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The 2C Hair Type | Quick Reference Guide & Easy Care Tips

Out of all 12 possible hair types, 2C is the waviest of the type 2 wavy hair types. Borderline curly and packed with swirling, wavy texture, 2C hair is known to be a challenge to properly care for and maintain.

But once you’re armed with all the proper care methods and tips, you’ll be a 2C hair care pro and have better hair days because of it. Keep reading to see everything you need to know about 2C hair!

We’ll cover the best and worst features of this hair type, the best methods to use when you wash, dry, and style your hair, the ideal types of products for this hair type, and more.  

What Is the 2C Hair Type?

Woman with the 2c hair type standing against a grey wall

MillaF/Shutterstock

The 2C hair type is the waviest hair type before you get into fully curly territory. It’s characterized by medium to coarse hair strands with a prominent wavy texture that closely resembles curls.

The 2C hair type is not prone to oiliness like 2A and 2B can be. Instead, it leans toward dryness and frizz, much like curly hair types. Your waves may be so intense that they look like curls to you and others.

The only thing that separates 2C waves from type 3 curls is the fact that 2C waves don’t form the complete S-shaped pattern that type 3 curls do. Type 2C hair is known for the following: 

  • Medium to coarse strand texture
  • Prone to dryness 
  • Prone to frizz
  • Intensive moisture needs
  • Products needed to control and define waves

Not sure if you have 2C waves or fit better into another hair type? It’s possible that you could be a 2B or 3A (the two types most similar to 2C). Take a look to see which type best matches your hair. 

  • 2B Hair: Medium-textured strands with loose, beachy waves prone to frizz and some dryness
  • 2C Hair: Medium to coarse-textured strands with prominent waves prone to dryness and lots of frizz
  • 3A Hair: Fine to medium-textured loose curls about the circumference of a wine cork

If 2C still seems like the best fit for your hair, keep reading to see how you can best care for and maintain your prominent waves! 

Best Features of 2C Hair

Intensely wavy, full of body and volume, and naturally resistant to damage, there’s a lot to love about 2C hair. Here are some of the best features of this hair type. 

Prominent Waves 

The 2C hair type is as wavy as you can get without breaching into full curly territory. This makes hair care a little easier for 2C hair than for the type 3 curlies (3A, 3B, and 3C).

Your waves are prominent, tighter than the loose, beachy waves seen in type 2B. But they don’t form complete S-shaped curls, so you can still pull off those casual, messy-textured styles that are so trendy right now. 

Naturally Damage-Resistant

The coarser texture of your 2C hair makes it naturally more damage-resistant than finer hair types (2A and 2B). That’s because your coarser strands contain an additional inner layer, the medulla, that enables it to resist heat and chemical damage better than finer hair types.

While fine and medium hair can start racking up microscopic damage from regular coloring, bleaching, perming, or even heat styling, your thicker strands can withstand more of these activities without showing obvious signs of damage. 

Fullness and Volume

The ultra-wavy shape of your strands makes each individual hair “take up more space” as it bends and winds around on your head. Combine that with the medium to coarse texture of your strands.

The result is hair that looks fuller and thicker overall with lots of flattering volume. Even if your hair density (the number of hairs on your head) isn’t high, you can be sure that your 2C waves will always look dense and full. That’s always a bonus in our book! 

Worst Features of 2C Hair

The coarseness of the 2C hair type can make hair care more challenging, and care methods that work for other hair types aren’t always effective for 2C hair. Here are some of the most challenging issues with 2C hair.

Chronic Dryness

Wavy 2C hair is prone to chronic dryness due to the shape of the strands. The wavier or curlier your hair is, the more trouble your scalp’s natural oils have traveling down strands to deliver moisture and nutrients.

Since 2C hair is the waviest of the type 2 wavy types, you deal with more dryness than 2A and 2B types. It’s easy enough to treat by focusing on adding moisture to your hair care routine, but you don’t want to overdo it. We’ll cover this in more detail in just a bit. 

Lots of Frizz

With chronic dryness, unfortunately, comes frizz. You might deal with a little or a lot of frizz, depending on how well you hydrate your hair and how damaged it is. Frizz lends a messy look to styles, so you can make it work for casual, loosely-textured looks.

But it’s not ideal for polished styles. Getting plenty of moisture and repairing existing damage will really tone down the frizz. Regular protein-enriched hair masks are a great way to treat both issues with one step.

Read Next: How to Get Rid of Frizzy Hair

Can Look Fluffy

Your 2C waves are voluminous at their best and fluffy or puffy at their worst. Lots of frizz coupled with intensely wavy strands creates the perfect fluff storm, giving you uncontrolled volume that does whatever it wants and doesn’t clump well in wave groups. 

You can avoid the fluffy look by focusing on using products that are formulated to control and define your waves, not add volume or make your hair appear thicker. 

Maintenance and Care Tips

Keeping 2C hair healthy, moisturized, and strong with better-defined waves is ideal. The right products and care routines will help you get there. Here’s how you can best care for and maintain 2C waves. 

Washing 2C Hair

You should wash 2C hair 2-3 times a week for the best results. Washing more often than that strips away your nourishing, moisturizing natural oils and compounds the dryness/frizz issue.

If your hair is closer to coarse (thicker than a thread) than medium (about the thickness of a thread), you may be able to get away with washing just once a week. Moisture needs to be part of every hair care step you take with 2C hair.

A moisturizing (preferably sulfate-freeshampoo is a good idea for this hair type. Avoid volumizing or thickening shampoos that can lead to the dreaded fluffy texture. Opt for smoothing, moisturizing, or damage-repairing shampoos instead.

And always, always, always follow up with a rich conditioner from roots to ends. You may find that your hair needs extra moisture in the form of leave-in conditioner or weekly deep conditioning treatments

Drying 2C Hair

Since 2C hair is a little more resistant to damage because it’s coarser than the other wavy types, it’s easy to think it’s invincible. But it’s not! You should still limit how often you heat style, blow dry, and process your hair. 

Your hair’s coarseness means damage takes longer to affect your strands, but every time it’s in contact with harsh chemicals or high heat levels, damage is occurring on a microscopic level. 

After shampooing and conditioning 2C hair, your go-to method should be air drying. This will prevent heat damage and keep strands more moisturized and healthy.

On days when you’re in a hurry or want to rock a polished style, use heat protectant before you blow dry or use hot tools. And always use the lowest heat setting to avoid overheating your hair. 

Styling 2C Hair

Styling 2C hair requires a little product for the best results. While your waves are lively and intense, they can also be unruly and wild without the right products to control and shape them.

Since frizz and fluffiness tend to plague the 2C hair type, your ideal solution will be moisturizing products that help control and define your waves. Heavier products that are too much for finer waves are perfectly suited for your 2C hair.

Curl creams, gels, and serums are all great choices for 2C waves. These products will do a lot of the work for you so all you have to do is cleanse your hair, scrunch the products in, and air dry or diffuse dry. 

Some of our favorite go-to styles for 2C waves can make weekly styling a lot easier and more predictable. Keep these styles in mind on days when you’re not sure what to do with your hair. 

Curl Cream & Air Dry Waves

Woman with the 2c hair type standing in a forest after using curl cream for natural waves

Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Let your hair’s natural shape and texture do most of the work! For an easy style that shows off your natural texture and won’t damage your hair, work a curl control cream into your hair before allowing it to air dry. 

We really like OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream for 2C waves because it’s moisturizing and offers medium hold. Your hair won’t be crunchy or stiff with this formula.

So your waves will look bouncy and defined while staying touchably soft. Scrunch your waves after working the product in to reform the waves and keep your hands out of your hair as it dries to avoid excess frizz.  

Curl Cream & Diffused Waves

Woman who used curl cream and a diffuser on her 2c hair

Progressman/Shutterstock

Achieve a curlier texture when you diffuse your 2C waves with a blow dryer and diffuser attachment. Diffusing with an upward scooping motion allows your waves to reach their full shape potential and really brings out the volume and bend in your strands. 

We recommend applying heat protectant spray, anti-frizz serum, and curl control cream before diffusing your waves dry. For extra volume, diffuse dry upside down. For more controlled waves, stand upright and diffuse small sections at a time. 

High Ponytail

Woman cheering because she got her 2c hair type under control

Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

High ponytails are great for 2C hair, especially in between wash days or when you’re desperate to get your voluminous hair out of your face. You can take your high ponytail two different ways: Naturally textured or sleek. 

For a naturally textured, voluminous high pony: Air dry your mane with a curl control cream (there’s a good one linked above) before pulling it into a ponytail at your crown or higher. 

For a sleek high pony, you can spray heat protectant all over and follow up with a little anti-frizz serum to sleekify it. Blow dry your hair with a round brush on the lowest heat setting, then pull into a high ponytail. Use a little hairspray to keep strands locked into place. 

Things to Consider

You’ve learned all about the 2C hair type in this quick reference guide the best and worst features, how often to wash it, the best way to dry it frizz-free, and styling tips to keep your waves controlled and defined.

Before you go, we have a few more helpful tips on caring for the 2C hair type:

  • Work moisture into every step. Shampoo, conditioner, wave-enhancing products, and weekly treatments are all opportunities to infuse a little more moisture into your coarse, thirsty strands. Look for products that say moisturizing, hydrating, or quenching to ensure you’re meeting your 2C hair’s intense moisture needs. You’ll notice less frizz and fluffiness when your mane is adequately hydrated. 
  • Embrace the fullness. Don’t be tempted to get your hair thinned out with thinning shears or overdo it on the layers (though soft layering is great for 2C hair). Your hair’s coarseness and volume give your mane a healthier, more vibrant look as long as it’s properly hydrated and not too frizzy. 
  • Arm yourself with the right products. You need, at minimum, a moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo, a moisturizing conditioner, anti-frizz serum, and curl control cream or gel to care for 2C waves properly. Even better if you work in a weekly moisturizing treatment that’s enriched with damage-repairing protein. If it’s still difficult to meet your moisture needs, invest in a heated conditioning cap to help moisture penetrate more deeply. 
  • Cut out common sources of damage. If you’ve been regularly processing or heat styling your hair, you need to make sure your mane isn’t suffering for it. Look for signs of damage, like increased breakage, tangles, or a rough, brittle texture. If you start seeing these signs in your 2C hair, it’s time to cut out common sources of damage (heat styling, coloring, bleaching, perming, etc.) and give your hair a little time off to recover. 

Not Sure If You Have 2C Hair? Try This

The 2C hair type is one of our favorites because it’s so lively and full. This highly-textured hair type is the waviest of the bunch and has all the benefits of curls with few of the challenges.

Frizz, dryness, and fluffy volume may be your biggest issues with 2C hair, but it’s easy enough to treat and resolve these problems with plenty of moisture.

Now that you have all the knowledge you need to better care for your 2C waves, arm yourself with the right products and start putting these tips into action. You’ll be rewarded with smoother, more defined waves with less frizz. And your hair will be healthier than ever! 

If you’re still not 100% sure that your hair falls under the 2C type, you could be a 2B or 3A. Take our 3-question hair type quiz or view our simple hair type chart to make sure you’ve properly typed your hair.