my 3a hair routine

My 3a Hair Routine

Because 3a hair is a unique particular hair type, I think it’s fair that it deserves its own unique particular hair routine. Today I am sharing My 3a Hair Routine and I hope it helps all the other 3a curly girl’s around the world navigate finding the right products and techniques that work.

After working with hundreds of people to help them transform their hair, I have found that there are 3 mistakes that prevent 90% of people with textured hair from getting the results they want. 

You can take my FREE quiz to help you determine which mistake you are making AND give you an action plan to combat this mistake.

mistake finder

Click here to take the quiz

About My Hair And Why It Matters

Throughout this post, you will find detailed descriptions of my hair. The reason I described my curls in so much detail is that I find it helpful as a curly girl to know exactly what other curls are like to understand a curly hair routine. 

I hope that makes sense. 

It’s hard to understand the whole picture if you just get bits and pieces of a routine because let’s be real, every single thing you do to curly hair affects the outcome.

The Uniqueness Of 3A Curls 

 When it comes to having 3a curls, our curls are different from all the other curls types.

We fall in this middle ground of not being wavy and not being curly. I’ve had people rave about how my curls are perfect spirals and the very next commenter is “offended that I consider myself a curly girl because I most definitely have waves”. 

Maybe that’s why there is so much confusion around finding your hair type. At a certain level, it comes down to the eye of the beholder. 

Throughout my hair, you will see wavey waves, and spiraled curls and that changes almost every time I do my hair. But overall, I consider myself a 2b-3a, low to medium porosity, and medium density. 

My hair looks much thicker than it is. 

I can get away with using a wide range of products because my curls benefit from both curly and wavy products.

Important Note: Keep in mind that even within a specific hair type, curls can still be drastically different.

What works for my 3a curls may not work for your 3a curls. 

As always it’s important to experiment and test different products to find what works best for your curls. Use this post as a starting point and if something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit in your routine. 

It is super important to always keep track of every product, treatment, and technique, and how your hair reacts to them. 

Setting The Stage

Before you can get started with a wash day routine, it’s important to set the stage for success. For example, I always schedule out my week as to when I am doing to wash, treat, and refresh my hair. 

It makes it easier to plan for events.

My hair is best on day two so I always plan things like church or a weekend barbeque to fall on that day. It’s not always perfect especially if we have a busy schedule but it, at last, gives the ability to plan out my washday. 

I typically wash every two-four days but three is the sweet spot. Two days doesn’t give my hair the chance to build all those delicious nutritious oils and by day four, there are just a little too many oils. 

My Favorite Product Line For 2a-3a Curls

Note: My curly hair product recommendation list is continually updated since I am always testing new product lines. 

EVOLVh is a high-end curly hair product line that is committed to formulating innovative products that heal your hair from the inside out. 

Many companies fill their products with harmful ingredients that act as a band-aide for your hair but don’t deal with the root issue.

Long term, this causes your curls to become dependent on harsh ingredients.

EVOLVh’s products are formulated with clean ingredients that are friendly to the environment. Their goal is function and performance. 

A couple of things I love about EVOLVh

  • The products have a light pleasant smell – Strong smells in products give me a headache after a while
  • Formulated with clean ingredients – It’s a great way to swap out your toxic hair care line with a clean toxic free line
  • The products last a long time – A little bit goes a long way 
  • Free from: Sulfates, gluten, parabens, propylene glycol, silicones, phthalates
  • Hydrates, without weighing down – It’s the perfect amount of moisture for my 3a curls 
  • Medium hold – I love the super defining cream because it offers the perfect amount of hold
  • I love that they keep their products simple. You don’t have to try to choose from dozens of different products

This is currently my top recommended brand. Keep in mind that products recommendations in this blog are subject to change as I am always testing new product lines. 

I use and highly recommend EVOLVh. My curls are loving these products! I recommend getting started with the curl bundle. It has everything you need to get started on your curly journey.

>>>>>Click here to shop the curl bundle – Use code COLLEEN for 15% off

My 3a Hair Routine 

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning that If you purchase through clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Healthy Habits 

Healthy habits have to be talked about before a haircare routine. Because I truly believe your curls will only look as great as your consistent habits of taking care of them.

 If you need help establishing healthy habits, get a copy of the FREE curly girl cheat sheet here that has dozens of tips and tricks to taking care of curls. 

Hair Skin And Nails Supplement

Taking a hair skin and nails supplement in my opinion is key especially once you’ve had kids. It just helps to make up any missing vitamins in your diet that promote hair growth and hair health. 

I get this supplement at Costco and it works great. I noticed a difference in my hair growth, thickness, and nail growth within the first 30 days. 

Add collagen to your daily routine 

Collagen has been growing in popularity and for good reason. It has many benefits for your overall health but particularly for your hair skin and nails. 

Adding collagen to your daily routine will help your curls grow healthy and strong. 

I love this collagen brand because it is effective and by far the best on the market.

Scalp Massage 

Healthy curls start with a healthy scalp. It is important to nourish your curls from the very start to have long term hair health. There are many great products on the market that are healthy for your hair. 

I love Righteous Roots and use it every morning and evening.

Cleansing & Treatments

Cleansing and treatments are a key building block in your curly routine. 

Ask your favorite Instagram blogger or best friend who’s curls you love and I guarantee you she uses one if not many different treatments to get those gorgeous curls. 

Cleanse and condition 

Cleansing and conditioning is always the first step in my routine. I use to do a pre-poo when my hair was long because it had many more tangles, but it’s not necessary with my shorter cut.

I always use a cleanser designed for curly hair and a semi-heavy conditioner. I’ve found that If I used products marketed for coily hair they tend to be a bit too heavy and weigh my curls down making them stringy. 

Most companies are really good about labeling their products and are true for the user. Meaning that if the product is labeled for wavy hair, it may be too light for you. So always read the label to determine what that product was designed for.

I use the cleanser and conditioner in the EVOLVh Curly Bundle.

>>>>>Click here to shop the curl bundle – Use code COLLEEN for 15% off

Deep Condition Twice Per Week (one full 30 minutes, one just 15 minutes)

The two core building blocks your curls need to thrive are moisture and protein. Which is why deep conditioning does wonders for your curls. 

I typically do two deep conditioning treatments per week 4-5 days apart. 

The first one I apply and let sit for 15 minutes and the second I will let sit for 30 minutes to give my hair a good boost of moisture.

This will vary on your curls needs so you will need to do some experimenting.

I use EVOLVh’s reconstructive masuq

>>>>CLICK here to get EVOLVh’s reconstructive masque- Use code COLLEEN for 15% off

Rice Water Rinse Once Per Month (followed by a deep conditioning treatment)

While a deep conditioning treatment establishes moisture, doing a rice water treatment adds protein which is so important to maintain your curl pattern. It gives your curls bounce!

Using my homemade rice water recipe, I run it through my hair once per month. But early on in my curly journey, I did them every week.

It varies on your curls needs so you will need to experiment. 

You can see my recipe water recipe here.


As a 3a curly girl with many different curl patterns throughout my hair, I use a hybrid styling method incorporating several different techniques. 

Apply Bounce Curl Clump And Define Cream

On soaking wet hair, quickly run a Denman brush throughout my hair in 1 inches sections shaking the section right after. 

Then I use a quarter size of Bounce Curl Curl And Clump Cream two separate times and distribute it through my hair in 1-inch sections focusing on the tips and being mindful to distribute the product evenly. I do this using the rake and scrunch method.

Light Cream Based Gel 

Once I have a good moisture foundation with the curl and clump cream, I like to finish the look by using a light cream-based gel to lock in the curl pattern. 

Cream-based gel tends to be less crunchy on my hair and I value that over definition. 

First I’ll rake the gel through my hair in one-inch sections and then finish by applying a small amount of the same product to using the praying hand’s method. This helps to gather and encourage those beautiful natural curl clumps.

>>>>>CLICK here to get my favorite cream based gel

Finish Off With Finger Coiling Rouge Curls 

Even on my best wash days, I always have a few stray curls that just don’t seem to want to behave. After I’ve applied all my products and scrunched, I go back through and finger coil and curls that just aren’t doing their thing. 

Add some water to any rouge curls, run a tiny bit of gel through, twist or coil around your finger, and then scrunch.

And if you haven’t already taken the mistake finder quiz, you can do that here: https://curlquiz.colleencharney.com/sf/ad409248


Plop For 10 Minutes

Once my hair is completely styled, put it in a plop and let it sit for 15 minutes. It’s super important that once you’ve styled your curls you touch them as little as possible until they are completely dry. 

Let Air Dry Until 95% 

After 15 minutes I take my curls out of a plop and let them air dry until they are 95% dry. Sometimes I will clip the roots to help ad lift and volume but not always. 

The reason I like to let it air dry as much as possible is…..

  1. It’s healthier on your hair long term
  2. Even when you use a diffuser it still creates a bit of frizz. 

However, I like to blast my roots with a diffuser to finish drying and add volume. 

The final step in the drying process is a scalp massage. I do this as a finishing touch to add volume. Be sure to wait until your hair is 100% dry. If it is even slightly wet, it will break up your curl pattern and add unwanted frizz.


Always Sleep On Silk Pillowcase

I always sleep on a silk pillowcase because it helps maintain moisture and causes less friction which means less hair damage while you sleep.

The first night after I wash I sleep on a silk cap for added protection. If I’m trying to keep my curls for something special, I’ll sleep on a silk cam on day two as well. 

If I am cleaning or working out I’ll pull my hair out of my face and put it in a pineapple or clip it back. 

Always use a non-damaging hair tie when you pineapple. Traditional hair ties cause hair damage and pull out your curls. 

>>>>Click here to get my favorite silk cap


When it comes to refreshing, you may be surprised how well your curls will come back. On day two my curls need little refreshing, but day three and four (if I got that long) I do a fairly in-depth refreshing routine.

Wet Hair Using Pull And Scrunch Method 

Section hair in natural curl clumps and dampen hair down starting at the bottom and moving to the top. Avoid wetting your roots to maintain day to volume. You can use a spray bottle but I just wet my hands and run it over my hair and it works just fine. 

Once each section is damp, I add a tiny bit of curl cream focusing on frizzy areas and pull that section down, distributing the product and then scrunch it back up. This may seem counterintuitive but it works well for my curls.

I always finish my refresh off by adding a tiny bit (dime-size amount) of my cream-based gel and smooth it over my hair, then scrunch it. 

In Conclusion:

While products and application techniques certainly do matter, the most important part of having great curls is establishing a healthy consistent hair care routine. 

Once you’ve nailed taking care of your hair, it’s all downhill. 

Do some experimenting in finding the right products that work for your specific hair type and be sure to track your progress to find out how your hair reacts to each product, technique, and treatment. 

Get Your Custom Curl Tracker Here

In the end, if you take the time to nourish and love your curls, they will always love you back!

You can see my 3a curly hair routine below.




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