Woman touching her curly hair

Curly hair ranges from wavy to coiled, but anyone can have more body and volume with a bit of effort and the right tools. You might have heard that there are four types of curly hair, but really there are three, because the first one is straight.

Curly hair might take a bit of effort to keep in line, but the results are worth it. When everything falls into place, you can have hair with a lot of texture. 

Personally, I have fine, loose curly hair. On some days I give it a little scrunch with some holding gel and wait for it to air dry. This takes some time, so it only works on days when there is time to spare, or on very, dry sunny days. The result is a stronger curl than what I would normally see if I did nothing. (Doing nothing is not an option, by the way.) 

If I really don’t plan on doing anything, I comb it back and pin it down. If plans change, I can remove the pins and my hair will fall into relatively soft waves, but it may take some product and rearranging. 

Woman with wet, curly hair applying lotion

My third technique is for when I have places to be, but a little bit of time before I have to be there. This involves blow drying with a round brush to encourage some soft waves. Product, such as anti-frizz cream may be added at various stages. However, if your hair is very curly, you might want to avoid brushing. 

My fourth technique is for when I really have time on my hands. This involves sectioning wet hair, curling it and pinning it with bobby pins. Then… you… wait…

Why does it take so much effort? Why can’t we just get out of bed and comb our hair like the rest of the population. A hair stylist explained to me once, that curly hairs become curls when they have the ability to stick together with other hairs. When we comb our hair we separate the hairs leading to millions of solitary curly hairs. This results in the dreaded frizz. 

To remove tangles, you might want to use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers. Currently, I don’t have long hair, but when I did, I used my fingers. Even if it’s anti-frizz serum, avoid running product through your hair. Instead scrunch it with a closed hand. As you run your fingers through your hair, you will separate the curls resulting in frizz. 

Consider detangling your hair while you are working the conditioner through in the shower. You can use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. 

Three Types of Curly Hair

The three types of curly hair are:

  • Wavy
  • Curly
  • Coiled

Within those three styles, there are varying degrees, which are labelled by letters, but we won’t get into that here. 

Caring for Wavy Hair

If you have wavy hair, you might want some volume to help your hair move naturally. Some ideas: 

  • Use volumizing products
  • Wash your hair upside down
  • Use a diffuser when drying

Caring for Curly Hair

Curly hair can range from soft curls to springy curls. I have the soft curls. I worry that too much volume will result in a pouffy look, so I can sometimes err on the side of too much product. Sometimes, hair stylists will try to bring out the volume. I enjoy the look of horror on their faces when they realize they have created something they cannot control. (Mwah-ha-ha.) This big hair look is usually obtained with a diffuser. It might work well on your hair, but on mine, it’s a little too much volume. 

People in the curly zone battle frizz and can generally tell you the exact humidity percentage for any given day without looking at their weather app. Some tips for controlling frizz:

  • Dry your hair with a soft microfibre towel rather than a rough towel
  • Pat dry, rather than rubbing
  • Use anti-frizz smoothing lotions, serums or creams
  • Avoid combing
  • Try a hair mask
  • Use natural oils or products that feature natural oils
  • Wash your hair in cold water
  • Wash your hair upside down in the sink for more body than you would get from standing under the shower head
  • Get regular trims
  • Use moisturizing conditioner

You may need to experiment with products before you find the right ones because everyone’s hair is different. For example, my hair strands are very fine, which means frizz is my mortal enemy. However, a person with thick strands might be able to go a little easier on the product suite.  

Caring for coiled hair

Moisture is essential for tight curls to prevent frizz. People with this type of hair should avoid shampooing too often and choose products without sulphates or silicone. 

Wash Your Hair Less Frequently

If you aren’t working up a sweat or using a lot of product everyday, you might want to reduce your hair washing to twice a week or so. However, this will differ for everyone. If you are prone to dandruff, wash your hair more often, focusing on massaging the shampoo on your scalp rather than your hair. 

If you find a routine that works, remember that things always change. Different types of weather will cause your hair to react and as you age, your hair texture will change. Constant trial and error is the only way to find what works best for your hair. 

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What Are the Types of Curly Hair?


Shella Gardezi is a writer, editor and marketing specialist living in Vancouver BC. Off Course West is her lifestyle blog about her passions for vegetarian food, fitness and travel.

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