In recent years, the natural hair movement has become increasingly popular, prompting women around the world to forego flat ironing and chemical treatments to straighten their hair, and to rather embrace the hair they were born with. And given that salons are closed right now, perhaps lockdown is the perfect time to allow your natural hair to grow out and flourish.
Now, be warned, while embracing your natural hair is a liberating experience, it can also be one that can bring a lot of confusion and frustration. Which is why knowing your curl type and how to best take care of your hair, can make all the difference to your hair journey.
What is a curl type?
Started by hairstylist, Andre Walker and later modified by people in the curl community, the curl type chart categorises the shape of your hair. The shape of the hair is determined by the shape of the hair follicle, the flatter the follicle the curlier the curl; the more circular the follicle, the straighter the hair. It also looks at the shape the strand makes when wet, this can be either, wavy, curly or coily.
This might seem complicated but once you nail the basics, looking after your natural hair becomes a lot more manageable. The hair experts at Inoar South Africa break down how to find your curl type and which products can bring out the best in them.
READ MORE: 8 DIY Hair Masks For Every Hair Type
Where to start
Starting with wet hair, take note of the shape of your hair at the root and along the strands.
Type 2s are wavy: Waves are bendable and have a definitive S pattern.
Type 3s are curly: These range from loose, bouncy loops to tight, springy corkscrews.
Type 4s are coily: The strands form very tight, small curls that are naturally dry, spongy in texture and prone to shrinkage.
Next, you need to look the width of the curl.
Once you’ve completed these steps, your curl type should fall into one of the following categories:
2A — A barely-there wave that’s easy to straighten
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2A curl types tend to be straighter at the root, wavy in the middle and drier at the ends. Because this curl type is easier to straighten but is still prone to dryness, it requires light moisture. Using products that are too heavy can easily weigh the curls down making the hair limp and lifeless. You should rather opt for products that have lightweight polymers and hydrolyzed proteins, such as Inoar’s Vegan Leave-in & Curl activator.
2B — The hair is straighter at the root with a defined S-shape along the strand
This curl type lies flatter against the head, with a defined S-shape wave from the middle of the strand. These strands are similar to 2A but they tend to be thicker so will require more effort to get straight. Enhance your natural beach waves with a sea salt spray and a lightweight curl activator.
2C —The S-shape starts at the root and continues along the strand
Thicker and more susceptible to frizzing, 2C hair starts wavy from the root and follows this pattern all along the strand. To not dry your hair out, use a co-wash like Earth Hair’s Strengthening and smooth co-wash and conditioning cream between shampoos and lock in moisture with a leave-in conditioner.
3A — Large, loose curls about the circumference of a Pritt stick
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These curls tend to be large and loose, so be sure to scrunch your hair upwards when drying, followed by a curling cream, and do not touch it once it’s dry or you’ll run the risk of having it become frizzy.
3B — Springy ringlets that are about the circumference of a marker.
This curl type can get dry easily so opt for styling products that attract moisture to the hair such as Inoar’s argan oil which will leave hair nourished without feeling oily.
3C — Small, tight corkscrews from root to tip.
You’ll never have a problem with volume with these curls. Given that these curls are tighter, the natural oils in the hair have a hard time making it from root to tip, making it prone to dryness and frizz. So the challenge here is ensuring that the hair has enough moisture without weighing it down and losing its shape. Help infuse your hair with oils by using a hair butter or oil like Plush Organics’ Hair Butter which contains 7 different kinds of oils to help keep hair well-nourished.
4A — Dense, springy S-shaped coils
Like all 4 type hair, 4A hair is prone to dryness but it’s able to retain more moisture than 4B and 4C. This curl type perfect for wash-and-go styles, so be sure to apply a liberal amount of styling gel (we recommend Aunt Jackie’s Ice Curls) to help the curls keep its shape.
4B — Z-shaped strands that are densely packed
Due to its Z-shaped strands, this curl type is prone to breakage and can shrink up to 70%. To help prevent this, try to do a deep condition at least once a week and use gentle shampoos.
4C — Tightly coiled strands that have a zig-zag pattern
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4C hair experiences more shrinkage more than the other hair texture — up to 75% more! Dryness and shrinkage will be the number one concern for this hair type, so be sure to use liberal amounts of product to lock in moisture. Also, try to include products (like a homemade flaxseed gel) that are high in proteins to help your curls stay bouncy and moisturised.
Natural Hair Influencers to follow
If you’re still in need of some more advice on how to maintain your natural hair and which products to use, check out these local natural hair Youtubers and Influencers.