What are 3C, 4A, and 4C Hair Types?

There’s a lot of controversy around finding your hair type and whether this distinction matters or not. For many women, however, knowing their curl pattern can help them take care of their hair better. It can also be useful information during a transition to natural hair.

Type 3 and Type 4 hair are curly and coily, respectively. These hair types are predominant in African American women. Here’s what you need to know about these hair types and how to care for them.

How to Find Your Hair Type

Before you learn more about the different hair types, you should take a few minutes to identify yours. The best way to determine your hair type is after washing, while it’s still wet. Take note of how long it is while wet, then let it dry.

If you have Type 3 hair, you can expect to lose around 25% of your length as it dries. If you have Type 4 hair, you should expect to see upwards of 50% shrinkage as it dries. After you’ve determined the overarching category, you can dive into the sub-categories (A, B, C). Don’t forget to detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb as you let it dry to ​avoid single strand knots​.

All About the 3C Hair Type

Type 3C hair is defined by corkscrew curls that would fit nicely around a pencil. This hair type is the closest you can get to Type 4 hair without crossing that defining line. You’ll often see the looser curls of 3A and 3B featured as ​full lace wigs at the EvaWigs​ website, as these are popular curly styles.

These tightly packed curls offer a lot of volumes but have the potential for some major frizz. Using a nourishing leave-in conditioner can help you keep your curls defined and prevent tangling. Using a combination of styling cream and a light mousse can help you maintain those defined curls as you go about your day.

All About the 4A Hair Type

Coily or kinky hair can come in a few different shapes and patterns. Each of the three sub-types is susceptible to dryness and breakage. If you have one of these hair types, be gentle when pulling them into braids and ensure that you detangle from the ends up.

4A is a tiny corkscrew, often small enough to fit around a skewer. Frequent styling is key for protecting this hairstyle. If you do wash-and-goes, don’t skip the detangling process as those cute coils can easily get wrapped up in themselves. Use a curling cream that offers lots of hydration to make the most of this hair type.

All About the 4C Hair Type

4C types often have indefinable coils and kinks. The variances and patterns are so fine that it can be hard to discern a shape. These zigzags often result in up to 75% shrinkage when drying. As this hair type doesn’t hold product well, it’s essential to find easily absorbed, hydrating products. 4C hair responds well to oils and finishing sprays.

What About 4B Hair?

4B hair often sees a lot of cross-over between 4A and 4C. It tends to be less coil-shaped than 4A but more defined zigzags than 4C. In many cases, people have a blend of 4B and one of the other types.

Can I Have More Than One Hair Type?


You can ​have multiple hair types​ that don’t quite fit anyone’s style or another. Don’t feel bad if you see a mixture in your hair— uniqueness is beautiful. Use the type that’s closest to your look to drive your decisions about product use and adapt based on your experience.

Having a general idea of your hair type can help you care for it better. This is especially important for women with kinky hair, as it’s so susceptible to breakage. Give your natural hair some TLC and nourish your coily, kinky locks.

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