American Curl Q & A: Curl-Type Casting

Every curly client knows her specific curl type. Check out any curly haired blog or message board and you’ll see women citing their exact curl type with precise numbers. Stylists need to know how to “talk the talk” with their curly clients. That’s why we spoke with Kate Oechsle, Mizani Director of Education, to learn more about their ultraspecific curl-typing system. 

Q Why is it so important to categorize different curl patterns?

A Understanding curl types helps you know how the curl grows out of the head and the physical shape of the curl. It allows you to better understand what each specific curl type needs. 

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Q When did you first learn about curl typing? 

A I was behind the chair and a Mizani rep shared this information with me. It was revolutionary. It was essentially the color level chart, but for curls—curl type 1 is a minimal wave; curl type 2 is an open wave; curl type 3 is wavy; curl type 4 is curly; curl type 5 is very curly; curl type 6 is coiled; curl type 7 is very coiled; and curl type 8 is zig-zag coiled. The system created a solid way for me to have a meaningful consultation with my curly clients, making them feel confident in my ability, even though I have super straight hair. 

Q What are the main concerns and benefits of each curl type?

A Curl types 1 through 3 can be oily and lack volume, but they’re a blank slate when it comes to creating texture. Curl types 4 through 6 frizz easily, lack definition, and can be weighted down with heavy products, but these curl types easily create defined ringlets. Curl types 7 and 8 are extra dry, and have extreme shrinkage, but these types are the easiest to manipulate into different curl patterns. 

Q What products and techniques do you use for each curl type?

A Curl types 1 through 3 need products with grit and volume-building power. Try using a texturizing spray at the ends for a windblown effect. Curl types 4 through 6 need water-based products that add moisture. Layer a gel over a cream for added hold without crunch. Curl types 7 and 8 need products with richer oils. Styling these types when the hair is 50 percent dry helps to prevent shrinkage.