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Type 3 hair: all you need to know

The beauty of curls is that no two are the same, and how your curls look and behave will vary depending on the shape of the follicle it grows from. The flatter the follicle, the tighter your curls will be. 

To make curls easier to navigate, hair experts separate them into different subcategories based on their characteristics. Curls are numbered from 2 to 4, and this number indicates whether your hair is wavy (2), curly (3) or coily (4). Then, they add a letter to the number, and this reflects how wide the pattern of your wave, curl or coil is. Type A is the widest and type C is the tightest, with type B sitting in the middle.

Here, we’re honing in on type 3 curly hair, helping you get to grips with the difference between 3A, 3B and 3C curls, their key characteristics and the best way to style them. Beautiful, bouncy curls have never been so easy to achieve.

The different types of type 3 hair

There are three different types of type 3 hair, each with its own curly personality. They can be broken down into:

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3A hair

Type 3A curls is the widest of the three, with a generous spiral and a large diameter

3B hair

Type 3B hair is more tightly wound than 3A curls, taking on the form of classic ringlets. You’ll notice more separation and definition between the curls, and they’ll appear dense and tightly packed

3C hair 

Type 3C hair is the curliest of the type 3 hair bunch, with a corkscrew shape that’s narrow in diameter (think the width of a pencil). Like 3B curls, they’re also very dense, and because they’re so compactly wound, will spring upwards when dry, making your hair appear shorter than it actually is


Identifying your exact curl type is the first step to finding the perfect hair care routine for you!  Read our guide "Discovering curl types and hair styles".



Curly hair: the potential challenges 

If you have type 3 hair, the potential problems you may face when caring for and styling your hair are…

  • Damage. All type 3 hair is unfortunately prone to damage, as the spiral shape makes it more likely to snap and snag. This is why it’s so important to be gentle with the hair, so never brush when dry and use as much as possible a diffuser on low heat and speed settings; 

  • Frizz. The bends in curly hair mean that the cuticles that coat our strands aren’t able to slot together neatly, leaving gaps that moisture can sneak in through. Moisture is the main cause of frizz, and what will take your hair from soft and shiny to frustratingly fluffy. Setting your finished style in place with a fresh shot on your diffuser and applying a little oil to seal the hair will ward off a frizzy finish;

  • Lack of definition. 3A hair doesn’t have as much of a narrow, defined spiral as types 3B and 3C, which can cause hair to look bouncy, but not necessarily curly. Shaping the hair when wet, applying products like mousse or gel that separate out your curls and drying carefully with a diffuser will all help encourage definition between your strands; 

  • Shrinkage. 3C curls are only as wide as a pencil, which means your hair looks much shorter when it’s dry than it does when it’s brushed out and wet. To reduce this spring and shrinkage, use the finger-like nodules on your diffuser to draw down and elongate your curls. 

How to dry and maintain type 3 hair

Now you have a good idea of which type 3 hair category your curls slot into, and the potential problems you might face when styling. Here’s how to dry, style and maintain your hair with the help of Diffon Supreme by Bellissima Italia. 

Washing type 3 hair

Start by turning the taps to tepid (water that’s too hot can damage your hair) and holding your hair under the water until it’s sopping wet. Then, take a curl-friendly shampoo and massage gently into the scalp. You might want to turn your head upside down at this point, as focusing on the underlayers will help to encourage more volume at the roots right from the beginning. 

Once your hair is clean, rinse thoroughly until all of the suds have swirled away down the plughole, and follow with a curl conditioner. This should only be applied to the lengths of your hair, which are most in need of moisture, rather than the roots which tend to be oilier. While your deep condition is on, take a moment to gently detangle any knots with your fingers or a soft brush with widely-spaced, bendy bristles, before rinsing. 


Styling type 3 hair ahead of drying

For your best type 3 curls yet, you’ll want to spend some time styling and treating the hair after washing, rather than moving straight onto drying with a diffuser. Begin by using a microfibre towel to absorb some of the excess water, especially if your hair isn’t very porous and takes a long time to dry. 

If you don’t have a microfibre towel, a cotton T-shirt is a good alternative. Then, divide your hair into sections and methodically apply your favourite cocktail of styling products, whether that includes leave-in conditioner, mousse, curl cream or gel. To give your type 3 hair more volume, you can do this with your head upside down. Finally, set the scene for your finished style by either scrunching the hair in sections to encourage bounce and movement or finger coiling to create more defined type 3 hair curls. 

Drying type 3 hair 

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The Diffon Supreme diffusers have both been designed especially for curly hair, meaning that every function is there to maximise your curls and minimise damage to the hair. The best way to use it on type 3A and type 3B hair is initially by holding it upside down to maximise definition and elasticity

If you have type 3C hair, you can follow the same approach, or you may want to use it with the head upwards to give you more control over the curls and to elongate them rather than encouraging them to spring up and shorten. The settings will vary too, as you may want to use slightly higher speed and heat settings on type 3C hair vs 3A and type 3B hair. 

From there, dry the roots first by tilting your head from one side, and then to the other, holding your Diffon diffuser tool directly onto the scalp. The more you move your head side-to-side while you’re doing this, the more movement and volume you’ll create. Next, dry the lengths by placing the hair inside the diffuser and bringing it upwards towards the root, the more you do this, the more bounce you’ll get. 

If you then want even more root lift, you can pinch the hair at the top with your fingertips in sections. As the hair dries, you’ll need less heat and power from your styler, so lower the settings and eventually use the Ultra Gentle function to set your curls in place. Once hair is fully dry, apply a little moisturising oil for even more definition and to keep frizz at bay.

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