2c vs 3a hair

2C Vs 3A Hair | Top Differences, Best Products, And How To Find Your Curl Pattern

Confused as to what texture your hair? Read on to know more about 2C Vs 3A Hair!

“Wait… Is my hair curly or wavy or both?” A lot of people have this question as the curl pattern on your locks can be difficult to identify.

If your tresses are wavering between wavy and curly, chances are you might have either 2c hair type or 3a type hair.

“What? Hair has numbers?” Yepp! It’s called the Walker scale and was developed by hairstylist Andre Walker. 

The numbers 1-4 represent the texture of your hair while the alphabets represent the shape your strands make.  

So if type 1 represents straight hair textures, 2 wavy hair, 3 curly hair, and 4 coily or African American hair.

The texture of your hair is determined by the shape of your hair follicle. If your hair follicle is circular then your hair texture would be straight.  

But if you have a flatter or more oval follicle, then the strands will be curly.

2C Vs 3A Hair

There is so much confusion about whether hair textures are 2c or 3a because 2a textures are so wavy they can appear curly. And 3a curls are the lightest/loosest curls, so it’s difficult to tell if they aren’t just beachy waves. 

But there is a marked difference between the two. And their structures, problems, and needs are very dissimilar. 

Okay, so if you’re wondering, “who cares what my hair texture is?” Let me tell you, understanding your hair type is very important.

If you know what type your hair is then you can choose the right products for it and employ the correct hair care regimen. 

Also, each hair type poses different challenges, so you can solve your hair problems better if you know the difference between 2c and 3a hair. 

What is 2C Hair

2C Vs 3A Hair
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To put it simply 2c hair is wavy hair with very tight waves. The slight curl pattern doesn’t start at the scalp but rather makes a squiggly “S” shape on the strands.

While 2a hair are slight waves and 2b have that “beachy waves” texture, 2c hair often looks frizzy.

But despite this, the hair texture is the most voluminous out of the type 2 textures.

Probably this is why a lot of people confuse 2c waves with 3a curls. 

2c hair can be either coarse or fine. It can also be either thick or thin. 

Here are some top characteristics of 2c hair:

  • The hair isn’t curly but has a “S” shape
  • It isn’t as oily as type 1 hair as the natural oils from scalp aren’t distuributed evenly through waves
  • Very prone to frizz
  • This hair type is usually thicker than fine, type 1 hair but not as thick as type 3 curls

What is 3A Hair

type 3a hair
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On the Walker scale, type 3a marks the beginning of curly hair textures. These curls are not as tightly wound as the type 4 textures associated with natural hair

But 3a hair has still got the trademark “spirals” that define curly hair. 

  • 3a hair is also prone to frizz like 2c hair
  • It can appear dry and coarse as the sebum from scalp doesn’t get distributed well if you have curls
  • Curly hair is also prone to dryness, split ends and other types of hair damage
  • The hair has a lot and volume
  • The spirals on the hair start at the scalp

Differences Between 2C and 3A HairHow To Identify Your Type

what's my hair type--2c or 3a
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If we talk about the characteristics of these two hair types, you’ll notice a lot of similarities. So how do you differentiate between 2c hair and 3a hair?

Well, here are some main differences between the two hair types:

  1. If your hair is healthy and not frizzy, you can tell on sight as 2c hair appears wavy and 3a hair curly
  2. 2c hair has “S” shaped waves that go down the whole strands.
  3. However, 3a hair has loosely wound spirals that start at the scalp itself.
  4. You might see that 2c hair appears straighter in a few places and curlier in others, but 3a hair has a consistent pattern of curls throughout.
  5. 3a hair is also more difficult to manage than 2c hair. It’s frizzier, drier, and can take a lot more time to untangle 3a curls. 
  6. If your hair seems more oily despite the curl pattern, it might be 2c rather than 3a as the spirally-structure of 3a curls make it difficult for oil to get distributed.
  7. You might also notice that 3a hair is bouncier and more voluminous than 2c hair. 
  8. And 2c hair is also more likely to get weighted down by product build-up.

Products For 2C Hair

The best products for 2c hair textures are ones that hydrate your hair without weighing them down. 

So you’re looking for lightweight conditioners, shampoos that clarifying without your waves, and wave-enhancing products like sea-salt sprays.

2c hair requires nourishment as it’s prone to dryness. But it can also get lanky and greasy quicker than curly hair so you need to stay away from heavy butters, oils, and creams that are too rich. 


The best type of shampoo for someone with 2c hair would be a mild one that is free of any harsh, drying ingredients like alcohol or sulfates. 

However, this shampoo must be clarifying enough to give your tresses volume. 

After asking several hair care experts on my team, I found the following shampoo to be perfect for 2c hair.


You need to be super careful while selecting a conditioner for 2c hair. Most people think that wavy hair like theirs needs more moisture and end up buying really heavy conditioners. 

While these are moisturizing, they end up weighing down your strands and ruin their wave pattern.

You can choose a conditioner that is silicone-free as it won’t cause a lot of product build-up. It should also have ingredients that are hydrating but lightweight.

Try looking for stuff like biotin, argan oil, jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, etc. while checking the label at the back of the bottle.

Here are some of my top picks for conditioners for 3c hair:

Sprays and Serums

Products For 3A Hair

Type 3a hair can get very dry and frizzy. So the products for these types of curls are those with nourishing ingredients that hydrate hair and lock-in moisture.

Look for ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, argan oil and other super-moisturizing creams and butters.

Also, you need products that will define your curl pattern and make your curls bouncy and soft. 

As this hair type is prone to damage and split ends, you should also look for hair masks, leave-in conditioners, and other hair care products that will repair damaged hair.


It’s tricky to get the right shampoo for curly hair. On one hand you need to nourish your hair as 3c hair is prone to dryness. 

On the other hand, all those styling products can cause product build-up in your hair, requiring you to use a clarifying shampoo.

You can go about shampooing your curls in two ways.

One, you can select a good shampoo for curly hair textures that will cleanse your locks and keep them nourished at the same time. There are plenty of such products devoted to curls and here are some of them:

The other thing you can do is follow the Curly Girl Method and choose to co-wash your hair instead. Co-washing is simply applying conditioner on your hair and rinsing it off. 

No shampoo needed!

I’m a bit skeptical about this technique for 3a curls as it the regular use of creams, conditioners, sprays, gels, etc. can weigh down your hair.

If you’re opting for the Curly Girl Co-washing method, I’d suggest using a clarifying shampoo once a week or 10 days to keep your tresses grime-free.

Styling Products

Any styling products you use for curly 3a hair should help enhance your curls, protect them from frizz, and keep them bouncy.

I’d suggest looking out for ingredients like keratin, hydrolyzed protein, rice starch, etc. that can lock your curls into place. 

Here are some of my favorite styling products, including creams, gels, and hairsprays for curly hair. 

Deep Conditioners

As I’ve discussed before 3a hair is prone to breakage and damage and the root cause of this is dryness.

So using deep conditioners to moisturize your curls is a must. 

I suggest avoiding conditioners with alcohol, silicones, parabens, or added perfumes.

Artificial fragrances and alcohols just dry your tresses in the long run, while silicones can weigh your curls down. 

I’ve picked out some of the best deep conditioners for 3a hair type for your below. Check it out! 

FAQs About 2c Hair Vs 3a Hair

How can I make my 2C hair curlier?

2C hair is considered to be on the lower side of the curl spectrum, and most people who have this type of hair struggle to get it curled. The easiest way that you can make your 2C hair curlier is by using a flat iron or wand on low heat. But this isn’t practical to use day after day.
But if you want a damage-free way, you can try plopping. Be sure to wrap your hair tightly in wet towel after every use to help prevent damage. Additionally, spraying curl enhancing mists or leave-in conditioners may also give you tighter curls.

How do I know if I have 2C or 3A curls?

There is no one definitive answer to this question, as the shape and size of your curls will vary depending on a variety of factors including hair density, curl type, and humidity. However, if you have 2C hair, it is likely that they are tight, S-shaped waves whereas 3A hair is are full spirals that are just looser in diameter.

Now that you know the difference between 2c and 3a hair, I hope it makes it easier for you to decice on a hair care regimen for yourself.

Both 2c and 3a hair are prone to frizz and dryness. So it’s doubly important to select the right air care products for these textures.

Also Read

2c Hair Type

What Is 2b-Hair

How I Care For My 2a Hair Type

Everything You Need To Know About 3c Hair Type

Everyday Hair Routine For Wavy Hair

Guide To 3a Hair Type

4a Hair Type Guide

Best leave in conditioner for natural 4c hair

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