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Navigating 3C Hair Care

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Image of my 3c hair type with graphics explaining features of 3c hair type.

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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.

How to Care for Type 3C Hair

An image of my 3c curl type.
This image displays my 3C curls, revealing a blend of curl patterns. The curls near the top and front sides, affected by damage, exhibit a 3A and 3 B hair pattern, while the rest, from the middle to the ends, predominantly showcase a 3C pattern.

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:

Keep Hair Moisturized

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.

That means:

  • Tangling and breakage
  • Frizz and flyways
  • Dry, rough strands
  • Difficulty styling
  • Lackluster appearance

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.

Detangle When Wet

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.

Style When Wet

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.

Use Protective Hair Styles

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.

Preserve Curls Overnight

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.

Get Regular Trims

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.

Use Clarifying Shampoo

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.

Oil Your Ends

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, avocado, olive, argan, jojoba, 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 splits and end ends, allowing you to keep your length for longer between trims. It will also prevent your ends from looking weighed down and lackluster.

What Products are Best for 3C Hair Care?

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.


What’s the Difference between 3A, 3B, and 3C Curls?

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.

What is the Common Porosity Level for 3C hair, and How Does it Impact the Care Routine?

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.

Are Natural Ingredients Beneficial for 3C hair, and if so, Which Ones Work Best?

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!


I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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