Curly hair can be one of the trickiest hair types to decipher, but once you’ve got it down pat, you’re en route to your best hair days ever. Here, we’re tackling all things 3B hair with L’Oréal Professionnel artist and texture expert Geoffrey Britt. Keep scrolling to get the 411 on decoding 3B curly hair, top care advice, and why curly bangs should be on your radar, like, yesterday. Let’s get into it, shall we?
What is a 3B hair type?
First, it’s important to address the million-dollar question amongst curlies: What is type 3B hair anyway?
“3B hair is a tighter, more defined spiral ringlet curl,” says Britt. “This hair formation has big, bouncy, full-of-life energy, giving us curl-sistency from roots to ends.”
The stylist also reveals that type 3B hair is voluminous and bouncy (perhaps the B stands for bounce?) and showcases hair’s true length more accurately than other curl and coil formations. So if your ringlets aren’t in a constant battle against shrinkage, it may be a clue that you have 3B curly hair.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for 3B hair, though—there are also a few pitfalls.
“[This hair type is] easily susceptible to frizz and curl separation when not using proper styling products,” explains Britt. Though with the right formulas in your corner, these woes are easily manageable. Stay tuned for more on that below.
What is the difference between 3B and 3A curls?
Compared to 3B curls, 3A curls are looser and wider, with a circumference similar to a thick piece of sidewalk chalk. Meanwhile, 3B curls are more compact and tend to fit nicely around a permanent marker.
What is the difference between 3B and 3C hair?
Like wavy and coily hair types, you’ll likely notice a mix of curl patterns if your hair falls into B territory. Loops to spirals and ringlets to corkscrews are fairly common in 3B hair, so it can be tricky to identify this hair type with absolute certainty. When in doubt, Britt urges you to ask a pro.
“Find a resource or a stylist trained and knowledgeable in the art of curls and coils for proper diagnosis!” Psst: You can use our salon locator to find a pro near you.
Is 3B hair thick or thin?
“I love this question,” notes Britt. “Before answering, I must first establish what texture truly is and what it is not. Texture is the way something feels, leaving us with three options: fine, medium, or coarse. It is never how something visually appears—that would be the hair formation or curl pattern.”
The bottom line is that 3B hair can be all of the above separately and isn’t exclusive to one density.
How do you care for 3B hair?
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve likely established that you have type 3B hair and are looking for tips on making it look and feel its best. Here’s what Britt shared to help you make the most out of your ringlets. Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules; every head of hair is unique with different needs. Create a plan with your stylist to determine the best regimen for you.
“It’s all about personal preference,” he agrees. “But book a consult, and then you can dive deeper into your hair’s texure, porosity, and all the nitty gritty details.”
Reduce your wash days.
“I’d recommend shampoo and conditioning once a week, no more than twice, depending on physical activities: Working out, swimming, hot yoga, etc.,” he says. “Do know the more resetting of curl and wash days, the least amount of volume you will be able to achieve from your curls.”
Try a curl-refreshing spray when you require a quick pick-me-up in between wash days. We’re partial to L’Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Curl Expression Curls Reviver, which instantly revives curls and coils for six times more definition and 48 hours of frizz-free protection. Spray it liberally through your hair (preferably in the morning after pillow friction) and scrunch it into your curls to rejuvenate your locks the pro way.
One caveat: Less frequent wash days may call for a deeper cleanse to help remove multiple days’ worth of buildup. Left unattended, excess residue can weigh your hair down, making your once-vivacious 3B hair type prone to falling flat. A clarifying shampoo can help remedy a lifeless look. Biolage Professional’s Clean Reset Normalizing Shampoo is a deep cleansing shampoo great for all hair types, from straight to coily. It’s inspired by the refreshing lemongrass plant that always seems to stay clean. Another great option from the L’Oréal professional portfolio of brands is Mizani’s Moisture Fusion Gentle Clarifying Shampoo. Made specifically with curls and coils in mind, it’ll clarify your hair while restoring much-needed moisture to textured hair.
Tailor your styling products.
It used to be that those with any type of wave or curl would douse their hair in a glob of hair gel and hope for the best. Unsurprisingly, those were also the days of super crunchy, super-stiff strands, even if that wasn’t the intention. Thankfully, styling has come a long way over the past few decades, and plenty of distinctive formulas are available to help you reach your hair goals. Britt outlines three of his holy grail products for 3B curlies.
- For volume: Look to mousses and foam wraps to give your spirals lightweight body. We love Mizani’s Styling Foam Wrap and L’Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Curl Expression 10-in-1 Mousse.
- For hold: Pick up a (crunch-free!) gel. One like Matrix’s A Curl Can Dream Light Hold Gel is infused with moisturizing manuka honey for definition and touchable hold.
- For control: Opt for a cream. You can’t go wrong with Kérastase’s Curl Manifesto Gelée Curl Contour Gel-Cream. Its gel-cream formula enhances, softens, and conditions hair with no weigh-down and helps fend off frizz, so you’re in full control of your curl pattern.
Your hair needs may fluctuate depending on the weather, your daily plans, and how much time you can dedicate to styling. We recommend checking out our guide on curl cocktailing to learn how to combine various products, including the ones above, for your ultimate customized routine.
Learn how to navigate frizz.
As mentioned earlier, frizz is sometimes an unwelcome guest to the 3B hair party. Since frizz results from dehydrated hair, you’ll want to arm yourself with products designed to moisturize and smooth your hair so it’s more resistant to frustrating flyaways. Hair masks are a great addition to your hair care arsenal. One like Redken’s All Soft Heavy Cream Mask intensely softens and controls frizz thanks to nourishing ingredients such as argan oil. For more pro-level suggestions, check out our roundup of our best hair masks for curly hair.
Another unsuspecting culprit of frizzy hair? Your pillow. Certain materials like cotton can rough up your hair cuticle while you sleep, disrupting your curl pattern so your tresses look more like a ball of fuzz than hair come morning. Many experts suggest switching to silk pillowcases, which allow your curls to roam friction-free across your pillow while you get your much-deserved beauty sleep.
Is there a specific cut 3B hair should ask for?
“Absolutely…not!” Britt teases. “3B hair sits right in the center of most curl typing charts,
giving us the utmost flexibility in how to cut and wear these curls.”
Keep scrolling to take a peek at some inspiration for your own 3B curly hair.
The Best Cuts and Styles for 3B Hair
“Everyone must try them at least a few times,” says Britt. “I guarantee, when you find the right hairdresser to serve hot curl bangs realness, you just might not go back!”
Use a dry shampoo to refresh your curly fringe and boost its volume simultaneously. Redken’s Deep Clean Dry Shampoo is a salon and fan-favorite, offering maximum oil absorption for up to fourth (!!!) day hair.
Long and Soft
“For those finer densities, think mermaid cut: Keeping the overall length long with minimal to no layering and adding in some soft face-framing,” Britt advises.
“[One] of my favorite cuts are the notorious and ever-evolving shag,” says Britt. “The
voluminous rounded layer cut serves the most regal bounce.”
The wolf cut is a popular iteration of the shag and looks especially dazzling on curly hair.
Regardless of how much we love our 3B hair, we sometimes want a style that’ll get some of its weight out of our face. The classic half-up, half-down ponytail is a tried-and-true look for curls, and for good reason.
Topped With a Headband
A puffy headband is another chic idea to sweep your strands out of your eyes. It’s also a genius accessory to disguise greasy or unwashed hair (your secret is safe with us). Learn how to find the best headband for your face shape.
Messy, Wispy Bun
Curls lend themselves beautifully to fantasy hues like rainbow highlights. Their twists and turns create a more blended look than you’d typically see if the look was recreated on straighter hair.