3C Hair Guide: How To Style and Care for 3C Hair

When you think of type 3C hair, one visualizes bouncy, kinky, voluminous tight curls. Before now you probably never knew that there are different hair types. All you knew was that you had a mass of densely packed curls. While this may come as a bit of a shocker to you, it is not uncommon that most women don't know what it means to have a type 3C hair, the various terms for hair types, what hair care products to use for their hair or even how to use these products in their natural hair regimens. So you are not alone here, sis.

With this hair guide, we are about to change that by bringing you all the scoop about your 3C hair and how to style and care for your hair so you can go on and give your kinky curls all the love it deserves. 

What Is Type 3C Hair?

A 3C hair is the tightest curl pattern of all type 3 hair, it looks like the curly end of a corkscrew and can be as long as a pencil or straw. There are 2 ways to identify if you have type 3C hair, on close examination, you will notice that 3C hair has S-shaped curls, and if you fit a regular pencil inside one of your curls, it wraps snugly around it.

You can have more than one hair type that is a combination of two or more hair types, or your curl pattern may be different from front to back, or side to side.

Caring For Your 3C Hair

While 3C hair is soft to touch it is prone to frizz, dryness, and breakage. At whatever stage you are in your natural 3C hair journey, learning about your hair type and its needs will make a whole lot of difference in your hair care and maintenance routine. You can adopt these approaches in caring for your 3C curly hair.

1. Cleanse your 3C hair often

Your kinky curls need their natural oils in order to remain soft, healthy and moisturized. When washing your 3C hair, you should never do it with a sulfate shampoo, that would otherwise strip your hair of its natural oils. Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner instead. They do the work of removing grease and oil from your hair, without having to strip your curls of its much needed natural oils.

If you decide to use a sulfate shampoo anyway, make sure you dilute it with water first to reduce its potency or simply do a co-wash. A co-wash involves using regular or cleansing conditioner to wash your hair and scalp. 

You should shampoo your hair once a week, however, if you have high porosity hair, you can make up for it by applying protein treatments to your hair at least twice a month. Porosity is the measurement of your hair's ability to absorb and hold moisture.

Low porosity hair indicates that your hair has a tightly bound cuticle layer, which makes it difficult for moisture to absorb into the hair and also difficult for moisture to escape when it's in your hair. While high porosity hair shows gaps and holes in the cuticle and allows for the easy passage of moisture in and out of the hair.

How you care for your hair at night matters if you want to ensure that you retain your hair growth and have healthy, happy tresses. You will end up with brittle dry ends and hair breakage if you sleep with a cotton pillow with your hair uncovered. Before you sleep you should gather your hair up in a pineapple on top of your hair and wrap around with a silk scarf or a satin bonnet. Putting your curls in pineapple helps retain their shape and style overnight.

You can watch this video where Alyssa Marie shares her wash day routine for 3C curls:

2. Your 3C hair needs lots of moisture

3c hair is fragile and has the tendency to dry up much more quickly than other hair types. This is because sebum from the scalp doesn't have a direct pathway down the hair strands, due to blockage from ringlets oil doesn't get distributed evenly throughout the hair. While shampoos and conditioners that hydrate and moisture your hair should be part of your hair care regimen, you still have to moisturize your hair daily so as to maintain your thick and healthy 3C hair.

Water is the best form of moisture for your hair. You should spritz your hair with water daily or use moisturizing creams on your ends daily. A good moisturizing routine is a key to getting long luscious 3C curls, and protection against hair breakage and split ends. 

You can also deep condition your 3C hair by sitting with a mask or treatment on your hair for 30 minutes weekly under a hooded dryer for added moisture and hydration. Oils, being good moisturizing agents, do the work of sealing in hydration into the hair shaft. Oils like jojoba and avocado, absorb well into the hair cuticle and protect the hair strand from damage. These oils add nutrients and shine to your kinky 3C curls as well. Coconut, sweet almond and argan oils are also favorite 3C oils you should try out.

Ashley Brianca will show you how to moisturize and seal your 3C natural hair in this simple video tutorial:

Best Products For 3C hair

Here are some products for maintaining your 3C hair that you can add to your product arsenal.

1. DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Green Tea Butter Conditioning Mask 

DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Green Tea Butter Conditioning Mask

This treatment mask is great for extremely dry 3C hair. It contains nutrient-rich buttery formula which absorbs into the hair with feeling heavy. It does the work of adding moisture and shine to the hair.

2. Kinder Curls Super Curls Styler

Kinder Curls Super Curls Styler

This is a water-based and silicon-free styler with pH balance properties that can safely smooth the hair cuticle. This product can help you achieve frizz-free and super shiny curls.

3. Love Beauty & Planet Lavender & Argan Natural Oils Infusion


 Love Beauty & Planet Lavender & Argan Natural Oils Infusion

This is a rich blend of oils that is cruelty and paraben-free. It is hydrating for the hair and great for achieving soft and moisturized hair. This oil is also infused with argan oil which is known to add nourishment to the hair.

4. Dove Curls Defining Mousse

 Dove Curls Defining Mousse

The Deva Curls Defining Mousse is a light weight nourishing formula that helps to define your curls after every wash. It also moisturizes your curls from root to tip and leaves it feeling soft and bouncy.

5. Camille Rose Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

camille rose aloe whipped butter gel

This silky soft buttery gel is filled with nourishing food botanical like juice extracts of aloe, oil essences of avocado, macadamia, sweet almond, castor and jojoba drops. It moisturizes the hair and has a light styling hold too. 

Styling Your 3C Hair

Every 3C hair is different when it comes to its curl patterns, textures, density, or sizes. Knowing which category your hair falls into informs your decision when buying hair care and styling products for your hair type. As type 3C hair requires extra moisture and lots of care because of its fragile nature, you should use styling creams, butter, and oils on it. When shopping for styling products for your 3C hair, opt for ones with a holding agent in it - so your curls are able to last longer - and have moisture for curl definition and moisturizing. 

Stylers like gel-creams, sprays, or even mousses are lightweight on your type 3C hair, while products like Shea butter or olive oil would probably coat and weigh your strands down.

Styling products you can add to your hair routine includes:

  1. Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
  2. Eco Styler Gel
  3. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen
  4. Restore Styling Lotion

Another method of styling 3C hair is by Incorporating protective styling techniques. You can pull this off with your 3C curls by wash and go method. This method is guaranteed to give your curls the best definition. You can also show off your curls with these other cute styles like a braided top knot, buns, high puff, twist out, braid out, faux Mohawk, or a natural hair extension.

The best natural hair extensions for your 3C hair is the Kinky Coily extension, this type matches your curl pattern and texture perfectly. You can also rock a 3c ponytail or crochet if you're in the mood for something new.

Get some hair inspiration with this video tutorial by @Slaymiya on 8 hairstyles to rock with your natural 3C hair:

Tips To Grow 3C Hair

1. Use low manipulation styles

Low manipulation styles like twists or braids help to retain length as well as grow your hair. These styles do not require styling your hair everyday or applying heat to it. They also prevent you from putting your hands in your hair so often. If you wash your hair and put them in a low manipulation styles after every wash day, you will notice some hair growth. Keep your twists or braids for a week or two and then take them out. However, leaving them in for longer can cause breakage and split ends

2. Use sulfate-free shampoo

This is probably in the rule book of every natural. Shampoos with sulfate are extremely dry for the hair. And when your hair is dry, it gets damaged and starts to dry off. Before buying any shampoo, look through the ingredients to ensure it is sulfate free. Going for moisturizing shampoo is always a good choice.

3. Moisturize your hair often

Dry ends break off and do not retain length. One way to prevent that from happening is to moisturize your ends often. Regular moisturizing will help you grow healthy, longer hair and heal dry damaged ends