Afro hair

How to Style 3c Hair

Published By: Kennedy

Last Updated: June 2, 2022

3c hair can be a little tricky when styling because it is so fine and prone to frizz. However, there are several styles that are easy and great for showcasing those curls.

What to Know About 3c Hair

3c hair is composed of defined curls that have the width of a pencil. The strands of this hair are tightly packed together- which gives the hair a lot of volume – and are also very fine.  

It borders kinky hair but is more defined than type 4 hair. 3c hair has S-shaped curls and is the tightest curl pattern of Type 3. The hair tends to be very dense and clumps together – making it fall downward because of its weight. 3c hair is prone to dryness and frizziness, so it is important for it to stay moisturized. 

Preparing 3c Hair for Styling

3c hair, like most curly hair, needs to be moisturized in order to look its best and maintain its strength. Not only does moisturizing the hair contribute to the health of the hair, but it also helps retain the natural oils that make the hair shiny. The way that 3c hair curls reflect light, and if the hair is dry, the hair will look dull. 

Deep conditioning is a great way to allow for the hair to really soak in the moisture and nutrients it needs. You should deep conditioning at least every 2 weeks. Also, to avoid the hair from becoming matted from continuously applying product to it, you can co-wash the hair instead of shampooing.

Shampooing strips the hair not only of dirt but also the beneficial oils and nutrients in the hair. This is why you want to stick to washing every 2 weeks, using a conditioner to co-wash in the times in-between.

 A leave-in conditioner will help keep the hair from frizzing throughout the day, but only use a small amount if you don’t want your curls to be weighed down. For people with thicker hair who may need more than a leave-in conditioner or curl cream, you should use a curling gel. 

The more natural the products are, the better the result. Remember, the best products may be a little more expensive – but the investment is worth having healthy and great-looking curls. 

Also read: How to Take Care of 3c Hair

How to Style

There are many styles that are great for 3c hair. Here are just a few that will complement your mane of curls.

Wash and Go Styles 

Sometimes there isn’t enough time to do something very complicated for your hair. These are a few styles that you can do after washing that will have your hair put together in no time. 

1. High Puff

A high puff will really accentuate the curliness of your hair by placing the hair on the top of your head. It is simply a ponytail that is combed upward to allow for the curls to fall over the top and sides of your head. 

This is a great style to do when you are on the go, and you can even pull out some hair by your ears to give it a little more pizzaz! 

2. Buns

Buns are a classic beauty that will compliant any outfit. There is no one way to do a bun, you can do a high bun, low buns, space buns, and so many more. What is very trendy right now is to do two buns on either side of your head. 

You can tie these loosely to show the curly texture more or do them tightly. Either way, these styles will look cute – and don’t forget to swoop your edges!

3. Headband

Wearing a headband is a very easy and pretty adornment for your hair. There are so many headbands out there, you will not have to worry about matching with your outfit. 

What is great about wearing a headband is that it keeps the hair out of your face, while also showcasing your length. However, you don’t just have to wear your hair down if you wear a headband, there are many different styles you can do with one. 

4. Layers

Sometimes a head of 3c hair can look plain if it is all one length. If you find yourself being pretty bored with the way your is hair is looking, then it might be time for you to do some cutting! 

By cutting, I don’t mean majorly chopping the hair off, I mean cutting the hair in a way that frames your face. Layering bangs in the front can really do a lot for the look of your hair, and it doesn’t even have to be a huge change! 

Sometimes wearing your hair out is all we want to do, so cutting the hair around your face will give it some more dimension and will also help add volume. You can even go a step further and cut your hair into layers all over the head.

Layers are so great for curly hair because they help the curls look bouncier and fluffier. I recommend going to a professional stylist to start with, and letting them see how the cut will suit your face and head the best. However, you can definitely cut the hair yourself.[1]

Protective Styles

Protective styles are essential for everyone with curly hair, and 3c hair is no exception. Protecting your hair is key to helping it grow and getting the most out of your curl pattern. Here are a few protective styles that work really well for 3c hair.

1. Senegalese Twists 

Senegalese twists are twists with added hair to them. The look of Senegalese twists is very similar to the look of 3c hair when it is twisted, so this style compliments the hair very well. 

In order to do Senegalese twists, you must first part the hair into sections like you would do for box braids, and then twist the hair using two strands as you twist in synthetic hair as well. The synthetic hair acts as a barrier between the natural hair and the environment, so the natural hair is well protected from heat, cold, etc.[2

Senegalese twists are also lighter than box braids, which helps to keep from pulling on the scalp too much. This is a beautiful style with a lot of length, and it lasts for weeks so you don’t have to touch the hair for a while. 

2. Bantu Knots

The Bantu knots style is a very chic style that is a great way to lock in moisture for your hair. Bantu knots require twisting sections of hair and wrapping them into little buns all over your head.

Using a moisturizer before doing the knots will help you get the most out of this style because the hair can sit in the product without it drying out right away. This style also tucks the ends of your hair away, which are the most delicate parts of your hair, and gives them a break from being exposed or manipulated.  

After you take the hair out of this style, your hair will be left feeling soft and moisturized. 

3. Cornrows

Cornrows are a classic style for afro-hair and really keep the hair in one place so it is not being flung around all the time. Cornrows can be done by just braiding your natural hair flat against the scalp, creating a sleek and timeless look. 

However, if you want to give this style something extra you can add in synthetic hair making the braids longer and bigger. This style can last for at least a week, and in that week your hair will be left alone to grow and thrive. 

Stylish Styles 

Outside of the times that you are wearing protective styles, there are some styles that are just plain cute! 

1. Headband Wig

For the times when you don’t really know what to do with your hair or want something completely different on the go, a headband wig is just the right fit. Headband wigs are wigs with a headband attached, they are super easy to apply and super comfortable. You can get any type of hair with this wig – curly, straight, body wave, you name it! You can also get any type of color with these wigs so this style could really bring some variety into your rotation. 

2. Braided Top Knot

Some styles look so artsy and creative, a braided top knot is one of them. It is literally just cornrowing in the front and pulling the rest of the hair into a bun. You could also pull the rest of the hair into a ponytail and let those curls pop out. The way you do your braids do not have to be straight back, they can be zig-zagged or any way you want to switch it up. This is a great style for 3c hair because it is like 2 styles in 1 and shows off the curls very well.

3. Highlights

It is always nice to bring some spice into your style by adding highlights. Highlights will bring more attention to your curls and make them look more defined. There are so many colors out there, so you will have plenty of ways to switch it up. There are even temporary color products, some of which even wash out. So if you are looking to enhance your hair in a new way, try adding a pop of color.  

How Do I Stop My 3c Hair from Frizzing?

3c hair is very prone to frizziness, but there are some things you can do to keep that frizz under control. One way to cut down on frizz is to keep from washing your hair every day. As stated earlier, if you shampoo your hair too much then your hair will become dry and brittle. Make sure that every product you use has some kind of moisturizing effect – including the shampoo and conditioner. 

Another way to cut down on frizz is to dry your hair with a microfiber towel. Cotton towels are very rough on the hair and highly absorbent. They can pull and dry out the hair too much, which will leave the hair frizzy and tangled. A microfiber towel is gentle and absorbent, so it will leave the hair dry without tugging it too much. 

Keeping from touching the hair and even air drying is the best way to leave the curls clearly defined. Though it takes longer for the hair to air dry, it will help keep those strands in place.  

How Do I Brush My 3c Hair?

You should only brush 3c hair while it is wet. If you try to brush and detangle the hair while it is dry, the frizziness will be out of control. The way you brush the hair can determine how defined your curls will be. 

A great brush to use on 3c hair is a Denman brush. After wetting and applying a curl cream to the hair, glide the Deman brush gently over the hair and you will see your curls come out super defined. This is a great way to brush your hair for curl definition and detangling. Another way to actually detangle the hair is to finger detangle.[3]

Finger detangling the hair while you are conditioning cuts out a lot of frizziness and breakage. It is simply running your fingers through your hair and gently separating any tangles and knots. This method takes less stress off your scalp and helps the new growth continue to grow freely.  

How do I Sleep with 3c Hair?

Protecting your hair at night is very important if you want to avoid extra work when you wake up. A great way to keep your curls intact is to wet your hair, apply a co-wash product, dry your hair with a t-shirt, and cover with a satin bonnet. 

Doing this routine will ensure that your curls stay moisturized and intact when you wake up the next morning. Other things you can do before going to bed are putting your hair into a loose bun, braiding it, and twisting it. 

The Final Word

When you know how to style your 3c hair you will see your curls looking better than ever! Your hair looks the best when it is actually at its best, so proper hair care is crucial to achieving any of your desired looks.

Styling your hair also does not have to be difficult, you have options for hairstyles that are manageable – yet stunning.


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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