Everything You Need to Know About Caring for 3B Curls

Everything You Need to Know About Caring for 3B Curls featured image
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Having curly hair can sometimes feel like a job in itself. Whenever I see anyone with beautifully maintained curly hair, I can’t help but ask how they’ve managed to style them so perfectly. Keeping curls hydrated and defined is no simple feat. With so many different products to choose from, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by how much is available to purchase just for curls. There’s prewash, conditioners, styling tools and beyond. But not all curls are alike. It’s important to know your curl pattern in order to style them correctly. We’re here to school you in 3B curls.

Those of us with curly hair know just how taxing it can be to find the right products, and know exactly how time consuming it can be to get curls looking pretty and polished. If you’re someone who gets frustrated when styling your curls, we’ve got you covered. We reached out to celebrity hairstylists to weigh in on everything you need to know about caring for your 3B curls, including what not to do and why it’s finally time to invest in some fancy silk pillowcases.

Featured Experts

  • Kim Kimble is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Zendaya and Angela Bassett
  • Mirna Jose is a celebrity hairstylist and groomer

What Do 3B Curls Look Like?

Before you click to add styling curling creams to your cart, it’s important to know which curl type you have. 3B curls are specific, and have very identifiable traits. So what exactly does 3B hair look like? Kimble says, “3B curls are a little softer, they are more spiral shaped, and can be described as ‘spring-like’.“ 3B curls have a few stand out features that make them distinguishable from other curl types, including ringlets and voluminous sprint curls. 3B curls tend to have a mix of spirals, some corkscrew. In essence—when you see it, you know for a fact it’s definitely curly.

How Should You Wash and Style 3B Curls?

3B type curls don’t need a high-maintenance wash routine. “Wash hair once a week, you can use a pre-poo in between if needed, use a clarifying shampoo once a month to reset from all the products”, says Jose. Clarifying shampoos not only remove all the excess build-up of styling products but offer a chance to detox the scalp as well, leaving the hair super clean and free of excess oils.

After washing your curls, what’s the best way to dry them? Kimble says, “Using a diffuser tends to work better a lot of time. When I’m using a diffuser, I also make sure not to touch the hair and allow it to dry into its natural state without manipulation. Or I recommend using a towel to scrunch the hair so it curls up better. Both of these options help to add curl definition.” More definition equals prettier, bouncier, healthier looking curls, and who doesn’t love that? Using a diffuser also ensures that all ends of the hair get dry—it’s easy for sections to get forgotten. Using a diffuser also ensures all hair sections dry evenly, which results in curls that look alike.

Jose says, “3B hair types should be using protein treatments once a month., The rest of the time use moisturizing deep conditioners to keep curls looking their best.” Before you start styling your freshly washed hair, Jose says there’s an order of operations to make sure it holds as much moisture as possible. “As far as styling, use leave-in conditioner first, curl cream and finish with gel or mousse depending on the level of hold you want to have,” says Jose. Kimble says, “Depending on how dry the hair is, it may need extra moisture, but heavier products don’t work as well, and you need to use products with a light hold.”

What Kind of Cut to Get as a 3B

Jose says the best cut for 3B hair all “depends on hair density, seeing how the hair grows, as some struggle to grow hair past a certain length. Those with low density should get light trims, and someone with high density and length should opt for soft layers.” It’s best to seek a stylist who specializes in curly cuts.  

How Should You Care for 3B Hair?

Your first line of defense for keeping your curls intact once they’re styled is to minimize frizz. Kimble recommends “Using the right products (lightweight) and letting it air dry without touching it. The less you touch, the less it will frizz!” Minimizing frizz doesn’t end when it’s time for bed. That’s right, even your bedtime routine should involve your curls. “Silk pillowcases and silk bonnets are important because they actually protect your hair from the friction that hair can experience when you’re sleeping on your back or sleeping on your side against regular pillows and sheets. Also, they maintain the curl intact”, says Jose.

Essentially, you will be able to say Beyoncé’s famous words, “I woke up like this,” with fresh hair. Not to mention, having a bedtime routine that involves securing your curls in place will lead to a better night’s rest. Most curly girls put their hair up into a “pineapple” style using either a claw clip underneath a silk or satin bonnet or a wide stretch elastic that not only keeps hair safely tucked away, but ensures hair will stay fresh for the following day.

What to Use with 3B Type Hair

To get the most out of your curls, you need the right tools—not just any ole creams or brushes will do. Before you tackle getting ready for the day, you’ll need a few staple styling brushes and products. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with a range of options perfect for styling your 3B curls.

1 / 6

Slip Candy Queen Zippered Silk Pillowcase ($89)

One of the greatest little luxuries I gave myself, and my curls, was a silk pillowcase. This pretty pink one by Slip is made of 100 percent silk on both sides. Silk is proven to reduce friction on hair, and even benefits skin, pulling double duty.

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Sli[ pink pillowcase
2 / 6

La Bonne Brasse No.4 Miracle Brush ($168)

As a curly girl myself, I live by a boar bristle brush to softly and smoothly detangle my curls. This one by La Bonne Brasse deeply massages the scalp and detangles even the most stubborn knots.

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La Bonne brush
3 / 6

Yanibest Silk Bonnet for Sleeping ($14)

For keeping hair safe and sound as you sleep, reach for this extra large, double-layer silk bonnet. It’s even reversible! It has over 11,000 five-star reviews, so you know it’s great.

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Yanibest bonnet
4 / 6

Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3 ($60)

Considered one of the greatest hair-care products for curls out there, this Olaplex treatment reduces breakage and split ends, prevents damage and is phosphate-free.

BUY NOW – $60

5 / 6

Aunt Jackie’s Knot on My Watch Instant Detangler ($13)

Detangle curls with ease with this sulfate and paraben-free detangling therapy. Hundreds of positive reviews say it helps detangle hair for seamless styling.

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Aunt Jackie knots
6 / 6

Color Wow Clean Curl Shampoo ($29)

This shampoo by Color Wow will have you feeling squeaky clean, especially after a product-heavy week. The sulfate-free formula helps remove break down films and residue so you can achieve bouncy, fresh curls.

BUY NOW – $29

Color Wow curl

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