natural hair curl chart

This post is for the natural who is trying to figure out what the heck influencers and product labels mean when they say: This is for hair type. . . insert number and letter here. They're essentially talking about the dreaded hair typing system created by Andre Walker, the Emmy Award hair stylist best known for doing Mother Oprah's hair. Over the years it has become a devise tool in the natural hair community because it categorizes and assigns a number and letter value to hair curl pattern and characteristics; ranking hair typically associated with the European persuasion as type 1 all the way down to afro hair as Type 4. Certainly pokes at the pain point in the great debate of "good hair".

Before you totally write off the chart, it is pertinent to be familiar with all the textures on your hair (yes, you can have multiple curl patterns on one head) and know your hairs characteristics as you grow in your hair journey. How you apply heat, products or process your hair is impacted by the natural texture of your hair, therefore, it’s useful for all to be better informed.

So, if you're interested in getting all the details of this hair type chart, keep reading!



A, B, C

Straight hair has no bend, wave or curl to it. It is flat and hangs straight down from the scalp. It is often very shiny. Some straight hair is easy to curl with heat appliances, while some is more resistant to curling. Typically fine and fragile and ranges from coarse to thin.




Type 2a is gently, slightly "s" waved hair that sticks close to the head; it won't bounce up, even when it is layered. 2a hair tends to be fine, thin and very easy to handle. It is also generally easily to straighten or curl. Type 2a hair tends to have quite a bit of sheen. Your best bet is to use lighter products such as mousses, lotions or gels that enhance the curls, but don't weigh them down.



With this hair type, the wave or curl forms throughout the hair in the shape of the letter "s". Type 2b hair sticks close to the head; it won't bounce up, even when it is layered. Type 2b hair often has a nice sheen. It has a bit more wave in it than Type 2a has. This hair type is a little resistant to styling, and it has a tendency to frizz. Use lighter products such as mousses or gels that enhance the curls, but don't weigh them down.



Type 2c is thicker, coarser wavy hair that is composed of a few more actual curls, as opposed to just waves. Type 2c hair tends to be more resistant to styling and will frizz easily. Type 2 wavies tend to use a lot of gel to style and manage frizz.




Type 3a curls show a definite loopy "S" pattern. Curls are well-defined and springy. Curls are naturally big, loose and often very shiny. 3a curls' circumference are sidewalk-chalk size. Generally, this hair type can be easily straightened. Type 3a hair is very much affected by the climate. Type 3 curlies can use a variety of styling products to achieve curl formation and definition.



People with Type 3b hair have well-defined, springy, copious curls that range from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews. 3b curls' circumference are Sharpie size. Type 3b hair can be straightened, but it’s definitely a chore. Type 3b hair generally isn’t particularly shiny and its texture can be quite coarse. Gels and creams work best to reduce frizz and add definition.



Type 3c hair has voluminous, tight curls in corkscrews, approximately the circumference of a pencil or straw. The curls can be either kinky, or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together. Getting this type of hair to blow dry straight is more challenging than for 3a or 3b, but it usually can be done. The very tight curls are usually fine in texture.




Type 4a is tightly coiled hair that has an "S" pattern. It has more moisture than 4b; it has a definite curl pattern. The circumference of the spirals is close to that of a crochet needle. The hair can be wiry or fine-textured. It is very fragile with lots of strands densely packed together. Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than other hair types, which means it has less natural protection from damage.



Type 4b has a "Z" pattern, less of a defined curl pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter "Z".  The hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled or bent and very, very fragile; you must take great care when working with it. Type 4 hair can range from fine/thin to wiry/coarse with lots and lots of strands densely packed together. Type 4b hair often shrinks up to 75% of the actual hair length.



Type 4c hair is composed of curl patterns that will almost never clump without doing a specific hair style. It can range from fine/thin/super soft to wiry/coarse with lots of densely packed strands.  This hair texture is very fragile and can feel wiry and coarse with many strands packed tightly together. 4c hair can shrink more than 75%.