Type 3a Hair: What Is It And How To Take Care Of It Easily?

Find out if you have a 3a hair type and learn how to care for it properly. This article also tells you the best hair products for 3a hair and the difference between 2c waves and 3a curls. 

It is necessary to identify your hair type to tailor your hair care routine accordingly to get healthy, good-looking hair.

But sometimes, it becomes difficult to find out what your hair type is. Take for example 3a curls. These hair types often get mistaken for really wavy hair or 2c and often end up frizzy due to lack of proper moisturization. 

So read on to find out more about what is the 3a hair texture, how to take care of it and how to find out if you have this texture.

What is 3a hair type and how do I take care of it?

3A hair type features loose, spiral curls with a circumference similar to a piece of sidewalk chalk. To care for 3A curls, use a sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner to enhance curl definition and minimize frizz. Apply leave-in conditioner and styling creams while hair is wet to lock in moisture. Use a wide-tooth comb or fingers to detangle gently, and dry with a diffuser or air-dry to maintain the integrity of the curls.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identifying 3a Hair: Loose spiral curls akin to sidewalk chalk’s circumference.
  • Hair Care: Use sulfate-free shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, leave-in products, and wide-tooth comb.
  • Understanding Hair Typing: Classified from 1 (straight) to 4 (coily) with subcategories.
  • Differentiating 3a from 2c Hair: 3a curls have wider, defined spirals compared to 2c waves.
  • Identifying Your Type: Wider, looser curls with an “S” shape denote 3a hair.
  • 3a Curly Hair Routine: Monthly clarify, low-surfactant shampoo, condition, and moisturize. Plop hair for definition.
  • Final Thoughts: Precise care needed to maintain moisture without weighing down curls. Consider the Curly Girl Method and lightweight, silicone-free products.

What Is 3a Hair Type

Okay, if you’re wondering what on earth is 3a or 2c hair types, they are actually codes assigned to various hair textures according to the Andre Walker Hair Typing System.

According to this scale straight hair is classified as type 1, wavy hair as type 2, curly hair is type 3 and coily hair is type 4.

And the degree to which your hair is either straight or wavy is again classified according to the letters, a, b, or c.

That means poker straight hair would be 1a, wavy hair with slight waves would be 2a, and curly hair with low curl definition would be 3a! 

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So basically, 3a hair is a type of curly hair texture characterized by loose spiral curls that start at your roots and go down all the way to the ends. 

It differs from 3b and 3c curls as it has a wider diameter than the other curl types. Also, while 3b and 3c curls tend to be “ringlets”, 3a hair has a more “S” shape to them.

This is the reason why they’re often mistaken for 2c hair. 

However 2c wavy hair doesn’t have well-defined spirals like 3a hair does. And it’s also finer and softer. 

How To Tell If I Have 3a 3b or 3c hair

Well, type 3 hair is all curly hair. So it can get really difficult to tell what exactly your hair type is. But I’ve got a quick hack for you to find out if your hair is 3a, 3b or 3c type. 

Check for the shape and diameter of your curls. If your curls are wider and looser and have a “S” shape to them, then you have 3a hair. When 3a hair is very dry, it might also lose its curl definition and appear frizzy instead.

However, 3b hair always remains tightly curled no matter what. It’s also coarser and more prone to dryness. They also have more volume than 3b hair.

3a 3b 3c hair difference

Now lastly we have 3c hair. These have the smallest curl diameter among the type 3 hair and are most coarse and prone to frizz.

The difference between the 3b and 3c hair is all about the curl circumference. If 3b curls have the circumference of a sharpie marker then 3c hair has the circumference of a pencil or straw. 

Related: Everything You Need To Know About 3c Hair Type

3a Curly Hair Routine

If you have found out that your hair is of the 3a curly hair type, here is an easy hair care routine you can follow. This hair care routine mainly consists of the following steps: clarifying, cleansing, moisturizing, and drying.

Step 1: Clarifying: The biggest issue with curly 3a hair is that all the hair products, grease, pollution, etc. can cause it to weigh down strands and clog hair follicles. 

This prevents absorption of water and hair care products in the long run. So you need to clarify your hair once a month. 

I suggest using a clarifying shampoo containing either naturally oil-absorbing ingredients like clay or activated charcoal or those with low-grade surfactants like Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. 

how often should you wash 3a hair

Step 2: Shampooing: While the Curly Girl Method for hair suggests either co-washing hair by applying conditioner and just rinsing it off or joining the “no-poo” movement where you skip shampooing all together. 

However this trick doesn’t work well on 3a hair as the curls aren’t well defined. They can get weighed down. So go for the “low-poo” trick instead where you choose shampoos with low levels of surfactant and absolutely no sulfates or petroleum derivatives of any kind.

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These cleanse your hair but do not cause buildup.  

Also I suggest lowering the number of times you shampoo your hair each week. If you have an oily scalp you can wash hair 2-3 times a week. But if you have a dry scalp you can even stretch it to once a week. 

Step 3: Conditioning: While straighter hair types can do with only using a wash-off conditioner in the shower, conditioning 3a hair is a longer process.

Yes, you still need to use a wash-off conditioner in the shower. But after rinsing this off, you need to apply a hair cream again to moisturizer hair.

3a hair is very prone to dryness thanks to its texture and hair shape.

3a curly hair products

So right after you get out of the shower, after shampooing and conditioning your hair, you need to apply a moisturizing hair cream and scrunch your curls to add definition. 

You can go the Curly Girl route and try the LOC method where you first apply a liquid hydrating serum, then an oil and lastly a cream to moisturize hair.

But in my opinion I’ve found that to be too much moisturization for 3a loose curls. So just stick to curl cream. 

I really like the SheaMoisture Smoothie Curl Enhancing Cream as it doesn’t just moisturize your hair but also enhances curl definition. Something that 3a curl types struggle with! 

Step 4: Drying Your Hair: While scrunching and diffusing might be enough for 2c hair, 3a hair requires a bit more care. I often plop my curly hair to give it more definition and to prevent it from damage and breakage.

 how to style 3a hair

How to plop 3a hair?

  • To plot 3a hair you first need an old-tshirt or microfiber cloth. Then, lay this cloth/t-shirt over a flat surface.
  • Bend forward with your hair falling over your face and lay your hair flat over the t-shirt.
  • Take the bottom of the t-shirt and wrap the ends across the nape of your neck.
  • Take the front of the t-shirt/cloth and fold it forwards so that it engulfs your hair.
  • Now take the sleeves of your t-shirt and use them to tie a knot at the front of your head to keep the t-shirt firm on your head.

I usually plop my hair for about 15 minutes. After this, you can open the t-shirt and let your curls air dry. If you feel you need more curl definition, you can use a Denman Styling Brush or your fingers to twirl each curl separately. 

Why You Should Trust Haireveryday?

The author of this article, Leah Marie Priest has a degree in Cosmetology with years of experience in dealing with hair care, scalp care, and hairstyling. As someone who extensively deals with all kinds of hair textures, products, styling methods and more, hair Leah Marie knows what kind of products and procedures suit each hair type and person. We have also tested these hair products and processes ourselves to provide you an unbiased review about every product. Each of our articles are also reviewed by a team of medical professionals so that you get the most accurate and expert-reviewed information.

FAQs about the 3a Hair Type

what 3a curly hair looks like

How do you sleep with 3a curls?

You shouldn’t just go to sleep with a ponytail or bun if you have 3a hair. The friction causes a lot of knots and tangles in curly hair. I suggest using a silk bonnet or hair cap while sleeping to avoid friction and prevent frizz. Also it’s best to wear your hair in a pineapple bun where all the curls are gathered at the top. 

Can you do twists with 3a hair?

No, it’s not recommended you get twist outs on 3a hair. Type 3 hair is curly but it’s not springy and coily like type 4 hair. So it won’t hold the twist hairstyle well. These types of protective hairstyles on type 2c or 3a hair can also cause mechanical damage due to all the tugging and pulling. 
Also, twists require a lot of hair creams and products to be applied. These products can bring down 3a hair that can leave it limp and greasy. 

How often should you wash 3a hair?

You don’t have to wash your hair everyday or even every alternate day. Curly 3a hair is prone to dryness as spiral curly texture doesn’t distribute the natural oil on the scalp evenly through the strands. 
So you have to wash only 3a hair for only 3-4 days. You can wash hair every 2 days if you have an extra oily scalp which needs regular cleansing. But if not washing 3a hair every 4 days is enough. 

Final Thoughts About 3a Hair Types

3a hair tends to be more spiral shaped and coarser than 2b hair, however the curls are less defined and looser than 3b or 3c hair. So it requires very precise care. 

You need to keep it moisturized to keep frizz at bay, but also be careful not to overdo the hair creams and conditioners as they can weigh hair down and reduce the already low curl definition. 

If you want, you can try the Curly Girl Method for 3a hair as well. Just make sure the products you’re using are lightweight and free of silicones. 

Also Read:

What Is 2b-Hair

2C Vs 3A Hair

4a Hair Type

How To Get Rid of Frizzy Curly Hair

How To Style Curly Frizzy Hair

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