If you have 3c hair type, then this guide helps you find the best products to use for 3c hair and gives you tips on how to take care of 3c hair types.
I have curly hair, and let me tell you it’s my absolute favorite thing about the way I look. But those with curls like me will also tell you how much of a nightmare it can be to maintain these ringlets.
What products do you use? How much? And why isn’t that famous curly-haired Tiktok influencer’s routine suiting my hair? Are all questions people with curls have asked themselves.
And the simple answer is that not all curls are alike.
Related: 3b Hair Type
Related: 3a Hair Type
Related: 2C Vs 3A Hair
Yes, according to the Andre Walker Hair Typing system your curls (which falls into the category “type 3”) are further divided into 3 subsections – type 3a, type 3b, and type 3c curls.
So unless you know your right hair and tailor your hair care regimen, styling routine, and products accordingly your curls might continue to look like a mess.
But not worry, I’ve got you covered with this easy-to-follow 3c hair type guide. Check it out below.
3c Hair Type
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what exactly are 3c curls.
Well, type 3 hair in general is supposed to be curly hair. They are set apart from type 2 wavy hair by the shape of the hair. While type 2 hair has “S” shape bends, type 3 hair forms complete “ringlets”.
Now 3a, 3b and 3c hair all vary in circumference with type 3a being the loosest curl type and looking very frizzy or even wavy from time to time and type 3c being the “tightest” curl type.
Type 3c hair are narrow curls that have the circumference of a knitting needle or pencil. These types of hair start curling right at the root, so they might appear to be moving away from the scalp in a sort of puffy cloud.
The biggest difference between type 3c hair and type 4 natural hair is the shape of curls. Type 3c hair, despite looking like an Afro, is not “coiled”. It still has a definitive curl pattern in the shape of S-shaped spirals.
Type 4 hair often appears to be Z-shaped or zig-zag shaped.
How To Take Care Of 3c Hair Type
Here is how I take care of my 3c curls. You can follow these tips too to get healthy, well-defined curls.
Check your hair porosity
Most of the time, type 4 hair has a low porosity. But you cannot be so sure with 3c curls. Even if you do not naturally have a high porosity, damage to your curls can make them more porous.
So do a float test to figure out your hair’s porosity before you start using any new product. You might think you have high porosity hair and use heavy oils like coconut oil or products like shea butter.
But if it turns out that you actually have low hair porosity, you might be ruining your curls by making them greasy and reducing their volume.
Do not forget to cleanse your hair often
Also, you’ll find a lot of self-proclaimed, curly-haired gurus on Instagram or Tiktok who use 20 different creams on their curls on wash day or swear by co-washing.
But the simple truth is that you need to do what suits YOUR curls.
So if you have a oily scalp or if you feel that your hair’s porosity is low porosity and gets greasy and weighed down easily, you can use a shampoo instead of co-wash. No problemo!
Just make sure you are using a natural cleanser without any sulfates or other harsh surfactants in it. You can also try clarifying your curls with natural ingredients like an apple cider vinegar rinse.
Brush your hair to increase curl definition
Yes, yes. I know. A lot of curly-haired folks are wary of the hair brush because it makes their hair appear poofy and frizzy.
But there is a technique to it you know.
If you invest in a high-quality Denman brush, you can brush your hair in the shower after the application of the conditioner. Or apply leave-in conditioner on freshly-showered wet hair and get to brushing.
And contrary to all those warnings about brushing wet hair, curly hair actually benefits if you do it this way.
The conditioner adds “slip” to your hair and prevents tangling and knots. Doing this also helps the product spreads easily through your curls.
I always use a wide-toothed comb to detangle first and then use a natural, boar bristle brush through my curls.
Try limiting the amount of heat you use
I know as curly-haired folks we can get lazy and try to use hot rollers or curling irons to increase curl definition, but this can really damage your hair in the long run.
Also, straightening hair often is a big no-no. Straight hair might seem convenient, but the damage flat irons can do to your tresses is unbelievable.
This also applies to blow dryers!
The best way to dry your 3c curly hair is to either air dry or use a diffuser on a cold setting. Do not blow dry curly hair as direct hot air exposure can leave it dry. And this method of drying can also decrease curl definition.
Moisturize…but the right way!
Type 3c curls need moisturization, but do not overdo it because you might not know what your hair’s porosity is like.
I like using the LOC method as suggested by the Curly Girl Method. In this routine, you first apply a liquid conditioner or what is known as a humectant.
This usually includes ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or glycerin which helps attract moisture to your tresses.
Next, you layer it with an oil that helps seal this moisture in your curls. And finally you top it off with a curl enhancing cream that keeps hair nourished and also increases the definition of your curls.
If you have high porosity hair you can use this LOC method without a second thought. I also suggest using heavy oils like coconut oil or castor oil.
But if you have low porosity hair then I suggest using lighter oils like argan oil or grapeseed oil and then skipping the cream in the last step as this could make hair greasy.
Best Products For 3c Hair Type
If you’re confused about what products to use for your 3c curls, let me help you out a bit. Below, I’ve listed out some of my favorite products for my 3c hair type and why you should use them.
Tangle Teezer Original Hair Brush
I had always used a boar bristles brush so I was skeptical about this product. But let me tell you, this product is awesome. The bristles are very gentle on my scalp and don’t cause friction on my curls. Instead it helps distribute the conditioner and helps me add definition to my curls.
Mixed Chicks Curl Defining & Frizz Eliminating Leave-In Conditioner
I had used the SheaMoisture products before but since discovering I have low porosity curls, I switched to the Mixed Chickes Leave-In Conditioner.
What I love here is that this product contains jojoba oil and evening primrose oil that are very lightweight and moisturize my curls without leaving them weighed down or greasy-looking.
Mielle Organics Honey & Ginger Styling Gel
I absolutely love using this styling gel on my hair as my curls tend to be low porosity and this gel has a water-base and contains humectants like glycerin and aloe vera that keep my tresses hydrated.
3a Vs 3b Vs 3c Hair: What’s The Difference
Type 3 hair is all about the curls. But how do you check if your hair is type 3a, 3b or 3c? Well, the answer is simple. It’s all about the curl diameter.
- Type 3a curls are easiest to identify because sometimes these curls do not start at the root of your hair. Type 3a curls might appear wavy or even straight at the roots and then curl near the eyebrow. And they have the loosest curl diameter about the size of a sidewalk chalk.
- Type 3b curls have a lesser diameter than the 3a curls, about the size of your index finger. They also fall flat on the shoulders and do not have as much volume or “poofiness” to them as 3c hair.
- Type 3c hair is coarse and fine to touch. They start curling at the roots, causing the hair to stand away from the scalp like an Afro. These curl types have the least diameter, about the size of a knitting needle or pencil.
Final Thoughts About 3c Hair Type
The 3c hair type is often misunderstood. A lot of women with this type of hair tend to care for it the way they would type 4 coily hair and end up over moisturizing it.
Type 3c curls are still curls and not coils. They have a S-shaped structure but are tightly formed into ringlets and not waves like type 2 hair.
And while these do not get as greasy as type 2 hair, they can still need clarifying from time to time.
Also, type 3c hair can be difficult to manage due to their tendency to become poofy and cloudlike.
So you also need to find the right hairstyles for type 3c hair to keep them looking good.