How to Care for Type 3a Hair: Expert Tips for Gorgeous, Healthy Locks in 2023

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how to care for type 3a hair

1. The Basic Hair Care Routine for Type 3a Hair

Type 3a hair is characterized by loose, well-defined curls that have a slight S shape. To keep your type 3a curls looking their best, it’s important to establish a basic hair care routine that includes cleansing, conditioning, and styling.


When it comes to cleansing type 3a hair, it’s best to opt for a sulfate-free shampoo or co-washing (using conditioner only) to avoid stripping the natural oils from your hair. Start by wetting your hair thoroughly and applying the shampoo or conditioner from roots to ends. Gently massage your scalp with your fingertips to remove any dirt or product buildup. Rinse thoroughly.


Conditioning is essential for type 3a hair as it helps moisturize and define the curls. After cleansing, apply a generous amount of conditioner to your damp hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends. Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to detangle any knots or tangles while the conditioner is in your hair. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water.


To enhance and define your type 3a curls, it’s important to use products specifically designed for curly hair. Start by applying a leave-in conditioner or curl cream to damp hair, working it through from roots to ends. Next, scrunch your hair gently using your hands or a microfiber towel to encourage curl formation. You can also use a diffuser attachment on low heat and speed settings if you prefer blow-drying.

2. How Often Should You Wash and Condition Type 3a Hair?

The frequency of washing and conditioning type 3a hair can vary depending on individual preferences and the needs of your hair. However, a general guideline is to wash and condition type 3a hair every 2-3 days.


Washing your type 3a hair too frequently can strip away the natural oils that keep your curls moisturized. On the other hand, waiting too long between washes can lead to product buildup and a lack of volume. Finding the right balance is key. If you have an oily scalp, you may need to wash more frequently, while those with drier scalps may be able to go longer between washes.


Type 3a hair tends to be prone to dryness, so conditioning is crucial for maintaining moisture and preventing frizz. It’s recommended to condition your hair every time you wash it. If you find that your curls still feel dry or lack definition, consider incorporating deep conditioning treatments into your routine once a week or as needed.


  • Avoid using hot water when washing or rinsing your type 3a hair as it can strip away moisture and cause frizz. Stick to lukewarm or cool water instead.
  • If you prefer not to wet your hair every time you shower, consider using a shower cap or pineapple method (gathering your curls at the top of your head) to protect them from getting wet while still enjoying the steamy shower experience.

3. Recommended Products for Type 3a Hair

Choosing the Right Shampoo and Conditioner

Type 3a hair tends to be prone to dryness, so it’s important to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that will help hydrate and nourish your curls. Look for products that are sulfate-free and contain ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or argan oil. These ingredients will help retain moisture in your hair and prevent it from becoming frizzy.

Additionally, using a leave-in conditioner can provide extra hydration and make your curls more manageable. Look for leave-in conditioners that are lightweight and won’t weigh down your hair.

Styling Products for Type 3a Curls

To enhance your type 3a curls, it’s important to use the right styling products. A curl-enhancing cream or gel can help define your curls and reduce frizz. Apply the product to damp hair, scrunching it upwards towards the roots to encourage curl formation.

If you prefer a more natural look, you can opt for a mousse instead of a cream or gel. Mousse provides light hold without weighing down your curls. Apply it evenly throughout your hair, then scrunch and diffuse or air dry for best results.

Recommended Products:

  • SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
  • DevaCurl One Condition Original Daily Cream Conditioner
  • Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream
  • Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
  • Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream
  • Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Mousse

4. Effective Styling Techniques to Enhance Type 3a Curls

When it comes to styling type 3a curls, there are a few techniques that can help enhance their natural shape and definition.

Plopping Method

The plopping method is a great way to encourage curl formation and reduce frizz. After applying your styling products, use a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt to gently wrap your hair on top of your head. Leave it wrapped for about 20-30 minutes, then release and let your curls air dry or diffuse.

Finger Coiling

Finger coiling is a technique where you twist small sections of hair around your finger to create more defined curls. Apply a curl-enhancing cream or gel to damp hair, then take small sections and wrap them around your finger from root to tip. Release the coil gently and repeat throughout your hair. Let it air dry or use a diffuser.


  • Avoid touching your hair too much while it’s drying to prevent frizz.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle your hair before styling.
  • Experiment with different techniques and products to find what works best for your curls.

5. Preventing Frizz and Maintaining Moisture in Type 3a Hair

Why is frizz a common issue for type 3a hair?

Type 3a hair, which is characterized by loose curls that have a definite S-shaped pattern, is prone to frizz due to its natural texture. The cuticle layer of type 3a hair is more raised and porous compared to other hair types, making it more susceptible to moisture loss and environmental factors that can cause frizz. Additionally, the natural curl pattern of type 3a hair can lead to friction between strands, resulting in frizz.

Tips for preventing frizz and maintaining moisture:

  1. Use a sulfate-free shampoo: Sulfates can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and frizz. Opt for a gentle sulfate-free shampoo that will cleanse without drying out your curls.
  2. Deep condition regularly: Type 3a hair needs extra moisture to combat frizz. Incorporate deep conditioning treatments into your routine at least once a week to nourish and hydrate your curls.
  3. Avoid heat styling: Excessive heat can cause damage and further contribute to frizz. Embrace your natural texture and limit the use of heat styling tools such as flat irons or curling wands.
  4. Apply leave-in conditioner: After washing your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner or moisturizing cream to seal in moisture and prevent frizz throughout the day.

6. Detangling Tips for Type 3a Curls without Damage

Detangling type 3a curls can be challenging as they are prone to tangling due to their unique curl pattern. However, with the right techniques and tools, you can detangle your curls effectively without causing damage.

How to detangle type 3a curls:

  1. Start with wet hair: Wetting your hair before detangling helps to soften the curls and make them more manageable. Use a spray bottle filled with water or a leave-in conditioner to dampen your hair.
  2. Use a wide-toothed comb or fingers: Avoid using brushes or fine-toothed combs as they can cause breakage and disrupt the natural curl pattern. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to gently separate the strands.
  3. Detangle in sections: Divide your hair into smaller sections and work on one section at a time. This makes the detangling process more manageable and reduces tugging on the hair.
  4. Apply a detangling product: Use a lightweight detangling spray or conditioner to provide slip and make it easier to glide through the curls. Apply the product from roots to ends, focusing on any particularly tangled areas.

7. Natural Remedies and DIY Treatments for Nourishing Type 3a Hair

Natural remedies and DIY treatments can be beneficial for nourishing type 3a hair, providing it with essential nutrients and hydration. These treatments are often cost-effective and free from harsh chemicals that may be found in commercial products.

Effective natural remedies for type 3a hair:

  • Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera is known for its moisturizing properties. Apply fresh aloe vera gel directly onto your scalp and hair, leaving it on for about 30 minutes before rinsing off. This treatment helps soothe dryness and promote healthy hair growth.
  • Coconut oil mask: Coconut oil is deeply nourishing and can help reduce frizz in type 3a hair. Warm up some coconut oil and apply it to your hair, focusing on the ends. Leave it on for a few hours or overnight before washing it out.
  • Avocado and honey hair mask: Mash half an avocado with a tablespoon of honey to create a creamy paste. Apply the mixture to your hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

8. Best Heat Styling Practices to Protect Type 3a Curls

Heat styling tools can be damaging to type 3a curls if not used properly. However, by following some best practices, you can minimize damage and keep your curls healthy.

Tips for heat styling type 3a curls:

  • Use a heat protectant spray: Before using any heat styling tools, apply a heat protectant spray to shield your hair from excessive heat damage.
  • Adjust the temperature: Set your styling tools to a lower temperature setting to prevent overheating your hair. Avoid using maximum heat settings as they can cause dryness and breakage.
  • Avoid daily heat styling: Limit the use of heat styling tools to prevent long-term damage. Embrace natural hairstyles or opt for low-heat alternatives like air-drying or roller sets whenever possible.

9. Hairstyles that Work Well with Type 3a Hair Texture

Type 3a hair offers versatility when it comes to hairstyles due to its defined curl pattern. Here are some hairstyles that complement and enhance the beauty of type 3a curls:

Hairstyles suitable for type 3a hair:

  • Braid-outs: Create loose braids on damp hair and leave them overnight. Undo the braids in the morning to reveal soft, voluminous waves.
  • Pineapple updo: Gather your curls into a high ponytail or bun on top of your head. This hairstyle keeps the curls intact while adding height and volume.
  • Half-up half-down style: Take a section of hair from the front and secure it at the back with a clip or hair tie. Leave the rest of your curls down for an effortless and stylish look.

10. Maintaining Volume and Definition of Type 3a Curls Overnight

To maintain volume and definition in type 3a curls overnight, it’s important to protect them while you sleep. Here are some tips to help preserve your curls:

Tips for preserving type 3a curls overnight:

  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase or use a satin bonnet: Satin helps reduce friction, preventing frizz and preserving the shape of your curls as you sleep.
  • Pineapple your hair: Gather all your curls on top of your head in a loose ponytail or bun before going to bed. This technique helps maintain volume at the roots and prevents flattening of the curls.
  • Refresh with water or a curl refresher spray: In the morning, lightly mist your hair with water or a curl refresher spray to revive any flattened or frizzy areas. Scrunch gently to redefine your curls.

In conclusion, caring for type 3a hair requires a combination of moisture, gentle handling, and the right products. By following a consistent routine that includes regular deep conditioning, minimal heat styling, and protective hairstyles, individuals with type 3a hair can maintain healthy and defined curls.

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