3a hair

3A Hair: Routine, Styling, and Best Products [2022]

If you ever wondered if your hair is wavy or curly you probably have 3a hair. SubjectCurls writer and hairstylist Trisha Chapman prepared a unique 3a curls guide: from how to take care of your precious manes to the recommendations of the most effective products.

What is 3A hair?

Well-defined curls with the S-shaped pattern are what characterizes this hair type best. Type 3a hair has to be constantly moisturized as it tends to be much drier and frizzier than type 2b or 2c hair.

This hair type can appear flat as it has less volume so it would be best to use lightweight and water-based products and do a clarifying treatment from time to time.

Curly Girl Method (CGM) is extremely beneficial for type 3 hair as it helps to improve overall hair health, adds shine and definition. What’s best about CGM is that it’s easy to follow: just avoid sulfates, silicones, drying alcohols, and parabens. 

What does 3A hair look like

As mentioned before, type 3a curls have well-defined curls even when the hair is wet. If your hair has a soft “S” shaped pattern you are a type 3a curly girl or guy. 

If you are still not sure if you have wavy hair (2c) or curly hair (3a), take a look at these photos:

hair and curl types
type 3a hair looks like this and zendaya is a great example

How to take care of 3A hair: The ultimate cheat sheet

When it comes to curls, a lot of people still think that if the label says “for curly hair” that’s all you need to know.

The truth is that it doesn’t work like that. If you have type 3A hair you better focus on lightweight products. Avoid heavy oils and shea butter and look for moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and so on. 

A good hair day begins with the right products. Look for products without harsh ingredients, such as drying alcohols, sulfates, and silicones. 

#1 Don’t overwash your hair

Type 3A hair could be drier than other hair types so be careful and do not wash your hair too often. Only shampoo once a week and if you feel the need to wash your hair more often use a co-wash instead. 

Conditioning wash will help to retain moisture in your hair. Co-wash leaves your hair softer, shinier, and hydrated.

#2 Deep conditioning is key

If you ever dreamed about bouncy and shiny curls, start deep conditioning once a week. It has lots of benefits: from improved hair elasticity to repairing hair damage.

Keen for even better results? Create a “greenhouse” effect: after putting deep conditioner, add a shower cap and leave the conditioner on for at least 30 minutes.

#3 Stop brushing your hair

Nobody wants to have uncontrollable and poofy curls. That’s why you have to stop brushing your hair while it’s dry. 

For detangling use a wide-tooth comb when your hair is wet and well-conditioned. You can also detangle your curls with your fingers. It takes more time but at least this method won’t do harm to your precious curls!

#4 Find your hair porosity

You can buy top-rated products and still see no results or positive changes. That’s why it is important to know your hair porosity. 

If you have low porosity hair it will be more difficult to retain moisture in your hair, therefore it is recommended to use lightweight, water-based products. Medium porosity hair is more manageable and has a good overall balance. If you have high porosity hair, you are more likely to have a frizz when it’s humid outside and might look dull and dry. 

Knowing your hair porosity could save you money, nerves, and time.

#5 Avoid touching your hair

I know what a pleasure it is to play with your hair but it’s not beneficial for your curls at all. This is especially important when your hair is wet.

If you are following the curly girl method (CGM) you probably know what the gel cast is, right? Only scrunch out the crunch after your hair is completely dry to avoid frizz and flat curls. Use a microfiber towel and a few drops of lightweight oil (jojoba, for example).

Best products for 3A hair in 2022

Shampoos and cleansers for 3A hair

Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Shampoo is a great option for low porosity hair as it clarifies the build-up. This shampoo is also curly girl method (CGM) approved, suitable for itchy scalp, and doesn’t leave hair greasy. 

If you want something with a good lather yet lightweight, try Mielle Babassu Conditioning Shampoo. It’s safe for color-treated hair and CGM-approved. However, be aware that this product contains protein.

If you feel that your hair needs extra moisture opt for cleansing creams. Jessicurl has a great hair cleansing cream without any nasty stuff. It moisturizes hair and scalp and works wonders on fine hair.

Conditioners and masks for 3A hair

Mielle really knows some secrets on how to make your curls shiny, silky smooth, and voluminous. Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner should work on every hair type as it helps to lock in moisture, reduce frizz, and improve scalp health. This is one of my all-time best products.

MopTop Light Conditioner provides hydration, eliminates frizz, and is great for low porosity hair. Ingredients are clear and this product is CGM-friendly as well.

Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Mask is a great option for type 2C/3A hair. A very creamy and thick product so a little goes a long way. Repairs, conditions, and hydrates natural hair. Be aware that this mask contains protein so if you have low porosity hair this might not be the best option. CGM approved

Styling products for 3A hair

I’m a big fan of styling products layering. I would recommend starting with a hair gel and then adding a hair mousse on top. In my personal experience, it creates a better cast.

Avoid shea butter and heavy oils (coconut, castor oil) as type 3A hair is not the best friend with heavy products as it weighs your hair down. Therefore your hair might not like creams and pomades. 

Jessicurl Spiralicious Gel creates a great cast therefore expect to have less to no frizz. This is glycerin free so if you have high porosity hair it is a great product to have as it wouldn’t attract moisture from the air when it’s humid outside.

Herbal Essences Biorenew Curl Define Mousse provides strong hold, is color-safe, contains no silicones, parabens, and alcohol. Another great thing about this mousse is that it has a great price point! 

The bottom line

3A hair type can be easily mixed up with 2C hair yet the 3A type has more definition and a clear “S” shape. Type 3 hair can be drier, therefore, don’t forget to moisturize your hair often and deep condition at least once a week.

Type 3A hair requires lightweight products and lots of hydration.

Get the hair you deserve!

P.S. If you still don’t know your hair porosity watch this great video:

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