It might sound cliche to call my experience with wild curly hair a ‘journey’, but I shall go ahead and do it anyway. I have been through many ups and downs on the way to falling in love with my tricky tresses. From a teenager being teased for her “Noodlehead” to a working girl letting her curls thrive and do their own thing, it has taken a while to get here!
But there are few things that helped with the process. One of them was to take a microscopic look at my hair, how it behaves under different conditions and how it has changed over time. If you’re a curly girl, you should know that the way your hair looks and behaves will be different from mine because not everyone’s curl pattern is the same.
Broadly, hair is divided into distinctive types of 1s (straight), 2s (wavy), 3s (curly) and 4s (coily). Bt I’m only going to talk about 2s, 3s and 4s today, and tell you how to best care for and style them. On a side note, you could have more than one curl pattern, so it’s ideal to mix and match routines and figure what works best for you.
Type 2: Wavy
If wavy hair was a person, it’d be someone who is afraid of commitment. Neither fully straight nor curly, this hair pattern presents itself with bendable strands with a defined ‘S’ shape closer to the head and falling down to looser strands near the ends.
Commonly seen in women who have barely-there waves that are super easy to iron out, type 2A looks a lot like a tousled mane. Girls with fine hair are usually the ones with this hair pattern and should stick to lightweight hair care and hairstyling products. Shoulder length medium bobs or lobs look the chicest when left naturally with this type.
2B waves are defined by being flat on the top and forming into defined ‘S’ shapes from the mig-length to the end. They are trickier to straighten as compared to 2A, and need more pre-styling upkeep, preferably a lightweight mousse. They also run the risk of becoming crunchy, so keeping a moisturising spray handy can work wonders for daily hair care.
The trickiest of this lot is the 2C hair type as it tends to be thick, coarse and prone to frizziness. Their ‘S’ bends start at the roots and are the reason for the demise of many hair brushes. I myself have this hair type and maintain my hair with sulphate-free shampoos and leave-in conditioners.
Type 3: Curly
Naturally curly hair is made up of either loose loops or tight corkscrews that are evenly spread out all throughout one’s mane. They are naturally shiny, but can dry up as they lose moisture pretty quickly.
3A curls are built with large loops, the size of XL tampons and have a certain sheen to them. This hair type hates frequent comb-throughs as they can unravel the curls and make them look disheveled. You might need more than a leave-in conditioner to tame these curls. Add a curl cream to your routine and scrunch up the hair before letting it fall naturally to keep it behaving on a day-to-day basis.
Replacing loose loops for springy ringlets, type 3B curls are coarse and the size of an average permanent marker. It is best to keep these tresses long as they have A LOT of body and benefit from styling gels with humectants in them for attracting and trapping moisture. Supermodel Grace Mahary maintains her signature spirals by leaving a bit of conditioner in her hair after rinsing, and air-drying them later. How neat!
Type 3C curls are very distinctive to look at as they are made up of strands closely packed together giving you some mad volume to work with. Tight corkscrews that are about the size of a pen, this hair type has no naturally sheen and can run very dry. Co-washing with creamy conditioners brings out their natural pattern and a styling mousse maintains it. (Kinda) Easy-peasy!
Type 4: Coily
RnB and Pop icons like Beyonce and Rihanna have taken the natural hair game to an elevated level by unleashing them from their wig-cages and wearing them with pride. Their signature coily hair, also known as Afro-textured or kinky hair, is enjoying a ‘major’ moment and we are excited for it.
With a loop size no larger than one of a knitting needle, 4As are made up of dense, springy coils that are prone to intense shrinkage. The best part about this curl pattern is that the curls are already well-defined and only need enhancing to look their luscious best. Load up on hair serums to keep them in place.
Switching things up from ‘S’ bends to Z angles, 4Bs are densely packed coils with zig-zag curls and are fluffy to touch. A novel characteristic for curly hair, this type tends to be very fragile and prone to breakage, making heat styling a big no-no. Usually worn in protective hairstyles like crochet braids, they need love and care in the form of treatments and masks as a general upkeep.
The kinkiest of the coily hair types, 4Cs have no definition to their curls. They sit in a wild and haphazard manner on the head and have no specific pattern. Known to experience upto 75% shrinkage, these strands are considered highly susceptible to damage and fragility. The individual strands are extremely fine and need deep conditioning regularly, followed by hair puddings and oils to maintain moisture in their very dry texture. A stylish top-knot can be a lifesaver on days when you have to rely on just the wash-and-go.