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Curly hair can be complicated. Yes, it usually means inherent bounce and volume, but it also comes with its own set of styling rules. First things first, it’s a good idea to identity your curl pattern.
In general, there are four types of hair: Type 1 is straight, Type 2 is wavy, Type 3 is curly, and Type 4 is coily-kinky. But did you know you can classify your hair even further? Prose Director of Education and veteran stylist Faith Huffnagle explains it like this: Subcategory A encompasses fine curls, C is a coarser texture, and B is somewhere in between—or a combination of A and C. So for example, if you’re a 2A, your hair is wavier and finer compared to the 2B’s and 2C’s. Keep in mind that it’s possible to be a combination of textures, too, like a 3BC.
Now that you’ve figured out your curl type it’s time to determine the ideal regimen. There can be multiple ways to style one curl type, so keep in mind that finding the right routine may take some trial and error.
All hair types can work with leave-in conditioners, oil, or mousse. If you have Type 2, 3, or 4 you can try a curl cream. But sometimes, the best option is to layer. Huffnagle says Types 3 and 4 can try a leave-in conditioner followed by oil then cream (LOC) or leave-in conditioner followed by cream then oil (LCO), or leave-in, cream, oil, then gel (LCOG).
“Depending on hair porosity and texture, layering can help seal in the necessary balance of moisture and proteins in between washes,” she says. “Some hair types can go up to one week without needing a full rewash but can touch up dry hair or frizz with water-based moisturizers, like leave-in conditioners.”
Regardless of which product you use, Huffnagle offers some info on curly hair best practices: