Afro hair

What are Curl Types and Charts?

Published By: Kennedy

Last Updated: November 10, 2021

People have all different types of hair, sometimes all on one head, which makes it more important to know what type of pattern the hair is.

Oprah Winfrey’s hair stylist Andre Walker, has been credited for making the basic curl type chart – which was mainly intended as a guideline for stylists. Though this chart may not be 100% accurate, it is certainly a helpful guide in knowing what your hair type is compared to others.

What are curly hair type charts?

Curly hair charts are a guideline of what type of curl your hair is. Knowing what kind of curl your hair makes is beneficial for knowing what products to use, what styles work best for your hair, and how to properly care for your hair. 

Hair types include : Type 1 which is straight, Type 2 which is wavy, Type 3 which is curly, and Type 4 which is coily. [1]

The hair type is the shape that the curl makes, but the letter specifications represent the width of the curls. The letters range from A-C with A being the widest size and C being the smallest size.

The curl type of the hair depends on the hair follicles. If the follicles are more circular in shape, then the hair grows out straighter. If the follicles are more oval shaped, the hair will grow out curlier. 

Many times, people with curly hair have more than one hair type. Someone, like myself, may have 4a type hair around the edges of their scalp, and type 4b hair going towards the center.  These different types of hair may kink, coil, or spiral.

Types of Curly hair

Type 1

Type 1 hair is straight hair. It has no natural curl to it, and can grow easier and faster than other hair types.

Straight hair can be very shiny and greasy, because the natural oils from the head can reach all the way down to the hair shaft. Due to the hair being more oily, it is necessary to wash the hair more often than you would with other hair types.

Some straight hair is very fine and cannot hold a curl very well. Other kinds of straight hair are thicker and denser, and are able to hold curls.

Type 2

Type 2 patterns are wavy. They are bendy strands that look like S- shaped curves. Wavy hair lays flatter on the scalp than curlier, and does not spiral or coil. 


Type 2A hair is the closest to being straight. It is fine textured, and has a slight wave to it – except at the roots, which are relatively straight.

Lightweight products work best for showcasing the volume of this hair type, because heavier products could weigh the hair down. 

Also, another way to get the most out of the volume of this hair is to cut it to achieve those fuller strands. [2]


2B patterns have a more prominent S- shape curve, and lie flatter at the crown. The waves are more beachy looking and do not stick up like curls do. 

This hair type is thicker than 2a and is prone to frizzing. The best products to use on this hair are moisturizing and lightweight products. 

This hair type has the potential to be very voluminous, given the right haircut and product usage. One example of a celebrity with 2b hair is Tori Kelly. 


The thickest and coarsest out of all the type 2 patterns is 2c. 2C waves are more prone to frizzing, and the S-shaped curls start at the roots. This hair type is also the most voluminous, looking closer to curls and even has the potential to curl.

 The best products for this hair type are heavier products like gel, depending on how fine the hair is. One example of a celebrity with Type 2c hair is Lili Reinhart.

Type 3

Type 3 hair is considered curly, whether they be loose curls are more springy. Type 3 curls have more volume and shape at the roots than type 2 hair, giving them the ability to stand up more. [3]


Type 3 curls are very prone to frizziness, especially when brushed out. 3a patterns are the widest type of curls, and when moisturized can curl in such a way that reflects a lot of light, making them very shiny. 

These curls are the closest to being wazy, so they require a bit more encouragement (like wrapping the hair around your finger or using a diffuser) to enhance its curling potential. The best products for this hair type would be lighter to heavier products like curl cream. 

One example of a celebrity with 3a hair is Zendaya. 


3b curls are springy ringlets that have the circumference of a sharpie marker. They have a lot of volume, and can get very dry if not moisturized. 

This kind of hair is usually dense and thick. One example of a celebrity with 3b hair is H.E.R. 


3C hair is the coarsest and thickest of all the curly textures. The strands are usually packed together, making for big curly strands. 

The more that this hair is moisturized the more definition it will have. It also has a tendency to upwards when it is dry. One example of a celebrity with 3c hair is Tracie Ellis Ross. 

Read: How to Take Care of 3c Hair

Type 4

Type 4 textured hair is composed of kinky and coily patterns, and is often referred to as Afro-textured hair. This is the densest and most voluminous type of hair.

The curls for this hair type are also more prone to shrinkage, which makes the hair look shorter than it actually is. 


4a hair coils have the circumference of crochet needles, and are springier than 3c curls.These curls are coarse, but finer than 4B or 4C curls. 

This can be quite frizzy because the hair is more separated and tends not to clump up as much as 3C curls. This hair benefits from products such as curl cream and leave-in conditioner. 

Some of my hair around the edges are 3b/4a. The curls are very defined even without product, and tend to look longer than my hair in the center of my head.

An example of a celebrity with 4a hair is Megan Thee Stallion.


4B hair is coarser than 4A hair, and tends to clump up more in their curls. The curls are also more kinky than coily, and have a high density. They tend to take on a Z-shape, growing out with sharp angles that are clumped together.

4b curls experience more shrinkage than 4A curls and benefit from heavier products such as gel and some creams. 

Most of my hair is 4B, and I generally use curl creams to define the curls while also trying to attain a softer and fluffier look. 4B hair is on the coarser side, so I like to keep it as moisturized as possible to keep it from looking brittle when it’s dry. [4]

One example of a celebrity with 4b hair is Willow Smith. 


4c hair is coarser than other hair types, and also has the most density. The curls are not as defined as other hair types and defy gravity by growing straight up. 

4c hair can grow in very tightly coiled patterns or zig-zag patterns similar to 4b hair types. 

4c hair tends to be drier so products that help moisturize the hair are curl creams and oils. 4C hair also encounters the most shrinkage.

Even though the hair is more subject to manipulation, it is also the most prone to damage – mostly from the elements. People need to be aware of how much heat and chemicals they are adding to type 4 hair – 4c especially – because it should be protected more than it is manipulated. 

When healthy and moisturized, 4c hair is rich in color, soft, and voluminous. One example of a celebrity with 4C hair is Lupita Nyong’o. 

What is the most common curl type?

Type 3 hair is probably the most common curl type. However, most people have several different curl types on their head. 

This can be difficult for some people when trying to style their hair, because not every part of the head responds to the same product. However, if you know which parts of your hair are what type, then the styling process is much easier. 

What is the most difficult hair type?

The most difficult hair types are usually the ones on the farthest sides of the spectrum. 

Type 2a hair can be difficult to work with because the hair just barely waves, so getting the texture right can take a bit more time. 

Type 4c hair can be difficult to style, because products are only just starting to become popular for very coily hair. It is also very thick and takes more effort to comb through.

All hair types can be difficult to style at first, because you have to experiment with different products until you find what works for you.

What is the rarest hair type?

Type 1A hair is extremely straight hair. Type 1 hair is not included in the curl type chart because it does not curl. The rarest hair type is Type 1A hair and is usually found in people with Asian descent. 

Type 1A hair is soft and shiny and the least prone to damage. However, it generally does not hold curls and is prone to looking very oily. 

The Final Word

Finding the right products could be a wild goose chase, but thankfully, knowing your hair type(s) could narrow down that search considerably. 

Though there are only 4 different hair types, everyone’s hair is close to either one and can help them in their healthy hair journey. 


I have always had a love for writing and have been blogging for about 3 years now. I have a passion for teaching what I have learned over the years, especially about hair. I have had almost every hairstyle - typical of a cosmetologist’s daughter- including the big chop in 2015. With all the knowledge I have gained, I feel it is my duty to help others on their healthy hair journey. I believe education can be fun, and I strive to make it fun to learn about beautiful black hair.

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