If you’ve always wondered if your hair is “technically” curly or wavy (because it seems to be a bit more curly than most of your friends yet not quite spirals) then you are in the right place. You probably have 3a curls and today I am going to tell you everything you need to know about 3a hair.
Hello! My name is Colleen, and I am a Curly Hair Enthusiast! You can read my complete bio here!
If you have stumbled on this post, there is a good chance that you have already identified that you have 3a curls and you want to know how to care for them correctly. (If you are still a little confused about your curl type, you can visit this post to try to understand it a little bit better).
However, I will warn you not to get caught up in obsessing over your curl type. Yes, it does matter, BUT it’s not the end all be all of curly hair care.
Don’t let this step trip you up.
Before I realized that there was such a thing as curl type, I always felt confused trying to describe my hair. It’s curly, with waves and occasional spirals?
Now I know that it is super common to have multiple curl patterns throughout your hair which is why I always tell people not to get hung up here.
That being said, understanding your curl type (and more importantly porosity) will help you better understand what your hair needs.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and confused about curly hair care (or the curly girl method), I have a special gift for you!
I put together a little “curly girl cheat sheet” to help streamline the process. This is a step-by-step guide to curly hair care and is broken down into actionable steps.
Here are a few other posts you may like regarding 3A curls…
- The Best Curly Hair Products For 3a Curls
- How To Style 3A Curls Using Mousse
- My 3a Hair Routine
- 6 Must-Have Curly Hair Products By EVOLVh
- 9 Best Curly/Wavy Hair Products By Monat
3A Hair: Everything You Need To Know About 3A Curly Hair
What is a 3A hair type?
3A hair is defined as a combination of springy curls as well as wavey “S” shaped curls. Typically, 3A hair has larger ringlets that are a little over 1/2 inch in circumference.
This curl type is prone to being dry and frizzy and is typically fine to medium in texture.
Is my hair 3A or 3B?
Type 3A, 3B, and 3C are generally identified by the size of the spirals.
If your spirals are the size of sidewalk chalk they are 3A. If they are the size of a permanent marker then they are 3B and if they are the size of a pencil, they are 3C.
It is normal to have many different curl types throughout your head which is why I focus more on porosity and your hair’s overall needs than curl type alone.
For example, you will find 2C-3B curls throughout my head depending on the day.
Is 3A hair curly?
This is kind of a trick question because when you get into the curly community, people can get a little territorial about curly vs wavy.
My hair for example has been referred to by many people as curly while others continually comment on my posts letting me know that my hair is wavy and I shouldn’t be calling myself “curly”.
I’ve always considered myself curly because people (in real life) have always referred to my hair as curly and I have spirals throughout my hair.
For the sake of this post, I googled “definition of curly hair”.
This was the first post that came up….Curly Hair: “Something that’s curly is wavy, coiled, or spiral-shaped”
So technically speaking anyone who has wavy hair can be considered “curly”.
That being said, I consider 3A curls to be curly hair.
Is Cantu good for 3A hair?
Yes, Cantu can be a great product for 3A curls! However, if your hair is fine and/or low porosity, Cantu can be a bit too heavy.
When it comes to choosing products, hair type isn’t always the best indicator because it leaves out an important part of your hair.
For product selection, the arguably more important question is what is your hair’s porosity?
This measures the level at which your hair can absorb and retain products.
To keep it simple, lower porosity hair can typically handle products that are heavier in moisture while high porosity products can become weighed down and stringy after using heavy products. You can read an in-depth post on hair porosity here.
What products are good for 3A hair?
You will want to stick to products that are moisturizing but not heavy. Stay away from butters and oils because these can often weigh your curls down and make them stringy.
I always recommend avoiding sulfates, silicones, and parabens but will occasionally use a product containing sulfates or silicones if it works.
Mousse and curl cream is a great option for styling 3a curls.
As far as a solid wash day routine for 3A curls, I’ve listed my favorites below:
- Clarifying wash (once per month)
- Moisturizing shampoo
- Moisturizing conditioner
- Deep conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner
- Gel, mousse, curl cream
These products will give your 3a hair everything it needs to thrive when used properly.
As always, be sure to track your progress to learn what your hair needs and when it needs it.
I recommend downloading the daily curl tracker here.
You can visit this post to read an in-depth post of my favorite products for 3a curls.
How often should you wash 3A hair?
How often you wash your 3A curls depends on so many factors. Just because you have 3A hair type, doesn’t mean that all other characteristics of your hair are the same.
When trying to determine how often to wash you need to first ask yourself a few questions.
- Do you have any scalp issues?
- Is your hair typically oily or dry?
- Do you have heat damage?
- Do you have excessive shedding or hair loss?
- Do you have any build-up?
It’s important to create a hair washing schedule that promotes healthy hair and a healthy scalp. I always warn against trying to stretch your wash day so far that it sacrifices the health of your scalp and hair.
When I first began to bring my curls back, I washed them every other day.
Now I typically wash 2-3 times per week because my scalp is balanced and I understand what my hair needs.
I recommend first accessing the current condition of your hair, creating a schedule, and tracking everything you use (and how your hair reacts to each treatment and product) every day for 30 days.
This is a great way to find out what your hair needs.
You can easily keep track of your hair with a pen and paper. But if you’d like a customized daily curl tracker (as well as many other resources) you can click here to check out The Curly Girl Starter Kit.
How do you wash 3a hair?
When washing 3a curls, it’s super important to cleanse your hair while maintaining the natural oils needed to thrive.
Steps to washing 3a curly hair:
- Wet hair completely
- Use a dime size of shampoo and emulsify between your hands
- Focus on your scalp and massage in small circles.
- Rinse and repeat once more to be sure to get your scalp squeaky clean
- Rinse thoroughly and follow up with your favorite conditioner
Be sure to choose a curl-friendly shampoo whether it be a co-wash, moisturizing shampoo, or low poo wash.
How do I take care of my 3A hair?
Typical 3a curls thrive when you are implementing a consistent routine including the right treatments (finding the balance between protein and moisture ) and taking care of your scalp.
As always, it is hard to make a blanket statement about any hair type because they all vary so much. The best thing you can do is experiment and keep detailed notes to find out what your hair needs.
How do you define 3a curls?
There are many different things you do to encourage definition.
The three ways that I have seen the most success in getting more definition is by implementing curl training, using a brush to style, and using a strong hold gel.
Curl training helps gather natural curl clumps early on in the process while using a brush to style helps to enhance and define your curl pattern.
When you use a strong hold gel to finish the style and lock in the curl pattern, you will notice more defined curls.
- CLICK HERE to read my favorite curl-friendly brushes. Denman Brush or Behairful Brush
- CLICK HERE to get the Aussie Instant Freeze gel
3A curls are beautifully unique in their own special way.
When you take the time to understand what your hair needs, track what products work and what don’t, and create a healthy haircare routine, you will be well on your way to having curls you love!