Kinks, Curls and Coils?
Curly, coily, kinky – however you choose to christen your hair, it’s that magical texture that makes us so proud. Let’s start at the root and get scientific: the curl of our hair is determined by the shape of the follicle. If it’s oval-shaped rather than circular, the hair grows out coiled – kind of like when you pull ribbon between your thumb and a scissor blade to make it curl (clever, right?). The narrower the oval, the tighter the coil. It’s for this exact reason that curly hair tends to be drier and needs less washing than straight hair; oils from the scalp find it more difficult to slip down the hair, as it’s more of a corkscrew journey from A to B. Once you’ve got these two facts on board, it’s so much easier to understand our hair and how it behaves. Your hair needs nurture and acceptance, rather than neglect and trying to make it something it isn’t.
Understanding your curl type and hair density (how much hair you have rather than how thick each strand is) is crucial for that, and for finding the right products and routines to bring out the best they can offer. Just to note: don’t fret if your hair doesn’t 100% fit into one of the categories. Curlier sections and not-so-curly areas are normal, so just map out your head and treat each bit accordingly.
Curly Hair Types
The moment when hair becomes curly rather than wavy. Often large, loopy curls in a S-shape or corkscrew, roughly the diameter of a glue stick. This hair type can struggle to hold a defined curl, so finger coiling and light gel are its best friends.
Tighter ringlets than 3A, about the size of a finger. Mostly corkscrew shaped with a few looser S-shapes or tighter curls, and more prone to dryness – so take extra care of those ends!
Chopstick-sized curls, somewhere in between curly and coily. This hair type tends to have more volume than the other 3s thanks to its tighter structure, and also shrinks more when drying.
Enter the coils! The bridge between curly and more afro hair with a distinct curl pattern around the size of a rose’s stem. This hair type needs much more moisture than the type 3s due to its lack of layers on the cuticle (they protect the hair from drying out).
Each coil starts to take on different shapes rather than just corkscrews: think zigzags, loops and tight S’s. Oils work their magic best on this hair type and onwards, as they help lock in moisture and bring out the best of the texture.
Often misunderstood as more coarse and unbreakable, this section is the most delicate and needs extra TLC. A similar coil shape to 4B but tighter (roughly the size of a wire coat hanger), it has the most volume and shrinkage.