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The Ultimate Guide to Nurturing and Styling 3A Hair

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The Ultimate Guide to Nurturing and Styling 3A Hair

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3A curls, known for their unique texture and bounce, are part of the diverse and distinctive world of curly hair. From the gentle descent of cascading loose curls to the energetic bounce of tight, springy spirals, understanding your curl type is key to embracing your natural hair. Once you’ve decoded the secrets of your strands, you can create a personalized hair-care regimen that fosters optimal health and vitality. In our quest to delve deeper into the world of 3A curls, we turned to Miko Branch, cofounder of Miss Jessie’s and Kristin Bibb, president and chief commercial officer at AX Beauty Brands, to share the essentials of curl care and tips to help your 3A curls flourish.

  • Miko Branch is the cofounder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s
  • Kristin Bibb is the president and chief commercial officer at AX Beauty Brands

What are the defining characteristics of 3A hair?

“3A hair is made up of well-defined and springy curls that have a loopy, ‘S’ shaped pattern. The texture is usually fine to medium and typically doesn’t have much natural body or volume,” says Branch. These curls are typically larger and more open compared to tighter curl patterns, with a circumference roughly the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk or the large end of a traditional tapered candle.

How does 3A hair differ from other curl patterns, such as 3C or 3B?

A few of the main characteristics that differentiate 3A hair from other curl patterns like 3B and 3C are the size, shape and tightness of the curls. Branch explains that 3A hair has a curl pattern that is looser than 3B and 3C hair. “3B curls are tighter and form more coils or spirals, often resembling corkscrews,” she says. 3C curls are even tighter and more densely packed, forming ringlets that may coil more closely to the scalp. “3A hair also tends to have a softer texture and is typically less frizzy compared to 3B and 3C hair, which may feel coarser due to the tighter curl pattern,” says Branch.

What are some common styling challenges associated with 3A hair?

While 3A hair has a natural shine when properly moisturized, Bibb says it can be prone to frizz in high humidity. “The extra moisture in the air that comes with humidity can enter the hair shaft causing the hair strands to enlarge and become irregular,” she explains. “The irregularities in the strand size and curl pattern can make the hair appear frizzy and can be challenging to control. Because 3A hair is already often irregular in shape, it is more susceptible to the effects of humidity. It’s vital to keep the hair and scalp moisturized. You can also try  frizz-prevention techniques, such as a microfiber towel for drying the hair. Avoid touching and disrupting the curls.”

Another common issue is dryness. Due to the 3A curl pattern, it can be a struggle for the hair’s natural oils to travel all the way to the ends, resulting in dry strands. “Since the hair tends to be finer, breakage can also be a challenge. Using a wide tooth comb when brushing out strands can avoid excess breakage,” says Branch. 

How does 3A hair respond to different hair care products and styling techniques?

“3A hair is typically easy and more versatile when it comes to styling, as the curls are quite easily manageable,” says Branch. However, as the hair is prone to frizz and dryness, the founder adds that it’s important to have a proper hair-care routine to prioritize hair health.

To help improve hair health, Bibb recommends regularly using a sulfate-free shampoo to help with moisture retention and keeping frizz under wraps. “It’s also important to regularly condition your hair with a product that doesn’t weigh down bouncy curls,” she explains. “Since this curl type can be inconsistent and looser, scrunching the hair upwards towards the scalp with a defining, crunch-free styling product will help to tighten curls to form more shape. This is the best way to embrace your natural style. If you feel like trying something new, 3A hair can usually be convinced to be straightened more easily than tighter curl patterns. Just be sure to load up on leave-in conditioning products and heat protectants.”

“It’s about using the correct products and tools when it comes to enhancing your hair’s natural curl pattern,” says Branch. “I always recommend using a diffuser when blow drying to reduce frizz and heat damage. Another simple way to keep 3A hair frizz-free is to put in a pineapple at bedtime. This involves gathering all of the hair at the top of your head and loosely securing it with a scrunchie. This will protect your curls and allow you to just shake out the hair in the morning.” By gathering the curls loosely at the top of your head and securing with a satin scrunchie, you are helping to prevent the friction, and subsequent frizz that follows. “Sleeping with a satin pillowcase is also a great tip for helping prevent frizz,” says Bibb.

Our experts also recommend using a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle wet hair, and applying products to damp hair to help ensure even distribution, and prevent breakage. From a styling perspective, Bibb says scrunching the hair upwards towards the scalp, versus raking downwards, will help your curls keep their shape.

Are there specific hair-care routines or treatments that are beneficial for 3A hair?

Caring for your 3A curls involves a delicate balance between maintaining moisture and avoiding product buildup. Experimenting with different products and techniques can help you find what works best. “I recommend products aimed to keep strands hydrated and nourished such as a hair softening treatment like Miss Jessie’s Super Sweetback Treatment ($39), or a deep conditioning product like Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery Treatment ($14),” says Branch. Avoid super heavy products that may weigh down the hair, leaving flat curls, she adds.

“My go-to style for someone with 3A hair is a simple wash-n-go. It’s straightforward—wash your hair and dry it with a microfiber towel or cotton T-shirt,” says Branch. “Next, use a lightweight curl cream to scrunch the hair and encourage big, fluffy curls. You can air dry or use a diffuser.”

If you prefer to have your hair out of your face, Bibb recommends trying an undone updo. “Gather the hair at the top of the head and pull out a few ringlets to gently frame the face.” This is an easy, effortless style to do.

How often should individuals with 3A hair deep condition their hair, and what techniques work best?

According to Branch, it’s best to deep condition 3A hair daily. “My favorite technique for conditioning is using a steamer to open the hair cuticles so the conditioner can really penetrate strands. If you don’t have a steamer, no problem. The steam from a warm shower will be enough to open up the cuticle,” she says.

If you don’t have time to do a deep condition during the day, Bibb says an overnight hair mask is just as effective. “Leave-in conditioner sprays are also another tactic to help infuse moisture and revive curls in between wash days.”

Products to Use on 3A Curls

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TXTUR Bond Repair Shampoo ($15)

As 3A hair is more prone to dryness and damage, it needs a little extra TLC. TXTUR’s exclusive vegan Bonding Technology restores and creates new bonds to help maintain each strand’s keratin structure. 

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Txtur Bond Repair Shampoo



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