Expert reveals how to look after Afro hair depending on your curl type

Expert reveals how to look after Afro hair depending on your curl type

December 20, 2021

Looking after your hair – and making sure it’s as healthy and shiny as possible – can be tricky for everyone.

For people with Afro hair, it can be harder to find expertise and products to suit your specific needs – and many people don’t realise that Afro hair is multifaceted, and everyone needs different things.

Figuring out the specific needs of your natural hair type can be a bit of a minefield, especially when you might have a few different curl patterns on one head of hair. This is actually really common.

Most people with natural hair can have more than one hair type, you can have a combination of wavy, curly, kinky and coily all in one. But knowledge is power, and the more you understand about your hair, the easer it will be to look after.

‘A great way to get started is to identify your curl pattern when your hair is wet,’ says Keshia East, hair and beauty expert and founder of No Knot Co.

‘A common way of defining your hair type is by the numbering system.

‘Type 1 hair is bone straight. Type 2 hair is wavy. Type 3 hair is curly. Type 4 hair is coily/kinky. 

‘If your hair is mostly wavy, and you have some straight hairs, you would be a type 2.’

When it comes to more specific hair patterns, Keshia says the sub-classifications are described with the letters A, B and C. These are based on the size or pattern of your waves, curls or coils.

‘Type A describes looser waves, curls or coils, and type C describes tighter waves, curls or coils (B is in between),’ she explains.

‘For example, someone with loose wavy hair would be a type 2A, and someone with tighter, coily hair would be a 4C.’

So, now you know how to identify your hair type, what are the best tips for looking after your hair. Keshia has helpfully broken down her advice by hair type so you can get your curls popping in time for Christmas:

Type 2 hair (wavy) 

Typically wavy hair types have more of an S pattern that lays closer to the head. 

‘These hair types are fine, tousled waves,’ Keshia tells ‘These hair types are usually easiest to straighten. Avoid using heavy styling products as this can weigh the hair down and can leave it lifeless and lacking volume. Usually water-based products and mousses work really well for this hair type.’

For fuller looking hair, Keshia recommend diffusing with the hair upside down and applying volumizing mousses right from the roots.

‘These hair types generally have more waves from the mid length of their hair,’ she says. ‘Wavy strands are thicker than 2A, so requires more effort to straighten. To enhance these curls, salt sprays work well and “plopping” the hair after applying styling products works well too!

‘Plopping is the process of using a t-shirt or microfibre towel after applying styling products, to scrunch the hair before drying.’

Keshia says these waves are generally thicker and therefore more prone to frizzing. The singer Lorde is a perfect example of this hair type.

‘Although heat protectants are recommended for all heat-styling, this hair type should definitely use these to prevent heat damage and serums work really well post-straightening to inject moisture and prevent humidity frizzing this hair,’ she adds. 

‘Recommended tools for wavy hair: No Knot Co Gentle Detangler, No Knot Co Curl maker Styling brush’

Type 3 hair (curly)

Type 3 hair is more prone to frizz, but generally has tighter springy curls that can still have shine.

‘These curls can have lots of shine, generally using the right products can give these hair types more defined curls,’ says Keshia. ‘I recommend using curl creams to get the most out of this hair type and weekly hair treatments to prevent frizz.’

These curls are typically more springy. Keshia says this hair texture can get drier, so styling gels and curl creams with added moisture are essential.

‘Applying products when the hair is wet is key with this hair type, to achieve definition without frizz,’ she says.

‘This is my hair type, so I know it all too well,’ says Keshia. ‘These curls are much tighter, corkscrew curls. Curls are more tightly packed together, giving it lots of natural volume.

‘This hair type can get super frizzy. I recommend using co-washes often to help maintain moisture.

‘Also, applying products in sections with this hair type is essential, to ensure every part of your hair gets the attention it needs, as this hair is thicker, it’s easy to miss parts of your hair when applying product.

‘Pre-poo treatments are also advised.’

Type 4 hair (coily/kinky)

These hair types are referred to as Afro-textured hair. It is naturally dry and spongy in texture. It can be soft and fine, or course and wiry. This hair type can be super voluminous, but more prone to shrinkage.

‘These hair types are softer and more S-pattern coils,’ says Keshia. ‘Leave-in conditioners work really well in these hair types and using hair oils to finish work really well too.

‘This hair type can be refreshed, to avoid washing it too often, as this can dry the hair out.’

Keshia says these hair strands are more tightly packed together, so using thicker creams and oils for styling work well.

‘Protective styles, like plaits and cornrows can also work really well for these hair types to prevent breakage and encourage hair growth,’ she adds.

‘These hair textures are very similar to 4B hair; however, these are more tightly coiled strands,’ Keshia explains.

‘This hair type can experience the most shrinkage than the other hair textures. However, this hair type is also the most versatile.

For these hair types, using leave-in conditioners and oils are essentials. Castor oil is a very popular choice as this hair type doesn’t need to worry about losing volume.

‘A good Afro pik can be a great tool for this hair type to style and shape the hair.’

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