If you’ve got curly hair, you might’ve heard your fellow squiggle sisters talking about their curl type – categorising themselves using numbers and letters you don’t understand, and you’re feeling a little left out of the lingo. So what’s this curl code all about? Well, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive curl guide that’ll help you find out which clan – or clans (it’s possible to have more than one curl pattern) – you belong to.

Type 2 curls

We’re skipping Type 1 because Type 1 is straight hair and this is aaaaaall about the curl. Type 2 curls have that kinda beachy, wavy feel… think Californian sun goddess and you’ll be on the right track.

Vanessa hudgens short wavy hair

Type: 2A

Juennifer Lawrence with blonde 2B curls

Type: 2B

Lorde with long brown type 2c curls

Type: 2C

2A: This hair type is mostly straight but has a wave or two running through the lengths and flicks at the ends.

2B: You’ve got loose, S-shaped waves running through your hair, and you tend to get a bit of frizz. Overall, though, your waves are more defined and mostly start at the lengths of your hair.

2C: Your hair texture is on the coarser side and your waves start at the root. They’re tighter than your average beach wave, which gives your hair proper squiggle appeal.

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Type 2 hair looks gorgeous when left to do its thing, but it also holds style really well, meaning this is probs the most versatile type of curly hair. It tends to get frizzy, though, especially if you use heat on it, so keep your hair hydrated with regular masks (1-2 times per week) and a pump or two of serum every day.

Type 3 curls

Here’s where things start getting a little wilder… and springier. Type 3 curls tend to be more ringlet-y, giving hair some serious bounce. Whether you’re a 3A, B or C depends on the shape and size of your curls.

Rita Ora head shot with type 3a hair

Type: 3A

Rochelle Humes running hands through curly type 3b hair

Type: 3B

Naomi Clark headshot with curly type 3c hair

Type: 3C

3A: Loosely textured yet still bouncy, this hair type has a defined curl pattern and plenty of volume. Big, luscious ringlets is what it’s all about with this kinda hair.

3B: Your ringlets are tighter (about the circumference of your index finger) and have a whole lotta bounce. Your hair is on the thicker side but is also prone to frizz.

3C: You’ve got even tighter ringlets than your 3B cousins, which gives your hair buckets of volume and a super-bouncy texture.

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Styling Type 3 hair is all about finding a balance between putting on enough product to tame and define your curls, but not so much that your hair looks weighed down or greasy. Start by using a sulfate-free shampoo, which won’t dehydrate your hair, and then pack in as much moisture as you can with a good conditioner or hair mask. Getting your wash right means you don’t need to use loads of products during styling.

Type 4 curls

Often referred to as kinky or afro hair, this kinda curl pattern is super-tight and coily. Type 4 hair is fragile in texture, which means it’s prone to breaking easily, but if treated well looks stunning.

Fleur East at awards show with curly type 4a hair

Type: 4A

Issa Rae at awards show with kinky hair type 4b

Type: 4B

Lupita Nyongo head shot with natural hair type 4C

Type: 4C

4A: Your hair is dense and springy with a tightly curled texture. When styled properly, it’s soft, shiny and full looking.

4B: This kinda hair texture is made of zigzagging strands packed close together, which means your hair tends to shrink after washing.

4C: Your hair doesn’t really have a defined curl pattern but the strands are kinky with a tight zigzag texture. This kinda hair loses more length than any other as it dries.

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