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Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Verna Meachum
3C hair seems complicated because it sometimes gets confused with 4A. But 3C hair is that type where it is easily manageable as long as you follow a good routine. As someone with 3C hair myself, I will help you navigate 3C hair care in this post.
The primary objective of navigating 3C hair care is ensuring your curls are well moisturized through humectants and nourished with oils and conditioners. 3C should be brushed and detangled only when wet with a product for slip and always styled while your hair is wet to prevent breakage and frizz.
3C hair strikes an ideal balance with its perfectly tight curls. The curl pattern is characterized by its unique texture, avoiding the extremes of being overly coily or excessively tight. So, it is essential to ensure you care for it correctly to maintain that pattern. Let’s discuss all you need to know about 3C hair care and navigate through the process.
3C hair falls under the category of Type 3 curly hair, representing the tightest and curliest within this type. It stands out for its high volume, characterized by pencil-like curls shaped in corkscrew-like ringlets. You can read more on all you need to know about type 3 C hair type in this comprehensive guide.
The most important aspect to remember when caring for 3C hair – or any type for that matter – is that you need to find what works for you and implement routines and products according to your hair’s specific requirements.
Navigating hair care for type 3C is not as difficult as you perceive it if you know and understand your hair type. Read more about the different curly hair types if you need to determine your hair type or want confirmation that you have 3 C curls.
There are many tips and techniques to follow and incorporate into your 3C hair care regimen for the best, healthiest, bounciest 3C ringlets. Here are some essentials:
Moisturization is the number one best hair care tip for 3C hair. It should be a top priority. 3C hair, like many different types of curly hair, can be prone to dryness, as dry hair is a natural tendency for curls. Maintaining moisture levels and reducing hydration will solve most of your hair concerns.
These issues are often a result of dehydrated, damaged hair. However, the best way to level up your 3C hair care is by incorporating hydrating techniques and products, such as a deep conditioner. Humectant formulas are ideal, as they help draw moisture to the strands, keeping your curls hydrated for extended periods.
A typical example of a humectant is glycerin, which you can learn more about in detail here. Add glycerin to your products to increase curl moisture, and always look out for hair care formulas that specify hydration ingredients.
Caring for curly hair generally requires having wet or damp hair a lot of the time. And this is because curls like type 3C are best worked with when wet. Trying to brush or comb 3C hair while dry will land you in a frizzy, unruly mess with broken strands and excessive hair loss.
Only ever use a detangling brush or wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair while wet. You can add some conditioner or detangle spray before detangling for more slip and smoothness, making brushing easier, removing tangles more gently, and reducing breakage and hair loss.
Just as you should only brush your 3C hair while wet, you should also style your curls only when wet or damp. Even the products you use during styling, such as a leave-in conditioner, curl cream, gel, mousse, oil, etc., will work best if you apply them on wet hair.
Protective hairstyles are essential to maintaining your 3C curls; whether you wear them out, at home, while working out, or sleeping, they can ensure that you don’t lose curl definition. A protective hairstyle can also reduce and prevent breakage, hair loss, drying, and frizz.
Always take the necessary steps to preserve your curls overnight. That could mean using a protective style, as mentioned above, applying leave-in hair masks, or using curly hair accessories like silk/satin pillowcases and bonnets while sleeping to reduce tugging and flattening of your hair strands.
You don’t want to hold on to dead, old, split, and dry ends regardless of how much you want to keep your length. Many 3C curlies are hesitant to cut because of how much 3C hair shrinks (around 50%). But not trimming your ends can cause further damage and result in chopping more length.
The most important thing you can do for your curly hair routine is to incorporate a clarifying shampoo once every 4-6 weeks, depending on your lifestyle and hair condition. This is formulated to remove product build-up, mineral residue, and gunk from your scalp and hair.
It effectively refreshes your hair, reduces damage, and promotes better product absorption. When you notice your hair begins to appear weighed down and your products are not working well, it’s likely time for clarifying shampoo.
While keeping your ends oiled and nourished at all times is a great way to maintain healthy and vibrant curls, it’s equally beneficial to extend this care to the entire hair shaft. Regularly applying a deep conditioner is a recommended practice to ensure optimal hydration and nourishment for your beautiful 3C curls.
This could be through natural oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, or Righteous Roots Oils. You could also use a moisturizing and nourishing serum to protect the hair cuticle from drying out too quickly and keep it hydrated, shiny, and healthy.
Keeping up with this oiling technique will reduce split and end ends and allow you to keep your length for longer between trims. It will also prevent your ends from looking weighed down and lackluster.
There is no one-size-fits-all product for 3C hair or any hair type or hair texture. There is no holy grail set of best products either. The formulas that work for one person may not work for another, even if both are 3C. This is because your hair’s needs depend on different factors.
However, various products are designed for curly hair and 3C types. In this post, you can check out an extensive list of hair products, from sulfate-free shampoo and conditioners to curls, creams, and oils, ideal for your wash day routine. Remember to work through a trial-and-error process and stick with what suits your hair best.
The main distinctions between 3A, 3B, and 3C curls lie in their curl patterns. 3A curls are larger and loose curls, forming well-defined S-shaped curls. Moving to 3 B curls are tighter, resembling a more spiral pattern with less shrinkage than 3C curls. 3C curls, being the tightest and with the most shrinkage within Type 3, showcase corkscrew-like ringlets with a width similar to a pencil.
3C hair types can vary in porosity, with some individuals having high porosity hair and others low porosity hair. High porosity hair may absorb moisture quickly but struggle to retain it, requiring regular deep conditioning and moisturizing.
On the other hand, low porosity hair tends to resist moisture absorption, necessitating lightweight products and heat to enhance product absorption. Tailoring your care routine to your hair’s porosity ensures effective hydration and optimal healthy hair is key.
Yes, natural ingredients are often beneficial for 3C hair, providing nourishment and promoting overall hair health. Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera can be particularly effective for extra moisture, enhancing curl definition, and minimizing frizz.
If you have 3C hair and have been trying to navigate through proper hair care, I hope this post helps you and encourages you to follow through on quality routines and products to ensure your hair’s best health and get those gorgeous curls bouncing and shining!
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I read books and tried doing things because "that's what I'm supposed to do," but it didn't always work and I didn't understand why. I'm so grateful for Verna and her blog. Her info. actually helped me understand more of the science of why some methods helped and what products or ingredients to use and why. Anyone that compliments my hair and wants to start a curly journey, I tell them to start here. My hair is so much healthier and I'm so happy with it.
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