3c hair type infographic

Think you've spotted your hair twin? Think again. You and your friend may both have the same curl pattern, but that is where the similarity ends. Length, density, porosity, and texture all matter when it comes to choosing a specially-tailored hair care regimen for your curls. Nikki (on the left) and Devri (on the right) are two NaturallyCurly editors with Type 3c curls, but they have different regimens, like different products, and different styles work for their hair - here's why.

Length

Your hair length can determine which products you should use as well as how to apply them. It will also have an effect on the way your hair looks, because longer hair will weigh down the curl and stretch it out, that is why many curlies find that when they cut their hair short it appears curlier. In the infographic above, Nikki has long hair so her Type 3c curls appear slightly looser than Devri's medium length 3c curls.

Most curlies measure their hair length when their curls are stretched or straightened, to remove shrinkage from the equation. (Shrinkage refers to the phenomenon that occurs when your curly hair looks much shorter than your straightened hair).

  • ½ inches or less is known in the curly community as a teeny weeny afro, or a TWA
  • 1/2 to 2 inches is called a pixie
  • 2 to 10 inches is referred to as medium, shoulder length to bra strap length, or BSL
  • 10 inches or longer is considered long hair
We love hair of all lengths, but we understand that many of our readers come to us for information on how to grow their hair longer. One important factor to understand is that your hair may be growing from the root, but you may not be retaining length due to breakage. For tips on achieving longer hair, read 5 Reasons Your Hair Isn't Gaining Length.

Density

Density ranges from low to high, and refers to how closely individual strands of hair are packed together on your scalp. You can see that Nikki's ponytail is much smaller, almost half the size, of Devri's ponytail. This is because Devri has higher density hair.

Knowing your hair density will help you choose the right products and styles to maintain your hair's volume, which is a factor when it comes to density levels. One way to find your density is to have a friend count the number of strands growing in a 1-inch by 1-inch area of your scalp, but since the average person has about 2,200 strands of hair per square inch, it can take some time to count them all. Fortunately, there are other ways you can determine your hair density, like measuring the size of your ponytail or seeing if your scalp is visible through your hair. 

Dense hair is often mistakenly described as "thick," but thick hair technically refers to the thickness of the individual strand (we talk more about this below when we discuss texture), while density refers to having a lot of strands.

Porosity

Porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. Nikki has low porosity, so her hair can literally take all day to dry. Devri has been dyeing her hair for years, so it is high porosity and dries very quickly.

Porosity is affected by the flexible outer hair layer called the cuticle, which determines how easily moisture and oils pass in and out of your hair. For most, porosity is genetic, but it can also be affected by external factors such as exposure, heat treatments and chemical processing. Knowing your hair's porosity can help you choose the right products to keep your hair well-moisturized, supple, strong and shiny. If you're uncertain what your porosity is, read here for 3 methods for determining yours. Once you have done that, you can cater your regimen to suit your hair's porosity, whether it's low, medium or high.

  • Low: Tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat. This type of hair is the shiniest of the three, and repels moisture when you try to wet it. Dyeing hair is harder to process since low porosity hair resists penetration of chemicals.
  • Medium: The cuticle layer is looser, allowing just the right amount of moisture to enter while preventing too much from escaping. Hair with normal porosity tends to hold styles well, and can be permed and colored with predictable results.
  • High: High porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, which let too much moisture into your hair and leave it prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather. This can either be an inherent property or the result of chemical processing or environmental damage. 

Texture

Hair texture describes the thickness of your individual strands of hair. The three types of hair textures are fine, medium and coarse. Nikki has fine hair, as you can see above her individual strands are not as wide as Devri's individual strands. To determine the texture of your strands, it easiest to compare those strands to the thickness of a standard string of thread. When the hair strand is thinner than the string of thread, your hair is fine. Hair strands with the same thickness as a thread are classified as medium, and thicker than the thread are coarse, according to CurlyNikki. To learn more about the differences between fine and coarse hair, check out the full descriptions here.

Have you ever noticed that your hair looks different from other curlies with your curl pattern?