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Type 3C Hair: What It Is and How To Care for It

6 mins

Evelyn Carter

The 3C hair type is known for its tight curl pattern. Here, we explore these 3C curls and offer important care tips for your hair needs.

Before you reach for hair care products, you must know the type of canvas you’ll be styling. Hair care starts with knowing and understanding your unique hair type. This ensures you’re making the most out of your hair care routine.

Type 3 hair is one of the most distinct and lively hair types. This curly hair type is known for its S or Z-shaped curls. These natural curls are often more voluminous, thicker, and bouncier than wavy, type 2 hair. 

Curly hair is one of the four distinct hair types, including straight, wavy, and coily or kinky. Curly hair is broken down into unique subtypes: Type 3A, 3B, and 3C. 

Here, we’ll take a closer look at type 3C hair, examining its unique qualities and providing you with important maintenance and care tips.

Table of Contents:

  • Hair Types
  • A Look at Curly Hair: Type 3A, Type 3B, Type 3C
  • A Closer Look at Type 3C Hair
  • Type 3C Hair: Benefits and Challenges
  • Caring for Your Type 3C Hair

Hair Types

A couple of hair typing systems are followed worldwide; the most famous is the Andre Walker System, which includes four categories of hair:

A Look at Curly Hair: Type 3A, Type 3B, Type 3C

Like every hair type, there is quite a bit of diversity in the curly world. Some people have loose corkscrew curls or ringlets, while others have well-defined curls with tight coils. Curl definition varies widely among those with type 3 hair. 

Regarding illustrious hairstyles, many covet natural curls found with type 3 hair. But, for all the bounce, these luscious locks can also be challenging to tame. Like all curl hair types, type 3 hair is subject to uncontrollable frizz and volume that goes above and beyond.

Hair typing is important given the curl diversity amongst type 3 hair. Understanding your unique curl type can help with hair care, especially when choosing the best products. Let’s take a quick look at the subcategories of type 3 hair.

curly hair, how to care for type 3 hair

Type 3A

Compared to the other subtypes, type 3A hair carries the least volume. Type 3A curls tend to be much wider than the other subtypes. These curls are typically naturally smooth and soft, though less thick than others. 

While it may lack volume and thickness compared to other curl types, the thinner nature of type 3A makes it much easier to manage and style. 3A is much more likely to respond to straightening attempts, styling products, and leave-in conditioners

Not sure if this is you? If your curls can comfortably wrap around a brush handle, you may have type 3A hair. 

Type 3B

While they’re not the tightest, tight curls are a mark of type 3B hair — about the width of a candlestick. These curls are tighter and stiffer than 3A hair. Type 3B is typically thicker than type 3A as well. The curls of 3B usually take on a ringlet shape coupled with tremendous volume. 

However, since these curls are tight and fairly springy, they are also subject to shrinkage from wet to dry hair. Type 3B also carries fewer natural oils, which makes the hair prone to dryness and breakage. So, proper hydration with sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners is key.

Styling and maintenance can also be a challenge. Brushing them out to tame the tangles or using a flat iron to straighten them could have an undesired effect, making hair look more frizzy. 

A Closer Look at Type 3C Hair

Regarding curly hair, type 3C hair is considered the densest. It is also the thickest of all the type 3 hairs and is known for having extremely tight, S-shaped curls. These tend to appear very voluminous and springy. 

These curls are typically defined enough to fit around the width of a pencil. While these bouncy curls can definitely be show stoppers, they require much more TLC than other wavy and straight hair types. 

Like all curly hair types, type 3C is very prone to dryness. A lack of natural oil usually causes this. More specifically, tight curls make it difficult for hair oils to travel from the root to the end of hair strands. 

This is why hair products like hair oils are so valuable, to help nourish and restore moisture. Hair oils can include argan, jojoba, and castor oils. 

type 3c hair explained, how to care for type 3 hair

Maintenance is definitely a challenge with type 3 hair. Styling is difficult, and straightening can be nearly impossible — sometimes downright damaging. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between 3C and 4A hair types. 

But, the key difference is the density. 4A curls tend to have springy coils about the size of a crochet needle. Tight corkscrews mark another type 4 hair type.

Key characteristics of type 3C hair

  • Tight, corkscrew curls, roughly the circumference of a pencil
  • Lots of curl volume and excellent bounce
  • Curls can retain their pattern even after being stretched out
  • It can have poor curl definition when hair strands are under-moisturized
  • Chronically dry and often starved of moisture
  • Very prone to frizz and tangles

Type 3C Hair: Benefits and Challenges

While taming this mane can be challenging, there is still much to love about type 3C hair. The abundance of body and volume is one notable feature. 

But, the styling options are limited. Plus, the frizz is real. Let’s look at some of the benefits and challenges of having type 3C hair.

An Abundance of Body and Volume With Type 3C Hair

The most obvious benefit of having 3C hair is its larger-than-life appearance. The sheer volume and body are something to marvel at. Adding wash-and-go to the mix can send curls into the stratosphere. So, if big hair is your thing, 3C is tough to beat.

Hair Density Is Typically Thick

Unlike type 1 and some type 2 hairs, type 3C is generally thick. By thickness, we mean hair density. This refers to how tightly the hair is packed together — or the number of hair strands per square inch. This can help give better scalp coverage and make it appear fuller. 

Highly Prone to Frizz and Dryness 

As mentioned above, one drawback of 3C hair, and all curly or coily hair types, is its susceptibility to dryness and frizz. This has to do with the intense shape of the curly hair strands. Simply put, curly hair stands make natural hydration nearly impossible. 

Natural hair oils can’t make it from the scalp to the strand ends — too many twists and turns. The result is dry, brittle strands prone to breakage and frizz. 

Can Tangle More Easily

In addition to the dryness, the rougher texture and lack of moisture associated with type 3C hair make tangles much more common. The strands can easily cross one another, twisting, turning, and forming knots and tangles. 

This issue can worsen when hair is damaged through heat styling and harsh chemical processing. Adding a detangling brush to your hair care routine can help. 


hair brush for curly hair, how to deal with frizzy hair

Caring for Your Type 3C Hair

Caring for type 3C hair can definitely be more difficult than caring for straight or wavy hair. So, the effort to maintain and preserve its liveliness requires a lot more attention to avoid damage. 

Let’s look at some popular care tips for those with type 3C hair.

Wash Your 3C Hair Less Frequently

Washing your hair too often can strip it of the natural oils called sebum. While too much oil can give hair a greasy look, too little can cause hair to dry out, making it more susceptible to brittle ends and damage. 

For those with 3C hair, shampooing is still essential. On wash day, make sure to stick with naturally-derived and moisturizing formulas. Also, make sure shampoos are sulfate-free. Sulfates tend to strip natural hair oils. 

Co-washing is also important for extra hydration. When you co-wash, make sure to stick with deep-conditioning cleansers. These can help infuse more moisture into your strands. This is also where curl creams are helpful.

washing hair, curly hair care

Make Sure You Brush Carefully

Those with tight curls and thick hair texture know the challenge of brushing. However, proper brushing is essential to any effective hair care routine. 

Taming the mane can brush out dirt and contaminants, free the hair from tangles, and distribute natural hair oils. When you brush your 3C hair, make sure to use a wide-tooth comb. Also, don’t brush through it when it is completely dry, as this can add to the frizz. 

Plus, dry hair is hard to brush through as it increases the friction between the brush and the hair strands. While running your fingers through your dry hair shafts may be tempting. This should also be avoided for the same reasons. 

Be Mindful about How You Dry Your Hair

It should come as no surprise, but blow-drying isn’t the healthiest habit for your hair. This is even more true for those with curly locks. Some opt for using a diffuser attachment on blow dryers to minimize potential damage.

At the end of the day, simple air drying and wrapping your hair with a towel to pat dry is always a better option to avoid unnecessary heat exposure. Heat damage can cause permanent changes in the curl pattern over time. 

Suppose you do choose to use a blow dryer. In that case, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using the lowest heat setting available and doing so no more than once a week. Some prefer silk wraps or pillowcases for nighttime protection to help lessen moisture loss.

Moisture, Moisture, Moisture

Proper moisture is important to any hair care routine. But curly hair types need more moisture than others. As stated above, fighting back against frizz and dryness is one of the biggest challenges of having type 3C hair. Of course, frizz is caused by moisture-starved hair. 

moisturized hair, type 3c hair

Since dehydration is so common with type 3C hair, proper moisturizing is a must. As mentioned, regular treatments for extra moisture can include leave-in conditioners, co-washes, and hot oil treatments. In addition, hair masks can also help lock in moisture for those with curls. 

Apart from hair health, ​​properly moisturized hair tends to hold styles much better. The trick is always the same: keeping hair adequately hydrated without using heavy products to weigh it down.

Type 3C hair has no shortage of volume and beauty. But, this curly hair type has unique challenges when creating a hair care routine. 

Make sure to visit WOW to check out our complete hair care collection for your type 3C hair needs.
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Evelyn Carter

Evelyn was involved in the beauty industry as a makeup artist before she turned to full-time writing. Carter has reviewed numerous skincare, haircare and other beauty products. Her experience gives her keen insights into products, ingredients, and their reliability. Her articles are informational content pieces liked by readers and beauty brands alike.

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