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What Is Type 3 Hair and How Should You Care for It?

BY Jana Russick

Let’s get into one of the most illustrious hair textures out there — curly hair. Otherwise known as type 3 hair, curls are beautiful, bouncy, and bodacious at their best. But when they aren’t in tip-top shape, curls can be taken over by uncontrollable frizziness and out-of-control volume.

So how do you get your type 3 hair to stay manageably gorgeous and not chaotically frazzled? It all starts with identifying your unique curl type first.

Understanding Your Type 3 Hair

Not everyone blessed with natural curls has the same exact curly hair type. That’s why hair typing is so crucial to making the most of your locks. Hair typing breaks down type 3 hair into three subcategories. By determining your unique curl type, you can find the right products and habits for managing your hair. Let’s explore each curl type and what products are best suited for them.

Type 3a Curls

Depending on the tightness of the curl, curly hair generally has a Z or S-shape. Type 3a curls have more of an S pattern as they tend to be looser and larger in size than other curl types. The size of each curl is similar to the circumference of a thick piece of sidewalk chalk. Those with 3a curls tend to have less thickness and volume than those with tighter curls, often making it much softer and easier to style. Though not exactly straight hair, type 3a curls are much closer to wavy hair texture than other type 3 hair curls.

Because type 3a tends to be naturally smooth and soft, it’s best to work with its natural shape and not overwhelm it with heavy styling products meant for tighter coily hair. Instead, type 3a hair types should use a simple lightweight leave-in conditioner for hydrating, smoothing, and improving damaged-looking hair. Look for naturally derived ingredients like chia seed and linseed extract to enhance and define your natural curls.

Type 3b Curls

Type 3b hair is tighter and thicker than 3a curls. Unlike the looser waves of type 3a curls, 3b curls take on a ringlet shape and have a significant amount of volume. Each curl is about as wide as a tapered candlestick. Because 3b curls are fairly tight and springy, this hair type experiences a lot of shrinkage when it goes from wet to dry. 

Since these curls are more defined than that of a looser texture, it takes a lot of time and effort to change their curl pattern. Brushing them out or using a flat iron to straighten them can have the opposite effect. It usually just results in the hair becoming puffy, frizzy, or damaged. 

Though not the most stubborn of curl textures, type 3b curls can be high maintenance and are better worked with than against. It’s best to ditch potentially damaging hair products like straighteners and blow dryers when possible and use shampoos and conditioners that are sulfate-free

Many hair washing products with sulfates contain a cleansing agent called anionic detergent, which leaves a harmful alkaline residue that accumulates in and tangles hair. However, Function of Beauty’s shampoos and conditioners are sulfate-free, paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. On top of that, these hair products contain ingredients like tamarind extract and Moroccan argan oil that protect hair from frizz and breakage.

Type 3c Curls

As you may have guessed, type 3c curls are the tightest and stiffest of all curl types. Their corkscrew shape is about the width of a pencil. As with type 3b hair, brushing or straightening 3c type curls is a bad idea that leads to breakage and ultra-frizz

Unless you chemically treat your 3c curls to be straight, there’s no easy way to achieve a curl-free look. As with all other curl types, it’s best to learn to work with your natural hair texture by finding products that give you the moisture and curl definition you need.

Because of the way 3c curls are shaped, natural oils on the scalp have a hard time traveling from the follicles of the hair to the tips of the strands. This can cause the ends of the curls to experience dryness. At Function of Beauty, we’ve combated this curly-haired problem by designing a silicone-based hair serum that coats the surface of the hair and helps impart added shine, smoothness, and hydration to each lock. 

How to Maintain Type 3 Hair

type 3 hair

If you’ve struggled to maintain luscious curly locks, it could be that you’ve adopted the wrong haircare habits. Obviously, you can’t treat your type 3 hair the same way your straight-haired friends do. Here are some practices to consider to enjoy manageable, healthy-looking hair. 


You already know that blow-drying isn’t the healthiest habit for your hair, especially if you have breakage-prone curly locks. But if you’re going to use a blow dryer, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests using the lowest heat setting possible and limiting it to once a week or less. 

You can also try using a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer to minimize damage. Air drying and carefully wrapping (not rubbing) your hair with a towel to dry is always a better option to minimize heat damage. Also, when gentle drying is accompanied by the right styling products, it can result in beautifully defined curls. 


While it’s tempting to use styling products like strong-hold gel or hairspray to keep your curly hair intact, AAD explains that this can cause long-term damage. Additionally, wearing your hair in tight hairstyles or using rubber bands can also cause breakage

Instead of forcing your hair into positions that are too harsh on its delicate texture, find styles and products — like our deep conditioning hair mask — that bring out the definition and softness of your hair without changing its natural curl pattern. Ingredients like shea butter and avocado oil can help hydrate dry, dull, or damaged hair.


If you have type 3 hair, you don’t have to swear off color altogether. Instead, minimize the frequency of treatments. If you’re accustomed to getting multiple treatments at once, like coloring and chemical straightening, opt for just one in order to keep your curly locks healthier. If you choose to get your hair colored, it’s best to wait 8 to 10 weeks between appointments to minimize the chemical effects on your hair. 

Learn to Love Your Type 3 Hair

Anyone blessed with type 3 hair has probably seen it as a curse at some point in their life. Yes, curls require maintenance and patience, but they also have plentiful volume and body — something those struggling with flat hair would love to have.

If you’ve struggled with controlling your type 3a, 3b, or 3c hair, know that there are solutions and products to help you achieve the cute and curly hair you deserve. Whether you’ve got loose curls, bouncy ringlets, or tight corkscrews, Function of Beauty has a leave-in conditioner, serum, hair mask, and shampoo and conditioner set specially formulated for your unique hair type and goals. Take our hair quiz to find your custom formula and discover the best naturally derived ingredients for your one-of-a-kind curls.