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A Guide to 3B Hair: Types, Characteristics, and Care Tips

If you’ve been blessed with naturally curly hair, you know how great it can be when you get your styling right. You also know the serious work it takes to stave off dry, frizzy hair. Different hair types need specific care, styling, and products to look their best, and curly hair is no exception. If you have 3B hair, this one’s for you! We’re breaking down everything you need to know about caring for type 3B curls, including the best curly hair products and tips, ahead.

What is Type 3B Hair?

While no two heads of hair are alike, curls generally fall into one of nine curl types ranging from type 2A (fine, slightly s-shaped waves) to type 4C (tightly coiled, densely packed curls). Somewhere in the middle lies 3B curly hair — tight and springy with big volume and sometimes frizz. But naturally curly hair often has more than one type of pattern, and texture can create varied patterns. Because it’s in the middle of the type 3 spectrum, someone with type 3B curls would likely have a mix of both wavy and curly hair patterns. Type 3B hair generally features a significant amount of volume and defined curl patterns. 3B curls tend to experience shrinkage from wet to dry and become frizzy when brushed. They stay coiled no matter the tool or product used on them. Regardless of texture, a 3B hair type’s most defining characteristics are frizziness and dehydration. Of all the type 3 curl types, 3B falls in the middle. They’re tighter than type 3A curls but not as tight as 3C.

Hair Care Tips for 3B Hair

If your curl type is 3B, these tips will ensure only good curly hair days ahead.

Caring for 3B type curls

Do a monthly pre-poo treatment 

A pre-poo is a pre-shampoo protective treatment that’s applied to the hair as the first step in your wash routine — before shampoo and conditioner. A pre-poo treatment provides a protective layer for your curls to guard against moisture loss. A pre-poo can be done with a nourishing hair oil or butter, or ingredients like olive, avocado or coconut oil. Just lather your 3B curls with your butter or oil of choice and let it sit for 30 minutes before shampooing and conditioning your hair.

Use conditioner more often than you use shampoo

Your 3B curls get parched easily, so avoid over-shampooing them. Shampooing frequently leads to more dryness, causing frizz and damage. Use shampoo once a week. But, condition two to three times a week. Using conditioner more often than shampoo will give your curls the moisture they crave.

Don't brush your curls

Your 3B curly hair is fragile, especially when wet. Plus brushing curly hair will cause it to frizz. Instead of brushing, gently detangle your curls with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb after washing and conditioning. 

Use fewer products

Just because you have a lot of curls doesn’t mean you need a lot of products. In fact, the more products you use on your 3B hair, the more you’ll weigh it down. This leads to flat curls.When it comes to styling, stick to the essentials.

Know the porosity of your hair

Understanding your hair’s porosity is an important part of your 3B hair care routine. The lower the porosity, the more lightweight your products should be. The higher the porosity of the hair, the richer the products should be.

Avoid excessive heat

Over using heat on your already dry 3B curls will inevitably lead to breakage. If you must use heat, make sure the settings are on low and always use a heat protectant. Be sure to use the diffuser attachment anytime you blow dry your curly hair.

Protect your curls while you sleep

Keep your curls protected while you sleep by pineappling them. Pull your hair into a high, loose bun and secure it with a hair tie before bed. This will help keep your 3B curls intact while reducing frizz. Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase for extra frizz-fighting protection.

Best products to use on curls

The Best Products to Use for 3B Hair

The best products for curly hair are moisturizing and provide intense hydration. These are our favorite picks for your best 3B curls.

LOVE Curl Shampoo

A curl enhancing shampoo for 3B curly hair for hydrating shine and elasticity. This shampoo for curly hair cleanses curls making them soft, and enhances volume, without compromising texture. 

LOVE Curl Conditioner

A protein-rich hair conditioner for 3B hair types that crave moisture. The hair softening formula enhances and controls curly hair, while giving elasticity and volume without weighing curls down.

LOVE Curl Cream

A lightweight curl enhancing cream to define 3B curls. The leave-on serum gives definition and shine to curly hair, without weighing it down or leaving a residue.

OI Oil

An anti-frizz oil for dry, 3B hair types. The multi-function oil adds shine and softness to curls while detangling and fighting frizz. Curls are left protected, without being weighed down.

This is a Curl Building Serum

A curl-enhancing hair serum that's perfect for 3B curly hair. The leave-in serum creates defined, bouncy curls while adding elasticity, shine and blocking frizz and humidity.

LOVE Curl Revitalizer

A revitalizing curl refresher that boosts the elasticity of 3B curls in between shampoos. It refreshes flat curls while controlling frizz.

How to define your curls

Styling Tips: Defining Your Curls

When it comes to styling curly hair, these are the best tips for defining your 3B curls.

Use the right shampoo

Using the right shampoo for your hair type is a must. Your 3B curls will thrive with a mild shampoo that doesn’t contain silicones or sulfates. Opt for a gentle shampoo for curly hair. This will ensure your curls get clean without ingredients that will dry them out. 

Don't wash every day

One of the most important things you can do for your 3B curly hair is to avoid washing it daily. Washing every day leads to dry curls and damage. On the days you don’t shampoo, rinse with water and just a bit of conditioner moisturize your 3B curls.

Deep condition

A deep conditioner is a must for combatting the frizz, dryness, tangles, and breakage associated with your 3B curly hair. Unlike a regular conditioner that only smooths the outer layer of the cuticle, a deep conditioner penetrates the hair shaft and smoothes it from the inside out.

Don't towel-dry your curls

After washing your hair, never rub your curls dry with a towel. The friction from the towel will rough up the cuticle, causing frizz and breakage. Instead use a cotton t-shirt to squeeze out the excess water from your 3B curls.

Use a wide-toothed comb

Brushing your 3B hair is an instant recipe for frizz, in the same way as using a towel. It’s best to tame your curls with a wide-toothed comb. Gently rake through your hair while it’s still wet to keep it tangle-free.


Use a root covering powder

A root covering powder is the perfect temporary fix to cover wider parts or multiple bald spots. These are spray-on powders that you match to the color of your hair. They cover any bald patches on your scalp and give the illusion of thickness at your roots.

Detangle gently

Avoid pulling or tugging at knots and tangles, as this can break your hair. Use your wide-toothed comb gently and be patient when you detangle. Make sure your 3B curls are prepped with a leave-in conditioner and work from the ends up to slowly and carefully detangle any rough spots. 

Use the LOC method

Everyone with curly hair, 3B hair types included, can benefit from using the LOC method to style their curls. LOC stands for liquid, oil cream and it represents the order in which you should apply your curly hair products. Start by wetting your curls and smoothing on a nourishing hair oil to seal the cuticle. Then, cup your curls and scrunch upward with a curl-defining cream. 

Always use heat protection

You should avoid heat styling your 3B curls when you can, as it can cause irreversible damage. But if you absolutely must use heat, prep your strands beforehand with a heat protectant. Keep your tool settings on low and don’t use a blow dryer without a diffuser attachment. 

The Bottom Line

The more you know about your curl type, the more equipped you’ll be to maintain and style them. Protecting your 3B curls, preventing moisture loss, and using the right products are all important steps to consider in your hair care routine.Use only high quality curly hair products to keep your curls happy, like the ones from Davines. For a curly haircut, blowout or styling appointment or get personalized advice on caring for your 3B curls, see a Davines stylist at a salon in your area.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

Leave-in serum for creating defined, bouncy curls.

Transformative gel-to-oil for hydrated, well-defined curls.

Elasticizing and revitalizing treatment for wavy or curly hair.

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