Curly, Coily, Kinky, Confused:

AUTHOR RUKA HAIR - PUBLISHED 28th JAN 2021

When it comes to understanding our textured hair, one of the first things we look at is curl pattern. Though there are a number of other characteristics that determine how our hair will respond to certain methods and/or ingredients, curl pattern remains a significant tool when placing our hair in relation to that of others. Arguably, it is the overarching context within which we derive meaning for the other characteristics.

The gag is, 101 Pinterest infographics and YouTube videos later you probably still aren’t quite sure where to place your curl pattern.  If we're really being honest, w̶e̶’̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶, we’re all still there, honey. You’re not the only one thinking “it can’t possibly be this deep, can someone just tell me what my curl pattern is already?!”. 

The truth is, there are a number of similar (yet different) hair typing systems out there, and though they say variety is the spice of life, in this case it has felt more like the bane of life. So, because we can relate (and also because you’re right - it really isn’t that deep), here’s a straight-to-the-point, practical guide on how you can determine what your curl pattern is.

But before we get curly, let’s get a couple things straight first.

Our focus with this brand is to cater to women with textured hair, so with that in mind, we won’t be going into much detail about Type 1 hair which, in a nutshell, ranges from bone straight to slight loose waves. As you will see (below), we’re picking things up from here with some information on ‘Type 2 (Wavy-Curly) hair’, then focusing a bit more on ‘Type 3 (Curly-Coily) hair’, and ‘Type 4 (Coily-Kinky) hair’. 

ENCURLOPEDIA:

  • ‘S’ shaped curls: these literally look like the shape of a continuous ‘S’. Curls grow downwards as opposed to “round in a spiral) - i.e. no complete circles.
  • ‘O’ shaped coils: again, these look as close to the letter ‘O’ as hair can look. Hair grows in a spiral, creating loops of full circles that resemble a barrel that can be looked through the middle.
  • ‘Z’ shaped kinks: this pattern presents sharper turning points in contrast to the roundness of ‘S’ curls.
All these different pattern formations come in various sizes from large to small, and it is this difference in size in accordance with the ratio of S:O:Z curls and how they clump together that will determine your majority curl pattern. If we had to give you a formula it would look something like this:

Pattern Formation x Curl/Coil circumference x (Clump-ability + Definition) = Curl pattern

Okay, nobody is here for the maths, so how about we get into this guide?

TYPE 2

Wavy-Curly

2A

Pattern Formation: Very loose and large stretched out ‘S’ waves along the body of the hair.

Clump-ability & Definition: Softly defined waves form along and across the entire head of hair. Clumps form mainly near the front as opposed to all over the head.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Roots and ends are often still quite stretched with minimal curvature. Wave formation is often made up of larger sections of hair as opposed to smaller clumps.

2B

Pattern Formation: More rounded, less stretched out ‘S’ waves. Wave pattern is more consistent from root to ends

Clump-ability & Definition: Several large, thick but separate, clumps that largely follow a definitive pattern.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Ends exhibit slight but notable curvature

2C

Pattern Formation: Large clear well-rounded ‘S’ waves with “depth” and body. Hence the term “deep wave”

Clump-ability & Definition: Lots of separate defined wave patterns/clumps of medium thickness.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Very definitive thick clumps of deep waves, with many clumps exhibiting undeniable ‘C’ shaped curvature at the ends

TYPE 3

Curly-Coily

3A

Pattern Formation: Very loose and large stretched out ‘S’ waves along the body of the hair.

Clump-ability & Definition: Softly defined waves form along and across the entire head of hair. Clumps form mainly near the front as opposed to all over the head.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Roots and ends are often still quite stretched with minimal curvature. Wave formation is often made up of larger sections of hair as opposed to smaller clumps.

3B

Pattern Formation: More rounded, less stretched out ‘S’ waves. Wave pattern is more consistent from root to ends

Clump-ability & Definition: Several large, thick but separate, clumps that largely follow a definitive pattern.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Ends exhibit slight but notable curvature

3C

Pattern Formation: Large clear well-rounded ‘S’ waves with “depth” and body. Hence the term “deep wave”

Clump-ability & Definition: Lots of separate defined wave patterns/clumps of medium thickness.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Very definitive thick clumps of deep waves, with many clumps exhibiting undeniable ‘C’ shaped curvature at the ends

TYPE 4

Curly-Coily

4A

Pattern Formation: Very loose and large stretched out ‘S’ waves along the body of the hair.

Clump-ability & Definition: Softly defined waves form along and across the entire head of hair. Clumps form mainly near the front as opposed to all over the head.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Roots and ends are often still quite stretched with minimal curvature. Wave formation is often made up of larger sections of hair as opposed to smaller clumps.

4B

Pattern Formation: More rounded, less stretched out ‘S’ waves. Wave pattern is more consistent from root to ends

Clump-ability & Definition: Several large, thick but separate, clumps that largely follow a definitive pattern.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Ends exhibit slight but notable curvature

4C

Pattern Formation: Large clear well-rounded ‘S’ waves with “depth” and body. Hence the term “deep wave”

Clump-ability & Definition: Lots of separate defined wave patterns/clumps of medium thickness.

Tell-Tale sign(s): Very definitive thick clumps of deep waves, with many clumps exhibiting undeniable ‘C’ shaped curvature at the ends