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3C Hair Type: How to Style & Take Care of Your Hair

3C hair type, also known as the ‘tightest type of 3 curls’ or very curly hair, is all about curls that look like tight corkscrews and are much denser than the other types.

This hair type is largely characterized by voluminous, bouncy, and kinky curls, along with tight coils and strands that have a lot of volumes.

Interestingly, 3C hair was added to the hair type chart when there was quite a gap between the 3B and 4A hair types. 3B hair comprises of well-defined, spiral curls, and 4A hair consists of tightly coiled and curled hair.

The void between these two hair types was conveniently filled by 3C hair as many women do have fine, textured curls that couldn’t be put in 3B or 4A curl categories.

What Is 3C Hair?

3C Hair Type

3C hair is characterized by the tightest curl pattern with corkscrew-like ends. You can expect a single curl to be as long as a straw or a pencil when stretched.

In case you do fall in the 3C hair type category, you should know that it comes with its own hair care routine, hair maintenance regime, and what not!

But not to worry, our 3C hair guide will give you all the scoop you need about your hair in terms of how to style it and care for it so that you can give your kinky and bouncy curls all the flair and love they deserve.

It’s More Than Just A Mass of Densely Packed Curls

When it comes to hair types, a lot of women are often unable to tell if they have the 3C hair type. Some also don’t know what it means to have 3C hair.

To them, it’s simply a mass of densely packed curls, and while that is a simple way to describe this hair type, 3C hair is actually so much more than that. It’s a very curly hair type with a prominent Z or S-curve that holds on to its shape even if you pull or stretch it.

The most defining feature of 3C hair is that it retains its fine texture as well as a definite curl pattern without looking like frizzy coils.

How to Identify 3C Curls

3C Curls

A common question asked by women with tightly-packed curls is how to identify if you have the 3C hair type?

This question is mainly asked because of how similar the other hair types are in the 3 hair family.

However, there are two easy ways to identify if you have the 3C hair type.

  • S or Z-Shaped Curls

3C hair has curls with a very prominent curve that often looks the ‘S’ shape but can also adopt the ‘Z’ shape in many cases.

So, if you notice a combination of S and Z-shaped curls, your hair type is probably 3C.

  • Fit A Pencil

A strange but very common way of determining if you have 3C hair type is you take a regular pencil and fit it inside one of your curls.

If the curls snugly wrap themselves around the pencil and hold on to it, it’s a clear sign that you have the 3C hair type!

An important thing to note here, though, is that you can also have more than one hair type. A lot of women do have a combination of different hair types. Your curl pattern can differ from side to side or front to back.

The 3C Twists

The fact that 3C curls can easily be wrapped around a pencil goes to show just how impenetrable this type 3 hair can be. But, this also means that the curls can be placed thickly on the top of your head, giving it a more voluminous look with greater volume than before!

3C curls are often referred to as the ‘3C twists’ mainly owing to its well-defined and well-done curves. These twists are so different from the other types because they look quite flawless and proper even three to four days after you wash them.

While the 3C hair type does look fabulous and stunning, there is one downside about this type of hair: it is highly prone to dryness as compared to the 3A and 3B hair types because the sebum from the scalp isn’t able to get through the curls given how packed they are.

This is why 3C hair requires a very specific and elaborate hair care routine if you are to maintain your curls to perfection while ensuring excellent health.

Caring for 3C Hair

3C Hair Care

Caring for and looking after curly hair is quite a journey. You are required to use particular hair products, unlearn many of your routine hair care methods, and even give up some of your favorite hairstyling techniques.

Now that you’ve learned how to identify 3C hair, the next important bit is learning the art of caring for this hair type.

Note that your old, regular washing and conditioning habits or methods aren’t going to cut it if you wish to have thick and healthy 3C curls. You will have to add new haircare practices and techniques to your haircare routine.


The first and most important step in the 3C haircare routine is cleansing. This includes shampooing and conditioning your hair thoroughly and also using the right products to prevent damage and harm to your hair.

When washing 3C hair, a very important thing to remember is to never use a sulfate shampoo. Shampoos with sulfate strip your hair off of its natural oils, leaving it super dry and frizzy. Sulfates are your ultimate enemy, and they are also known to be a very powerful detergent, so you can imagine the kind of damage they can cause to your hair!

Your kinky curls always need natural oils to stay healthy and soft, for which you need to establish a proper cleansing routine.

A lot of commercial shampoos come with lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth, which can result in many side effects such as dryness, redness of the scalp, and brittle hair.

However, this doesn’t mean that sulfate shampoos are absolutely unhealthy or damaging. They are actually great at their job and do really well in terms of removing oil and dirt from the hair. Many straight-haired people do use these shampoos for washing their hair. It’s just that sulfate shampoos aren’t meant for 3C hair.

So, what do you do?

Well, a lot of people with 3C hair resort to co-washing, which simply refers to using your regular or cleansing conditioner to wash your hair. This helps make the hair super soft and moist, even better than a shampoo!


One of the key requirements of 3C hair is moisture and more moisture!

3C hair tends to be quite fragile and can quickly dry up at a faster rate as compared to other hair types. The main reason for this is that the sebum in your scalp doesn’t have access to a direct pathway due to the blockage in the hair strands. This prevents moisture from being evenly distributed all throughout your hair.

So, you need to include a really good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner in your hair care routine to provide your 3C hair with all the moisture that it requires. But, shampooing and conditioning aren’t enough; you need to moisturize your hair daily, and the best option for that is water.

Water is undoubtedly the most natural form of moisture and hydration for 3C hair, and it also won’t cause any damage to your hair.

The best way to go about it is to spritz your hair regularly with water followed by using a nice moisturizing cream on the ends of your hair. The latter will help create a layer of protection, thereby protecting the hair against split ends and breakage.

Other than this daily moisturizing ritual, another vital step is deep conditioning. This is one of the most powerful practices that you can add to your hair care routine for 3C hair because it offers an extra boost of hydration and seals in the moisture in your scalp as well as the curls.

You can either head to your favorite salon and get a deep conditioning treatment or simply do it at home! All you need is a deep conditioner, or you can also use hair oils, also known as effective moisturizing agents, such as avocado and jojoba oil, and apply it to your hair.

Make sure that you do this under a hooded dryer to turn dry and limp curves into bouncy, voluminous and shiny curls!

The LOC Method

LOC Method

An interesting technique used by many curly-heads is the LOC Method (Liquid Oil Cream), which is aimed towards providing your hair with maximum moisture.

Liquid, oil, and cream are like three elixirs of hair care that work amazingly well together to add hydration, definition, moisture, and a prominent bounce to your curls.

Liquid refers to water for washing your hair, oil could by any of your favorite oils like almond, argan, or olive, and the cream component is any curl defining cream that transforms your hair into thick, rich, bouncy curls without weighing them down!

3C Hair Styling Tips

Here’s the deal with 3C hair – you let those dazzling twists and curls be! After all, these well-defined curls are what set this hair type apart from the rest. Keeping that in mind, there are a few 3C curly hair styling tips you can try to make your curls pop even more!

Pineapple Method

Pineapple Method for 3C Hair

As strange as it may sound to the ear, this is a well-known hairstyling method used by many curly heads.

Simply bend your head forward, tie the hair in a loop bun or a ponytail on the top of your head, and once you are ready to hit the bed, secure the hair with the help of a bonnet or even a satin scarf.

The next morning, remove the accessories and let your hair down. Use your hands and a bit of hair oil to fluff your hair, and the next thing you’ll see is natural bouncy curls!

Heat Protectant Products

Straightening iron or any other heat-based tool is an absolute no-go for 3C hair because they seriously damage the curl pattern of your hair.

So, it’s best to either completely avoid these styling tools or at least limit their use to once in a few months. And when you do use a flat iron, for instance, make sure to use a heat protectant spray or serum to prevent it from causing extreme damage to your hair.

Are You Ready to Rock Those Bouncy Curls?

Managing 3C curls can be quite a challenge, but you certainly can’t disagree with the fact that they look absolutely fantastic!

So, make sure to follow a proper hair care routine and give your 3C hair everything it needs to stay healthy, voluminous, rich, thick, and moist!