How to identify and care for hair types 3 and 4

You’d think it might be easy to determine your hair type – after all, curls are curls, and straight is straight, right? Wrong! There is so much to know and learn about textured hair, and it’s easy to get confused, especially when it’s possible for several different types to be present on one head of hair.

Hairstylist Andre Walker is responsible for the original system used the determine hair types, known as the Hair Typing System. Despite the fact that this system has since been modified by the curly community, there is some debate as to whether it is too narrow and not all-inclusive. The system might not be perfect, but it can be really useful in determining your curl pattern, and in turn, determine a suitable hair care routine.

Let’s break it down to the basics. When it comes to hair types, hair is broadly divided into four categories: straight (type 1), wavy (type 2), curly (type 3) and coily (type 4). The hair’s shape is determined by the shape of the hair follicle itself. The hair follicle can determine different shapes and sizes: straight hair emerges from a round follicle, while wavy and curly hair emerges from oval or twisted oval follicles. The more oval the follicle, the more curly the hair. Follicles also play a role in the hair’s thickness(texture) – the thicker the strand of hair, the larger the follicle.

Our hair type is thus dependent on the shape of the hair follicle itself. Most people with textured hair have a combination of curl patterns, with some pieces wavier, other curlier, or kinkier. It’s sometimes easiest to determine your hair type when your hair is wet.

But it gets a little more complicated than that. Once you’ve determined your hair type, you need to look at the sub-classifications of A – C, which are based on the diameter (or width) of your wave, curl or coil pattern. In essence, type As have a wider pattern size, type Bs medium and type Cs the smallest of the lot.

Hair types 3 and 4 are sometimes the trickiest to identify, so let’s get stuck in.

Type 3 curly hair ranges from loose curls, to springs to corkscrew shapes. When type 3 hair is wet, the curls often look wavy, but take on a tighter swirl shape when they air dried.

Type 3A

Type 3A curls are some of the easiest curls to manage. These are usually large, soft curls that roll down from the crown. Type 3 curls are bouncy and soft to the touch.

Type 3B

Type 3B curls are more defined than 3A. Resembling springy ringlets or corkscrews, this hair type appears full and bouncy, but is vulnerable to frizz and breakage.

Type 3C

Type 3C curls resemble tight corkscrews. Strands are densely packed together, and this hair type is prone to plenty of natural volume. Type 3C curls are prone to frizz.

So how does type 3 differ from type 4? Type 4 (kinky or coily) curls can have a compact zig-zag pattern, or tightly-wound s-shaped curls. This hair type may be naturally dry and the curls are prone to shrinkage depending on the porosity of the hair

Type 4A

Type 4A hair is dense and springy with distinctly-shaped s-patterned curls in tight rings.

Type 4B

Type 4B curls are dense and characterized by a tiny zig-zag pattern, which may be accompanied by compressed and s-shaped coils.


Type 4C

Similar to type 4B textures, type 4C coils are the most fragile of all curl patterns and have a very tight zig-zag shape. This hair type is most prone to breakage, dryness and shrinkage, therefore lots of moisture is needed.

Once you’ve determined your curl pattern, where do you go from there? The key to managing curls is to find a hair care regime that offers adequate moisturisation and nourishment, to ensure soft, hydrated and manageable curls.

The Perfect Hair Mango & Marula hair care range caters for curl types 3 & 4, and is filled with nourishing natural ingredients to hydrate and treat your hair. This proudly South African brand uses only the finest tried-and-tested natural, curl-loving ingredients.

The hero products we recommend for hair types 3 & 4 are:


The Perfect Hair Mango & Marula Moisturizing Leave-In Butter (R99.99)

The perfect all-natural curl care, this product helps keep hair strong. A rich leave-in styling butter, it is enriched with mango and marula extracts for 24-hour moisture and curl retention.

The Perfect Hair Mango & Marula Anti-Frizz Curl Activating Gel (R99.99)

A defining, frizz-control gel that gives your hair a long-lasting hold, leaving no white residue behind. This gel locks in moisture for perfectly popping curls and coils and is infused with a wonderful long-lasting tropical scent.

The Perfect Hair Mango & Marula Detangling Deep Conditioner (R89.99)

Enriched with mango butter, castor oil and marula oil to give your hair an intense moisture boost, this deep conditioner leaves your hair wonderfully soft. It’s free from petroleum, parabens and sulphates.

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