All Curls Are Not Created Equal- Part 1

Friday, June 12, 2009 Posted by Karen

You open up a hair magazine, and see a natural style that is just "perfect" for you. You're excited to see that there are only a few simple steps to achieving the same look. So, you gather all the supplies and follow the instructions carefully, making sure to use the exact same products and the exact same method.

When you finish the final step, you hurry to the mirror to view your masterpiece. Only, it's not a masterpiece reflecting back at you-- just a BROKE DOWN version of your old self. What happened? You followed the instructions to a tee. But this new 'do looks nothing like it did on the model in the magazine.

Well, there could be a few simple reasons for this.

1.) The model is wearing a weave
2.) The styling process is more complicated than they made it seem
3.) You have a different "type" of hair than the model does

Hair Types

Many of you probably already know that a curl is not a curl is not a curl. Some people have loose curls, and some people have tighter curls.

But did you realize that even amongst those of us with the tightest of curly knots, a kink is not a kink is not a kink?

Andre Walker, Oprah's hair care guru, developed a system to help classify hair types.

1A- Straight hair


2A- Slightly wavy hair


2B- Very wavy hair


3A- Curly hair (bigger curls)


3B- Curly hair (medium curls)


3C- Curly hair (small curls- Not one of Mr. Walker's original categories. Added by curly folks)


4A- Tightly curled hair (kinky/coily mix- some curl definition visible)


4B- Tightly curled hair (kinky/coily mix- little curl definition visible)


("4C" hair is a category that has also been added by the world of curly folks. This texture of hair has been described as a more "challenging" version of 4B hair. Very tightly kinked hair, with no curl definition at all. I don't have any pictures of this category, because it's hard to be able to identify this texture just from looking at pictures. In my opinion, you'd need to see it microscopically, or via the coming forward of a self-proclaimed 4C'er).

So, now that you've seen the pictures, you can more or less figure out what your hair type is. What's the next step?

Choosing Product Types for your Hair Type

Since those of us with "curly knots" probably fall within the 3B to 4C range, I'm only going to list suggestions for these hair types.

This is an abridged version of what you'll find at Of the suggested products, however, I am only listing products that I have personally tried.

3B- This type of hair needs products that will fight the frizzies and define curls. Moisture is key. Don't comb your hair when it's dry, unless you're going for the POWDER PUFF look. Air dry wet hair, or use a diffuser, so that you don't disturb your natural curl pattern.

Stick with... styling creams and puddings
  • Curlisto Structura Lotion

  • Curlisto Control Gel II

  • Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding

  • Mixed-Chicks Leave-In Conditioner

3C- This type of hair tends to be a little more fragile than 3B hair, but the same styling recommendations apply.

Stick with... styling creams and butters
  • Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue

  • Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding

  • Kinky-Curly Curling Custard

  • Blended Beauty Curly Frizz Pudding

4A/4B- Welcome to the look and feel of cotton! This type of hair is even more fragile than the 3C type, because fewer cuticle layers protect the hair strand from the elements. This type of hair is the driest of all, due to the fact that the natural curls and kinks make it difficult for the sebum (oil from your scalp) to get to the hair ends. And split ends are a pain in the you-know-what!

Stick with... creams and butters

  • Blended Beauty Happy Nappy Styles

  • Mixed-Chicks Leave-In Conditioner

  • Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme

  • Kinky-Curly Curling Custard

  • Kynk Hair Honey

I tried "that", and it did NOTHING for my Hair!!!

How many times have we said THAT?!?!?

Unfortunately, other than using a crude category system, we have little way of being able to tell which products will work best for our hair other than employing trial and error.

You and your sister could both have 3B hair, as far as you can tell, yet yield two different outcomes when you use the same products.

Your best friend, who's a 4B, can use a hair regimen that she "swears" helped her hair to grow. Yet you, a 3C, can use the exact same regimen and still experience dryness and breaking.

Why is that?

It's because hair "type" goes far beyond what meets the eye. The more you know is the more empowered you will be to preserve and protect the unique locks that God blessed you with.

We'll go into a simple trichology (hair science) lesson in "All Curls Are Not Created Equal- Part 2"...

See you then!


  1. Anonymous said...

    This article is cooool but, idk if it helps much because, curl pattern does not affect how well a product works. All of our hair has different chemical composition so it really just depends on what the hair favors and doesn't favor. It is really actually dependent on genetics.

  2. Karen said...

    Don't worry, RavenStarZSO. That's exactly what Part 2 will be covering!

  3. Anonymous said...

    Yayyy, thanks =D

  4. Anonymous said...

    Thank you so much for this i have no words to describe my happiness and appriciation! Thanks for doing this for all of thoose who want to start nursurying our 4b/4a hair. It is because of lack of knowledge that i have not known how to take care of my hair and actually grow it. Even though what i did with my hair as a three year old until i was 13 was in the hands of my mom she was also a victim of not knowing what to do either. Its emberassing not knowing what hair type i have cause its relaxed. Haha and i didn't even know im not supposed to comb my hair when its dry! Anyway I declare this the day where my actual hair journey starts :) (im 16) // Sweden

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