The 4 Hair Types: Which Hair Type Are You?

Do you know your hair type? Knowing what type of hair you have can be important for a) knowing how to look after your hair, and b) knowing how to style your hair.

There are four main types of hair: straight, wavy, curly and coily. This post explores each of these hair types, their subcategories, and how to look after/style them.


Hair that falls down without any notable curls is known as ‘straight’ hair. Most Asian hair is straight, while about 45% of Caucasian hair is believed to be straight. African hair is much less likely to be naturally straight, although it is not impossible.

Straight hair is sometimes viewed as the easiest hair type to work with. It’s easy to comb through and you don’t really need to condition it (at least not regularly).

However, having straight hair does still have its downsides: it’s much harder to give it volume that sticks, and thinner straight hair can get greasier quicker.

Layered cuts combined with volumizing shampoos can help provide volume, while washing your hair at least every 2 days may be necessary to prevent it getting oily.

The three subcategories of straight hair include:

  • 1A: This is the finest type of straight hair. With 1A hair, you should avoid heavy product usage to stop excess grease. Wash daily if you feel it’s necessary, but only use shampoo (ideally a volumizing shampoo) every 2 days.

  • 1B: 1B is slightly thicker. It benefits from much the same maintenance as 1A hair, but may need some conditioner on the tips to prevent dryness (avoiding using conditioner on the scalp).

  • 1C: This hair type is straight and thick. Unlike 1B, you want to regularly moisturise or condition this hair fully to prevent frizz. 1C may benefit from less frequent shampooing too.


Wavy hair can look long and straight when wet, but shrinks when dry to create more of an ‘S’ shape. About 40% of Caucasian hair can be classified as ‘wavy’, while about 5% of African hair fits this category.

Wavy hair appears more voluminous than straight hair and is generally not as oily. It does require more thorough brushing than straight hair to prevent it tangling.

Combing wavy hair is also much harder - it is best to use a wide tooth comb and only comb when hair is wet. Conditioning wavy hair regularly can help to prevent it tangling. It is worth taking the time to explore conditioners aimed at wavy hair.

There are three subcategories of wavy hair:

  • 2A: This is the finest type of wavy hair. Your hair may appear straight towards the roots while developing an S-shape towards the end. It can be easily weighed down by products, so try to use them lightly to preserve your natural waviness. 

  • 2B: This type of hair is medium-thick with a more even S-shape through. This hair reacts well to styling creams, but try to use only one at a time to prevent weighing it down.

  • 2C: This thicker type of wavy hair has tighter S-shapes and may even have some corkscrews. Regular conditioning and moisturising can be more important for this type of hair. 


If your hair has more of a corkscrew appearance than an S-shape, it is likely classified as ‘curly’. A big difference between wavy and curly hair is that the curls form even when your hair is wet. About 15% of Caucasian hair is curly, while about 95% African hair is curly or coily.

Curly hair gets less greasy than straight and wavy hair because it’s harder for the oils to travel down the hair.

As a result, you shouldn’t wash curly hair too regularly - 1 to 3 times per week is enough, and you should focus mainly on shampooing the scalp rather than the ends.

Less oils does of course mean curly hair is more prone to frizz, so conditioning is a must. Using leave-in conditioners and only brushing your hair when damp can also help prevent frizz.

Like other hair types, curly hair can be divided into three categories:

  • 3A: 3A is wavy towards the roots and more curly towards the tips. The corkscrews are much wider (think the width of a carrot). Use moisturisers and conditioners to prevent frizz, but otherwise make light use of products to avoid your hair becoming weighed down.

  • 3B: If your hair is evenly curly and holds its shape well, it’s likely 3B. The corkscrews on this hair type are large enough to go around a pen. On top of leave-in conditioner, feel free to use lots of other products on this hair like curl cream and styling gel. 


Coily type hair is made up of much tighter curls with little to no gap inside the curl. It is almost exclusively found in African style hair. 

This hair type is the most prone to dryness of any hair type. On top of using hydrating shampoos and conditioners, it is worth using hair oil to keep this hair nourished.

Heat products (like straighteners and hairdryers) should be used on it as little as possible as they can quickly damage this hair type. Wearing a sleep cosy on your head at night is recommended to further protect your hair.

Coily hair’s unique buoyant shape is great for exploring styles that aren’t an option for other hair types. Use specialist styling products for this.

As with other hair types, there are four categories of coily hair:

  • 4A: This is the thinnest coily hair type. It may present itself as larger curls around the scalp. As this hair is very prone to dryness, be sure to use lots of moisturising products but don’t weight it down with too many styling products.

  • 4B: 4B is medium-thick coily hair.  It is more evenly coiled, with coils taking on a z-shape. You can use more products on 4B than 4A and still maintain your hair’s shape. Just make sure to use hydrating products.

  • 4C: 4C has an almost natural frizz effect to it due to its densely packed coils. It’s arguably the most high-maintenance hair type, as it is most prone to breaking and tangling. However, by using specialist products aimed at 4C hair, you can make caring for this hair type much easier. Check out this guide on how to look after 4C hair


Many of us make simple haircare mistakes or hair styling errors because we do not know our hair type. 

By learning exactly what type of hair you have, you can become better equipped to prevent damage and can choose the right products to make it lush and shiny.

There are many images of each hair type online (including A, B and C subcategories) so that you can work out exactly what hair type you have. You’ll also find AI apps that can tell you exactly what type of hair you have by using your phone’s camera.

Specialist products can be found for all hair types. If you want to give your hair the best treatment, stick to these products. This is particularly vital for those with curly and coily hair types.

More beauty tips:

Note: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a small commission. Thank you for your understanding and support. Find out more about ads on our Disclosure page: All printable sales are final, due to the nature of digital products no refunds can be made.