3B Hair Type: What is It and How to Care for It

Learn about the 3B hair type with John Frieda. Discover everything you need to know about 3B curls, from caring for 3B hair to suitable styles.
woman with 3b hair curls

Curly hair comes in all types and textures, from tight corkscrews to loose spirals. And the 3B hair type is right in between. We’ll show you what distinguishes 3B hair from other curl patterns and how best to care for your 3B curls so you can have a great hair day every day.

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What is 3B Hair?

graphic explaining the 3b curl type and other curl types in the category

If you have the 3B hair type, your curls are likely big, bouncy, and voluminous. The “S”-shaped curls are usually about the circumference of your index finger or a Sharpie marker and may vary between tight spirals and loose waves. Type 3B hair has more volume than 3A curls, but 3B curls are often more prone to dryness, frizziness, and uneven distribution.

If you have the 3B hair type, your curls are likely big, bouncy, and voluminous. The “S”-shaped curls are usually about the circumference of your index finger or a Sharpie marker and may vary between tight spirals and loose waves.

How to Care for 3B Hair

Because type 3B curls are more tightly coiled than other hair types, they are often coarser, drier, and more frizz-prone. Although 3B curls retain their shape when stretched out or wetted down, choosing hydrating, curl-defining products is essential to getting perfect, voluminous spirals. Here are our top tips for caring for 3B hair.

  1. Pre-poo before washing. 3B curls need extra moisture to protect against dryness and frizz. Before shampooing, coat your curls in a deeply hydrating conditioner or nourishing hair oil. Let sit for up to 30 minutes before washing and conditioning like normal.
  2. Shampoo just once or twice a week. Washing too often can deplete the natural scalp oils your 3B curls depend on to stay soft and hydrated. Shampoo just once or twice a week with a shampoo formulated for curly hair, and use as little as possible to keep hair clean while retaining moisture.
  3. Squish to condish. After shampooing or co-washing with a thick, deeply moisturizing conditioner, flip your hair upside down and gently “squish” your curls with handfuls of water. This helps define your curls while retaining plenty of moisture from your conditioner.
  4. Deep condition frequently. Douse those 3B curls in extra moisture once a week to keep dryness and frizz at bay. Try a natural treatment like coconut oil or a hair mask.
  5. Don’t brush. Curly hair is delicate, and brushing is just a recipe for frizz. Instead of brushing, gently separate and detangle your curls with just your fingers or a wide-tooth comb while they are still wet and heavily conditioned.
  6. Experiment with the LOC or LCO methods. The LOC method is one of the best styling methods for 3B hair that retains moisture well. Start by wetting your curls and smoothing on a nourishing hair oil to seal the cuticle. Then, cup your curls and scrunch upward with a curl-defining cream. If you find your 3B curls are still dry and frizzy, try the LCO method by swapping the cream and oil steps. Using oil last will help lock in more moisture and seal out frizz.
  7. Beware of heat styling. Blow dryers and other heat tools are generally a no-no for curly hair. Instead of heat tools, air dry your 3B curls and use plenty of curl-defining creams or styling foam to create your look.
  8. Sleep in a pineapple. Keep your curls protected while you sleep by “pineappling” them. This helps your curls maintain their shape while protecting against frizz while you sleep. Pull your hair into a high, loose ponytail or bun and secure it with a soft scarf or scrunchie. Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase to add an extra layer of frizz-fighting protection.

Hairstyles for 3B Hair

Here are a few of our favorite hairstyles to help enhance your 3B curls.

  1. Curly Bob: Play up the 3B hair type’s bouncy volume with a cute, curly bob.
  2. Claw Clip: Need a quick, easy updo? Twist your 3B curls into a loose knot and secure them with a claw clip. It’s all the rage nowadays.
  3. Curly Bangs: Switch up your look by cutting in some adorable, face-framing curly bangs.

Key Takeaways for 3B Hair

  1. The 4B hair type is attributed to the Black community and is characterized by tight, zigzag coils the width of a ballpoint pen. These coils are dry, coarse, and form sharp angles.
  2. 4B curls are very dry and fragile, so a gentle, moisturizing hair care routine is key.
  3. Protective styles that enhance the 4B hair type’s natural texture are perfect. Try box braids, a pixie cut, or down and loose.

Loving those soft, bouncy curls? Check out even more John Frieda hair care tips for curly hair.

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