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Curly hair types: how do I work out my curl pattern
6 minute read

Curly hair types: how do I work out my curl pattern

Defining your curl pattern seems to be all the rage these days. And that makes sense. Because once you know how your hair ‘ticks’, you can harness its power. Plus, labelling everything helps us make sense of the world, right?! But there are so many other factors that help you better understand how to manage your hair.

Defining your curl type isn’t ticking a box and you’re done. It’s actually more akin to embarking on a journey. There’s no hair hierarchy – certain hair types are no more manageable than others. When healthy and well cared for, your hair in all its natural glory is beautiful. 

Here, we explain how getting up close and personal with your hair health and establishing a personalised routine can help you to understand your hair and better work out what your curly hair needs.

What are the three main curl patterns?

Curly hair is divided into three basic types: waves, curls and coils. These are then subdivided into three further categories based on the diameter and width of your hair. A is the widest, B is medium and C is the tightest wave, curl or coil. 

This traditional classification system can be useful, but many of us don’t fit into any one category. We believe that yes, it’s about your natural curl ‘type,’ but don’t forget ‘texture’, ‘density’, ‘porosity’ and your hair goals right now. 


Woman with dark brown wavy hair

Wavy hair may be fine, medium and thick in texture, straight at the root and with a definite ‘S’ bend that lies close to the head. Waves need volume and definition to be their best. They also need moisture but get weighed down easily. Try our 30 Days to Waves Kit for waves and loose curls, containing everything you need to clarify, condition and create hold.


Woman with strawberry blonde shoulder length curly hair

Curls are more looped and defined. You may have a mixture of different curls and textures from tighter loops underneath or at the nape of your neck and looser waves on the top layers. Curls love moisture and definition. Quench them with our 30 Days to Curls Kit – a nourishing and nutrient-rich collection, containing everything you need to begin your journey to hydrated, super-defined curls.


Woman with black coily hair

Coils are smaller, tighter and sometimes denser. They tend to be thicker in density but can be fine or mixed in texture. Coils need intense hydration and strengthening. Amplify your coils by infusing them with the moisture-rich products in our 30 Days to Coils Kit: everything you need to create bouncy, juicy coils.

How to identify your curl type

It’s easiest to identify your curl type when you have left your hair to air dry from soaking wet. Being wet and clean resets your curls to their natural state. If you spot kinks as your hair is drying, you likely have waves, curls or coils. Remember that if your hair’s been altered by bleach or chemical straighteners, it may be harder to define your curl pattern. But that’s ok – we’ll help you find a regime that works with your hair as it is today. 

How to work out your hair’s texture

Next, let’s have a look at your hair’s texture. This is the thickness of each hair strand. To do this, grasp one single hair between your finger and thumb. If you can barely feel it and it’s translucent when you hold it up to the light, it may be fine in texture. Substantial, strong and even wiry strands indicate thick or coarse hair. Somewhat supple and fairly strong hair strands point to medium-textured hair.

Don’t be surprised if you have multiple curly hair types and textures. After all, plenty of us have combination skin – it’s the same with hair. 

What about hair density?

Your hair density refers to the actual number of curly strands you have on your head and how closely they’re packed together, not how thick your hair is. The more strands you have, the higher your density is; the fewer, the lower your density. 

Try the scalp test. Start with dry, loose hair. In the mirror, can you see your scalp without moving your hair? If yes, you may have low density hair. If you can see your scalp with a little effort, you likely have medium-dense hair. If you can’t see your scalp at all, you have highly dense hair.

Determining your hair density will help you figure out which products to use when putting together your healthy curl regime. 

What is hair porosity?

Your curl type doesn’t determine how products affect your hair. It’s actually all about:

  • The condition of your hair
  • How your hair absorbs products 
  • What ingredients your hair needs to thrive. 

Your aim? To create an environment that creates the best version of your hair, according to YOU. This looks like looking after your hair from the inside out and finding a healthy curly hair regime that works for you.

You can do this by understanding the structure of your hair. Hair porosity – low, medium and high – refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. It depends on the health of your hair’s cuticle. This is the outer layer of your hair shaft which protects your hair from damage and imparts shine. 

Rather than worrying about what curl type your hair is, determining your hair porosity is often key to discovering what products and techniques will and won’t work for your hair. 

Let’s find out how porous your hair is. Grasp a hair strand firmly and slide the thumb and index finger of your other hand from end to root. Fingers ‘catch’ going up the strand? Your hair is overly porous. Fingers gliding smoothly up the strand? You have normal porosity. Fingers zipping up super-quick? You have low porosity.

Focus on your hair’s health

Understanding the porosity, texture and density of your hair are essential because they help determine how products are able to penetrate your hair. Now you know how your hair is structured, you can look into how products work and investigate which ones will improve the health of your curly hair. 


Loving your hair starts with creating a personalised hair care routine. Discover your curl profile and unlock your hair’s perfect products.

Shop this article

  • Quench your curls with this nourishing and nutrient-rich 30 Days to Curls Kit.

    30 Days to Curls Kit


  • This 30 Day kit contains everything you need to clarify, condition and create waves that hold. Waves and loose curls need moisture but can easily get weighed down, so this is the perfect kit containing everything you need to clarify, condition, and create hold.

    30 Days to Waves Kit


  • 30 Days to Coils Kit

    30 Days to Coils Kit


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