Beauty

Curly hair 101: Here's what you need to know

Curly hair 101: Here's what you need to know

Figure out your curly hair Image by: Getty Images

Beauty

Curly hair 101: Here's what you need to know

What is a curl pattern? What type of curly hair do you have? How do you take care of it? Your need-to-know questions are answered.

Achieving great hair isn’t easy for anyone, but women blessed with curls have their own unique hair-care issues to think about. Using the wrong products or techniques for your hair type can end up being the difference between a great hair day and a downright terrible one. That’s why we spoke to several hair industry experts to get the 411 on everything you need to know about caring for your curly hair. From loose waves to the kinkiest of curls, use this guide to help you identify your curl pattern and figure out how to keep your tresses looking their best.

 

What is a curl pattern?

"A curl pattern is a bunch of hairs all locked together," says Brian Phillips, celebrity stylist and owner of World Salon in Toronto. "That bond of those hairs locked together form a curl." It’s important to identify what your curl pattern is because it’s the starting point for figuring out what type of products will yield the best results. Some products that work wonderfully on a loose curl pattern won’t do much for someone with tighter ringlets.

No matter the curl type, the goal is to have healthy beautiful hair. "It’s the same as caring for your body when you exercise and eat right," says celebrity stylist and natural hair champion Felicia Leatherwood, whose clients include Issa Rae and Lena Waithe. "You should want to treat your hair the same way." What does this mean? Figuring out what makes your curls look and feel good and sticking to it.

 

What curl pattern do I have?

A good starting place for figuring out your curly hair type is the numbered hair typing system created by hair care guru (and stylist to Oprah for twenty-five years!), Andre Walker. Walker’s system breaks down hair types into four main categories: Type 1 is straight with no natural curl, while types two to four get progressively curlier starting with wavy and going to super coiled. Then, the sections are further divided by letters. Finer, looser curls or waves are classified with an "A" next to its number. As curls become thicker and tighter, they are considered a "B" type and the tightest curl of each category is labelled as a "C" type. For example, Salma Hayek's hair is probably at 3A, while Lupita Nyong'o has a 4C hair type.

The trick to finding your hair type, Leatherwood reveals, is to examine your curls while they're still wet. “People always look at their hair when it’s dry," she says, “but you'll know what your type is best when it's wet." 

 

Type 2

If your hair is more likely to be described as wavy, rather curly, then you probably fall into the type 2 category. "Generally, you would find this loose curl pattern on European hair types," says Colin Ford, artistic and educational director for Kerastase Paris. Type 2 wavy hair also tends to look more like a "C" or "S" shape when you examine an individual strand.

2A - Pretty close to straight but tends to have a loose, gentle bend. Like Gisele Bundchen.
2B - Your hair is straighter at the roots but has more defined waves at the middle and ends. Like Jennifer Lopez.
2C - Waves start right at the roots and there is clearly a defined bend in your hair. Like Lorde.

A post shared by Lorde Photos (@lordephoto) on

Trouble Zones

Since type 2 hair is the loosest of the curl patterns, a common problem is gaining volume at the crown, where your hair would rather lay flat. Depending on how coarse your waves are, you may also have minor issues with frizz and dryness.

Treatments

"People believe a shampoo is a shampoo but this is not the case," says Ford. "When you have the right product then it makes a world of a difference." In the case of treating wavy hair, Ford says to look for products that will boost volume and add bounce, even when picking shampoos and conditioners. For styling products, stay away from anything too heavy that will add weight to your hair.

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Type 3

This hair type is undeniably curly, but can range from very loose loops to tighter, springy corkscrews, says Roger Medina, Garnier hair expert. This type of hair is usually defined by volume.

3A - Usually pretty shiny, with large loose curls. Like Debra Messing.
3B - Slightly tighter curls (about the circumference of a sharpie) with lots of body. Like Zedenya.
3C - Tight corkscrews that have lots of volume. Like Tracee Ellis Ross.

A post shared by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

Trouble zones

Type three hair is between a loose wave and a kinky curl so this is where dryness and frizz start to become a bigger problem. "The scalp also tends to be dry so hydration is important," says Phillips.

Treatments

The biggest mistake that people with curls make, says Phillips, is over-washing. Washing strands gets rid of dirt and product build-up but over-washing strips the natural oils from your hair that make it shiny and healthy. "More than two or three times a week if you have an oily scalp is way too much. I think the ideal amount of washing for curly hair is once every 3 days," he says. Remember to always be thinking about moisture with these types of curls—conditioning becomes super important.

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Type 4

The tightest and kinkiest of curls are in category four. These curls range from tight coils to the tiniest kinks, almost invisible to the eye. This hair type also experiences the most shrinkage—if your hair is noticeably longer when you wear it straight, you're likely in this category.

4A - Softer, slightly kinky curls the circumference of a knitting needle define this type. Like Yaya Dacosta.
4B - Almost a "Z" shape, these curls are often defined as kinky. Like Issa Rae.
4C - If your hair is thick and kinky with a barely perceptable curl pattern, this is you. Like Viola Davis. 

A post shared by Issa Rae (@issarae) on

Trouble zones

If you have this curl type, your hair follicles grow out in a very coily or zig-zag nature straight from your scalp, explains Medina. This makes the hair more fragile and prone to shedding and breakage. Category four curls are also the most prone to dryness which can be very damaging if not cared for correctly.

Treatments

"There's no such thing as too much hydration," says Leatherwood. "You can use a steamer with a conditioner and get hydrated that way or you can sleep with conditioner on with a plastic cap to hydrate, but hydration is the main focus." She also recommends using the L.O.C. method which stands for liquid, oil, and cream. After washing and conditioning your hair, apply a liquid, water-based product to damp hair, making sure to evenly distribute the product. Next, follow up with an oil such as jojoba oil and then finally lock in moisture with a cream moisturizer.

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Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Butter Rich Leave-In Treatment, $5.50, garnier.ca.

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Slideshow

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The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Mila Kunis Before

About a year ago, Mila chopped off her long locks and served us a playful, yet sophisticated, side-parted bob.

Image by: instagram.com/chadwoodhair By: Samara Abells

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Mila Kunis After

Premiering blunt bangs at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, Kunis slays her new edgy look.

Image by: instagram.com/kunismilaonline By: Samara Abells

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Jennifer Lopez before

One thing remained relatively constant when it came to the superstar's hair: long and luscious locks.
 

Image by: instagram.com/jlo By: Samara Abells

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Jennifer Lopez after

Premiering a shockingly slick, above-the-shoulder 'do for the Met Gala 2018, J.Lo gives us the short haircut we didn't even know we wanted.

Image by: instagram.com/jlo By: Samara Abells

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Leighton Meester before

You might be surprised to learn that Leighton Meester’s hair was a natural dark blonde before her Gossip Girl fame.

Image by: Instagram.com/itsmeleighton By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Leighton Meester after

Meester took her mane to new heights with icy blonde locks and a blunt bob.

Image by: Instagram.com/auracolorist By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Brittany Snow before

Snow kicked off her new year by chopping off her long auburn mane into a bob.

Image by: instagram.com/brittanysnow By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Brittany Snow after

Taking things up a notch, the Pitch Perfect star decided to ditch her red hair for a new platinum blonde ‘do.

Image by: Instagram.com/brittanysnow By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Madeline Brewer before

The Handmaid's Tale star wore long, fiery red locks before deciding to switch things up.

Image by: instagram.com/madbrew By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Madeline Brewer after

Brewer looks chic with a sleek, blunt bob that keeps her signature red hair colour.

Image by: instagram.com/justinemarjan By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Maria Menounos before

We loved Maria Menounos’ long, voluminous tresses with glamorous waves.

Image by: instagram.com/mariamenounos By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Maria Menounos after

The TV personality looks just as amazing with a fresh, shoulder-length cut.

Image by: instagram.com/mariamenounos By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Mandy Moore before

Mandy Moore has typically opted for long, full brunette tresses. 

Image by: instagram.com/mandymooremm By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Mandy Moore after

Moore took a break from the brunette locks she regularly wore while taping This Is Us and went for a tousled blonde look. 

Image by: instagram.com/mandymooremm By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Chrissy Teigen before

Long highlighted blonde locs has long been the go-to look for this star. 

Image by: instagram.com/chrissyteigen By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Chrissy Teigen after

The soon-to-be mother of two debuted a new, shorter 'do at the Grammy awards in February. 

Image by: instagram.com/chrissyteigen By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Ayesha Curry before

Ayesha Curry is no stranger to playing with different hairstyles but she typically stays true to her signature long, brunette look. 

Image by: instagram.com/ayeshacurry By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Ayesha Curry after

In addition to announcing that she and husband Steph Curry are expecting their third child together, the TV showed off a new, wavy bob. 

Image by: instagram.com/ayeshacurry By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Nina Dobrev before

It's been a time of transformation for the Vampire Diaries star. Late last year she chopped off her long tresses into a bob.

Image by: instagram.com/nina By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Nina Dobrev after

We love this shaggy chic bob on Nina Dobrev. 

Image by: instagram.com/nina By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Allison Williams before

Earlier this year Williams was spotted with blonde hair and darker roots. 

Image by: instagram.com/aw By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Allison Williams after

Williams appears to be going for an edgier look with this dark asymmetrical bob. 

Image by: instagram.com/aw By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Julianne Hough before

TV personality Julianne Hough has long been associated with her platinum blonde hair. 

Image by: instagram.com/juleshough By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Julianna Hough after

Hough said in an Instagram post that she finally feels like herself with her fiery new mane. Taking a look at herjoyful smile and glow, we can see why. 

Image by: instagram.com/juleshough By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Jessica Biel before

Jessica Biel has been a long-time brunette but recently her stylist says the star decided she wanted to go really blonde. 

Image by: instagram.com/jessicabiel By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Jessica Biel after

Jessica's stylist Tracey Cunnigham posted this photo of the actress' new hair colour that she says only took her an hour and 15 minutes! 

Image by: instagram.com/traceycunningham1 By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Sarah Jessica Parker before

This style icon has changed her look a number of times over the years. More recently she's sticking to effortlessly tousled locks in a flattering middle-part. 

Image by: instagram.com/abigail.jayne.design By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Sarah Jessica Parker After

SJP fans were likely holding their breath after she posted an image of chopped off hair on her Instagram with the cryptic message, "Not saying anything." A few days later, she was seen out and about sporting side bangs. 

Image by: instagram.com/sergenormant By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Lupita Nyong'o before

Lupita Nyong'o has been quite the style chameleon lately. In the weeks leading up to the premiere of Marvel's Black Panther film, the star has appeared with a handful of new hairstyles. 

Image by: instagram.com/lupitanyongo By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Lupita Nyong'o after

At Black Panther's Welcome to Wakanda show for New York Fashion Week, Lupita went for an intricately braided crown. 
 

Image by: instagram.com/cushnieetochs By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Alison Brie before

When she's not wearing an 80's mullet-inspired 'do on Netflix series Glow, Alison Brie keeps things sweet and simple with dark brown shoulder-length hair. 

Image by: instagram.com/alisonbrie By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Alison Brie after

Alison's new, shorter cut bob really helps to show off her face. 

Image by: instagram.com/alisonbrie By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Emma Watson before

Towards the end of 2017, Emma Watson was seen wearing a long bob. 

Image by: instagram.com/emmawatson By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Emma Watson after

To kick off the new year, Watson shared a selfie with one of her favourite books and extra short, choppy bangs. 

Image by: instagram.com/emmawatson By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Ciara before

The R&B singer is known for her long, flowy tresses styled in a middle-part. 

Image by: instagram.com/ciara By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Ciara after

While on vacation with husband Russell Wilson, Ciara switched up her look with waist-length box braids and a completely bare face. 

Image by: instagram.com/ciara By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Zooey Deschanel before

Long hair with bangs has pretty much been a part the New Girl star's signature look. 

Image by: instagram.com/sessaodupla By: Murissa Barrington

The best celebrity hair transformations of 2018

Zooey Deschanel after

Keeping her signature bangs, Deschanel lopped off her locks into a an adorable blunt bob. 

Image by: instagram.com/zooeydeschanel By: Murissa Barrington

 

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Curly hair 101: Here's what you need to know

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