Understanding The Basics of Curl Type and Texture: What It Says about Your Hair’s Needs

Curls Texture

Image Source: Bigstock Photo/Tiplyashin Anatoly

Image Source: Bigstock Photo/Tiplyashin Anatoly

What does your curl pattern say about your hair care needs? If your immediate answer is nothing,
this article might challenge you to re-think your stance. For as many naturalistas and curly queens, there are who believe in the curl type and texture rule book, there are just as many natural hair, and curly mavens alike do not like being confined to a box of hair type and texture rules. They feel it precludes them from partaking in certain products that may not be deemed “appropriate” for their curl pattern or texture.

It’s a reasonable frustration. Who wants to conform to some hard fast rule that keeps you from stepping outside of the proverbial box to enjoy a bit of hair care innovation that may deliver the same positive results to your hair? To the curly rebels reading these words –this article is not intended to be a rule book. It’s a guide to help curly girls to understand the texture better and curl types on their head.
Of course, you have the option to take from it what works best for your hair type and modify it to your formula for perfection.

Hair Width and Hair Types?

Hair types commonly fall into four categories: 1, 2, 3, 4. Curly girls tend to hover between two, three, and four.  Before we dive into hair type, let’s pause to examine hair width.

Hair Width

NaturallyCurly.com defines hair width as being the same as hair texture. The identify three widths as being fine, medium, or coarse hair.
Fine Hair is fragile hair and is relatively susceptible to damage or breakage if not correctly cared for consistently and gently. It has two layers that are known as the cuticle and a cortex.
If your curls are of a fine texture, be wary of using too many or heavy products. These products can weigh hair down or leave with a terrible, thin appearance that struggles to sustain a hairstyle. 
Medium Hair is thicker than fine hair and far easier to style. It is not as vulnerable to breakage and consists of a cortex, cuticle and occasionally a medulla.
Coarse Hair sometimes referred to as thick hair, is the crudest of the hair sub-textures. We use crude only to say that you may find yourself working a bit harder to manage this hair than others managing another hair type or texture. It has three layers –a cortex, cuticle, and medulla. It has a full appearance and holds hairstyles without much difficulty. If there is a con to this hair, it has to be that it tends to retain too much water after shampooing and conditioning process. It requires hours to upwards of a full day for this hair to air dry.  
One advantage of having thick hair is that it is typically able to withstand the application of heat –though many in the curly girl community might warn you to proceed with caution in using heat on those glorious curls, kinks, and coils. 
This hair is resilient, but with poor care practices, it can be just as vulnerable to damage as the other hair textures. Seek out products that promote detangling but will deliver a bit definition to those thick curls and allow for a bit of bounce.

Curly Hair Types

ow that you have that lesson in hair texture under your belt, it’s time to examine the three common curl types.

Type 2: Wavy Hair

Type 2 hair is the loosest of the curl types. It is the embodiment of waves. This hair may contain intermittent curls, but type two girls have waves that tend to capture an onlooker’s attention. This hair can have any of the three textures. Additionally, there can be a blend of the textures, but you will find that one is typically dominant.  Its s-shape or pattern enables it to lay a bit closer to your scalp than other hair types. 

Type 3: Coily Hair

Type 3 hair has a tighter curl pattern than our type 2 hair category. It is springy and respectfully has a well-defined s-shape or curl pattern. When observing someone with coily hair, you will find that her hair does not lay as close to the head as someone with type 2 hair. As with type 2 hair, it has three core hair texture types. The thicker this hair, the more challenging it can be to combat frizz, shrinkage, sustaining curl. Moisture retention can also be challenging as your natural oils are not able to travel the length of the shaft in the same way as those curly girls with type 2 hair or thinner texture.

Type 4: Kinky Hair

Type 4 hair belongs to the girls with kinky hair that is especially dense and often characterized by those tight s-shaped coils. Type 4 hair is tough to manage at times, mainly due to its penchant for becoming dry and overcome by frizz. Kinky-hair girls have to maintain an arsenal of moisture-rich products to ensure this hair is adequately hydrated. This hair is always thirsty, and thus, consistency is vital for curly hair success. 

Caring for Curly Hair

Still not convinced? Don’t worry; there are common best hair care practices that extend across each of the curl types. You want to use products that enhance your curl definition and keep frizz away. Stick with a consistent conditioning regimen to prevent dryness.

Next, beware of the woes that weather may bring to each of these curly hair types. Too much time in the sun can degrade the protein structure of your hair. Humidity can lead to poofy or frizzy hair if your hair is dehydrated and windy, cold days can rob your hair of moisture. Take steps to adjust your hair care regimen to accommodate these climate changes. Additionally, you want to avoid rubbing this hair during the drying process. Remember to pat hair dry. Steer clear hair brushes and keep a detangling or wide-tooth comb handy. Finally, don’t lose sight of your scalp care needs while tending to those curls.