3A 3B Curly Hair Routine: How To Care For The Best Defined Curls

3a 3b curly hair routine - how to care for 3a 3b hair - curlybunmom.com

This easy, quick curly girl hair routine 3a 3b hair routine leaves me with gorgeous defined curls, every time.

If you’re looking for one of the simplest and best curly hair routines from wash day to refresh days for your 3a hair or 3b hair then you’ve come to the right place!

I have also included some of my favorite curly girl product recommendations that you can easily purchase by just clicking on the links provided.

Easy curly hair routine - step by step guide

What Is 3a Hair & 3b Hair Type?

3a hair and 3b hair are curly hair types.

Check this post for a more detailed description of each type 3 hair.

Girls with 3a hair have loosely defined spiral curls and great volume.

3a hair strands can be fine to medium texture and is more susceptible to frizz than 2b hair or 2c hair.

If you have type 3b hair, your curls and ringlets are tight, well-defined, and voluminous.

3b hair texture can be fine or medium and is prone to dryness and frizz.

So, if you have type 3 hair or a combo of both, like me, let’s look at how to take care and style your curls.

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3A 3B Curly Hair Routine

steps for 3a 3b curly hair Routine:

  1. Wash your hair
  2. Condition your curls
  3. Deep condition
  4. Apply styling products
  5. Scrunch
  6. Air Dry or Diffuse
  7. Scrunch out the crunch

Ok, now let’s break down each step.

Check here for all of my favorite 3a 3b Curly hair products.


1. How To Wash Your 3A 3B Curly Hair

Ensuring that the curly girl products you choose and the method you’re using to cleanse your scalp and hair is a critical step.

Choosing the wrong cleanser and washing your hair too often can cause damage or dry out your hair.

Many shampoos that lather a lot are actually very damaging. Most of those contain damaging and harsh ingredients that strip your hair follicle.

It’s a good idea to look for a shampoo that is silicone, paraben, and sulfate-free.

How Often Should You Wash 3a 3b Curly Hair?

You should wash your 3a 3b curly hair at least once a week.

Any more than that could dry out your hair, causing moisture overload & hygral fatigue.

How To Wash Your Curly Hair

  • Apply shampoo to your scalp only
  • Gently massage your scalp with fingertips
  • Rinse throughly & gently

When washing your curly girl sulfate-free shampoo, concentrate on cleansing your scalp.

Be sure to use your fingertips or shampoo brush to massage your scalp to cleanse.

If you think your scalp needs some extra love, you can use a gentle clarifying shampoo that is specifically for your scalp.

After using my fingertips to massage my scalp, I bring the extra product down the length of my hair.

Don’t apply shampoo directly to the length of your hair. As you rinse, the shampoo that was applied to the scalp is sufficient to cleanse the length of your curls.

Finally, rinse thoroughly, and move on to conditioning your hair.

Find curly girl method Sulfate Free Low Poo shampoos here.

2. How To Condition 3A 3B curly Hair

Conditioning your 3a hair or 3b hair is extremely important for your hair’s health. Curly hair needs hydration and strength and using the best conditioner for your hair is essential.

Depending on the health of your curls you can use a rinse-out conditioner to detangle and then move on to deep conditioning. Try any of these great curly girl conditioners.

If you’re doing a mid-week wash, then my recommendation is still to use a curly girl conditioner that is silicone free, moisturizing and provides enough slip to detangle easily.

Applying your conditioner is the same for both deep conditioning and regular. Apply your preferred curly girl conditioner to the length of your 3a 3b hair and not directly on your scalp.

If your hair is pretty tangled, apply the conditioner in sections and smooth it down the length of your hair. This will ensure better product distribution and easier detangling.

To detangle, you can simply use your fingers or a brush. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Using a brush can also help with product distribution, curl clumping and definition.

Once you’ve detangled, rinse the conditioner thoroughly. Leaving in conditioner can cause moisture overload.

If your hair is already detangled after washing, you can skip the conditioner and deep condition after washing.

Try these great curly Girl Approved Conditioners for your curly hair.


3. Deep Conditioning 3a 3b Curly Hair

A great curly girl rule is to always deep condition ONCE a week, every week. Learn more about how to deep condition your curly hair.

Try one of these deep conditioners for best results.

The best curly girl deep conditioner for your 3a curls or 3b curls will be silicone-free and will provide enough hydration and strength, depending on the product of choice.

Follow the directions on your product for the best results. Most deep conditioners recommend leaving the product for about 20 mins.

Deep conditioning once a week is one of the best curly hair care tips to improve the overall health of your curly hair.

Check out these Curly girl Method Approved Deep conditioner recommendations For Your Curly Hair.

Remove Excess Water

To remove excess water, wrap your hair with a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel.

These are best as they reduce the chance of hair breakage and frizz. After a couple of minutes, remove the towel or cotton t shirt and proceed with styling.

4. How To Style 3A 3B Curly Hair

Now for the fun part! Styling your curls 🙂 Try these curly girl products for your 3a hair or 3b hair curly routine.

Applying styling products on 3a 3b curly hair that is too dry or too wet gives a horrible end result for my hair type.

I have seen some curly hair tutorials on youtube where products are applied to soaking wet hair and the results look amazing. This is definitely not the case for my hair. I’ve tried this and my hair looked awful!

For my hair type, dampening my 3a 3b hair before styling is the best! Experiment to see what works for you.

3A 3B Hair Curly Styling Routines

There are many curly hair routines and tutorials available for you to try for your 3a 3b hair. Just to name a few:

  • The LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method
  • The LCO (liquid, cream, oil) method
  • One and done styling method
  • Curly Girl (CG) method
  • Any combination or variation of the above

Over the years one of the biggest mistakes I made was trying various routines and methods that worked with either low porosity hair or a different curly type. This is a fantastic video to explain why different routines are necessary for each type.

The way your 3a hair or 3b hair responds to products largely depends on your hair porosity.

If you’re unsure of your porosity, you can check out these curly hair basics before you continue reading.

Experimenting with routines and curly hair products is the best way to find the best routine for your curls.

What Is The Order Of Products For 3a 3b Curly Hair

  • Liquid (leave in conditioner)
  • Curl cream
  • Gel or mousse
  • Sealing oil

How much curly Girl product should you use?

The amount of each product you will use will depend on your curly hair texture and the length of your hair. But a good rule of thumb is to use the diameter of your hair when it’s in a ponytail.

Remember, even when using a curly guide, the key to having awesome curly hair is to keep experimenting with different products and routines to find your best fit.

Curly Girl Products For 3a 3b Hair

Leave In Conditioners For 3a 3b Hair

Your liquid of choice can be a leave-in conditioner or simply water, if your hair doesn’t need extra moisture.

I ensure that my hair is damp before applying my styling products.

If your hair has dried out a bit too much when you are ready to style, use water from a spray bottle to dampen it.

Recommended Leave in Conditioners for 3A Curls or 3B Curls

  • Mixed Chicks Leave-in Conditioner – Buy on: Amazon | Target | Ulta
  • Kinky Curly Knot Today Natural Leave In Conditioner – Buy on: Amazon | Target
  • Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Leave In Conditioner – Buy on: Amazon | Target | Ulta

Try any of these other curly hair leave in conditioners.

3a 3b curly hair routine

Penetrating Oil For 3a Hair & 3b Curly Hair

This product is optional. Lots of curly girls don’t like this but my hair loves it. You can apply an oil that penetrates your hair shafts for extra hydration.

These penetrating oils are thin and allow your 3a 3b curly hair to retain moisture.

Your hair strands will soak up as much as it needs. Great options are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado Oil

My 3a 3b curls absolutely love coconut oil. Once I’m at home, it’s usually the only hair product I use as it gives my hair enough moisture. Typically, after applying my oil, I let my hair air dry and then I braid or put my hair in a curly bun.

Applying too much oil could cause your hair to feel too oily and it may end up looking lymph. You will learn what’s the right amount by experimenting.

Finally, use your Denman brush to ensure that the product is well distributed. And scrunch or braid, if desired.

For longer lasting curls, move on to applying a curl cream and gel.

Curl Creams For 3a Hair & 3b Curly Hair

Curl creams provide additional moisture, definition, and even some hold for your 3a curls or 3b curls.

favorite curl creams for 3a 3b hair:

  • Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie – Buy on Amazon | Target
  • Creme of Nature Moisture Whip Twisting Cream – Buy on Amazon | Target
  • Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Curl Defining Hair Cream – Buy on Amazon | Target | Ulta
  • Hairitage Ahead of the Curl! Curl Creme – Buy on Amazon | Walmart (read review here)
  • Mixed Chicks Leave in Conditioner – I know this is a leave in conditioner but often, I apply a generous amount and it works so good. I get great definition and hold. – Buy on Amazon | Target

How To Apply your Curly Girl curl cream

  • Apply in small sections of your hair.
  • Start by smoothing a small amount of your preferred curl cream with the palm of your hands.
  • Brush smaller sections away from your scalp with your Denman brush. This is essential to get the best curl definition and volume.
  • For the top of your head, brush each section up and again, away from your scalp to encourage volume. Brushing your hair downwards encourages your hair to lay flatter.
  • Gently shake the section to help with curl definition.
  • Scrunch for maximum definition.

Mousse Or Gels For 3a 3b Curly Hair

If you’re looking for more hold and longer-lasting curls, at this point you can apply a mousse or a gel to your 3a 3b curls.

These curly stylers create a cast on your curls. This may result in your hair feeling crunchy as it holds your curl pattern for a longer time.

The great news is though, you can break the cast by “scrunching out the crunch” while you diffuse.

If you’re going to diffuse your hair, applying these products is beneficial as it will help to reduce frizz in the drying process.

Apply the curly girl gel or mousse by gently glazing the product over your hair and then scrunching it into your curls. This helps to distribute the mousse and defines your curl pattern even more.

Favorite mousse for 3a Curls or 3b Curls:

Gels For 3a 3b Curly Hair:

Or, try one of these curly girl method approved gel recommendations.

Find more 3a 3b curly girl product recommendations.

6. Air Dry Or Diffuse Your 3a 3b Hair

When the weather is warm, air drying is definitely my preference for my 3a 3b curly hair. Air drying also gives me less shrinkage which I love.

If I’m preparing for a night out and of course, for curly girls in the winter, diffusing is the best option.

This is how I diffuse My 3a 3b hair to prevent damage:

  • After applying your curly girl products, wait about 10 minutes before diffusing for the gel cast to form.
  • Use low heat and speed setting
  • Try not to touch and manipulate your curls while you diffuse
  • Work your way around the crown of your head to dry
  • Move on to the ends, cupping them towards your head

Hover the hairdryer over your curls and work your way around your head until your hair is dried to your satisfaction.

The length of time required will, of course, depend on the thickness and length of your hair.

This is a great video explaining and demonstrating how to diffuse 3a 3b curly hair.

Scrunch Out The Crunch

SOTC With Sealing Oil For 3a 3b Curly Hair

To end, you can scrunch out the crunch by applying a small amount of sealing or coating oil to your hands and gently scrunch your curls.

These oils sit on top of the hair shaft and lock in the moisture in your hair. They add shine and help to keep your hair soft.

Here are some great options for your 3a 3b hair:

  • Twist Curl Reign Multi Use Miracle Oil – Buy on Amazon | Walmart | Target
  • Curl Smith Bonding Oil – Buy on Amazon | Ulta
  • Argan Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Jojoba Oil

To apply, simply rub a very small amount of oil in the palm of your hands and scrunch very gently.

Read more on how to scrunch out the crunch

How To Sleep With 3A 3B Curly hair Without Ruining It

There are a couple of ways to sleep to preserve your curls. The best way would depend on your circumstances and hair type.

I’ve tried satin bonnets and I honestly dislike it and it never stays on anyway. Instead, I sleep on a satin pillowcase with my hair in a loose pineapple to protect my curls.

Read this post for more tips on How To Sleep with curly hair without ruining your curls.

How To Refresh 3a 3b Curly Hair

To refresh your 3a 3b hair in days following wash day, take your hair down from the pineapple or take off your satin bonnet and gently shake your curls.

Refresh day Option 1:

  • Take hair down from pineapple or bonnet
  • Gently shake curls
  • Smooth curls with serum to tame frizz

Refresh Day Option 2

  • Take hair down from pineapple or bonnet
  • Gently shake curls
  • Spray hair with water
  • Finger coil any curls that lost their curl pattern
  • Smooth curls with serum to tame frizz

If you need a little more hair product, you can add more once you’ve dampened your hair. Then finger coil and you’re good to go.

Check this super easy refresh routine for your curly hair.

3A 3B Curly Hair Routine Summarized

The best routine for your 3a 3b curly hair requires experimenting and trial and error.

There are many curly hair routines and tutorials available for you to try, so experiment until you find what works best for you.

There are also many curly hair products and curly girl method-approved products available for you to use in your routine to find the best ones for your 3a 3b hair.

I would really love to hear about your 3a 3b curly hair routine. Let’s chat in the comments below!

Before You Go, You Will Love These Other Posts For Curly Hair:

Product recommendations
Product Reviews
Important Information To Care For Curls & Waves
Dyeing Textured Hair At Home Without Damaging It
Wavy & Curly Hair Routines & hairstyles

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