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Here’s Exactly How to Identify Your Curl Pattern

November 21, 2020

3 Min read

Do you ever feel like your hair has several different textures and curls going on at once? It’s a conundrum common for curly haired girls. Many have a range of waves and curls, which can make identifying your curl type pretty confusing. And while it may not seem necessary, knowing what you’re dealing with can make styling and caring for your hair a lot easier.

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“No two curls are the same; knowing your curl type can help you determine the needs of that curl and is particularly useful if you have multiple curl types on your head,” says Faith Huffnagle, Prose Director of Education and veteran stylist. “There are many curl type charts available online that can help one determine their curl type through pictures while describing characteristics that are fundamentally similar to his or her particular type.”

If you’re not in the mood for homework, that’s okay. We did the legwork for you by breaking down each curl type right here. In case you’re wondering, we’re skipping type one because that’s straight hair. Here’s a quick guide to identifying your curl pattern, plus how to tend to and style each one.

curly hair type


Type 2

If you’ve got wavy strands, you can put yourself in this category, whether your hair is fine or coarse. Another tell-tale sign you have type two hair is that it’s bendable, makes an S-curve and lays close to the head. “For type two, doing a treatment mask periodically is great to help combat frizz,” Huffnagle says. “Results may vary due to season. Often time this hair type will get keratin treatments during humid seasons.”

Type 3

Curly girls, this one is all you! This includes curls ranging from bouncy, loose loops to tight corkscrews. Here’s something you probably already knew: yep, unfortunately this category is very prone to frizz. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your strands sleek and chic. “Deep condition two to four times a month for length retention and strength,” Huffnagle says. “Shampooing less frequently can add to the quality of your hair, [since you won’t have to worry about it] stripping natural oils. Always use sulfate-free shampoo.” Another thing to keep in mind is Huffnagle’s warning that even occasional thermal straightening can still leave lasting effects on the natural curl pattern.

Type 4

Coily or kinky hair is the textbook definition of type four curls. It naturally tends to be super dry with a spongy texture. The tight, small curls can vary—some are fine and soft, while others are thick and coarse. Prone to shrinkage, “bantu knots and twist outs can stretch and elongate the hair without heat,” Huffnagle says. This hair type especially benefits from a little extra loving, so co-washing and sulfate-free shampoos are best, since they’re very gentle. She adds, “For high porosity, combat hygral fatigue [which is when your hair cuticle is damaged] by adding coconut oil prior to shampoo. For low porosity, always use heat or steam prior to deep conditioning or masking.”


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Celia Shatzman is a Brooklyn-based writer who has penned stories on topics ranging from beauty to fashion, travel, celebrities, entertainment and more. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, New York,, and NYLON, among others. When she’s not writing, Celia enjoys traveling, learning to play tennis, and playing with her rescue dog, Watson. Check out her site at and follow her on Instagram (@celiashatzman).

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