The Different Curl Patterns of Natural Hair – How Well Do You Know Your Hair?

Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself, “What are the different types of natural hair? What category do I fall under?” Don’t get me wrong- for some people, they probably know what type of hair they have. For them, it’s actually quite easy to tell, and I shall get to this. However, there are other people that have the basic information about their hair- it’s natural, and it’s got curls or waves-that’s it. Well, I’m glad to let you know that there’s more to just having curls, and I shall let you know about the different curl patterns of natural hair.

Hair is made of proteins, which contain sulfur atoms that get paired up in order to form disulfide bonds. These bonds help to hold your hair together, along with hydrogen bonds. If you have more disulfide bonds, your hair is more curly and kinky. If you have less, then your hair is less curly, and it’s straighter.

One other thing to note is that for the different hair types, they have subgroups which are represented by the letters a, b and c. Subgroup a is the lightest and has the least number of curls for the hair type, while c is the thickest with the greatest number of curls. These tend to sometimes overlap, with some people having about 2 different subgroups.

Type 1

Natural Straight Hair

Now, type 1 hair is naturally straight. It’s got little to no waves whatsoever. Pretty easy for the owner to tell right? This is one hair type that proves really difficult, if not impossible, to get curled with a curling iron. If you have this, then you definitely know what I’m talking about. However, one beautiful thing about this type of hair is that it’s very easy to maintain. It’s possible for someone with straight hair to go without using a brush for some time.

So, why is it straight? It all comes down to genetics and the shape of your hair follicle. Straight hair is produced by hair follicles which are symmetrical. As I mentioned earlier, very few disulfide bonds result in a straighter hair, and this is the case for this hair type. People that have this also notice that their hair is usually very oily. Now, sebum, which is produced by sebaceous glands in your skin, is responsible for getting oil in your hair. Type 1 is the most oily because it is able to get to the whole hair evenly without any curls to get in the way.

Type 2

Natural Wavy Hair

This hair type is known as the one that’s naturally wavy, and therefore forms the shape of an “S”. It’s easier to get curls using a curling iron with this, than type 1. People with this usually complain about their hair getting too frizzy, and they have every right to. Type 2 is known to just love the frizz, which could seem frustrating for most. If you’ve ever thought you were not doing something right with your hair, it’s not you, it’s just its nature to be that way.

Anyone with type 2 hair has more disulfide bonds than type 1, which explains why it’s more wavy. The hair follicles are a bit more asymmetrical than type 1, so this provides the basis for the waves, which are then maintained by the disulfide bonds. Type 2 isn’t as oily and doesn’t have as much sheen as type 1 does, but it’s still got a reasonable amount of it. This is because the presence of the waves doesn’t let the sebum get to all the parts of the hair. This hair type is also perfect for wash and go, so you don’t really have to worry about styling it.

Type 3

Natural Curly Hair

Is your hair all about curls and more curls? If it is, then you definitely belong to this category. Type 3 hair is naturally curly, and has an “S” shape just like type 2. However, the S shape is more defined than that of type 2. With this, you can clearly see that the hair is quite bumpy, and this gives me the idea of “there’s a lot of magic going on with this hair”, simply because of how curly and beautiful it is.

Now, if we’re talking about disulfide bonds again, you probably guessed what I was about to say:) Type 3 definitely has more disulfide bonds than 2 does. I’m sure with this, you already have a solid understanding of how these disulfide bonds work with just how curly your hair is. If you didn’t really get it in the beginning, I’m quite sure you do now. I’m sure you also know that this means more asymmetry, and less sheen. It should be noted that this type is prone to getting damaged, so you want to make sure you take good care of it and make those curls pop:)

Type 4

Natural Coily Hair

The last but not the least, type 4 hair. This is the kinky and coily type which forms an “O” or a “Z” pattern because the coils are tight, or are loose enough to form a “Z”. I’m very sure that at this point, you all can probably guess the characteristics of type 4 hair, and there’s no need for me to write about it, right? Not quite-I’m still going to talk about this wonderful curl pattern, because guess what? This is where I belong, so I am DEFINITELY talking about this. Anyone that has type 4 would know that with it, comes a lot of shrinkage. When water gets on this hair, the coils stay intact and don’t straighten out.

Type 4 hair is very dry, and this is because it’s so coily. The coils are a major interruption in the spreading of the sebum from the roots of the hair to other parts. Here, the hair follicles are completely asymmetrical, and the disulfide bonds are the most, for this particular hair type. The hair is more delicate than the rest and tends to break easily, simply because of how dry it is. This means that it needs A LOT of moisturizing. Sincerely speaking, this is the most difficult hair type to maintain, but all you need to do is be patient and understand what your hair really needs.

What do you think of yours?

Now, we’ve talked about the different types of natural hair, and what’s responsible for making hair curly or straight. Just in case you were not aware of what your hair type was before you started reading this, I hope you’re able to tell now. For those with straight hair, it probably wasn’t so difficult to determine yours.

The same thing goes for those with coily hair. You’ve probably said to yourself, “there’s nothing worse than this”, and in a way, you’re right, because your hair is the kinkiest. However, like I said earlier, patience is key. With patience, you’ll get to understand your hair better. By doing so, you’ll know how to take care of it, and you’ll finally be able to appreciate it:)





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Chizoba Onyekwuluje


  1. Is it possible to have a mixture of two textures, because I think my hair is confused

    • Yes, it’s very possible. As I wrote earlier, your hair type has 3 subgroups-a, b and c. It’s possible for your hair to be a combination of 2 subgroups, or even 3. For the upcoming posts, I shall go into detail about the subgroups for each hair type. I’m going to talk about what would benefit your particular hair type and also things you shouldn’t do, so stay tuned:)

  2. My hair texture has changed as I got older. I was always a type1. I permed my hair all through high school and early twenties (it was the 80 s, big hair was in style), I am in my late 40 s now and my hair is wavy. Its been over 20 years since I had a perm.

    • It’s truly incredible that you noticed the changes. Your hair is a fascinating part of you, and everything gets better when you understand it.

  3. What an interesting post. Thank you for sharing this information with us. My hair is for sure curly, but I like to straighten it quite a bit. It seems we always want what we don’t have!

  4. I love having natural hair. My entire family is natural. I have 7 girls plus my hair to do…After having to do all of those hairs, I have learned a lot about hair. I learned even if they come from the same people, hair types can always be different. I have also learned that our hair likes to unite with each other…I never went by a type but, if I do go by the type we would be type 4.

    Keep up the awesome work and I can’t wait to read more articles…Have an awesome day…

  5. Great job!!! I now know my hair type, thanks to the insight from your post. I wish you luck all the way!!!

  6. Nice write up. Very insightful. It shows you know a lot about hair types. Good job

  7. What a great website
    I have had a really good look around and your articles are all so informative and have helped me learn so much more about my hair so thank you

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