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How to Tell Your Curl Type So You Can Get the Most Out of Your Hair Pattern

If you’re frustrated with your curls, it might be because you’ve been treating them wrong.

How to Tell Your Curl Type So You Can Get the Most Out of Your Hair Pattern

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Like many in the curly-hair zone, I have combed through numerous photos of curly hair types meticulously comparing them to my own to figure out what type of curl pattern I have. This time-consuming and often misleading task may seem like overkill, but determining your curl pattern can be the key to figuring out a hair care regimen that gives you your best locks ever.

You see, no two curl patterns require exactly the same type of TLC. If someone with Type 2 hair was to follow their friend’s Type 4 regimen, Type 2 would end up with over-moisturized, weighed-down curls. And if Type 4 was to borrow products from their Type 3 pal? They’d likely see a big increase in the amount of daily breakage they experienced due to lack of moisture.

If you’ve struggled with determining the curl pattern of your hair before, there are a few factors that might have been messing with you. The more moisturized the hair is, the more defined the curl will be. The pattern is best determined immediately after it goes from being wet to dry, not a few days after a wash where the hair may have been stretched from updos or styling techniques. If you apply any sort of products or heat, you’ll temporarily alter your true pattern, which can lead to a misdiagnosis.

Don’t comb your hair before you try to figure out its pattern, either—doing so can alter the natural pattern. And finally, it’s normal to have multiple curl patterns going on at the same time, so take that into consideration in your hair care as well. Wash gently, detangle gently, and mind your protective styles by prioritizing the most fragile part of your hair.

Before you get too sidetracked in the quest for your own curl pattern, know it’s not all about how the hair curls. As Naturally Curly’s Amanda points out, curly hair care is based more on the porosity of your hair than the pattern of the curl. This means that while knowing your curl type is a great starting point, it’s also important to know how your hair absorbs moisture. This is easily observed by how quickly your hair feels dry after being moisturized.

To help create our own handy guide, Jessica O’Brien, NYC-based stylist and Ouidad Curl Expert, spoke with Bustle about the features that define each curl pattern. Then, we asked our curly-haired models for their personal care tips to help get you started on the journey to your best hair ever.


2A - Open Wave - Katie

Distinguishing Features: According to O’Brien, a 2A hair texture is more like a soft wave. When it’s wet, it looks straight and really needs encouragement from products and styling for the waves to show.

Katie’s Care Tips: Heat styling isn’t typical for Katie; she prefers to air-dry with a hair milk to create a little bit of extra texture. If you’re looking to define your 2A curls more, try Ouidad’s PlayCurl Amplifying Curl Foam.

Photos: Ashley Batz/Bustle; Design: Brit Phillips/Bustle; All Jewelry: Tiffany & Co; Styling: Gabrielle Prescod; Hair & Makeup: Karla Hirkaler using Amika and Charlotte Tilbury.


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