pattern, or tightly-wound s-shaped curls. This hair type may be naturally dry and the curls are prone to shrinkage depending on the porosity of the hair .

Type 4A

Type 4A hair is dense and springy with distinctly-shaped s-patterned curls in tight rings.

Type 4B

Type 4B curls are dense and characterised by a tiny zig-zag pattern, which may be accompanied by compressed and s-shaped coils.

Type 4C

Similar to type 4B textures, type 4C coils are the most fragile of all curl patterns and have a very tight zig-zag shape. This hair type is most prone to breakage, dryness and shrinkage, therefore lots of moisture is needed.

The key to managing curls is to find a hair care regime that offers adequate moisturisation and nourishment, to ensure soft, hydrated and manageable curls. There are several ranges on the market, including the Perfect Hair Mango & Marula Hair Care Range, a proudly South African brand.