Having 1C hair can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, your mane air dries like a dream, with beachy bends that all your friends envy. On the other, it’s prone to frizz and oscillates between flat and voluminous. The trick to getting your hair to behave is all about how you care for and style it. To help, we tapped Redken artist Sarah Bramham and Pureology celebrity hairstylist Jamie Wiley for their best tips on managing 1C hair types. Scroll on to see what they had to say.
What is 1C hair?
If you don't understand the hair typing system, the term “1C hair” may not mean much to you. As a quick crash course, your hair type represents its pattern (1 = straight, 2 = wavy, 3 = curly, and 4 = coily), while your hair subtype refers to its width and density (A = low, B = medium, and C = high). Combining these traits as a letter and a number reveals a specific hair type. If you have 1C hair, your hair is classified as straight with a coarse, near-wavy texture.
Bramham adds that 1C hair “can have a lovely tousled look with lots of body but will remain quite flat on top.” She also notes that 1C locks are the frizziest of all the straight hair types. That’s because its twists and bends make it harder for the scalp’s oils to reach the ends of the hair—and unfortunately, dry hair equates to frizzy hair.
How do I know if I have 1C or 2A hair?
Hair types positioned so closely on the hair type chart tend to share many similarities. That’s especially true for 1C and 2A hair. Bramham explains that both are “straight at the root with a very slight wave through the length and ends” but have a few unique characteristics:
- The most noticeable difference is that 1C is coarse and thick, whereas 2A is fine with low density.
- 2A hair types have a flat S-shape wavy pattern. 1C hair, on the other hand, is less defined (think more of an arc than a true wave).
- The wider diameter of 1C hair makes it appear poofier than 2A hair.
How often should you wash 1C hair?
There isn’t a universal answer for how often you should wash type 1C hair (or any hair type, for that matter). What works for you may not work for your sibling or BFF. Lifestyle and personal preferences are the ultimate deciding factors, but one general rule of thumb does apply to 1C hair: only wash it when your scalp is oily. Wiley emphasizes that overwashing 1C strands can actually “create even more frizz and [leave hair] prone to breakage.”
Bramham agrees and recommends aiming to limit washing to twice a week. When you do lather up, alternate between hydrating formulas and a deeper cleansing shampoo. The latter is key, she says, because the thickness of 1C hair makes it trap oils and add to hair’s flatness.
Is 1C hair hard to style?
While no hair type is perfect, Wiley praises 1C hair’s chameleon-like ability to hold a range of styles. You can easily coax 1C hair types into being sleek and straight, or you can create voluminous waves and curls that actually last.
That being said, every rose has its thorn, and for 1C hair, it’s root flatness. Since the majority of hair’s volume is concentrated throughout the mid-lengths to ends, the upper area can appear limp by contrast.
“[It] can be very challenging to get volume on the top of [1C] hair without the appropriate haircut,” Bramham says. Incorporating long layers into your ‘do is one of the best ways to ensure it styles more easily. Find inspiration in our article 35 Face-Framing Layers (or, if you have shorter strands, 40 Layered Bob Haircuts That Prove Sometimes Less is More).
But layers aren’t the only way to transform fall-flat roots: The right styling products and techniques can also give your mane the boost it needs. This brings us to our next point…
How to Care for and Style Your 1C Hair Type
Identifying your straight hair type is one piece of the puzzle, but investing in an effective 1C haircare routine is another. Ahead, find personalized tips and recommendations from Wiley and Bramham.
Choose the right shampoo and conditioner.
When you have flat, oily roots and dry ends, you’ll want to reach for wash-day products that balance hydration and lightness. Enter: The Hydrate Sheer Shampoo and Conditioner from Pureology. This moisturizing duo moisturizes and nourishes hair for a soft feel without added weight.
When you need a deeper clean, opt for Redken’s Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo to remove product buildup and excess oil in just one use.
Pro Tip: Even if you’re using the right formula for your hair type, you should aim to apply conditioner at least one inch down from your roots. Keeping creamier moisturizing formulas like conditioner away from the scalp helps prevent your roots from getting greasy.
Use a hair mask.
A weekly hair mask can bring parched, frizzy 1C hair back down to earth. For an option that doesn’t add more than five minutes to your routine, try Redken’s Acidic Bonding Concentrate 5-Min Liquid Mask. Learn how to use this innovative, time-saving mask in our full review (and discover why it earned our editor’s stamp of approval).
Brush hair the right way.
Even though type 1C hair is fairly straight, its thick, dry nature makes it susceptible to tangling. Fortunately, a proper brushing technique can keep your mane looking smooth and healthy. Here’s how to brush your hair in four easy steps:
- First, consider timing. Not all hair types should be brushed when damp. However, it’s beneficial for coarser 1C hair since it keeps hair from drying with knots, which are substantially harder to remove from dry strands without causing damage.
- Spritz on detangling solution. To help soften and protect hair during the brushing process, apply a detangler while your hair is still damp. Bramham recommends Redken’s One United Multi-Benefit Hair Treatment Spray, which helps strengthen, nourish, and condition dry strands.
- Select the right hair brush. In this case, we recommend a paddle brush with flexible bristles (such as a Wet Brush). These prongs move with your hair during every pass to prevent tugging or breaking your hair.
- Brush your hair. Begin at the ends and work up to the roots to avoid putting unnecessary tension on your hair.
Pump up your roots.
If a romp with your hot tools does nothing to perk up your lifeless roots, a root-lifting foam can help restore fullness where you need it most.
“Redken Root Lifter Volumizing Spray is ideal for supporting volume in hair that is heavy and wants to fall flat,” says Bramham. This medium-control hair foam contains wheat protein and vitamin E, working to lift up the roots of the hair and provide all-over volume. Our Root Lifter Volumizing Spray Foam Review can school you on how to use it in your lineup.
Stock up on hair serum.
Adding a hair serum to your daily routine can help smooth and tame your frizz-prone mane. These styling aids are often silicone-based, forming a protective barrier around your strands to lock in moisture and lock out frizz.
“I love the Pureology Smooth Perfection Smoothing Serum for this hair type,” says Wiley. Run one or two pumps through damp hair to protect against heat styling, add silky smoothness, and control frizz. You can also apply it as the last step in your routine to enhance shine and further tamp down flyaways. To get the benefits, emulsify a pea-sized amount of the formula in your hands and smooth it over your hair as a finishing touch.
It's worth noting that while silicone sometimes gets a bad rap in the hair world, it's not harmful to your hair when used as an ingredient in pro-grade products. More importantly, silicones are second to none at managing unruly frizz. If you’re still concerned about silicones’ impact, pick up a clarifying shampoo to thoroughly clean your hair after using these types of products.
1C Hair: The Bottom Line
Remember: It’s normal for hair to fluctuate in texture and density throughout a person's lifetime. If you're still unsure about your hair type or want further information on each one, check out our Hair Type Guide. When in doubt, visit a licensed hairstylist who can answer your specific questions.
Use our salon locator to book a consultation with a professional hairstylist in your area.