How to Care for Type 3 Hair: HairFlair’s Complete Guide

Type 3 Hair

The hair typing system, originally created by celebrity hair stylist Andre Walker, divides hair types into four categories, each with its own subcategories. Today, we are talking about type 3 hair, which is identified by its defined “S” shaped curls. 

Type 3 hair can range from loose ringlets to tight corkscrews and is commonly broken down into three categories: 3A, 3B, and 3C. Regardless of where your curls fall on the spectrum, you’ve likely dealt with some degree of frizz and (maybe) frustration. You’ve also probably battled dryness.

This is because your curly hair type makes it hard for your natural scalp oils to travel down your hair shaft. But fret not, friend! If you’re searching for tips on how to care for your type 3 hair, we’ve got you covered.

What is Type 3 Hair?

Type 3 hair is a unique type of curly hair that can have loose waves or tight corkscrews. These types of curvy, bouncy ringlets need more moisture to keep their curls defined and well-maintained. Once you understand all these factors about your natural locks, it becomes easier to take care of them.

There are three type 3 hair subtypes to be aware of:

Type 3A Hair

In circumference, type 3A hair is commonly compared to sidewalk chalk (about one inch). You’ll know you have this hair type if your curls are loose, bouncy, and spiraled from root to tip. Think Shirley Temple. This curl pattern is typically well-defined with or without product. 

Photo by Pouriya Kafaei 

3A curls are thick and shiny but may lack volume. If you struggle with limp hair, you might benefit from adding a volumizing shampoo and conditioner to your routine. To avoid flat, weighed-down hair, use a daily lightweight water-based moisturizer. 

Type 3B Hair

If you have type 3B hair, your curls are medium-sized, like your index finger or a standard sharpie. Curls may range from bouncy ringlets to springy corkscrews.

Type 3B hair tends to be coarser than 3A. Due to tighter curls, you may experience more dryness than people with the 3A hair type. You may notice that your hair is elongated when wet, but as it dries it becomes somewhat shorter (shrinkage). 

Photo by Ivana Cajina

This is completely normal, but if it’s not the look you’re going for there are solutions. Once your hair is thoroughly cleansed and moisturized, use stretching creams or protective styles (like braids or Bantu knots) to retain length.

Type 3C Hair

Unlike 3A and 3B hair, type 3C isn’t included in Andre Walker’s original hair typing guide. It was added by the folks at in their modified hair type system to account for gaps between types 3B and 4A. If you have this hair type, your curls have the circumference of a pencil or chopstick. It is also densely packed, which leads to effortless volume.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw

Often referred to as curly-coily, your 3C hair is likely to be dryer and more fragile than its 3A/B counterparts. To combat this, it’s important to use a deep conditioner weekly. This ensures that moisture penetrates the deepest layer of your strands, strengthening it from the inside. Additionally, low manipulation styles (like wash and go’s, buns, etc.) will help you avoid breakage and frizz. 

You will experience the most dramatic shrinkage of all your type 3 friends. Much like 3B’ers, if you want to show your length, stretching your hair with a dedicated product or styling method will benefit you. 

Type 3 Hair Care Tips for the Whole Curly Crew – 3A to 3C

Cleanse Your Curls

Ahh, the (in)famous wash day. Sometimes, it can be a struggle and a half! However, although it can be tempting to skip it, don’t. It’s important that you cleanse your hair properly. This will allow you to remove product buildup from your hair and scalp. A happy scalp is the best environment for hair to thrive. 

Also, wash day is your opportunity to detangle your hair. Detangling when wet is the best way to avoid unnecessary damage. Aim to wash your hair once per week (or whenever oil and buildup become apparent). 

Since type 3 hair is prone to dryness, you may want to use sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates are a group of chemical detergents used to clean the hair. They can strip natural oils from your hair cuticle, leading to dry (possibly damaged) curls. 

Hot Tip: Instead of using a towel to dry your hair, which can snag your curls and cause breakage, use a soft cotton t-shirt. 

Condition Your Cuticles

fter cleansing your hair, you need to replace the moisture ASAP. 

Always follow shampoo with a conditioner. Additionally, you should deep condition regularly. The frequency will depend on how much moisture your hair type needs. If your hair generally maintains moisture well, deep condition a couple of times per month. 

If you struggle with chronic dryness, do so once per week. Generally, it is recommended to apply a deep conditioner with heat for 15-30 minutes. You can do this in the shower (wrap your hair in a shower cap to trap heat). 

You can also sit under a hooded dryer, like our Softhoods. Conditioner forms a barrier on the surface of your hair, while deep conditioner penetrates the inside layers. It is not necessary to use both on the same day. Choose one, depending on your hair needs. 

Hot Tip: Use this time to thoroughly detangle your hair. Conditioners provide “slip”, which allows you to detangle your hair easily. Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers. 

Moisturize Your Mane

Applying a daily leave-in conditioner can keep your curls quenched throughout the week. Use as needed. 

Your hair type, texture and porosity play a role in which moisturizer you’ll choose. As mentioned, people with type 3A curls may find lightweight water-based creams work best. If you have type 3B/C hair, try moisturizing milk, mousses, and curling custards. 

Also, never underestimate the power of water. Spritzing your hair with water daily is a great way to maintain moisture. Some people add a lightweight oil (like avocado, jojoba, argan, etc.) to seal in hydration. You can try this technique to see if you like it, or if it causes too much buildup. 

Hot Tip 1: Porosity refers to how easily your hair absorbs and retains moisture. It can be influenced by genetic and environmental factors. It is important to determine your porosity to help you choose the correct products. 

Hot Tip 2: Cover your hair with a satin scarf or use a satin pillowcase when you sleep. Cotton pillowcases will absorb all your hard-earned hydration. Satin also reduces friction on your hair, lessening nighttime breakage. 

Recommended Products for Your Hair Type

Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Wash Day Delight Micellar shampoo is an affordable sulfate free cleanser made by Carol’s Daughter. Micellar technology lifts buildup from the hair without stripping natural oils, leaving hair clean and soft. It is also silicone and paraben free, so you can rest easy knowing your hair won’t be weighted down or exposed to potentially harmful chemicals. 

Carol’s Daughter claims that this product is composed of 98% naturally derived ingredients. Also, it contains no animal-based ingredients and is 100% vegan. Even better, this shampoo is 97.1% biodegradable, which means you’ll be protecting your natural hair and the environment at the same time!


Shea Moisture’s Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Conditioner is filled with beneficial ingredients for type 3 curly hair. They added honey, a great humectant (draws moisture to the hair) and yogurt for outstanding protein.

Also, the conditioner contains evening primrose oil (helps stimulate hair growth) and organic shea butter to moisturize your natural hair. Shea Moisture’s helpful website indicates that this product is suitable for those with hair type 3.

Deep Conditioner

Mielle Organics Babassu Oil and Mint Deep Conditioner has over 3000 rave reviews on their website. This deep conditioner is chock full of ingredients your type 3 hair will love, including babassu oil, which contains growth-stimulating omega-3’s.

It also contains spearmint oil, which stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp. Formulated for a wide range of people, you will love this deep conditioner regardless of your hair type.


As a newcomer to the scene, Ecoslay has not failed to impress. Their Orange Marmalade styler is being touted as the holy grail of natural hair products. It is a firm hold styler that claims to deliver frizz-free, lustrous hair.

Made from all-natural moisturizing ingredients like flaxseed extract and aloe vera juice, Orange Marmalade will keep your type 3 curly hair hydrated and looking good. Due to the all-natural ingredients, Ecoslay recommends keeping this product refrigerated to extend its shelf life. 

Caring for Your Natural Hair Is a Process

Caring for your type 3 curly hair may seem challenging at first. With so much to learn, it can be daunting to know where to start. But if you put in the effort and are willing to experiment to find what works for your hair type, your hair will flourish!




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