The Secrets to Healthy 3A Hair

With the advent of hair typing systems, categorizing your hair might be a bit perplexing. Primary classifications of hair included straight, wavy, and curly, but more recent research has identified subcategories. Knowing what they are and which category you fit into can help you take the best care of your curls.

If you fall into the 3A group and believe that your curls could be more defined, it’s likely that you are not using the right products or maintaining your hair in the way that is optimal for your hair type and porosity.

The hair typing chart might seem unnecessary because it gets confusing here and there; you’ll find learning more about it easy as the article progresses.

Typically type 1s are straight, 2s are the wavy type, type 3s are curly, and 4s are the coily type, popularly referred to as black hair. Subclasses A to C arises from the diameter and width of the curl, wave, and coils. Curl type is defined by the shape the curls make as they would around each other, whether they curve or kink. The four hair group has the tightest and densest curl pattern.

What is 3A hair?

3A hair type
Instagram / @mellyscurls

Type 3A hair can usually be misconstrued as 2c or 3b since we can have different curl patterns in our head, but there are distinctions as similar as the hair types are to each other. In the three hair categories, subclass A has the less dense and loose curl pattern, sometimes giving a wavy or straight illusion making it quite easy to go from either.

How to Identity 3A Hair Type

Identifying 3A hair
Instagram / @thatcurlblog

3A hair type has a clearly defined curl pattern the size of a piece of sidewalk chalk. This hair type typically has no trouble creating definition; if your hair looks like a deep wave after a wash, it’s a 3A! The rest of its family can retain their curls in their wet state.

3A hair is the least prone to frizz due to the lack of volume. Still, it is also prone to dryness as the other hair types because curly hair has an oval-shaped follicle resulting in the difficulty traveling down the natural oils to the hair shaft; because of that, they constantly battle with dryness and a lack of moisture retention and using products not suitable for your hair type can make the hair appear flat and weigh the curls down.

Maintenance and Care Tips for Healthy 3A Hair

Maintaining 3A hair
Instagram /

Although caring for curly hair is not easy, but knowing your hair type simplifies the process. Many people dispute the importance of hair type, but it is.

But, remember, everyone’s hair is different, even if it’s a similar hair type to yours, so when that product recommendation does not come out as you’ve hoped, take into account that the hair works similarly to the skin and dictates what it needs, all you have to do is observe.

1. What is your Porosity

Knowing your hair type is great, coupled with knowing the hair porosity that sets you on the right path in discerning what products you need.

Low, normal, and high porosity are the classifications of porosity. Hair porosity is its absorbance and retaining power. The more damaged the hair is, the more porous it becomes, indicating that the cuticle is being lifted. Higher porous hair can typically absorb moisture readily but loses it quickly too. Normal porosity hair has minimal damage done to it, so it can absorb and retain moisture sufficiently, and low porosity hair has difficulty absorbing moisture but has high retaining power.

The hair is exposed to damage from heat styling, chemical processing, mechanical damage–excessive brushing or combing, sun exposure, and weather conditions. Identifying your hair porosity isn’t difficult and can be done in the comfort of your home.

2. A Sulfate Free Shampoo 

Sulfates are harsh surfactants because they overly strip hair of its natural oils as they cleanse, and this does no good for 3A hair as it’s already prone to dryness. The sulfate-free shampoo contains gentler surfactants that are milder to the scalp yet do a thorough cleanse. 

A co-wash, also called a cleansing conditioner, is a conditioner-only washing and can be used in place of a shampoo. Its application process is the same as for a shampoo, except it would require scrubbing more at the roots to get that dirt and buildup. With the shampoo, refrain from aggressively rubbing the strands together and piling them on top of the hair to prevent tangling and hair breakage. 

3. You shouldn’t miss Pre-pooing!

Pre-pooing is prepping your hair for a wash; as stated earlier, shampoos can be too stripping, and doing a pre-poo is one way to prevent that.

Hot oil treatment is a common pre-poo treatment; it involves using a blend of oils or coconut oil, warming it up, and massaging it into the hair and scalp. Aside from the relaxing feeling you get from massaging also aids blood circulation, stimulating hair growth.

4. Detangle from tip to root.

Detangling should be done on conditioned hair because conditioners provide the slip, and hair is more fragile when wet. Type 3A can occasionally get away with dry detangling due to its unique curl type; however, detangling hair is essential.

A wide tooth comb Is advised for detangling, or fingers should be best; detangle in sections working your way up the shaft, starting at the tips and working your way up the roots. The hair ends are prone to tangling due to frequent exposure to damage, so detangling at the roots would only worsen the tangles.

5. Moisture is Essential!

Dryness is curly hair’s number one problem, and the 3A is not exempted. So incorporating moisturizing products would be a lifesaver and also help to enhance curl definition. 

Add in a leave-in conditioner, gel, serums, or oils and creams to moisturize hair and define curls; for some, 3A less is more; you must figure out what’s best for you, and you can only get that by experimenting. 

Purchase products that are your hair’s porosity, lightweight products are best suitable for low porosity hair because absorbing moisture is a long-lasting process. Nobody wants to look like a wet dog all day and heavier weight products containing oils and butter for high porosity hair type, be sure to apply these products following the LOC or LCO method, which is the liquid, oil, or cream method. 

Not to forget, water keeps your curls hydrated; these products are moisturizing and seal in moisture by creating an oily film.

6. Give your Hair a Reset

A clarifying treatment reset your hair to its natural state; hair care products, conditioners, and styling products can weigh the hair down due to product buildup, excess oil accumulation, dirt, and mineral build-up if you live in a hard water environment. 

Washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo or with home remedies like an acid vinegar rinse can do wonders for your hair and improve the curls. The 3A hair can appear flat and limp due to product buildup.

7. Overnight TLC matters.

Your sleep routine shouldn’t be to hop into bed and sleep, nope! It doesn’t work that way for the type 3 hair category. Going to bed with your curls unattended and not protected, you’d wake to a massive ball of puffiness and tangles. 

The cotton sheets absorb moisture, especially with the tossing and turning; it pulls and grabs at the strands due to its rough surface, which may translate to tangling, split ends, and frizziness. Typically if you want to preserve your hairstyle and day one curls, you’ll need to protect your hair; ways to do that are by using a silk or satin scarf and doing a pineapple or wrapping your hair in a silk or satin bonnet.

A silk or satin bonnet has a smooth and silky surface enabling the curls to glide through so there is lessened friction. Putting your up in pineapple is an easy method of wrapping your hair up in a scarf; it involves putting your hair up in a high ponytail and securing it with a silk or satin scrunchie; you could go off to bed like this or drape the scarf over it, making a knot at the top of the forehead.

6. Avoid Heat Styling

Hot tools are convenient and can cause the curls to pop, especially with a diffuser; however, in the long run, there is too much dependency on hot styling tools like blow dryers or even flat irons when you want to switch up your look can be damaging to your hair.

Heat alters the hair proteins, disrupting the shape and hair structure. To avoid heat damage, apply a heat protectant to sections of your hair to ensure the strands are coated. Use the lowest heat settings on any heating device and at a 15cm distance.

8. Don’t skip Trims.

Split ends should be cut off as they may impede hair development and signal damage. Split ends are noticeable when the hair strand splits; you should be able to tell if you have them. Because split ends are weak, they are more likely to tangle than healthy ends, which makes the hair more prone to tangles.

Don’t get so carried away with achieving the desired length that you neglect getting regular trims because unchecked split ends would manifest as breakage traveling up the shaft. It is recommended to have a trim every six weeks, but it is essential to stick to the schedule; this would reduce breakage and enhance the overall appearance of your hair

9. Deep Condition Frequently

Deep conditioners are excellent in adding moisture and maintaining the health of the curls. They function three times better than a typical conditioner and prevent split ends. For the 3a type, dryness is a major issue, and weekly deep conditioning treatments can make all the difference.

Apply the deep conditioner from the mid-length to the tips after dividing your hair into four quadrants to ensure all the strands are covered. Next, put on a shower cap or sit underneath a hooded dryer, primarily for low porosity hair. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, depending on the product directions, before giving it a good rinse.

Products for 3A Hair.

Products for 3A hair
Instagram / @sheamoisture

Due to its distinctive curl pattern and structure, type 3A hair symbolizes adaptability; nevertheless, as with any hair type, it can take some trial and error to find the right products and procedures. Listed below are a few basic choices to get you started.

Sulfate-free Shampoos


  • Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash
  • Camille Rose Naturals Caramel Cowash
  • Curls Coconut Curlada Conditioner
  • Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner

Leave in conditioners

  • John Frieda Frizz-Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-in Conditioner
  • Kevin Murphy Angel Rinse
  • Kinky Curly Knot Today
  • The ManeChoice Green Tea & Carrot Deep Strengthening & Restorative Mask Treatment


  • Eco Styler gels
  • Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Gel
  • Giovanni gels (LA naturals, Ultra-sleek)
  • Herbal Essences Totally twisted gel


  • Eden Bodyworks Curl Defining Creme
  • Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream
  • L’Oreal EverCurl Cream

Clarifying Shampoos

Deep Conditioners

  • Kevin Murphy Young Again Masque
  • Living Proof Restore Deep Conditioning Mask
  • L’Oreal Oleo Therapy Deep Recovery Mask
  • Made Beautiful Intense Treatment Masque
  • Mop Top Deep Conditioner


Every curl pattern is unique and peculiar; the major focus should always be on keeping the hair healthy, requiring a consistent good hair care routine and providing all the moisture your hair needs. 

Abstain from products containing damaging substances like silicones, parabens, and harsh surfactants. You might want to ditch your terry towel for a microfiber towel or an old light t-shirt; these options are softer on the strands reducing frizz, tangling, and hair breakage.

Above all, experimenting and figuring out what works for you is key for longer-lasting good hair days. 

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