Afro hair

Black Hair Types

Published By: Dasia

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Everyone has a specific hair texture, have you ever wondered what yours is? These textures are categorized into different hair types that align together. 

Black hair types are often synonymous with afros. Although this is not always the case, those considered to have black hair generally have a tighter curl pattern and much more volume. 

Throughout this article we will breakdown the common hair types black individuals often have along with different aspects on how to care for this type of hair and what makes it the way it is.

What are the black hair types?

Although not every black individual falls into these categories, generally type 3 and type 4 hair accurately describe black hair. Type 3 and type 4 hair are the curliest you can get and require a lot of attention. 

Both types of hair are known to be dry and require lots of moisturization to reduce frizz. Due to their curly/coily texture they also require regular detangling. 

While extra care is required for this type of hair, it is actually the most versatile of all hair textures. It’s also quite common to have more than one type of texture in your hair resulting in a mixture.

These textures are known to be the kick starter of many trends due to the fact that they can be manipulated so easily. People with afro texture also tend to invest more time and money into their hair than any other ethnicity.

How do I identify my hair type?

Identifying the type of hair you have is actually relatively easy. In the 1990s a professional stylist, Andre Walker, pioneered a hair typing system. It allows you to easily find your curl pattern by breaking it down into 4 types.

  • Type 1 = Straight hair – has little to no shape and is difficult to hold curls or waves.
  • Type 2 = Wavy hair – starts to have some shape instead of falling flat like straight hair.
  • Type 3 = Curly hair – ranges from loose curls to corkscrew curls.
  • Type 4 = Kinky or Coily hair – tight coils and Z-angles coils that resemble zig-zags. 

These 4 types break down into further subcategories going from A to C.  A is the loosest and C is the curliest. Identifying your hair type is essential when learning how to properly care for and style your hair.

Ethnicity and Hair Profiles

There are 3 ethno-hair profiles. Different ethnic groups have hair that grows in a different way and surprisingly speed too. They each have their own common characteristics including color, texture, and structure. [1]

  • Asian – Usually quite straight and dark in color. Has a fast growth rate and low density. The hair follicle it grows out of has a round shape causing the hair to be straight.
  • Caucasian –  Has the biggest variety of hair texture that includes, straight, wavy, and  curly. Colors can vary from blonde to dark brown. High density and hair follicles are oval in shape resulting in more of a wave to the hair as opposed to the asian category.
  • African – Hair texture falls into curls and tight coils. Higher density than that of asian, but less than caucasian. Hair follicle is a flattened shape resulting in a curl pattern.

Popular Trends – The Natural Hair Community

In recent years, it has become extremely popular to become part of the natural hair community. What exactly does this mean?

This means embracing how your hair grows out of your scalp. This includes not applying any chemicals that would alter the texture like relaxers or perms.

Some people include heat and extensions to the list of altering your hair, but natural simply refers to chemicals that permanently alter your curl pattern.

Another popular trend is protective styles. This allows your natural hair to be tucked away free from as much manipulation. These styles include braids, wigs, most updos, and a variety of other styles.


As we have learned from the hair typing system, there are a variety of different curl patterns one may have. Due to this knowledge, many black individuals classify their hair as a certain type without doing much research.

The most common misconception people have is that their hair has no real hair texture or pattern and they don’t truly fit into a category. Thinking this way leads many to have the idea that their head is covered with dry and unmanageable hair.

The truth is with curly hair it’s super dry and often with the accurate amount of moisture you can see your true curl pattern. Both type 3 and 4 hair are some of the most versatile hair anyone can have and it holds styles the best! 

What is type 3 hair?

Ranges from light curls to tight coils. Oftentimes a mixture may be found in the hair. Generally a common hair type with people of mixed races.

  • 3A – Well defined loopy curls. A light product is usually all that’s needed to hold the definition of the curl. Start of a true curl.
  • 3B – A  denser, more spaced out version of 3A. This is the category where the hair starts to get more coarse and dense.
  • 3CA well defined corkscrew coil. Starting here and moving into type 4 hair is when stretching techniques come into play since shrinkage increases.

What is type 4 hair?

Ranges from spiral curls to kinky coils. Just like type 3 hair, a mixture may be found throughout the hair. 

  • 4AA clearly defined spiral pattern. It retains moisture fairly well, but is still classified as dry. Has a perfect natural curl  pattern for wash n’ goes.
  • 4B – Has a slightly fluffy appearance. Highly susceptible to breakage and dryness. Appears shorter than it is in its natural state.
  • 4CVery similar to a 4B texture but the strands have more of a zig-zag pattern. These coils shrink more  than  70% and without  a  product it’s  difficult to see the coils.

How to Care 

The type of  hair you have greatly affects how you should be caring for it.

Type 3

Combating frizz is a main priority with type 3 hair and it starts on wash day. 

It’s essential to wash your hair at least once a week and co-wash in between if needed. A sulfate free shampoo conditioner is always a good idea to retain the natural oils on the hair and scalp.

Detangle with either a wide tooth comb or your fingers while applying the product. Pay attention to how you apply your product, starting with a leave-in and moving on to a styling product like gel or mouse.

Once finished applying the product, leave your hair alone! Wait till it’s completely dry to finish styling to avoid unneeded frizz. 

Read: How to Take Care of 3C Hair

Type 4

Retaining moisture is the main priority with type 4 hair. This is achieved with the correct products.

Deep conditioners are recommended to use weekly, they allow for maximum influx of moisture. Leave-in conditioner is also needed daily to rehydrate the strands of hair keeping them soft.

Oils and creams are another good source of hydration. Oil is meant to seal in whatever was applied prior, so starting with a leave-in and moving to an oil locks in the moisture. Creams are heavier resulting in a subtle form of stretching the hair.

Setting your hair into a desired style is done either after or while the product is being applied. After your hair is fully dried you can manipulate the hair adding any final touches.

Read: How to Style 4c Hair

Common Issues Faced with Type 3 and Type 4 Hair

Over-cleansing your hair is a common problem. Both types of hair require lots of moisture and can often be under moisturized resulting in a frizz problem. Washing your hair too often can lead to the natural oils being stripped.

Other hair types often use a brush to detangle, this is not a good idea with curly hair. It causes a disruption to the curl pattern. This can lead to uneven curls and more frizz. 

Another common issue can be in preserving styles. Once your hair has been set into a certain style it is often molded that way until the next wash day. This can prove to be a problem if you  like to change your style frequently.

Tips and Tricks

  • Avoid tight hairstyles that excessively pull at the hairline. Your edges can get easily damaged making your hairline slightly start to recede. 
  • Be cautious with hair tools. Supplies like bobby pins and  hair ties can  easily get stuck in your curls. Ensure you are careful when removing to not unnecessarily pull on the hair.
  • Use a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to dry your hair. This causes less friction on the hair, saving it from unneeded friction.
  • Stay on top of trims. Trimming your hair can seem daunting because you don’t want it to get any shorter. Trimming just the ends  is essential to maintaining healthy hair.

What now?

We have learned that different ethnicities account for what type you are likely to have. Black individuals fall into the African hair profile giving them an idea on how their hair is characterized.

Having such versatile hair also accounts for the ability to change it frequently and try out many popular trends.

Although there are many misconceptions and issues that go along with this type of hair, It’s  possible  to work with. Caring for type 3 and 4 hair is work but your curls  will thank you for  the effort you put in.


A lover of all things beauty related whose been in the industry for about 5 years. While I'd love to say I'm a self-taught prodigy, I'm actually a licensed cosmetologist who has spent countless hours studying hair. I quickly learned sharing valuable information with like-minded individuals allows everyone to make the right choices when dealing with their hair. As a curly girl myself I love to experiment with different styles on a regular basis. While I do have a busy schedule between work, freelancing, and school; I always seem to find time for my hair.

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