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Home arrow Beauty arrow Hair arrow 3a Hair Type (Curly): Styling Tips and How to Take Care of It

3a Hair Type (Curly): Styling Tips and How to Take Care of It

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: August 1, 2023
8 min read 773 Views 0 Comments
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Anyone with a 3a hair type knows just how difficult caring for this unique hair type can be. We’re here with 9 tips that can help keep your locks looking their best.

3a hair type

Curly hair, and specifically the 3a hair type – which is springy and full of life, is often envied by those with straight hair. But anyone with kinky hair understands the trouble that can accompany trying to care for it.

If your 3a hair can use some love, you’re in the right place. We’re here to give you expert tips on how to care for your curly hair and provide you with style options that will help you effortlessly flaunt your kinky locks.

What Is 3a Hair Type?

3a is a type of hair that is best described as “S”-shaped curls that tend to be somewhere in between coily and wavy hair. The texture of this hair type can vary, with some falling more on the fine end of the spectrum, while others are thicker and more coarse.

Unlike other curly hair types, 3a curls are prone to uneven curl distribution and can lose much of their coiliness and bounce if not cared for correctly.

Pros of type 3a hair

  • Full of natural volume
  • Offers versatile styling options
  • Curls are bouncy and well-defined when cared for properly
  • Hold shape well, making it more low-maintenance than straight hair
  • Eye-catching curl type

Cons of type 3a hair

  • Hair becomes frizzy very easily – especially in humidity
  • Dries out quickly, leading to breakage and split ends
  • Requires extra care, including deep conditioning and gentle detangling
  • Fine 3a hair can be easily weighed down by product

How to Take Care of Type 3a Hair: 9 Tips to Follow

#1 Don’t overwash

Not washing your hair can feel hard, especially for those fine-haired folks whose locks feel greasy the day after being washed. Unfortunately, hair washing is one more drying step in our haircare routine.

Ideally, you should only be washing 3a type hair once or maximum twice a week. If you’re struggling with oily hair, you may want to try a store-bought dry shampoo or make your own using cocoa powder and cornstarch.

#2 Avoid chemical treatments

Chemical treatments like relaxers and perms are often used by curly-hair women in an effort to tame their hair. But these treatments, which alter the natural texture and structure of the hair, can have long-term repercussions and lead to intense dryness and breakage.

#3 Condition generously

The 3a curly hair type tends to be drier than straight hair, in part because it’s more difficult for the oils produced by the scalp to travel down coily hair shafts. 

For this reason, it’s important that you apply conditioning treatments generously to the hair, coating hair from root to tip to protect hair from damage and breakage. You may also want to try deep conditioning once a week, leaving a highly moisturizing product on the hair for 20–45 minutes.

#4 Nourish your scalp

Healthy hair begins at the scalp, and using hydrating products directly on it can help reduce dandruff and dryness and promote healthier hair growth overall. You may choose to nourish your scalp using natural oils like jojoba or argan oil or even use a product containing aloe vera. 

#5 Avoid silicone products

Silicone hair products are known for leaving behind buildup and residue, which has an especially weighing effect on curly hair. This can leave hair looking limp and lifeless, and over time, affecting the hair strand’s ability to hold its curl and bounce.

#6 Style gently

Hair of every curl type is more delicate than straight hair and can easily become damaged and frizzy if handled too roughly. Using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, in combination with a detangling hair product, can help keep curly hair looking its best.

It’s also a good idea to leave your hair down as opposed to putting it up, as elastic hair bands can cause unnecessary hair breakage.

#7 Go with “pineapple” at night

Pineapple-ing is a technique that those with curly hair types can use to protect their locks from frizz and tangles while they sleep. It involves loosely gathering your hair in a bunch on the top of your head and slipping a scrunchie over the bundle to loosely hold the hair in place.

#8 Dry with care

There are many different haircare practices that you can use to maintain the health of your hair and enhance its ability to grow – and drying it with care remains one of the easiest.

Some of the best hair-drying techniques for curly hair include using a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel to pat hair dry and using a diffuser to enhance your hair’s natural curl. 

#9 Get regular trims

It might sound counterintuitive, but the truth is that not getting regular trims will actually cause your hair to become shorter over time. This is because damage to the hair, such as split ends, can result in breakage higher up on the hair shaft. 

Getting regular trims is also important for all of the different curly hair types as this hair type is more prone to dryness, a prerequisite to hair-splitting. Ideally, anyone with curly hair should be getting trims every 8–12 weeks.

What Hairstyles and Cuts Are Perfect for Type 3a Hair?

Regardless of your hair type, certain styles and cuts take better advantage of your hair’s strong suits, helping to showcase its natural beauty.

Hairstyles for type 3a hair

These easy hairstyles can help you fall back in love with your hair, even on the days that it seems to have a mind of its own.

#1 Half up, half down

You may choose to tie the top half of your hair up and leave the bottom-most part of your hair down. This hairstyle provides a cleaner, sleeker look than simply leaving your hair down. It also helps to show off your beautiful curls without worrying about them falling in your face.

#2 Braids

Braids are a protective hairstyle that helps preserve the health of your hair and make styling your locks extremely quick and easy. 

#3 Low ponytail

You may decide to slick back the front of your hair for a sleeker look or let your hair’s natural curl shine through from root to tip.

Haircuts for type 3a hair

If you have 3a hair, finding a curl-specific stylist can make all the difference. They are well-versed in techniques that not only preserve the longevity of your curly hair but also help enhance your hair’s natural shape, leaving you with light, bouncy curls.

#1 Layered cut

A curl-specific hairstylist can provide layers in all the right places, leaving your hair feeling light and voluminous.

#2 Long bob

Long bobs, or “lobs,” are hairstyles that frame the face beautifully while requiring minimal styling.

#3 Curly bangs

Bangs offer a fun twist to any hair type, curly included. Just remember that your wet hair is around 50% shorter than it will be dry, so you don’t want to cut them too short to start.

Best Products and Ingredients for 3a Hair Type

Wondering about the best products to incorporate into a curly hair routine? Below, we’ll dive into our favorite curly hair products and the benefits they can offer your curly hair.

#1 Moisturizing conditioner

Because 3a hair is prone to dryness and frizz, it’s important to find a conditioner that is designed to provide deep hydration. There are many conditioners created specifically for wavy and coily hair; it’s just a matter of finding your perfect match.

#2 Leave-in conditioner

Leave-in conditioners are designed to help prevent dry hair in between washes. Unlike regular conditioners that are meant to rehydrate hair after shampooing, leave-in products protect hair from damage and improve shine and manageability.

#3 Strengthening shampoos

Finding the right shampoo can make all the difference when it comes to curly hair. Oscillating between a strengthening and clarifying shampoo is the best way to prevent dryness while also keeping hair clean and free of residue. 

If you’re looking for a new shampoo, we recommend giving the Ultimate Hair Growth Shampoo by Moérie a try. Their formula is super nourishing while being light enough not to weigh down your luscious locks.

#4 Protein treatment

Products containing protein are an often overlooked part of full-spectrum haircare. Protein treatments, such as repairing hair masks, also play an important role in preventing frizzy hair and reducing hair breakage. They should be used in combination with hydrating conditioners.

#5 Hair butters and natural oils

Natural oils and butters like jojoba oil and shea butter provide many of the same benefits for hair as regular and leave-in conditioners. They can be used on the strands themselves to prevent dry hair and reduce breakage or massaged directly onto the scalp to encourage new hair growth.

#6 Silk or satin pillowcase

Silky smooth satin and silk pillowcases cause significantly less friction against the hair than their cotton or polyester counterparts, helping to reduce breakage and minimize frizz.


How to determine if I have 3a hair type?

To determine whether or not you have type 3a hair, you will need to examine your hair’s texture and curl pattern. This curl type is characterized by spiraling bouncy curls that are typically the size of sidewalk chalk.

What is the difference between 3a and 3b?

When it comes to natural curls, types 3a and 3b are similar but have a few major differences. While 3a curls tend to be looser and more “S”-shaped, type 3b are tighter and more voluminous. The texture of 3a and 3b hair is also different, with 3a tending to be more fine.

Is type 3a hair rare?

The 3a hair type isn’t necessarily rare, but it is less common than straight and wavy hair. In regards to different curl types, 3a is one of the more popular, though the exact percentage is unknown.

A Word From a Trichologist

Caring for 3a hair can be a definite challenge in comparison to the other hair types. Not only is curly hair structurally more fragile than straight hair, but it’s also more prone to dryness and breakage than its straight counterparts.

For that reason, it’s important to filter any haircare information you’re given through a curly hair filter. Well-known hair practices like avoiding brushing hair when it’s wet don’t apply to curly hair, which can be damaged by running a hairbrush through dry strands.

If you have the 3a hair type and are trying to make the switch to wearing your natural hair after years of chemically treating it, consider following the Curly Girl Method, a method of caring for curly hair created by author and hairstyling Lorraine Massey.


The 3a hair type is characterized by “S”-shaped hair with loose curls that are approximately the size of sidewalk chalk. Unlike other curly hair types, the hair texture of 3a hair varies between fine and thick. 

Caring for any curly hair, including the 3a hair type, is more difficult than straight hair. But avoiding chemically-treating hair, lengthening the time in between washes, and using a combination of protein and moisture-rich hair products can make all the difference in improving hair health and enhancing your 3a hair’s natural curl.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: August 1, 2023
8 min read 773 Views 0 Comments

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