Straight hair is pretty much the same from one head to the next, although the hair’s thickness can differ drastically. Curls, on the other hand, are a different story. Curls can range from soft, loose waves to ringlets to kinky, super tight coils (that are so tight it’s akin to a workout to smooth them). Du says there are significant differences between wavy, curly, and coiled hair. “Curly hair makes a full 360-degree spiral, forming a complete circle where it twists, wavy hair is more of an S-shape that goes from side to side and coiled hair has tight curls in a zig-zag pattern from the scalp.”
You can gauge the degree of curl pattern in your hair by looking at its formation. Straight hair is type 1, wavy hair in a loose “S” pattern is considered type 2, type 3 curly hair is a loop or spiral pattern and type 4 hair is a compressed “S” or “Z” pattern, according to Godbee. From there, the diameter of the hair comes into play—the wider the hair, the looser the curl. The classification scale for curl thickness consists of type A, a wide pattern; type B, which is medium; and type C, which is the smallest of the three.
Now that you know what you’re working with, it’s time to use the right products for your curls. Using the wrong products can render the hair flat, too oily, or unmanageable. Here, a roundup of the best hair products for every hair type under the sun.
Curl Types on Celebrities
Type 2: Wavy
Celebrity: Hailey Bieber
There’s a slight wave to this curl pattern, and frizz can be an issue, which is why hydrating products are best.
Product Pick: Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil nourishes hair with a blend of botanical oils, keeping frizz and dryness away.
Celebrity: Tori Kelly
This curl resembles a more defined beach wave. It, too, is prone to frizzing and can lack volume at the root.
Product Pick: For a bit of added bounce, incorporate a volumizing shampoo such as Living Proof Full Shampoo into your routine—this one doesn’t dry out hair either, making it a win-win.
With more curl than other type 2 hair but not as tight as type 3 curls, this in-between curl pattern has a strong “S” shape that starts at the root and often needs a little help in the frizz and smoothing departments.
Product Pick: Seen Curly Crème is a must for waves that easily and quickly turn frizzy. This one, which a Harvard-trained dermatologist designed, leaves hair soft and smooth since its formula is loaded with clean ingredients.
Type 3: Curly
Celebrity: Sarah Jessica Parker
This configuration presents itself as a shiny, loosely defined spiral curl. To maintain the curl’s health, don’t over-wash the hair, which can strip away its natural oils.
Product Pick: On no-wash days, opt for an aerosol dry shampoo like Sachajuan Dry Powder Shampoo to absorb oil at the root and give a fresh feeling.
Celebrity: Mariah Carey
These curls are springy and recoil when stretched out. Due to their tighter nature, an arsenal of styling products is necessary, including shaping and curling creams.
Product Pick: Defining the curls is the name of the game here, and Rahua Control Cream Curl Styler leaves hair feeling soft to the touch and never crunchy.
Celebrity: Tracee Ellis Ross
3C curl patterns are a voluminous mix of spiral curls and tight corkscrew curls. Because these curls tend to be dry, Du says that hair hydration is a must.
Product Pick: Washing with an oil-rich shampoo, like Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Shampoo, allows for proper hydration without stripping the hair while still leaving it manageable yet feeling clean as a whistle.
TYPE 4: Coils
Celebrity: Issa Rae
A denser curl, type 4A features a tight S-pattern curl that isn’t too wide. Keep strands pliable with a good leave-in curl cream that lends a dose of moisture, too.
Product Pick: Ouidad VitalCurl Define Shine Curl Styling Gel-Cream provides perfect curl definition while hydrating them, too, with a special botanical Omega 3-, 6-, and -9 complex.
Celebrity: Willow Smith
Du says that moisture retention with moisture-focused masks and serums is important for this curl pattern, which is dense yet shapeable.
Product Pick: Perfect for dry and damaged chemically-treated hair, Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask reinstates lost moisture to bring life back to curly and coily strands.
Celebrity: Lupita Nyong’o
Prone to shrinkage and dehydration, this curl craves serious hydration. “Some oils only coat the cuticle and don’t penetrate the core of the hair, so you have to add moisture first and lock it in with an oil,” Du recommends. “If you only use oil, you may only be sealing in the dryness, which is not the goal.”
Product Pick: Rahua Legendary Amazon Oil smooth is loaded with several oils sourced from the Amazon that hydrate, nourish and strengthen the hair without any greasy residue.