Wavy vs curly hair: What’s the difference?

Everything you didn’t think you needed to know about wavy and curly hair Navigating the world of hair types can often feel like deciphering an intricate puzzle.  Among ...

3 min read

Everything you didn’t think you needed to know about wavy and curly hair

Navigating the world of hair types can often feel like deciphering an intricate puzzle.  Among the most commonly discussed categories are wavy and curly hair, each possessing its unique charm and set of challenges. While they may seem similar at a glance, understanding the distinctions between these hair types is crucial for optimal care and styling. 

So, let’s look into the differences between wavy and curly hair, explores whether wavy hair can be considered curly, outlines the various subtypes, and provides styling tips tailored to each hair type.

 What’s the difference between wavy and curly hair?

The primary difference between wavy and curly hair lies in the shape of the hair follicle and the pattern the hair forms as it grows. Wavy hair, characterised by its loose, S-shaped pattern, offers a gentle, flowing appearance that bridges the gap between straight and curly hair. In contrast, curly hair has a more pronounced, spiral pattern that starts right from the root, giving it a more voluminous and dynamic look.

Is wavy hair curly?

While wavy hair shares some characteristics with curly hair, such as a tendency towards dryness and frizz, it’s not classified as curly due to its less defined pattern. Wavy hair forms gentle waves, whereas curly hair creates distinct curls or coils. The distinction is important for choosing the right hair care and styling strategies.

What are the different types of wavy and curly hair?

Hair types are further categorised into subtypes based on the tightness of the wave or curl.

Wavy hair types:

Type 2A: Thin, fine waves that are barely there, offering a slight texture.

Type 2B: Medium waves that are more defined and start to take on an S-shape.

Type 2C: Thick waves with a more pronounced S-shape that begins at the roots.

Curly hair types:

 Type 3A: Loose curls with a definite S-shape, offering a lightweight appearance.

Type 3B: Medium to tight curls that are more voluminous and springy.

Type 3C: Tight curls or coils that pack plenty of volumes and texture.

Understanding your specific hair type is pivotal in tailoring your care and styling routine to suit your hair’s needs.

How to style wavy hair

Styling wavy hair involves enhancing its natural pattern while combating frizz.

Use a lightweight styling product

Apply a mousse or lightweight gel to damp hair to define waves without weighing them down.

Diffuse or air dry

Use a diffuser attachment on your hairdryer to encourage wave definition or let your hair air dry for a more natural look.

Touch up with a curling iron

For more defined waves, lightly touch up with a curling iron, twisting hair away from the face.

Finish with a sea salt spray

A sea salt spray can add texture and volume to wavy hair, giving it a beachy look.

How to style curly hair

Curly hair thrives on moisture and benefits from styling techniques that enhance its natural bounce and shape.

Hydrate with leave-in conditioner

Start with a hydrating leave-in conditioner to moisturise curls and reduce frizz.

Use a curl defining cream

Apply a curl defining cream or gel to damp hair to enhance curl pattern and hold.

Plop or Diffuse

‘Plopping’ your hair in a cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel can help set curls without causing frizz. Alternatively, use a diffuser to dry your hair, enhancing curl definition.

Avoid Touching Your Hair

Once your curls are set, avoid touching them to prevent frizz. If you need to refresh your curls, use a bit of water or curl refresher spray. While wavy and curly hair may share some similarities, they each require a distinct approach to care and styling to truly shine. Wavy hair, with its subtle S-shaped pattern, offers a versatile canvas for loose, flowing styles, whereas curly hair, with its vibrant spirals, demands more moisture and careful handling to maintain its bounce and definition. Recognising your hair’s specific type and pattern is key to unlocking its potential, allowing you to embrace and enhance your natural texture.

Whether you’re working with the gentle waves of type 2A hair or the tight coils of type 3C, understanding the nuances of your hair can lead to a more harmonious relationship with your locks, paving the way for endless styling possibilities and the joy of truly personalised hair care.

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