I’ve lived my whole life believing I had curly hair—until now. Only recently, I discovered my hair doesn’t quite qualify as curly; it’s actually a 2B wave. And that felt a bit like the whole world was a lie. Okay, I’ll admit that’s a touch dramatic. The truth is, there’s been a considerable upside to this mind-blowing revelation: I’ve been having the best hair days of my life since realizing I have 2B hair.
Understanding your own hair type is essential to help you address your hair’s distinctive needs and perfect your styling routine. To ensure you never have to question the status of your wavy hair again, Matrix ambassador Barbara Simovic is breaking down everything you need to know about a 2B hair type. Below, learn how to spot this unique type of wave, insider styling tips, and some of our favorite 2B hair products from the L’Oréal portfolio of professional brands. Now, let’s get ready to ride the wave.
How do you find your hair type?
First things first, how do you identify your hair type?
“You can find your hair type based on how your hair dries,” says Simovic.
“If it dries naturally with a bend or an S-curve, then you would have wavy hair, [also known as] type 2,” she says.
What is type 2B hair?
Determining that you have type 2 wavy hair is pretty easy, but there’s also your subtype to identify. Subtypes simply describe the shape and diameter of your strands, and pinpointing which one your waves fall under (2A, 2B, or 2C) can be a little tricker.
As Simovic explains, “The differences between the three are how tight the wave pattern or S-shape is.” If you have a 2B hair type, your strands will be a solid middle ground between subtle beach waves and an almost curl. She expands, “Type A has a slight wave, B has more of a medium wave, and C is just about to form ringlets or could be a defined loose ringlet when wet.” Another major distinguishing feature between type 2B hair and type 2C hair is that 2B hair lies flatter at the crown of the head instead of curling right from the root.
If you’re trying to identify your subtype, it’s important to know that it’s extremely common to see multiple wavy patterns throughout your mane. This means the top layers of your hair can fall squarely into 2B territory, your face-framing tendrils can steer towards 2C, and your bottom layers can be flatter like 2A. Textured hair isn’t always uniform, but that’s the beauty of it!
Is 2B hair thin?
The categorization of type 2B hair is more about the shape that your waves form rather than how thick or dense your hair is. However, as a general rule of thumb, B is usually thicker than A yet finer than C.
Why is my 2B hair always frizzy?
If there’s one thing all wavies and curlies can agree on, it’s that frizz is a frequently uninvited guest. Type 2B wavy hair tends to be frizzier than all type 1 and 2A hair. While many of us blame the humidity for frizz, it actually comes down to a lack of moisture.
The tighter your hair’s pattern is on the hair texture chart, the drier it becomes. That’s because the twists and turns of waves make it more difficult for the scalp’s natural oils to reach the ends of the hair. Your hair will then pull in moisture from its surrounding environment to compensate for the resulting dryness. When this happens to type 2 wavy hair, it tends to puff up—especially in muggy climates. While frustrating, it’s possible to combat the frizz and keep it to a minimum with the right products (more on that later).
How often should you condition 2B hair?
How frequently you shampoo and conditioner your hair is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but shampooing less is typically better for your strands. This is especially true where curls and waves are concerned.
“If you wash your hair too often, you’ll be stripping your hair of natural oils,” notes Simovic.
She recommends washing and conditioning type 2B hair every two to three days to renourish your waves. If your ends are dry between lathers, work a hair serum or oil through them. We love Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s Ashita Supreme Hair Serum to lightly nourish and hydrate second-to-third-day hair.
If you’re still unsure how often you should wash your hair, consult a trusted stylist to help guide you in the right direction.
How do you style and care for 2B hair?
Now, it’s time to put everything you’ve learned about 2B hair into action. Here are six must-have hair care tips from Simovic and our favorite 2B hair products to add to your arsenal.
Managing frizz in a 2B hair type can be challenging, but a tailored hair care routine can help.
The best way to tackle frizz head-on is to address it at the beginning of your hair care routine: in the shower. Consider picking a shampoo and conditioner system that replenishes hydration and reduces porosity (gaps in the cuticle that make strands vulnerable to swelling up with external moisture). Simovic suggests Matrix Food For Soft. Infused with ingredients like avocado and hyaluronic acid, the Food For Soft Hydrating Shampoo and Detangling Hydrating Conditioner attracts water into strands to replenish dry hair and prevent future moisture loss.
Other great options are the Frizz Dismiss Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner by Redken. They’re formulated with Redken's Smoothing Complex, featuring sustainably sourced Babassu oil to tame frizzy hair, increase smoothness, and enhance shine.
Enhance your waves.
“With a little love and care, 2B hair is definitely easy to style since it already has that wave to it,” says Simovic. “Half the work is already done for a beachy, lived-in look.”
If you’re happy with how your waves look but want to give them a little extra oomph and staying power, scrunch a texturizer like Redken Beach Spray through dry hair. The sea salt-free spray formula contains a combination of copolymers to help you get perfect beachy waves without drying your hair out.
Do your waves need more of a boost? Curl products can easily activate or enhance type 2B hair. Kérastase's Curl Manifesto Gelée Curl Contour Gel-Cream and L’Oréal Professionnel’s Curl Expression Definition Activator are two we often turn to.
Excessive heat can be enemy number one for 2B wavy hair, exacerbating damage, dryness, and frizz. The good news is that you can easily mold 2B hair into your desired shape with minimal hot tool interference. Take this finger wave hack from Hair.com ambassador Bradley Leake, for example. The trick involves applying a curl gel or cream (see above), then alternating wrapping small sections of hair around your index finger and coiling larger pieces around a curling wand—the result: natural-looking waves with half the damage. You can even abandon the wand and just use your hands to craft your waves.
Psst: Our heatless curls article has even more heat-free styling inspiration.
...or try a blowout.
We get it—sometimes, there’s nothing quite like a fresh, bouncy blowout. Luckily, a 2B hair type is incredibly versatile, whether worn wavy and natural or blown-out and sleek.
“This hair type is amazing for blowouts because it has that slight wave that will be able to hold the style you’re putting into it and can give great volume,” says Simovic.
For beautiful, voluminous results, she recommends using a heat protectant (“always!”) and a smoothing cream. Simovic swears by Matrix’s Food For Soft Multi-Use Hair Oil Serum to add shine and protect against up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. We also like Biolage Professional’s Hydra Source Blow Dry Shaping Lotion, which provides the perfect combination of heat protection, weightless hydration, and shape memory.
Discover expert secrets on blow-drying your hair like a pro in our blowout guide.
Pay attention to your roots.
The bulk of 2B hair’s volume is concentrated from the mid-lengths to the ends of the hair, which may cause your roots to sometimes fall flat. To combat this, opt for 2B hair products that add body to the root area. Two favorites to try are Redken’s Volume Root Lifter Volumizing Spray Foam and Root Tease Backcombing Texture Spray.
While root lifters are great for adding fullness, not all hair products play well with the root area. Try to avoid applying heavy creams, conditioners, or gels directly to the top of type 2B hair, which can further weigh it down. If you accidentally went overboard on mask day or just need to remove a few days of styling build-up, a clarifying shampoo can thoroughly cleanse your scalp and thus restore bounce to your waves. Our go-to is L’Oréal Professionnel’s Curl Expression Anti Buildup Shampoo to gently eliminate accumulated daily impurities without stripping moisture.
“It’s so important to maintain your haircuts,” shares Simovic. “This hair type has so much potential for volume, finesse, sleek styles, hair on the go, and edgy texture—but none of that would be possible if it weren’t for haircut maintenance.”
She advises getting a healthy trim every three to four months (or six to eight weeks for extremely damaged hair) to maintain hair’s optimum quality. “Remember: home hair care is vital!”
Now that you’re equipped with key knowledge to slay your 2B hair, check out our guide on the best wavy haircuts to ask for at your upcoming appointment.