Your hair type defines how you should care for it. Type 3A hair is one of the trickiest to look after, as you’ll have a mix of waves and loose curls, and might be prone to frizz.
When you know how to care for your 3A hair, you can make every day a great hair day. Here, you’ll discover how to find out whether you have 3A hair, essential care tips for this curly hair type, and how to treat and prevent curly hair loss.
Type 3A hair is characterised by defined ringlets, but these are typically loose spirals rather than tight coils. 3A curls tend to be wide and springy, though they can appear more wavy than curly when wet.
Zendaya and Annalynne McCord famously have type 3A hair:
It’s not always easy to differentiate between hair types, especially if you’ve chemically or heat-treated your hair. This can permanently alter the natural curl of your hair until it grows out.
Hair types are split into four categories, with three subcategories in each one. This chart shows the difference between each hair type:
Types 2C, 3A, and 3B can be hard to distinguish. That’s because many people have a mix of different hair types on their scalp as each follicle produces hair independently of the others.
Those with curl type 2C hair tend to have more waves than curls, while those with 3A hair have more curls. In general, 3A ringlets are at least the width of a permanent marker or highlighter pen. 3B hair is characterised by tighter ringlets with a smaller circumference.
Like all curly hair types, 3A hair is prone to frizz. There are a few reasons for this:
While your 3A hair may feel rough and frizzy at times, it can become glossy and full with the right care. Follow this 3A curly hair routine to look after your curls and make them look their best.
Conditioning your hair is an essential part of any haircare routine, but it’s especially important for those with curly hair types. Curly hair types struggle with hair breakage more than straight hair types, but conditioning your hair can lower friction and reduce the chance of hair damage .
Deep conditioning your hair once or twice a week (depending on your level of hair dryness) will moisturise your hair strands and help you tackle frizzy broken hair on top of your head. Leave-in conditioners can protect your hair while combing wet hair and may help keep your curls intact for longer .
Chemical treatments like relaxers, rebonding, and perms are designed to permanently change the structure of your hair. While this can make it easier to manage, it’s difficult to restore your natural 3A curl definition following chemical treatments. You’ll need to wait for your hair to grow out to get your natural curls back.
While heat treatments are less permanent, they can still make your hair feel dry and brittle, which can lead to breakage. Heat is linked with hair loss, so it’s also a good idea to avoid using straighteners or curling tongs as much as possible even for temporary restyling.
Co-washing is an increasingly popular option for people with curly hair types. It involves washing your hair with conditioner only, without the need for shampoo. Some shampoo surfactants like sulphates can lead to frizz, hair strand fragility, and scalp dryness .
Co-washing may help avoid excessive frizz and roughness in those with 3A hair, though there’s limited scientific evidence to prove this.
If you do decide to co-wash your hair, avoid products that contain insoluble silicones, as they can cause excessive scalp buildup that’s difficult to remove.
Combing or brushing your hair too often or too harshly can lead to hair breakage at the crown and hairline, especially in curly hair . Minimise the time you spend brushing, and use a detangling solution or leave-in conditioner to help smooth your hair and remove knots without tugging or pulling.
Brushing your hair when dry can spoil your curl pattern, so it’s best to brush it when wet.
Regular cotton pillowcases cause friction between the fabric and your hair, which can damage your hair shafts.
Using a silk pillowcase for your hair (or putting your hair in a silk bonnet) can reduce the amount of friction, protecting your hair while you sleep.
Those with 3A hair types should consider using these products to maintain their curls:
Hair loss can affect everyone, regardless of their natural hair type. Currently, no studies have established whether hair loss is more or less likely to affect people with curly hair .
However curly hair is more prone to breakage due to the twists and angles in the hair shaft . Breakage can lead to hair thinning that looks similar to hair loss.
Those with curly hair types are also more likely to have dry hair fibres, which are liable to snap off .
One study measured the average amount of hair loss among women with short, medium, and long curly hair, comparing results in those with healthy hair and those with (FPHL) :
The scores and their equivalent value in terms of number of hairs lost are shown in these photos:
Hair shedding score and equivalent hair loss in women with short hair.
Women with female pattern hair loss are more likely to see substantial hair shedding than those with healthy hair. But it’s normal to experience some curly hair shedding even if you have healthy hair.
Diagnosing and treating 3A hair loss is a process that’s unique to every individual:
If the cause of your hair loss isn’t obvious, hair loss blood tests may be needed to determine the underlying triggers and find the right hair loss treatment for women.
Treatments for curly hair loss often include:
Taking care of your 3A hair and living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent hair loss. That includes eating plenty of healthy hair foods, getting regular exercise, and using the haircare tips above.
However, not all hair loss is preventable. If other people in your family have genetic hair loss, you may be more likely to lose hair yourself. Unfortunately, you won’t know if you’re affected until your hair loss starts.
If you’re worried about hair loss, consult with a professional trichologist at the first signs of hair thinning or balding. At the Wimpole Clinic, we’ll examine your hair, scalp, lifestyle, and medical history to determine the cause of your hair loss, and help you stop it progressing further.
Book a consultation for an assessment of your 3A hair online or face-to-face at one of our clinic locations today.
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