We know that decoding your curl type can be confusing. Several different textures can exist on one head alone, which all have to somehow look cohesive when you style your hair.
Created by hairstylist Andre Walker and modified by the curly community, this curl-coding system can help you to identify your curl pattern (or patterns), so you know where to start when it comes to hair styling and care.
Where To Start
Your curl type is determined by the shape of the follicle that your hair grows out of from your scalp. The flatter or more oval shaped the follicle, the curlier your hair; while the more circular the cross-section, the straighter your hair. Your curl pattern is also identified by the shape that the strands of hair make – whether they kink, curve, or wind around themselves into spirals.
Most curly girls have more than one type of pattern – kinky, coily, wavy and curly – on their head. For most people, identifying your dominant curl shape and pattern will give you a great starting point to how to style your hair and the best way to care for your curls.
In this system, 1s are straight, 2s are wavy, 3s are curly, and 4s are coily. The sub-classifications of A to C are based on the width or diameter of your wave, curl, or coil pattern. As have a wider pattern size, Bs medium, and Cs the smallest of the three.
Type 2 (Wavy)
Type 2 waves are bendable, can be fine to coarse, and have a definitive S pattern that lays closer to the head.
2As have a fine, barely-there tousled texture that’s very easy to straighten. People with this texture have to be wary of using heavy styling products that can easily weigh their hair down, rendering them limp and lifeless. The most common problem for 2A waves is a lack volume at the root. Using an airy, root-lifting mousse, like KEVIN.MURPHY Body Builder, will add a bit of oomph at the base and to make your hair look fuller.
2Bs are flatter at the crown with defined S-shaped waves starting from the mid-lengths. Strands are thicker in diameter than a 2A, and you’ll have to put in a bit of elbow grease into getting it straight. To enhance your natural surfer-babe waves, use KEVIN.MURPHY Hair Resort Spray for sexy texture that’s never crunchy or stiff.
2C waves are thick, coarse, and more susceptible to frizzing. The S-bends are well-defined and begin at the roots. Lorde is the perfect example of this hair type. Use a non-lathering, sulfate-free shampoo so as not to strip essential moisture from strands, like KEVIN.MURPHY Hydrate Me Wash & Rinse. After washing, applying a leave-in treatment like Eleven Miracle Hair Treatment will lock in your hair’s natural wave pattern while adding hydration.
Type 3 (Curly)
Type 3 curly hair can range from loose, buoyant loops to tight, springy corkscrews which have some sheen but are prone to frizz.
3A strands tend to be shiny with large, loose curls that are about the size of a piece of jumbo chalk. Scrunch KEVIN.MURPHY Killer Curls creme into towel dried hair to help emphasise the curl texture. But keep your hands (or brush or comb, for that matter) from touching your curls afterward, or you run the risk of frizz. To maintain those springs, simply spritz your hair with a curl refresher, like Eleven’s Smooth and Shine Anti Frizz serum when it needs a boost.
3Bs have coarse, springy ringlets with a circumference similar to a Sharpie marker. This hair texture can get dry, so look for products that add moisture. A weekly in-home moisture masque, like KEVIN.MURPHY’s Hydrate Me masque will also help you get curl definition without the frizz.
3C curls are tight corkscrews that range in circumference from a straw to a pencil. Strands are densely packed together, giving way to lots of natural volume. Frizziness can be an issue with this type, so use a sulfate-free, moisturising products to avoid drying out your hair. Applying your styling product when your hair is sopping wet will also allow your curls to clump together and dry faster.
Type 4 (Coily)
Coily hair, commonly referred to as Afro-textured or kinky hair, is naturally very dry and spongy in texture and can be soft and fine or coarse and wiry. Strands form very tight, small curls of zig-zags right from the scalp and are prone to major shrinkage.
4As have dense springy, S-patterned coils that are the circumference of a crochet needle. Styling should be done frequently to keep this coily texture looking beautiful, with soft, pliable strands. A curling cream with a leave-in moisturiser like KEVIN.MURPHY KIller Curls is a must for adding moisture and definition.
4B strands are densely packed and can bend in sharp angles like the letter Z. A serum, like Eleven’s Frizz Control Shaping cream will help to keep coils and kinks fresh and hydrated between washing, or as a style quick-pick-me-up during the day.
4C hair is similar to 4B texture, but the tightly coiled strands are more fragile and have a very tight zig-zag pattern that is sometimes indiscernible to the eye. This hair type experiences the greatest amount of shrinkage — about 75 percent or more — than the other textures. If you are a 4C, take your style cues from Lupita Nyong’o. Since shrinkage and dryness are major concerns for these tightly-coiled folks, use a liberal amount of leave-in moisturiser, like Eleven’s Miracle Hair Treatment to maximise the length of those strands. Treatment oils, like KEVIN.MURPHY’s Young Again, are also a great protector, hydrator and sealant for this very dry texture.