We have to battle the impulse to lead a standing ovation every time we see a head full of lovely, bouncy curls. Because, while wearing your hair naturally has never been hotter, we understand how difficult it is to master—and keep—curls. Without style creams, leave-ins, and nourishing oils, a curly head of hair risks frizz, knots, and a major case of dryness.
While no two heads of hair are similar, curls normally fall into one of nine curl types, ranging from type 2A (thin, slightly s-shaped waves) to type 4C (large, wavy waves) (tightly coiled, densely packed curls).
Type 3B is somewhere in the middle, with tight and bouncy curls that have a lot of volume and frizz. Does this sound familiar? Read on for expert advice on caring for type 3B curls from trichologist Bridgette Hill and hairdresser Marilisa Sears.
GET TO KNOW THE EXPERT
- Bridgette Hill is the creator of Root Cause Scalp Analysis and a trained trichologist.
- Marilisa Sears is a hairdresser and expert who has been the artistic director of Marc Anthony True Professional Haircare for over 25 years.
What Is Hair Type 3B?
According to the hair type system (which, to be clear, has a long and confusing history), 3B curls are tight and springy—the kind of curls that, according to Sears, wrap around your finger and have a circumference equivalent to that of a Sharpie.
Hill cautions that the hair typing method is not perfect—naturally, curly hair frequently contains more than one sort of pattern, and hair structure can generate a variety of patterns due to various fiber weights.
Because type 3B curls are in the midst of the type 3 range, they may feature a combination of 2C, 3A, 3B, and 3C curl patterns. That being said, we’ve all agreed that 3B curls are those with mild frizz and texture, and loose to loosely corkscrewed curl patterns.
Differentiating Types 3 Curl Patterns
Simply said, all type 3 hair is unmistakably curly. The size, texture, and volume of those curls are then divided into three subcategories: 3A (S-shaped, looser, softer curls), 3B (ringlet-shaped, voluminous, bouncy curls), and 3C (corkscrewed, tight, stiff curls). According to Sears, those with 3B hair have a mix of looser spirals and bouncy corkscrews throughout, as well as a range of traits shared by 3A and 3B hair.
Having said that, type 3B hair often has a lot of volume and definite curl patterns. When combed, this hair type shrinks from wet to dry and becomes puffy and frizzy (similar to type 3C styles). Unlike 3A hair, which can lose definition and curl depending on how it’s done, 3B curls remain coiled regardless of the tool or product used to style it.
Hill argues that regardless of hair structure, the most distinguishing features of type 3B hair are dryness and frizz.
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How Do You Take Care of Type 3B Hair?
When it comes to the best techniques to care for type 3B hair, both experts agree:
- To build and keep moisture, layer products.
- As much as possible, avoid heat.
- To avoid weighing hair down, use lightweight leave-in conditioners.
- Make (and stick to) a detailed daily care and protection strategy.
Above all, appropriate products and preventative maintenance are essential for retaining 3B curls. Layering products across the scalp will help to develop and maintain moisture. The most significant term in this context is a layer.
Hill recommends using a pre-shampoo oil treatment before every shampoo, and all deep masks should be applied on dry, filthy hair before cleansing. To assist define curls with minimum to no frizz, both experts advocate layering a thick shampoo and conditioner in a number of ways.
Another recommendation from Hill: To effectively hydrate hair, look for products containing hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, and oils. To reduce damage and dryness, avoid sulfates as well as heat, color, and chemical treatments as much as possible. The more hydrated and moisturized your hair is, the longer the curl pattern will last—and less hair washing is always a good thing for curls.
According to both experts, a leave-on hydrator is essential for avoiding frizz and dryness. Apply a lightweight leave-in conditioner and then a curl-specific product (cream, milk, etc.). While people with coarser hair should use a curl cream after showering, those with finer hair should use a less dense alternative, according to Sears (think a mousse or lotion).
To prevent weighing down curls and losing definition, seek products with lightweight textures. Finally, apply a little coating of oil to lock in the moisture.
Finally, keep in mind that everyday maintenance and preservation are critical in extending the life of a hair wash. Hill recommends softly hydrating hair in between washes with a product of your choosing, as well as developing a sleep hair routine, such as putting hair in loose buns or braids or investing in satin or silk pillows.
The Best Haircuts and Styles for Type 3B Hair
Because type 3B hair can be misleading when wet, Hill recommends cutting hair dry. You’ll have distinct curl patterns, sizes, and textures to work with.
According to Sears, because type 3B curls are quite adaptable, you may go as long or as short as you like. She recommends integrating longer layers to generate body and movement in longer lengths. Meanwhile, she argues that adding masses of layers to curls lends a genuinely timeless form and refinement to cuts around the collarbone and shorter.
Type 3B curls look great simply air-dried when adequately moisturized. Use the plopping method to style hair after showering, and try to avoid using heat styling tools (which will worsen frizz and damage hair, both experts warn). A loose ponytail with a puffed-out top keeps frizz at bay and hair away from the face between washes.