Hair Type Classification

What is your hair type and does it really matter?

So, you have the Letter part of the grade which goes as follows:

  • The letter A would be a looser curl pattern.
  • The letter B is a little more defined
  • and the letter C is the tightest curl pattern of each group.

Now the numbers are graded from 1 to 4. Number 1 is straight hair without any curl pattern so curls start from the number 2 which is wavy textured hair, 3 is for curly hair, and 4 is for tightly curly to kinky hair.

Category 1 – Straight hair is oily, resilient and has no discernible curl pattern.

Category 2

Very loose wave: almost straight – 2a

Loose wave  – 2b

Wavy: deeper S shape – 2c


Category 3

Curly: defined slightly loose ringlets – 3a

More curly: defined S shape in coils – 3b

Tight spirals coils – 3c

Category 4

Mixture of Afro and ringlets: curls when wet, drys into an afro – 4a

Very tightly coiled: afro is more distinct – 4b

Extremely tight coils: Z shape very close to the scalp – 4c

Now you can see from this hair classification system that you make have 3a hair in the back 2c hair in the front, I’ve even seen women with a combination of all three curl patterns on one head of hair!

If you still confused, here is how to tell just by looking at it. The best way to tell your curl pattern is by wetting your hair first. You make look like a 4c when you hair is dry, but really be a 4a because the hair can change in appearance when it is wet. And if your hair has been chemically treated, even if its been months or even years, you cannot accurately assess what your hair type is.

I can’t tell you how many times I consult with clients about curl type and they want me to tell them their curl pattern when they haven’t cut off their relaxed or texturized hair. Ladies, in order to know for sure what you are working with, the chemically treated hair has to be removed, yes, even the texturizer.

If anybody was following my post on hair grading systems, you’d know I’m not that crazy about classifying my hair type into an a,b,c grade. But the need for women to know there hair type has been carefully constructed my product manufacturers, the bottom line (to me) is it makes their pockets fatter. Think about it!

By the the time you finish flipping you head forward, raking the product in with your fingers, only applying it to the root or ends, towel blotting, air drying, and only use it every other day, you could have probably used  some generic, no frills, non curl pattern specific brand and gotten the same results.

Products work based on the curl pattern your already have. Nothing can create curls besides a Jerri curl or other chemical curl systems. But I digress.  So now you can select what category your hair type falls into and match it with the product it was designed for..sigh. Or just forget the whole thing and use the products that work for you!



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About salkis

Hi! This is Salkis Re,The Queen from Queens,NY, a true renaissance women. Peek over my shoulder and you'll see me offering hair style tips, writing self-help books, instructing natural hair classes, filming You Tube video tutorials, Oh!, and did I mention I'm a crazy mom, wife and professional blogger too!

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  1. 1
    theashter says:

    this was by far the best explanation of curl pattern yet. Thanks!

  2. 3
    JontelNicol says:

    Thank you so much for this portion. I’m a hairstylist & have notice the craz of people wanting to know their curl pattern. I’m like, “okay, you know your curl pattern………………….now what?”

    • 4

      lol! Hilarious. So true, knowing your curl pattern in no way helps with anything.

  3. 5
    Maxine Noel-Bernabe says:

    This has really helped me… I’ve always been confused about hair typing, and in my opinion it doesn’t really matter cause my hair type wouldn’t cause my hair to necessarily grow faster… but now I can say am between a 3c and a 4a :)

  4. 6

    Alma, this article made me think about my mistakes about my hair type. Thought I was a 4c and you told me I was a 4a. Although this haven’t changed the needing of keeping on DCing my hair and waiting for its growth, it gave me hope – now I really know the way it looks now is not the way it is. This changes things. Thanks.

  5. 8
    NubianPrize says:

    I think hair typing can be much ado about nothing. You just try products til you find what works. Back in the late 60sthru the 70s, I wore a huge afro as did a lot of folks. There was no such thing as curl definition or hair typing. We all used Afro Sheen, grease, water, whatever conditioner worked, hot oil treatments, etc. We used “white” products if they worked as well as “black” ones. No big deal. I just call my hair type 4. If I wash it with one shampoo, it has little 4a ringlets mixed with some frizz; use another shampoo & it’s all frizz. I also have about 3 curl patterns on my head. Same goes for products. It looks straight up 4a with KinkyCurly & Taliah Waajid Curl Cream, use Shea Moisture curl smoothie & it looks like a birds nest. My hair hated that stuff as well as the souffle last year. With all this hair moodiness, & the fact that black women have a MYRIAD of textures within each type I refuse to get hung up on whether it’s 4a or 4b.. I usually say 4ab. I just look for products that work with my hair whether they’re for white or black hair.

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