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The Beginner's Guide to 3A Hair: Types, Characteristics, and Care Tips

Curly hair comes in all different shapes and sizes, and it's important to customize your routine to your hair type and curl pattern. Once you've figured it out, following the right routine will make all the difference to your curls. We’re diving into the world of 3A hair, including what it is, how to style it and the best hair care tips and products for this curly hair type.

What is Type 3A Hair?

There are four basic curl types and textures ranging from 1 to 4. Type 1 is straight. Type 2 denotes wavy hair with no discernible curl, type 3 is curly, and type 4 is coily. Subcategories of A to C further break down the texture and patterns of the strands on the head. 3A curly hair is characterized by loose spirals about the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk, and can be straightened easily. From type 3B to type 3C hair, the curl type gets tighter. 3A texture is fine to medium, without much body or volume in your hair. It’s less likely to be as frizzy as type 3B and 3C hair, and can appear a bit flat. Another challenge for 3A curls is dry hair. All curly hair types struggle with dryness, but some more than others. Because of the curl pattern of type 3A hair, natural oils from the scalp have a hard time making their way to the ends. Using drying hair care ingredients like sulfates and parabens can worsen the issue. 3A curls are also at a higher risk of breakage. 3A hair types often get confused with 2C hair. Though one is wavy and the other is curly, they do appear similar. But type 2C hair has a zig-zag pattern and 3A hair has an S-shaped spiral pattern.

Caring for 3A hair type

Hair Care Tips for 3A Hair

Follow these curly hair care tips and hair hacks for beautiful, healthy 3A curls.

Know your curl’s porosity

Your porosity is your hair strand’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. If you have naturally low-porosity hair, products have a hard time penetrating your hair strand, so they end up building up on the surface and weighing down your curls. If you have high-porosity hair products absorb really easily, but also evaporate even easier, leaving your hair perpetually dry.

Avoid sulfates

Sulfates are incredibly drying and damaging to your hair. You should avoid them at all costs, no matter what your hair type. But especially for 3A hair types, where curls are already prone to being fairly dry.

Amp up your hair’s hydration

To prevent your 3A curls from drying out, focus on adding moisture to your hair whenever possible. Stock up on leave-ins, deep conditioners and hydrating hair masks to protect and nourish your curls. The more moisturized they are, the less damaged they’ll be.

Try a pre-poo treatment

Pre-poo is an abbreviation of pre-shampoo, referring to a protective treatment you apply to your hair as the first step in your wash routine. The idea is that you’re providing a nourishing, protective layer for your hair and scalp, before shampoo, to combat moisture loss.

Recommended care for type 3A hair Davines curly curls

Avoid over-washing

Washing too frequently will dry out your 3A curls. Wash your hair only once a week. This way the natural oils produced in your scalp will sit in your hair, making it stronger and overall healthier. This applies to 3A hair specifically- other hair types may require different wash schedules.

Pineapple at bedtime

Pineappling is an easy way to keep your 3A curly hair frizz-free while you sleep. Before bed, flip your head over, gather your curls on the top of your head, and tie them loosely with a scrunchie, letting your hair spill forward. In the morning shake out your curls and use your fingers to style.

Best Products To Use for 3A Hair

The best products for curly hair are sulfate free and provide intense moisture and hydration. These are our favorite products for 3A hair.

LOVE Curl Shampoo

This shampoo for curly hair gives elasticity to your 3A curls. It cleanses the hair, makes it soft and light enhancing its volume, shine and without compromising texture. 

OI All in One Milk

This hydrating leave-in conditioner reduces frizz on 3A hair types. It’s an all-in-one multi-function hair milk that softens, detangles, controls frizz and protects the hair from heat.

LOVE Curl Mask

This hydrating hair mask provides nourishment for curly or wavy hair. It gives remarkable softness and hydration to 3A curls.

LOVE Curl Controller

This curl cream controls volume with an anti-frizz effect for your 3A hair. It defines the curl texture leaving the curl soft, light and elastic even in case of high humidity.

This is a Curl Building Serum

This leave-in curl building serum defines 3A curls and adds elasticity and shine, blocking frizz and humidity.

This is a Curl Gel Oil

With a gel-to-oil texture, this hydrating formula provides moisture and definition while reducing frizz. It leaves your 3A hair type soft and shiny.

This is a Curl Moisturizing Mousse

This mousse hydrates and defines, boosting your 3A curls to help them maintain their bounce and structure.

Products to care for type 3A hair

This is a Perfecting Hairspray

A strong hold hairspray that dries quickly, resists humidity and preserves the natural movement of your 3A curls, without weighing them down.

This is an Invisible Dry Shampoo

A waterless style extender that absorbs oil and impurities leaving behind a soft and natural finish. It helps to prolong the duration of your styled 3A curls and delay washing time.

Styling Tips for Defining Your Curls and Reducing Frizz

When it comes to styling curly hair, these are the best tips for defining your 3A curls and reducing frizz.

Follow the "Curly Girl Method"

The Curly Girl Method is a guide for people with wavy, curly, and coily hair types to get their best curls using specific products and styling techniques. The specifics will vary- someone with super-tight coils won’t likely follow the same routine as someone with fine waves- but the idea is the same. By using the best cocktail of ingredients and application methods for your exact curl type, you’ll enhance your natural 3A curl pattern while reducing frizz, dryness, and breakage.

Avoid tight hairstyles

Avoid tight hairstyles like tight ponytails, braids, and buns that pull at the roots. These hairstyles also loosen your curl structure.

Be gentle with your curls

Curly hair is more prone to breakage than straight hair types, so it’s important to be gentle with your strands. Especially after washing when your wet curls are most vulnerable. Don’t brush. Instead, apply a leave-in conditioner, then separate and detangle your curls with a wide-tooth comb. And avoid touching your hair too much, which can cause frizz.

Try plopping to air dry

Using heat on your 3A curls disrupts their natural pattern, so instead of using a blow dryer, try plopping. After you wash your hair, lay a T-shirt out with the sleeves at the end closest to you. Flip your head forward so that all of your hair is in the center and on top of your head. Take the flap of fabric that’s behind your head and flip it up, tying the sleeves of the shirt behind your head in a knot. Wait at least minutes for the excess water to absorb before taking down your curls.

Keep go-to products on hand

Keep a hairspray and curl-refresher spray handy. You may need them at any time. A hairspray will keep your 3A curls in place and prevent flyaways and a curl-refresher builds curl-definition and makes your hair look fresh.

Final Thoughts on Your 3A Curls

Curly hair comes in all different shapes and sizes, and it's important to customize your routine to your hair type and curl pattern. But the single most important thing to remember about curly hair is that it’s naturally inclined to dry out and it craves moisture. If you’re a 3A hair type, maintain your curls with lots of hydration. It’s impossible to over-hydrate curly hair, so in addition to keeping our 3A curly hair guide on-hand, stock up on all your favorite Davines curly hair products to keep your hair healthy. Our hair care isn’t just good for your hair, it’s good for the planet. For a curly haircut, blowout or styling appointment see a Davines stylist at a salon in your area to get personalized advice on how to care for your 3A curls.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

Curl-enhancing shampoo for wavy or curly hair.

Elasticizing and controlling conditioner for wavy or curly hair.

Controlling and relaxing cream for wavy or curly hair.

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