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kinky curly vs coily hair

Determining your hair type can be confusing. What is kinky curly hair? What is kinky hair? How do I know if I have kinky hair? How do I know if I have curly hair? The list goes on. There are a variety of textures, curl patterns, porosity levels and densities that truly make each natural crown different. However, new research, thanks to stylist and scientists out there, we’ve began to understand how to identify these differences in natural hair.

human hair weave

The biggest question a lot of naturals ask when starting their natural hair journey or trying to find the right products for their hair is if they have curly, coily or kinky curly hair. There’s a misconception around curly hair especially those new to natural hair – isn’t it all curly, even coily and kinky hair, all curly? Essentially, yes, but there are different characteristics that each type has that differentiate them. In this blog post, we’ll go over each type in detail with tests you can do at home to see what type you have. We’ll also provide the perfect kinky curly bundle that is the perfect fit for your hair type. Let’s get started!

coily hair extensions

Basics of Kinky Curly Hair


Contrary to popular belief, curly hair can be fine, medium or extremely thick. Curly hair comes in a variety of textures and some naturals may find that some parts of their hair are curly and some are coily. However, in this section we’re only going to highlight the characteristics of curly hair.
kinky curly human hair
For starters, curly hair consists of ringlets that form a barrel or cylinder shape naturally with little effort. Curly hair usually has two distinct patterns. The one most people associate with curly (before knowing the differences) is the c-shaped curl pattern (4a). These curls are looser and form into a spiral, corkscrew or loose ringlet. The barrel of these curls are usually the width of a stick of sidewalk chalk or a large sharpie.

knowing the difference between the two curl patterns

The second curly hair pattern are curls that make an s-shape (4a/4b). These curls form a tighter barrel, one that is the circumference of a marker or a pencil. This curl pattern still has a looser curl, than that of coily or kinky hair. A key characteristic of both curly hair patterns are that thee curls are usually elongated with movement or styling – and don’t snap back into the curl quickly, you’ll learn more about this when we talk about coily hair.
4b hair extensions

It is important to note, as we mentioned before, curly hair comes in all different textures. You can have very fine hair and large curls or very thick hair and large curls. It’s important to note the circumference of your curls (or the width of your curl barrel) when determining what your curl pattern is. This is a great rule of thumb when determining your hair type that we picked up from our friends over at NaturallyCurly.







4b hair extensions

Basics of Coily Hair


Kinky hair or coily hair (these are interchangeable), is a curl pattern that has z-shaped or o-shaped curls that form tight ringlets that resemble coils. Kinky hair is highly textured. Kinky/coily hair can be described as wiry and is known to curl on itself. This hair type is more compact and “coiled up” with less defined curls.



natural hair extensions

Kinky coily hair feels different than curly hair. It has a spongy, cottony to the touch and when stretched, retracts quickly back into shape.The z-shaped coils have a very small barrel that isn’t straight through (4b/4c). You’ll see that at some points of the curl it will be a clear barrel, and alternate between zigzag curls that may curl on themselves.

The o-shaped coils have a small barrel, like the z-pattern coil (4c), but you can see the o-shaped pattern has a more consistent barrel. The o-shaped curls resemble a very tight spiral or corkscrew.


Kinky/coily hair can also come have thin, medium thick or a combination of these strands. Because of the compactness of this curl pattern, it can become brittle and dry without consistent moisturizing and conditioning.


How to Determine Your Type


Now that you have a better idea about curly hair vs kinky hair let’s talk about some tests you can do at home to determine what hair type you have.

The Barrel Test

Using one of the items below determine which item fits most snug in one of your curl strands.



Poster marker or 2oz bottle




Pencil or straw

Crochet needle or chopstick


If you find that none of the items fit above see if you can compare your curls to the following:



Spring of a pen


If you’re curls don’t resemble a spring of a pen or have tighter coils you most likely have Z-Coil hair.


Feel Test for Kinky Hair


Take a second to feel your hair. Start at the roots by feeling the hair along your scalp. Note f you’re hair is straighter or more textured (curling straight from the root). You’ll specifically want to see if your hair feels spongy. If it does, you probably have coily/kinky hair or parts of your hair are coily/kinky. It’s common for naturals to have various curl patterns ranging from curly to kinky.

coily hair

If you’re still unsure about whether your hair is curly or kinky/coily, you should schedule an appointment with a hair specialist – one that specializes in natural hair. They will be able to further analyze your hair and coach you about your hair type.

How to shop for natural hair extensions for both types


So now that you’re a curl pattern expert it’s time to put that new knowledge to the test and try your hand at creative protective styles. Kinky curly hair extensions are the perfect extensions for natural looking protective styles.

Understanding your curl pattern is the toughest part when finding the right bundles for your hair, so now that you’re basically an expert, this should be a breeze.

If you have curly hair, you’ll probably get the best results with these curly clip-ins to add extra volume and length to your hair.


If you have kinky/curly hair, we found that the kinky curly hair bundles on My Natural Hair Extensions and their afro-kinky clip-ins work great to to add length to your hair.


If you need some inspiration on protective styles you can rock check out these other articles on our blog:


Our Sources
Naturally Curly –