Knowing whether you have straight hair is pretty simple, but it’s much harder to figure out your wavy or curly hair texture. Generally, hair texture is grouped into four different types:

Straight (Type 1)
Wavy (Type 2)
Curly (Type 3)
Kinky or Coily (Type 4).

Finding your hair texture may seem a little intimidating at first, but the classification system that ranges from 2A to 4C makes identifying your curl pattern a lot easier. The numbers (2, 3, and 4) refer to the curly family, while the letters (A, B, and C) refer to how tightly your curls are wound.

Finding your hair texture may seem a little intimidating at first, but the classification system that ranges from 2A to 4C makes identifying your curl pattern a lot easier. The numbers (2, 3, and 4) refer to the curly family, while the letters (A, B, and C) refer to how tightly your curls are wound.

no time to read?
ask the experts
Get personalized hair product recommendations hand-picked for you by our Master Stylists.
get recommendations

How To Identify Your Curl Type and Pattern

Scientists have made attempts to classify hair curliness by measuring different characteristics of the hair. A popular study by the L’Oreal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research divided hair shapes into eight different types by studying 2,449 samples from 22 countries in 5 continents.

They measured the ratio of the hair’s length while stretched to its length at rest (curl diameter and index), counted twists and waves in every participant’s hair, and assigned a number to each hair type, from 1 to 4. Essentially, the higher the number is, the curlier the hair is. Easy enough, right?

Curious about your curl type? Here’s a simple way to find out:

Wet your hair with water alone, then cut out a few strands. (You should wet your hair with only water to make sure that no product interferes with the curliness of your hair, making it more or less curly). Second, place the wet strands of hair on a flat surface, and leave them to air-dry and take their natural shape. You may notice different patterns in your hair, but this is a common occurrence since many curly-haired people have different curl patterns in their hair.

Next, compare it to the information below. We won’t be talking about Type 1 hair, since it is straight hair.The three types of curly hair; Types 1, 2, and 3 are subdivided into three types each. There are a total of nine categories. These are their characteristics:

Type 2 — Wavy Hair
Type 2 hair ranges from natural waves that are almost unnoticeable to almost curly hair. Wavy hair is usually straight when wet, then creases as it gets dry. It can’t form twists or wrap around itself the way curly hair can.

For healthy hair, ensure you use light products like milks and hair serums designed for curly hair, instead of heavy creams and oils that will weigh the strands down. A great fit is the SILK ‘N’ GLOW Anti-frizz serum. It is an ultra reparative hair serum that nourishes frizzy, unruly hair with a synergy of healing organic ingredients.

2A – Soft Wave
2A is closer to being straight than curly. It’s flat at the root but curves just a little bit towards the ends. This curl pattern is easily straightened with a blowout or straightener.
2C has tight and well-defined S-shaped waves. Many people with 2C hair also have a few curls.

Type 3 — Curls
Type 3 hair comprises curls in ringlets and spring shapes. The curls look like waves when the hair is wet, but they assume their natural corkscrew-like swirls as they get dry. The curl pattern starts from the roots, which lets the hair have more volume than Type 2.

Type 3 hair needs lots of moisture. Invest in oils, defining creams, and leave-in moisturizers. These products help to prevent frizz and dehydration. Styling gels and serums help your hair to get its curly definition back, so make sure to always have those on hand.

Type 3 hair types should avoid dry detergents and sulfates, opting for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners instead. Choose a hydrating leave in conditioner to help with detangling, frizz, and hydration. Oway No Rinse Moisture Conditioner is a great option. The rich leave-in moisturizing spray softens and detangles thick unruly hair with a nourishing blend of organic oils and botanicals. Most importantly it is non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free.

3A – Loose Curls
3A reacts to the weather easily. It can go from being shiny and moisturized to frizzy and unmanageable.

3B – Curly
The curls are tightening into ringlets with more bounce than 3A. 3B also gets dehydrated easily, so make sure to spray on moisturizing refreshers.

3C – Super Curly
The curls are quite tight and bouncy. They are prone to dehydration and breakage, so invest in products that will moisturize the hair.

Type 4 — Kinky and Coily
Type 4 is the tightest of all curl patterns. Type 4 hair tends to look like tight s-shaped coils or a tight zigzag pattern. It could even combine both shapes. Type 4 hair tends to shrink when it’s dry, so you might need to pay closer attention when it’s both wet and dry.

Type 4 is the most fragile of curl patterns, with the hair being prone to tangling, breakage, and shrinkage. It requires tons of moisture. You can apply creams and oils, both when it’s wet and dry. Make sure to invest in a conditioner made specifically for dry hair.

4A – Coily
They are more similar to 3C than 4B. 4A is quite springy and bouncy, with super-tight curls or coils. 4A hair also retains moisture better than 4B & C.

4B – Tight Zigzags
4B hair is in tight zigzag patterns instead of full-on coils. They tend to shrink a lot, so make sure to apply moisturizers, then add occlusives to keep the hair hydrated. An occlusive product has ingredients that are targeted at providing a protective seal over your hair and lock in hydration into your hair.

4C – Tight Coils
This is the most delicate curl pattern. It has a tight, undefined pattern, quite similar to 4B, except it is in coils instead of z’s. It’s prone to dehydration, shrinkage, and breakage so you should invest in moisturizing shampoos and conditioners.

If you want to relax really tight coily or kinky curls, try Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control. The curl control gives a smooth and sleek texture, hydrates and defines the curls and eliminates frizzy hair.

You can also choose to combine the Davines Love Curl Primer and Love Curl Controller as a duo. Combining the Curl Primer and Curl Controller gives your hair soft, elastic curls with an anti-frizz effect.

Your natural hair texture and pattern are beautiful and unique, regardless of whether you have Type 1A or Type 4C hair. Getting your hair to the best, healthiest version of itself just requires tons of moisturizing, patience, gentleness, consistency and the right products.

Take our FREE online Personalized Hair Care Quiz. Our experts will curate the perfect combination of products specifically tailored to your personal hair type, needs, and goals.

ingredient preferences
Shop "Free Of"

All North Authentic products are free of: Sulfates, parabens, EDTA, 1,4 Dioxian, and many more all provided in our Hair Crimes List. While we work with our brands to become even more conscious, we identify additional "Free Of" ingredients on every product page.

Shop "Free Of" ingredient preferences using our Filters. You can also take the North Authentic Hair Quiz to get your personalized hair care prescription of the best products for your hair curl type.