Curl Pattern Chart: Understanding Your Hair Type

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Have you ever struggled to understand or manage your curly hair? You’re not alone. According to a study by NaturallyCurly, 65% of women in the United States have naturally curly or wavy hair. However, many people still rely on outdated or incorrect information when it comes to caring for their curls. That’s where the curl pattern chart comes in. By identifying your unique curl pattern, you can choose the right products and techniques to make your hair look and feel its best. In this post, we’ll explore the importance of the curl pattern chart and how to use it to care for your curls.

What is a Curl Pattern Chart?

A curl pattern chart is a visual guide that categorizes hair into different types based on the shape and size of the curls. The most widely used curl pattern chart was created by hairstylist Andre Walker, who worked with Oprah Winfrey for over 25 years. His chart identifies four main curl types, which are further divided into subcategories based on the tightness of the curl. Other curl pattern charts may use different terminology or categorizations, but the basic concept is the same.

Why is it Important to Understand Your Curl Pattern?

Understanding your curl pattern can help you choose the right products and techniques to care for your hair. For example, if you have tight, coily curls, you may need more moisturizing products than someone with loose, wavy curls. If you have fine hair, you may want to avoid heavy products that can weigh it down. By identifying your curl pattern, you can also connect with others who have similar hair types and learn from their experiences.

How to Identify Your Curl Pattern

The curl pattern chart typically uses a numbering system to categorize hair types. Here’s a breakdown of the four main curl types and their subcategories:

Type 1: Straight Hair

  • 1A: Straight (Fine/Thin)
  • 1B: Straight (Medium)
  • 1C: Straight (Coarse)

Straight hair doesn’t have a curl pattern, so it’s not technically part of the curl pattern chart. However, it’s still important to understand your hair texture, as it can impact how you care for your hair.

Type 2: Wavy Hair

  • 2A: Wavy (Fine/Thin)
  • 2B: Wavy (Medium)
  • 2C: Wavy (Coarse)

Wavy hair has a loose, S-shaped pattern. It may have some curls, especially at the ends, but it’s mostly straight.

Type 3: Curly Hair

  • 3A: Curly (Loose)
  • 3B: Curly (Tight)
  • 3C: Curly (Corkscrew)

Curly hair has a defined curl pattern that forms spirals or ringlets. Type 3 curls are often prone to frizz and can be difficult to define.

Type 4: Coily Hair

  • 4A: Coily (Soft)
  • 4B: Coily (Wiry)
  • 4C: Coily (Zigzag)

Coily hair has a tight, zigzag pattern that forms coils or kinks. Type 4 hair is often very fragile and requires extra care to prevent breakage.

Tips for Caring for Your Curl Type

Once you’ve identified your curl pattern, you can start choosing the right products and techniques to care for your hair. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Use Moisturizing Products

Curly hair tends to be dry, so it’s important to use products that provide moisture. Look for shampoos and conditioners that are sulfate-free and contain ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or glycerin. You may also want to use a leave-in conditioner or hair oil to help seal in moisture.

2. Avoid Heat Styling

Heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons can damage curly hair and cause it to lose its shape. If you do use heat styling tools, be sure to use a heat protectant spray and keep the temperature low.

3. Experiment with Styling Techniques

Different curl types may require different styling techniques to look their best. For example, someone with Type 2 hair may benefit from scrunching their hair with a curl-enhancing cream, while someone with Type 4 hair may prefer to twist their hair with a styling butter. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for your hair.

4. Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

Sleeping on a cotton pillowcase can cause friction and lead to frizz and breakage. Consider using a satin or silk pillowcase, or wrapping your hair in a satin or silk scarf before bed.

5. Get Regular Trims

Curly hair is prone to split ends, which can cause frizz and make your hair look dull. Getting regular trims can help keep your curls looking healthy and bouncy.


Understanding your curl pattern is key to caring for your curly hair. By identifying your unique curl type, you can choose the right products and techniques to make your hair look and feel its best. Remember to experiment, be patient, and embrace your natural texture. As Andre Walker said, “The best style is the one that lets you be yourself.”

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