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  • Not All Curls Are Equal – Here’s Why

    curly hair main 2

    What is something the majority of Egyptian girls have in common? Curly hair!  But did you know that not all curls are created equally? They actually vary in their texture and curl patterns.  According to Andre Walker, who styled Oprah Winfrey’s hair every day for 25 years, there are 4 categories of hair in general and 6 types of curls.

    If you’ve got a tangly mane of your own, it’s important to identify which type it is, as each has its own hair-care needs and faux-pas.  Perhaps you tried a deep conditioner or mask in an attempt to tackle frizz, only to find it made your hair too soft, and hence even more frizzy. Maybe your hair is fairly oily, but you somehow still suffer from dandruff.

    Knowing your hair category and type helps you know which products will work on it – and which will not do it any favours. Check the chart below to figure out where you fit in. Note that you may fall somewhere between two types, in which case you would follow the hair-care instructions that you feel best suit you.


    Still not sure which kind of curls you’ve got? This quiz can help!

    Now that you’ve identified what hair-type you are, it’s time to learn how best to take care of it.

    3A – Loose Curls: Type 3a curls show a definite loopy uppercase ‘S’ pattern that is well-defined and usually springy. These curls usually have a circumference about the width of a piece of chalk. Generally, this hair type can be easily straightened or re-texturised, but is more prone to frizz and loss of definition.

    When styling, use a pomade for updos or ponytails for a light hold that won’t weigh the curl down. After washing, twirl small sections around your finger while hair is still damp in order to encourage definition.

    3B – Tight Curls: Type 3b curls are more voluminous and have a smaller circumference than 3a curls – typically the size of a Sharpie marker. This type of hair is less shiny than type 3a with a more dense texture.

    Use an anti-humectant (humidity blocking) styling cream or styling milk to eliminate frizz and play up definition (Pantene have a good one). When shampooing, make sure the product is silicone-free so as not to block the pores/hair follicles and always rinse with cold water to retain moisture and shine.

    3C – Corkscrew/Coil Curls: Type 3c curls are tighter and more defined than 3b ones, with individual strands being more tightly packed together. The circumference of each curl is about the width of a pencil or straw. This hair type is more textured and less smooth than 3b hair, and a lot frizzier.

    To enhance the curl pattern, do a twist-out or bantu-knot-out after washing and leave over night.  It’s important to deep condition this type of hair 1-2 times a week, as it tends to dry up, which in turn leads to breakage and frizz. Coconut oil is your friend.

    4A – Kinky-Soft Curls: Type 4a hair is tightly coiled and follows a lowercase ‘s’ pattern. The circumference of the spirals is about the size of a crochet needle. The hair’s texture can be wiry, and is usually fragile with high density. Type 4a hair has fewer cuticle layers than other hair types, which means it has less natural protection from damage.

    Because of this hair-type’s propensity for dryness, co-washing is the preferred method when washing, limiting shampoo to once every 9 days—and make sure the product is sulfate-free; products that contain tea tree or jojoba oil are a plus! Use shea butter to enhance the results of your twist-out or bantu-knot-out.

    4B – Kinky-Wiry Curls: Type 4b strands follow a “Z” pattern and a less defined curl shape; instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles. This hair can feel wiry to the touch, with strands packed densely together.

    This hair-type often experiences shrinkage up to 75% of its actual hair length (i.e. when straightened or relaxed, it appears much longer). Castor oil makes for a good pre-shower primer, and co-washing is a must.

     4C – ‘Fro curls: Determining whether your hair is 4b or 4c can be tricky, so keep in mind that 4a is still a clearly defined curl, whereas 4c is not. Type 4c hair is composed of strands that will almost never pack together without the use of styling techniques. This hair-type can range from fine/thin and soft to wiry and coarse. This hair-type can shrink more than 75%.

    When styling, use a humectant or dense cream for moisture. Co-wash hair in sections or braids (to retain length), and cover at night with a silk or satin cap in order to prevent breakage. Braids, buns, twist-outs and knots are good ‘dos that prevent strands from tangling.

    Bonus tip: The secret to preventing post-shower frizz – Dry hair with a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel instead of a regular towel. Wrap the t-shirt around your scalp like a turban, with the hole for your neck at your forehead and the sleeves wrapped around the hair and then tucked into the collar.

    And remember ladies, use a comb, not a brush!

    By Salma Rizk Thanatos Rizk