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3C Hair Comprehensive Care Guide

October 31, 2022

 by

Verna Meachum

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Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Verna Meachum

Ah, 3c hair type, which is my personal hair type! When I first let my hair transition, meaning I no longer used straighteners, relaxers, and other heating tools, it was severely damaged.

My curls were more 3b than they were 3c on the curl spectrum. But as time went by and my hair started to heal itself, my natural texture became more apparent – which is true 3c curls.

Finding a haircare routine that works for you can be tricky. With so many products on the market, how do you know which ones to choose?

And once you’ve found a routine that seems to work, is it OK to stick with it forever? In this 3C hair care guide, we’ll take a closer look at what makes 3C hair unique and share tips on how to best care for it.

We’ll also recommend some of our favorite products for keeping your curls looking their best.

So whether you’re just starting out in your haircare journey or are looking for ways to improve your current routine, read on for helpful advice and information!

What is 3C Hair Type?

Curly hair chart showing curl patterns from 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 41, 4b, 4c

Do you ever stop and think about what hair type you have? Most people don’t give it a second thought, but knowing your hair type is key to optimizing your haircut, using the right products, and understanding how best to care for your locks.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each person’s curls are unique. Also, it is very common for people with Type 2 to Type 4 hair to have multiple wave or curl patterns in their hair.

We can generally break 3C hair down into 3 main characteristics:

  • Often tightly coiled curls that look like a corkscrew spiral. The curls can vary from tight to loose.
  • The circumference is similar to a straw.
  • The curl pattern tends to shrink up to 50% of its natural length.
  • Hair prone to frizz and dryness.
  • Plentiful volume and fullness.
  • The tightest pattern of the type 3 hair category.

Do I Have Hair 3C or 4A?

Although 3C and 4A hair types may look similar to the naked eye, there are actually a few minor differences between them.

Photo credit: https: Leal

Type 3C and 4A are right next to each other on the hair type chart, many people starting their haircare journey find it hard to differentiate between them.

What distinguishes these subcategories?

Most often, 3C hair has a noticeable ‘S’ shaped curl pattern that forms an ‘O’ at the ends. The curls are much larger than those of 4A hair. To give you an idea of how thick the curls are, they have a circumference similar to that of a pencil or straw.

By definition, 4A hair type is coily / kinky and tightly coiled. It is characterized by small, tight coils with a springy texture (like the circumference point of a crochet needle). These strands are usually fragile, delicate, and may be wiry. This hair type of hair will usually shrink to half its length once it dries.

Photo credit: Pinterest

How to Care for 3C Curls

Disclaimer, there is no one-size-fits-all to caring for 3C curls, as all curls are unique, and different products and styles work better for some than others. The reality is, hair chemistry, porosity, and texture vary from person to person.

That said, here are some tips that can help you take care of your 3C curls:

Moisture is your best friend. Water is the best moisturizer for curls. Water helps to keep your hair hydrated, which is essential for keeping your curls looking their best.

By ensuring your hair is properly moisturized, you make styling easier, promote healthy hair growth, and reduce the number of bad hair days.

Furthermore, focus on products that help to boost hydration, such as humectants. These are ingredients that draw moisture to the hair and help it stay hydrated for longer.

Learn your hair’s porosity. There are 3 main categories of porosity: low, normal, and high. Knowing your hair’s porosity will help you choose the right products that work best for you.

No matter your hair type, one key factor that everyone—even straight- and wavy-haired people—need to know is porosity. If you don’t know your hair’s porosity, you might spend more time managing the trial and error of finding the perfect routine and products. Porosity determines how easily your hair can retain moisture. 

Hair with high porosity has many raised or lifted cuticles, making it quick to absorb water but also lose moisture just as rapidly.

Low porosity hair is challenging to moisturize and style. The cuticles are tightly packed, which does not allow moisture to penetrate your strands easily.

Medium porosity typically means your hair cuticles are aligned, resulting in less of an issue with moisture retention. Lastly, don’t assume that your hair’s porosity is the same as someone else’s just because you have a similar curl pattern.

Scalp care. A healthy scalp equals healthy hair. Although it may not seem apparent, but the scalp is skin. The scalp is comprised of five layers. However, it differs from other areas of the body in that it has a high number of lipid and sweat glands. It is also home to around 100,000 hair follicles.

Did you know that our scalps are dirtier and sweatier than other parts of our body? It’s true! The combination of lipid and sweat glands, as well as hair strands, means that dirt and sweat can build up on our scalps quite easily. The key to beautiful, healthy hair is simply keeping your scalp clean!

Don’t overlook trims. Split ends are inevitable, no matter your hair type. As our hair grows, the ends are the oldest and most fragile part. Regular trims are essential for maintaining your curls. They can also help with length retention, so skipping too many trims might not be the best idea.

Be gentle with your hair. Curly hair is more fragile than straight hair, so yanking through your strands because you’re in a hurry is not a good idea. I have found it best to make sure that my hair is completely soaked with a conditioner or detangler that has lots of “slip.”

Another great way to detangle your hair is to do a pre poo oil treatment. Not only do pre poo treatments make hair easier to detangle by using oils, but they also help hair retain moisture and reduce breakage during the process. You can say goodbye to frizzy hair, too!

Detangling tools. There are a few tools that make 3C hair easier to detangle. My personal favorites are wide tooth combs and a couple of detangling brushes below.

Sleeping with curls. Curly hair is very delicate and needs to be handled with care. The type of material you lay your head on at night matters. The right pillowcase can help maintain your curls, while the wrong one might be a recipe for tangles, breakage, and frizzy hair in the morning.

Invest in:

Other Best Practices You Should Do

✔︎ Whenever possible, avoid using heat styling tools.

✔︎ Opt a sulfate-free shampoo that won’t remove your hair’s natural oils..

✔︎ Incorporate deep conditioning treatments.

✔︎ Use leave-in conditioners! They add silkiness and softness to your 3C hair. Not only that, but they help protect against dryness and tangles while delivering moisture.

✔︎ Use oil to keep your ends from splitting and breaking.

✔︎ Make sure you eat a healthy diet if you want to maintain glossy and voluminous 3C hair. Although this isn’t groundbreaking news, there is a reason why people always advise eating well for your hair. Foods high in protein, iron, folic acid, B vitamins as well as dark leafy greens and antioxidants can all work together to improve the condition of your locks.

Do Nots

✖︎ To prevent hair loss and traction alopecia (happened to me), abstain from hairstyles that pull at your hair. This can lead to balding or thinning when ignored long enough. Most people eventually notice that their hair stops growing. When traction alopecia advances to this stage, your hair cannot grow back.

✖︎ To maintain healthy and hydrated curls, avoid over-working them or using excessive force.

✖︎ Don’t copy your favorite curly haired guru’s hair routine blindly. Your hair is unique and requires a customized care regimen that works for your individual curls and texture. It’s important to remember that no two heads of 3C hair are the same. What works for one, may not work for another. So listen to your curls and trust your instinct when it comes to finding the right products and routine!

3C Curly Hairstyle Ideas

Here are a couple of YouTube tutorials to get you started. These hairstyles will work on 3 hair type as well as 4 hair type.

Video credit: Milky Candles LLC

Milky Candles LLC

Video credit: Symphony Taylor

Product Suggestions for Type 3C Hair

The following product suggestions are not a comprehensive list. There are many 3C hair products on the market today that can help you achieve healthy and hydrated curls.

Also note that when trying out new products, it’s important to test them on a small section of your hair first. This will help you determine if they are suitable for your 3C hair type. This list is merely a starting point, and what may work for one, may not necessarily work for yours.

Some of our favorites include:

Clarifying shampoos

Shampoos

Conditioners

Detanglers

Leave-in Conditioners

Curl Creams

Gels

Foams/Mousses

Deep Conditioners

Oil

troubleshooting
Curl care

 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews
Textures

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