Your Comprehensive Wave, Curl, and Coil Guide

May 27, 2021
May 27, 2021
To keep your curls feeling (and looking) right.

Listen up MBIB ladies! We have good news that we cannot wait to share. We listened to your requests, took time to reflect, and have come back with a solution for your needs: an educational, shareable resource that covers all things curls. Get your notebooks ready, because we're here to help. Welcome to Hair 201.

Curl strand illustration in pink

1. HAIR TYPES: The type of shape your strands have.

Your hair is defined as wavy, curly, or coily. But how do you determine your hair type? And how do you give your hair type the specific care it needs? Let us break it down.

Type 2: Wavy—creates variation of the ''s'' shape

Type 3: Curly—creates variation of a spiral

Type 4: Coily—creates variation of a corkscrew

Along with shape, each hair type has specific qualities to take into consideration:

Type 2 hair is prone to frizz, so Type 2 hair works best with a balancing product that allows moisture to seep in while keeping its shape. Type 3 hair tends to have a dry texture (especially at the ends) and can be very fine in weight. Type 3 hair responds best when a moisturizing product is applied to wet hair. Type 4 hair can retain its shape whether wet or dry. The strands need to lock in moisture to help define the curl pattern. For Type 4 hair, utilize a deep conditioner to help reduce breakage.

2. HAIR TEXTURE: Diameter of wave, curl, or coil.

Next up: Let's talk about the subcategories that live within each hair type. There's a letter system to coordinate with each numerical hair type, depending on the weight of the curl pattern.

Wavy Hair—Type 2a, 2b, 2c

Curly Hair—Type 3a, 3b, 3c

Coily Hair—Type 4a, 4b, and 4c

It's important to remember that you can have multiple hair types. So if your curls fit into one or more hair texture, you're not alone! Working with each hair type and texture is vital to improving hair health from root to tip.

Wave, Curl, and Coil Guide

Download PDF

Curl strand illustration in gold

3. HAIR DENSITY: How many hairs per inch on your scalp.

First off, hair density doesn't mirror hair health—your hair density cannot be too low or high. However, ethnicity does play a part. Black hair statistically has fewer hairs per inch compared to Caucasian ethnicities. Curious to understand your hair density? Here's how to identify it:

Can you see your scalp when you part your hair, letting your hair lay naturally? If you can, your hair density may be low. If you see less spaces of scalp between each follicle, you are leaning closer to high density. Somewhere in-between? That's right, you have medium density.

4. HAIR POROSITY: How well your hair holds moisture.

There’s an easy at-home test you can perform to identify your hair porosity type. We break the test down below:

Float Test: Brush your hair a couple times until a couple hairs fall out. Place the strands into a cup of water and wait 2 to 4 minutes. If your hair floats, you have low porosity. If your hair sinks, you have high porosity. If you hair strand floats somewhere in the middle of the cup, you have medium porosity.

Reminder: This is a non-technical test. Make sure your hair doesn’t have any product in it. You can get an inaccurate result if product is left on the hair.

Low Porosity: The goal is that your hair behaves like low porosity hair, which is naturally protected hair. With low porosity, your hair repels water. Cuticles are tightly bound together.

Medium Porosity: Cuticles are slightly looser than low porosity, but not as spread apart as high porosity. Moisture from water makes the hair swell and frizz. Curly hair is more prone to this because of its lifted cuticle.

High Porosity: Your hair loses moisture just as quickly as it soaks it up. Cuticles are widely spaced. Curly hair is more prone to this because of its lifted cuticle.

P&G’s senior beauty scientist, Dr. Rolanda J. Wilkerson, has four key points to keep in mind when it comes to hair porosity:

  1. Use a conditioner that contains conditioning actives like cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. These are fatty alcohols that condition the hair and protect it from damage. These can mimic the natural protective F-layer on the hair.

  2. 18-methyl eicosanoic acid (18-MEA)—also known as the F-Layer—is a primary fatty acid on the outside of the hair shaft. Its role is to protect the hair shaft from damage. It is also responsible for a smooth hair feel. This natural protective layer can be removed with styling, heat, and chemical treatments, so it’s important to protect the hair with an effective conditioner.

  3. Styling, chemical processing, heat, and coloring the hair can remove the layer, exposing the hair to damage.

  4. The levels of naturally found fatty acids, the degree of the curl pattern, and the level of damage of the hair determine how porous it is.

  5. Look for products with histidine—it’s an antioxidant small enough to penetrate cuticle layers and helps protect the hair from the inside out.

Hand holding a single curl strand against a blue background

Take Care

We deserve to live our best life, and that involves taking care of those beautiful waves, curls, and coils. Access our downloadable guide above and keep it close for whenever you need a resource (or reassurance) for your unique and personalized hair care journey.

Knowing yourself is knowing your worth, and that includes your hair.

Take care.

Curl strand illustration in blue

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