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Each subtype of wavy hair has unique needs. Here’s how to identify whether your type 2 hair is 2A, 2B, or 2C so you can best manage your pattern.

2A vs. 2B vs. 2C How To Identify and Manage Type 2 Wavy Hair

Each subtype of wavy hair has unique needs. Here’s how to identify whether your type 2 hair is 2A, 2B, or 2C so you can best manage your pattern.
2A vs. 2B vs. 2C How To Identify and Manage Type 2 Wavy Hair

Type 2 hair is characterized as being wavy. And while the word “wavy” may sometimes conjure up a beachy, tousled look, this hair type is much more nuanced than it seems. Some people with hair type 2 have strands that appear nearly straight, while others have locks that are just shy of being curly. Understanding whether you have type 2A, 2B, or 2C waves is the best way to manage your hair’s unique features and help you achieve your styling goals. Ahead, we’re sharing how to accurately determine where your hair falls on the hair typing chart so you can customize your haircare routine accordingly. You’ll also find a few of our top styling tips for each subtype below, so keep scrolling.

What Are the Different Hair Types?

Before we hone in on hair type 2, it’s important to first understand how hair types are categorized. Hair is typically broken down into four main groups based on the shape of its curl (or, in the case of straight hair, lack thereof)

From there, each hair type is assigned a subtype (A, B, or C) based on the density of your hair and how tight or loosely packed your curl pattern is. The higher your hair is on the hair type scale, the more tightly coiled your hair pattern is. Combined, your group (a number) and subtype (a letter) describe your hair’s most prominent characteristics. For instance, type 1A hair is very straight and fine, while type 3C hair has distinct corkscrew curls and is usually coarser than other hair types.

It’s important to note that there are no hard-and-fast rules when typing hair. The hair typing system is meant to serve as a guideline for understanding your hair’s texture, not box you into one group. In fact, it’s possible (and very common) for multiple patterns to exist on one head of hair. Some people may notice that the top layer of their hair is wavier and well-defined, while the under layers are flatter and straighter.

Good hair day by @cutlerbrooklyn.

What Is Type 2 Hair?

Type 2 hair is wavy hair that ranges from having loose bends to more uniform S-shaped curls. This hair type typically lies flatter at the root, so you may need to use hair products to help coax out and define its pattern. It can be fairly easy to style, too, thanks to a tousled texture that can be manipulated into a variety of hairstyles.

2A vs. 2B. vs. 2C Hair: What's the Difference?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what type 2 hair is, you can get into the nitty-gritty details of each subtype. They are as follows:

2A: Loosely bended waves

Oftentimes, 2A hair has a flatter root with a bit of a bend that starts around eye level. It’s the flattest and least voluminous of all wavy hair subtypes and may not hold a defined curl without the help of styling products.

2B: Elongated waves

Similar to 2A hair, 2B hair usually lies flatter around the crown of the head. However, those with this subtype likely have denser hair with a more defined wave—almost like an elongated S-shape rather than a subtle, beachy bend.

2C: S-shaped waves

If you have voluminous S-shaped waves that extend from the top of your head to the ends of your hair, chances are good you have 2C hair. This wavy hair type can hold its definition longer than 2A and 2B hair and is just shy of being curly, but it lacks distinctive ringlets.

How do I know if I have 2A or 2B hair?

Hair types that sit closest to one another share similar characteristics, which can make it tricky to tell them apart. If you’re questioning whether you have 2A or 2B hair, you’re not alone—it’s one of the most frequently asked questions among those with type 2 wavy hair.

Normally, type 2A hair is more relaxed than its 2B counterpart. The former can almost appear straight at first glance, but it does have subtle bends that appear mid-length. 2B hair, on the other hand, tends to have more definition and body, with waves that start closer to the top of the head. Another telltale sign is that 2B hair can be frizzier than 2A hair since tighter curl patterns are often drier. If you really can’t seem to distinguish between the two, chances are good your locks are a combination of both hair types.

Good hair day by @carachele.

How To Care For Type 2 Hair

Catering to the nuances of your type 2 wavy hair subtype is the best way to ensure your strands look and feel their best. Here are a few haircare tips to help get you started.

Type 2A: Add definition

As mentioned, type 2A hair may require some coaxing to help its pattern spring to life. The best way to do so is by prepping your mane with a system like Matrix A Curl Can Dream Curl Definition and then scrunching your hair. The brand’s A Curl Can Dream Weightless Moisture Shampoo and corresponding Conditioner are specifically designed for those with type 2A-2C hair. The duo helps lightly moisturize your hair for 48-hour wave definition and frizz protection without the weigh-down.

Once you’ve washed and towel-dried your hair, spritz Matrix’s A Curl Can Dream Scrunch N' Go Defining Spray from the mid-lengths to the ends of your strands. Then, start scrunching. Simply take a section of hair in your palm and gently scrunch it in upward motions. Repeat the process throughout your head until all of your hair is scrunched. You can either let your hair air dry or finish the job with a diffuser attachment (the spray doubles as a heat protectant).

To help amplify your natural beachy texture, we recommend finishing your routine with a few bursts of Redken Beach Spray to help add texture without making hair feel stiff or sticky.

Type 2B: Enhance volume

In 2B hair, the majority of the volume tends to be concentrated from the mid-lengths to the ends. So, while the rest of your mane may appear full and bouncy, your roots may fall flat against your head.

Opt for styling products that help lift your root area to combat a weighed-down appearance. Mousses are often best since their lightweight formulas won’t add additional heaviness to the hair. We’re partial to Pureology’s Style + Protect On The Rise Root Lifting Mousse, a medium-control spray mousse that adds body from root to tip with lasting shine. Just use the direct-to-root applicator to spray the foamy aerated formula onto towel-dried hair. Then, scrunch your hair with your fingers or use a microfiber towel to plop your hair for added definition.

If your type 2 wavy hair is still looking a bit limp, you may need to use a clarifying shampoo to help remove heavy residue before styling. Every other week, swap L’Oréal Professionnel’s Anti-Buildup Cleansing Jelly Shampoo into your wash day lineup to help gently eliminate accumulated impurities and buildup without stripping hair.

Type 2C: Replenish moisture

Tighter curl patterns tend to be drier since their twists make it harder for the scalp’s natural oils to reach the lengths of the hair. In addition to picking up a good shampoo and conditioner for dry hair, you’ll also want to make hydrating hair masks a part of your regular haircare ritual to help revive your parched, wavy locks.

You can’t go wrong with Biolage Professional’s Hydra Source Hair Mask for Dry Hair. This moisturizing hair mask helps optimize hair’s moisture balance and revive dry strands for more shine and manageability. Once or twice a week, apply it in place of your conditioner and let it sit for about five minutes before rinsing. You can also steam your hair while you wait to boost the mask’s benefits—learn more about this method in our article, How Hair Steaming Can Give You Soft, Manageable Hair.

Damage (like from heat styling or chemical overprocessing) can further dry out type 2C hair. If you’re experiencing this, reach for Redken’s Acidic Bonding Curls Silicone-Free Leave-in Treatment. It’s suitable for hair types 2B and up and works to provide heat protection, repair, and hydration to damaged waves and curls.

Next Up: Curly Hair vs. Wavy Hair: What’s the Difference?

Header photo credits (left to right): @cutlerbrooklyn and @carachele

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