Curly hair, with its vibrance and texture, is capable of a range of diverse looks that can add a feminine flair to anyone’s style. It suits just about any face shape–with the right cut, of course. The best part? There’s a bounce in every step. Want to learn more about this crowd favorite? The experts at Madison Reed have put together an all-you-can-read guide to curly hair.
Scientific structure of curly hair (Type 3)
Curly hair, also known as Type 3, develops its structure from the shape of the cortex. The fibers of the hair are round, making it drop evenly on all sides of the scalp. Curly hair is also determined by its protein structure and by the moderate amount of disulfide bonds that occur between hair proteins. It has hooks at the end of the follicle (bulb), which help it grow at an angle. In some cases, hormones and certain medications can change the texture of the hair, making it grow in a different way than originally formed.
Types of Curly Hair
Curly hair is classified into three types, based on thickness and spiral size:
Type 3A Curly (fine/thin): This type has big, loose spiral curls, and has a circumference of 2 inches when tied in a ponytail. This type of curly hair is sensitive to the climate, but it’s also the easiest to manage.
How to wear it: It’s easy to embrace big curls with loosely tied up hair, and a few pieces hanging down around the face. This gives a soft, feminine look which can be worn at home, running errands, or for a night out.
Nicole Kidman image via Bigstock
Type 3B Curly (medium): This curly hair type has bouncy ringlets, with well-defined springy curls. The strands are of medium thickness, neither fine or coarse. It needs a stronger moisturizer, as it’s prone to frizz.
How to wear it: This type of hair looks great when it’s parted in the middle with a blunt haircut, roughly to the middle of the back. The length and cut will stop the hair from curling up toward the sides of the face, and keep it looking naturally beautiful.
Salma Hayek image via Bigstock
Type 3C Curly (medium): This curly hair type has a mix between bouncy, coily curls and tight corkscrew curls. Typically, it’s more coarse than the other curly hair types.
How to wear it: A headband can the perfect accessory to giving the hair volume at the crown. Since this type of hair has tight curls, it’s best to keep it up and away from the face.
Jada Pinkett Smith image via Bigstock
Things we love about curly hair:
It’s bouncy. There’s something about bouncy hair that gives the appearance of more youth and freedom. The elasticity of the hair gives it a vibrant and fresh look, without even trying.
It’s versatile. Since this curly hair has volume and texture, it’s ready for a whole range of hairstyles. It can be worn up, braided, in a bun, or just let down free.
Less frequent washing. The texture of curly hair allows for a longer time in between washes. The roots are less visible because the volume of the spirals cover up the areas that are getting greasy. Plus, dry shampoo works perfectly with it.
Strategies for straight hair:
Trim it up. Since curly hair tends to be drier, it’s more prone to split ends. To stop split ends before they’re caused, it’s best to get regular trims.
Leave in some moisture. For day-to-day styling and maintenance, leave-in conditioner is curly hair’s best friend. The best time to use it is right out of the shower, or after the hair has been wet. With good quality conditioners, a little goes a long way, so no need to douse the hair with it, or it might start weighing the hair down.
Re-wet it. As simple as this sound, sometimes just re-wetting the hair with a spray bottle is the perfect way to fight frizz and get those curls back from humidity. An even better trick? Mix one part conditioner and one part water in the spray bottle. Try Madison Reed Nourishing Color Enhancing Conditioner for a healthy, conditioned look that’s not too heavy.
For further reading, check out our how to style wavy hair post.