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What are 3C, 4A, and 4C hair types?

Curly 4c hair types

Curly and kinky hair is beautiful, but it can be tricky to care for, especially since each person’s has a unique pattern of growth. Fortunately, understanding your hair type can help you figure out how to best care for it to achieve the look you want, whether you have a short hairstyle or longer locks. The 3C, 4A, and 4C hair types apply to curly or kinky hair in particular. Understanding more about them can help you get your hair looking amazing and, in turn, boost self-confidence.

What are hair types?

When you hear the term “hair type,” it refers to the pattern in which your hair grows. This information can help you know what to expect from your hair and how to give it what it needs to grow and thrive.

Type 1 and Type 2 hair are straight and wavy, respectively. Type 3 hair is curly, and Type 4 is coily. Within each hair type, there are subsets that drill down into the distinct features of the pattern, such as the curl dimension or how it zigs and zags.

How is knowing your hair type helpful?

Knowing your hair type gives you better insights into how you can handle your hair. For example, your hair type impacts how well oils distribute from your scalp to your ends. It tells you how delicate and prone to breakage your hair strands are so that you can buy the right products to make them strong.

It’s also important to note that you can have more than one hair type. Type 4B hair, for example, is the midpoint between 4A and 4C.

Sometimes that means it’s a blend that you can’t determine which category it falls into. Other times, it means that you have both 4A and 4C.

What to know about 3C hair

3C hair is the tipping point where curls almost become coils. These strands are densely packed together, but still loose enough to wrap around a pencil. While 3C tends to have more shine and moisture than 4 types, it is still prone to frizz.

A lot of people make the mistake of applying oil to nourish their 3C hair. However, creams are more useful for this hair type and can provide deeper, lasting nourishment without weighing the hair down.

Nourishment should be applied while the hair is still soaking wet, fresh out of the shower. Letting the hair dry on its own after a nourishing cream has been used will help you get those voluminous, defined curls you love.

4A hair facts

Type 4 hairโ€” AKA coily hairโ€” is the most susceptible to damage. This is why many women with Type 4 hair use full lace wigs at the EvaWigs to achieve straight or dyed styles to avoid breakage. More Type 4 women are embracing their natural hair and letting their coils and kinks fly free.

4A hair still has some curl definition, with S-shaped coils that tend to be as wide as a skewer. While protective styles tend to be the default for Type 4 hair, those are better suited to 4C than 4A.

Instead, invest in a high-quality leave-in conditioner and embrace the wash-and-go look. Take some time to detangle from the ends to the roots while in the shower, using a wide-tooth comb.

About 4C hair types

4C hair has the tightest coils, with the pattern being so delicate and fine that it’s often imperceptible. 4C types benefit the most from nourishing oils, as this hair tends to be the most prone to dryness.

When styling 4C hair, do so with the shrinkage in mind. As 4C hair types can lose up to 75% of its length when it dries, securing wet hair too tightly can cause tension and breakage.

If you know your hair type, you’ll be able to give it the TLC it needs.

19 thoughts on “What are 3C, 4A, and 4C hair types?”

  1. 4b isn’t really the “midpoint ” between 4a and 4c in my opinion even though I acknowledge most people think that. 4a and 4b were used to describe the different shape coil or kink. Later, 4c was added because 4a didn’t really cover coils that were tighter and smaller. 2b and 3b are midpoints and always were. Type 4 is different. I have 4c and 4a with no 4b anywhere and I don’t see much 4b where I live. But people try to tell me I’m 4b because they think my hair isn’t “difficult” enough to be 4c. They assume since it’s last it’s the kinkiest. 4b is very misunderstood. To me it would almost make better sense to consider it 2d instead since 2 category is waves and 4b is just a super tight wave

  2. I think I have a blend, only it’s not all that blended. I literally have 3 textures of hair throughout my scalp.

    My dream would be one texture, any one texture.

    1. I think most of us would rather trade our hair type for a different one. The main thing is you know what types you have so you style it. Wishing you a nice day xx

  3. How interesting, Christy. I’ve never thought about such things.
    I believe I am between Type 1 and Type 2. Not completely straight, yet not quite what could be classed as wavy. :)

    1. Hi Carolyn, it will be nice to get my hair trimmed when we’re out of the self-isolation period and able to go to hairdressers… I’m glad you learned something new here :)

    2. Hahah… Christy I absolutely understand. I have been cutting my hair now for many years, with the occasional visit to a hairdresser to create a new style and for some TLC. (I love a head massage.)
      And yes, I invariably learn something new with every post..

    1. Hi Kim, 4B is similar to 4C – There are so many hair types that they’re not all included here, but 4B is a bit easier than 4C to manage, with slightly looser spirals than 4C. The more moisture you can get for the hair, the better. Including moisturizing shampoo. Of course, detangler too, but you likely already know that. You’ll get less shrinkage when wet than 4C, which is a benefit.

    1. It takes time to find the “right” one, for sure, with any hair type. Some people say to switch up hair products every few months but I don’t. I hope you’re having a nice weekend xx

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