Don’t tie yourself in knots over curl patterns

If you’re sporting natural curls then you know that no two days are the same – how are you meant to even figure out what your curl pattern and what that means for you? We spoke to Matt Surplice, owner of Spring salon in Birmingham, which specialises in curly cuts, to break it down…

“We make shapes based on curl patterns, cut dry and with no combs,” Matt explains, pointing to the unique curl structures of each head of hair that can make it impossible to cut accurately while wet, as you would with straight hair. You need the dry cut to be able to work with the curls to the best of their ability and shape.

“No two heads of curls are the same,” he adds, “which is what makes working with curly hair exciting. You can have multiple curl types even in one head of hair.”

So what are these curl types, and how do you go about identifying them?

For a simple breakdown: Type 1s are straight, Type 2s are wavy, Type 3s are curly, and Type 4s are coily.

With each number, you then get a letter – A to C – based on the width or diameter of your wave, curl, or coil pattern. Type As have a wider pattern size, Type Bs medium, and Type Cs the smallest or tightest of the three. “It’s a good reference point, but it can be confusing,” says Matt. “There’s no one rule on how curly hair presents itself.”

“When identifying your curl pattern, make sure you’re doing so on wet and detangled hair,” suggests Melissa Chaplin, evo technical and product specialist. “Lift your individual curls and allow them to fall in their natural movement. Stretch a curl and once it bounces back, look for one of three main patterns – an s-pattern, z-pattern or coil pattern.”

A good rule of thumb, when it comes to managing curls, is that the curlier the hair is then the more moisture it needs. Although even this comes with caveats, as things like the weather and humidity can have a huge impact on curls.

“Every curl has different characteristics. It can be wavy, curly or coily and fine, medium or coarse,” agrees Melissa. “Generally speaking, the tighter the curl the drier the strand because the natural oils don’t travel as easily down the hair shaft. This type of curl needs smoothing and control. If you have a wave you might need more style support to encourage the curl pattern.”

“Don’t get stuck in a strict regime, it will need to change across the seasons,” Matt advises. “Hydrate your curls, and then seal that hydration in. And don’t confuse hair texture with frizz – we get so indoctrinated into what hair ‘should’ look like, but at Spring we’re not trying to make people look the same.”

When it comes to products, humectants such as glycerin are your friend, while you should think of styling products as helping to keep the shape, rather than creating the curl. “Don’t ruffle or comb products in, try to scrunch them in,” adds Matt.

At Spring they’re big fans of the Mad About Curls and Mad About Waves collections from Schwarzkopf Professional, which have been designed to cater to the full spectrum of different curl types, and also include lots of different product textures, so you can find something that works well for you and your curls.

evo have a brand new curl-centric range to cater to every need as well. “The evo curl range is all about embracing the natural curl pattern. It’s not here to change or alter the hair,” insists Melissa. “Instead it’s about nourishing and feeding curls… celebrating their beauty. The range offers a complete care and style system that allows people to wear their curls however they like.” All five products can be used together or separately, so you have the flexibility to mix and match to give you the results you want, suited to your curl type and desires!

You can book in with Matt at Spring here.