Springy, flirty, sultry—there’s a bevy of ways to describe 3A hair, but we’re happy to settle with just one: Irresistible. This is the hair people dreamt of obtaining when perms reigned at salons across the world, & today, it continues to be one of the most coveted hair types.
Happen to have 3A curly hair? First, lucky, lucky you. Second, you know that caring for your mane is the key to maximizing the beauty & bounce you were born with.
But what is the best way to take care of your 3A hair type? You’re in exactly the right place. Read on for all you need to know to rock radiant—& healthy—curls.
What is 3A Hair?
Type 3A hair is one part bombshell, one part romantic goddess & two parts radically unique. Beyonce & Halle Berry are just two perennial stunners who fall into the type 3A curly hair camp.
Celebrities & superlatives aside, type 3A hair is characterized by:1
- Lightly—as opposed to tightly-coiled—defined ringlets
- Loose, loopy, wide curls
- Looking straight when wet but curls up when it dries
- S-shaped strands (as opposed to corkscrews)
- Noticeable (& enviable) volume at the roots & medium texture2
You may be thinking, ringlets & loose curls?
Yes, & if this sounds at all familiar, then your hair probably falls into the type 3A curly hair category. Hair experts point out that we have different types of hair follicles throughout our scalp. One follicle might produce a ringlet; another may generate a bigger, looser curl—or curls that are about half an inch to an inch thick. Out of all the types of curls in the whole Type 3 crowd, 3A-ers have the largest & most relaxed curls.
Why is it so important to make this distinction between hair types? Because comprehending the natural shape of your strands can help you find just the right curly hair styling products, tools & looks to amplify your curls’ natural magnificence.
What Is Type 3A Hair Vulnerable To?
If you’ve determined that your hair is in fact type 3A, then you know firsthand that your hair is prone to a couple of things that can cause exacerbation—namely:
- Unwanted frizz
- Fragility—particularly with curls that tend towards the tighter side
Fortunately, caring for type 3A curly hair is a cinch with the proper knowledge & resources (literally) in hand.
How To Take Care of 3A Hair
Caring for 3A hair can be distilled into 3 categories:
- Moisture retention
- Protection from stressors
- Caring for hair from the inside out
Let’s look at 8 actionable strategies.
#1 Detangle in Reverse
Pure logistics seem to suggest that we should detangle our hair starting at the crown & working our way down to the ends.
With 3A curly hair? Not so much. In fact, it’s recommended that you start at your ends & slowly & carefully make your way up toward your root. Why? Because starting at your roots & heading down the shaft may worsen snags & tangles.
PATTERN’s Wide Tooth Comb is a go-to for 3A curly hair. The teeth on this comb are strong but gentle, allowing for easy separation. To aid with the whole process, reach for PATTERN’s Detangling Nectar, which is jam-packed with nourishing ingredients that may help prevent unwanted frizz & boost your hair’s natural elasticity, including:
- Sea moss
- Grapeseed oil
- Aloe vera
Unlike 3B & 3C hair, 3A hair is a bit more forgiving when it comes to dry detangling. Just be sure that you do so only occasionally to help keep your curls nice, defined & shiny.
#2 Time Your Wash Days Smartly
For best results, you may want to wash your hair every three to five days, depending on your lifestyle & the amount of sweat, scalp buildup & dirt that may have naturally accumulated on in your hair.
You essentially have two options on wash day: A full shampoo & conditioning, or what’s called a co-wash—or, washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo, which may contain ingredients that will rob your hair of its natural oils (& retaining moisture is one of the golden tickets to lush, lovely strands).3
On your full wash days, opt for a shampoo that’s specifically designed to nurture 3A hair. PATTERN’S Hydration Shampoo’s super-creamy texture adequately cleanses your scalp & curls without stripping your hair of the moisture it needs for its health & integrity. Harsh chemicals, which are found in more shampoos than we can count, have been replaced with ingredients like:
#3 Concentrate on Hydration
Curly hair may be the belle of the ball, but here’s a valuable fact you may not know: The innate shape of curls makes it a little more difficult for your hair to soak up & hold onto moisture. We don’t mean the humectants found in hair oils & conditioners, either. The oils you naturally produce struggle a bit to make it from your scalp to your ends, but there’s no need to fear.
Luckily, there are a host or products to help you achieve lusciousness:
- Leave-in conditioner – A leave-in treatment is one of the greatest discoveries of the last century: Like all-day facial moisturizers, they seal in moisture & help your hair stay hydrated no matter what it encounters—sun, smog, a straightening iron, you name it. PATTERN’s Leave-In Conditioner brims with scientifically-backed ingredients like:
- Jojoba Seed Oil9
- Avocado oil10
Turn this into a must & you might just find your curls more supple & defined than ever.
#4 Dodge Products That Contain Silicone
Silicone is touted for decreasing friction in hair &, as such, is featured in countless products. But just in case you needed another reason to read hair products carefully, here’s another one—silicone can compound any dryness you’re experiencing & also:13
- Hinder nutrients from reaching deep into your hair where it’s needed most
- Steal your hair’s shine, resulting in dullness
- Make it difficult to remove from your hair & contribute to scalp buildup
- Give your hair a heaviness that feels ick & not luxurious
If you’re keen on achieving enduring shine, choose PATTERN’S Shine Spray instead. This heavenly formula is very lightweight so that it won’t drag your curls down. It also contains extracts of Plumeria to guarantee you smell wonderful from sunrise to sunset & beyond.
#5 Call Upon Luxe Treatments
From environmental stressors to heating tools, protecting your curls to the best of your ability is a must.
To the rescue: A curly hair mask crafted to rejuvenate your strands. PATTERN’s Treatment Mask is modern in design but taken from the time-worn traditions of generations before us. Ingredients like Rice Water & Moringa Seed Offer tremendous restorative benefits & help bring out the natural definition of your curls.
#6 Curb Chemical Exposure
Highlights, harsh chemicals like parabens & phthalates & dyes can all wreak havoc on your lovely 3A hair texture, so much so your envy-inducing ringlets may start to become wavy instead. Maybe this is your goal—& cheers for experimenting & going with the styles you love best—but bear in mind that this could also result in unwanted frizziness. Why? Because chemicals can:
- Mitigate moisture
- Increase dryness
- Lead to natural hair breakage
#7 Style With Savvy
One of the many beauties of 3A hair is that there are tons of styles you can easily achieve. Here are a few tips:
#8 Elevate Hair Health From Within
Products & styles can only go so far: genuine hair health starts with how you care for all of you on a daily basis. Ample sleep, excellent hydration, a diet filled with antioxidant-rich fruits & veggies, lots of movement & a low-stress lifestyle are the real & most important ingredients for breathtaking strands.
Up-Level Your 3A Curly Hair Routine PATTERN
Type 3A hair turns heads with its cascading, fairy-tale curls. If you’re one of the lucky ones with this natural, awe-provoking texture, you want to use products that were tailored specifically for your S-shaped strands.
This is where PATTERN’s collection of curly hair products comes in. Our full suite of shampoos, conditioners & curly hair accessories is devoid of ingredients that might strip your hair of the moisture it needs to remain simultaneously soft & strong. Our new collection of heat styling tools were also created with textures like yours at the top of our minds so that you can savor beautiful hair around the clock.
Reap the benefits of customized natural hair care with PATTERN.
- Emmanuel, Sophia. "Type 3a hair: what it is and how to care for it." Byrdie. 12 July, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/type-3a-hair-5271293
- Smith-Garcia, Dorian. "Type 3A hair: hair care tips, products & styles." MindBodyGreen. 18 March, 2022. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/3a-hair
- Engler, Alexandra. "Co-washing: what it is + 5 tips to go shampoo-free." MindBodyGreen. 26 June, 2020. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/our-guide-to-co-washing
- Iftikhar, Noreen. "Can coconut oil help with hair growth?" Healthline. 11 December, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/coconut-oil-for-hair-growth
- Watson, Kathryn. "Aloe vera for your hair: what are the benefits?" Healthline. 15 October, 2020. https://ahoy-stage.healthline.com/health/aloe-vera-for-hair
- Lockett, Eleesha. "All about using honey for hair health and 10 ways to try it today." Healthline. 28 May, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/honey-for-hair
- Catlett, Tess. "Biotin for hair growth: does it work?" Healthline. Updated 15 March, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/biotin-hair-growth
- Marino, Dylan. "Panthenol for hair: benefits and how to use it." Byrdie. Updated 17 February, 2023. https://www.byrdie.com/panthenol-for-hair-5223787
- White, Adrian. "Jojoba oil for hair: how it works." Healthline. Updated 29 September, 2018. Uhttps://www.healthline.com/health/jojoba-oil-for-hair
- Emmanuel, Sophia. "Avocado oil for hair: benefits and how to use it." Byrdie. Updated 23 August, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/avocado-oil-for-hair-5080064
- Murphy-Rose, Blair. "Yucca for hair: benefits and how to use it." Byrdie. Updated 23 August, 2022. Yhttps://www.byrdie.com/yucca-for-hair-5194906
- Rugeri, Christine. "The 7 best essential oils for hair." Dr. Axe. 15 February, 2023. https://draxe.com/essential-oils/essential-oils-for-hair/
- Sharkey, Lauren. "Is silicone really that bad for your hair?" Healthline. 25 August, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/why-is-silicone-bad-for-hair