5c Hair Guide: Caring for the Curliest Hair Type There Is

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5c hair is a unique hair type that not many people know about or talk about, but knowing more about it is a good way of knowing if you have this hair type and how to care for it properly.

5c hair is a hair type with a relatively obscure curl pattern. With little knowledge of its tight coils and proper care, it’s no wonder this hair type perplexes. 

Whether you’ve pondered if your own spirals fit the 5c description or want to demystify this uncommon texture, this guide breaks down everything. 

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From distinguishing traits to tailoring products and techniques, consider this your handbook for unlocking the uniqueness of magnificent 5c curls and giving them the special TLC they deserve!

Defining Number Type 5 Hair

When discussing Type 5 hair, we’re stepping beyond the usual hair typing system.

Andre Walker Hair Typing System

The Andre Walker Hair Typing System is the widely accepted system that classifies hair. It was introduced in the 1990s by celebrity stylist Andre Walker on Oprah to promote his line of hair products.

Curly patterns chignon hair type.

In the system, hair is divided into four main types: type 1 (straight), type 2 (wavy), type 3 (curly), and type 4 (kinky or coily). Each type is then further divided into subcategories (a, b, and c) based on the tightness of the wave, curl, or coil.

Type 5 Hair?

The term “type 5 hair” is not officially recognized in this system because many believe it is not entirely natural, hence its exclusion.

But let’s break it down. Type 5 hair, in its natural state, is even tighter and more coiled than type 4c hair.

These extremely tight coil patterns don’t exactly fit into the type 4 categories and have their own unique characteristics.

Because they are challenging to manage, type 5 is often chemically softened to define the curls or straightened to reduce and break them.

Exploring Type 5 Hair Categories 

This section compares the informal type 5 hair categories: 5a, 5b, and 5c. These categories describe hair textures with extremely tight curls and coils.

We’ll explore each type’s differences in curl patterns, textures, density, coarseness, shrinkage, and styling versatility in this 5a, 5b, and 5c hair chart.

Curl PatternLooser curl pattern but with small, spiral coilsTightly coiled, medium-sized curlsVery tight zig-zag coils, often continuous
TextureShiny, soft, yet defined coilsHighly textured with distinct coilsHighly textured with tight coils
DensityDense with closely packed strandsDense with closely packed strandsExceptionally dense with many strands
CoarsenessCan be coarseMay exhibit coarsenessTypically coarse, thicker strands
ShrinkageSignificant shrinkage, appears much shorter when drySignificant shrinkage, noticeable length changeSignificant shrinkage, considerable length reduction
PorosityLow to NormalNormal to highLow
Style VersatilityVersatile, various styling optionsVersatile, various styling optionsVersatile, various styling options, including protective styles

All About the 5C Hair Type

So what is 5c hair?

This kind of hair falls within this unofficial type 5 category. And in this category, type 5C natural hair stands out even more. 

This type of hair is the tightest of the tight curls. Think of it as hair that forms tiny, twisty coils that might look like zig-zags or kinks in its natural state.

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Here are some other defining characteristics of 5c hair.

Curl Pattern

Type 5c hair has one of the tightest curl patterns among all natural hair types. The coils are extremely small and densely packed, creating a zig-zag or spiral pattern. 

The coils are so tight that they often appear as a continuous mass rather than distinct individual curls.

Minimal Curl Definition

Unlike other hair types with more defined curls or waves, Type 5c hair has minimal curl definition. 

The coils are so tightly packed that they often don’t form discernible curls without significant manipulation or styling.


Type 5c hair has a highly textured and visually distinct appearance. One notable feature is its coarse texture, which contributes to its unique characteristics.

  • Coarse texture: Type 5c hair is known for having a coarse texture, meaning that the individual hair strands have a thicker diameter compared to finer hair types.

    This coarseness can be felt when touching the hair and is due to the larger cuticle size and protein structure of the hair shaft.
  • Rough to the touch: When running your fingers through type 5c hair, you’ll notice a certain roughness or graininess. It lacks the smoothness of finer hair types.
  • Prone to dryness: The coarseness of type 5c hair makes it more prone to dryness.

    The raised and open cuticles can hinder the natural distribution of scalp oils along the hair strands, necessitating diligent moisture retention.


This hair type is exceptionally dense, with numerous hair strands closely packed together on the scalp.

The high density contributes to the voluminous and full-bodied look of type 5c hair.

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Hair porosity refers to how well hair can absorb and retain moisture. There are three levels of porosity: low, normal, and high.

Type 5c hair often falls into the low porosity category, which means the hair cuticles are more closed and resistant to moisture penetration.

The tightly coiled structure of type 5c hair often results in flat and tightly closed cuticles. This limits the entry of moisture and can make it challenging for products to penetrate.


Type 5c hair experiences significant shrinkage when it dries. This means that when the hair is wet or stretched, it may appear much longer than it actually is.

As it dries, it can shrink considerably, which can be frustrating for some individuals who want to showcase the length of their hair.

Care Tips for 5C Hair

Caring for type 5c hair requires a tailored approach due to its unique characteristics, including tight coils and significant shrinkage. 

Here, we’ll delve into comprehensive care tips to help you manage and embrace your Type 5c coils.

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Moisturize Regularly

Type 5c hair tends to be dry due to its coarseness and tight coils.

Moisturizing helps replenish lost moisture, maintains elasticity, and prevents breakage, ensuring that the hair remains hydrated, healthy, and manageable.

As a general guideline, it’s recommended to moisturize Type 5c hair at least every other day or every two to three days. 

However, closely monitor your hair’s condition and adjust the frequency as needed. In drier climates or if your hair tends to become very dry, you may need to moisturize daily.

Seal in Moisture

After applying your leave-in conditioner, seal in the moisture with natural oils like jojoba, castor, or argan oil.

Focus on the ends and mid-lengths of your hair to lock in hydration and reduce frizz.

Deep Condition Weekly

You need to deep condition your 5c hair at most once a week due to its tight coils and susceptibility to dryness.

This practice delivers needed moisture, repairs and strengthens the hair, enhances manageability, and prevents excessive dryness. 

This routine maintains hair health and acts as a preventative measure against damage, ensuring your Type 5c hair remains resilient and beautiful.

Practice Gentle Detangling

Because of its tightly coiled and dense nature, gentle detangling is crucial for caring for Type 5c hair. The curls in 5c hair can easily become tangled and knotted, making it more susceptible to breakage when handled roughly. 

Gentle detangling using fingers or a wide-toothed comb minimizes stress on the hair, reduces the risk of breakage, and helps maintain the hair’s integrity.

It also ensures that the hair remains manageable and reduces the potential for discomfort during the detangling process.

Regular Trims for Healthy Ends

Regular trimming of Type 5c hair is essential to maintain healthy ends and prevent split ends and breakage. Trims should typically be around 1/4 to 1/2 inch and done every 8 to 12 weeks. 

This routine keeps the hair in optimal condition, promotes even growth, and maintains its shape and appearance while preventing damage from spreading up the hair shaft.

A woman getting her hair done in a salon.

Avoid Excessive Heat

To prevent heat damage and preserve the natural curl pattern of your 5c hair, you should avoid excessive heat. This can weaken and alter the tight coils, leading to dryness and breakage. 

While minimizing heat styling is essential, you can use heat protectant sprays to create a protective barrier. These sprays reduce direct heat impact and help maintain hair health.

Striking a balance between heat styling and protective measures is vital to effectively caring for Type 5c hair.

Use Protective Styles

Protective hairstyles are indispensable for Type 5c hair, which has tightly coiled, dense curls prone to tangling and breakage. These styles minimize handling, preserving the natural curl pattern.

They also retain moisture, shield against environmental stressors, and encourage healthier hair growth.

Additionally, they provide a break from daily styling, allowing the hair to rest and recover and contributing to overall hair health and longevity.

Discover more about the different protective hairstyles for Type 5c hair in the following sections.

Sleep on Satin or Silk

Protect your hair while sleeping by using a satin or silk pillowcase.

These materials reduce friction, preventing tangles and breakage.

Hair Care Products for 5C Hair 

Type 5c hair benefits from a well-rounded hair care regimen that includes various products designed to cleanse, hydrate, protect, and style.

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Here are different 5c hair products that are worth investing in.

Leave-In Conditioner

Leave-in conditioners, like the ones from Ouai, offer continuous moisture throughout the day, making them crucial for Type 5c hair. 

They help with detangling, provide extra hydration, and prepare the hair for styling. Some leave-in conditioners also offer heat protection, which is beneficial if you use heat-styling tools.

Natural Oils

Natural oils like coconut, olive, or argan oils can be used as pre-shampoo treatments, deep conditioning agents, or finishing products. 

They provide extra moisture, nourishment, and shine to Type 5c hair. The choice of oil depends on personal preference and hair needs.

Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Type 5c hair tends to be dry, and sulfate-free shampoos like this one from Wella Professionals are essential because they are gentler on the hair and scalp.

They clean without stripping away natural oils, preventing excessive dryness and maintaining moisture.

Moisturizing Conditioner

A moisturizing conditioner such as from All About Curls is crucial to hydrate and soften Type 5c hair. It replenishes lost moisture, helps with detangling, and minimizes frizz.

Look for conditioners without sulfate content and ingredients like natural oils, shea butter, or aloe vera for added hydration.

Hair Mask

Deep conditioners or hair masks like from Arvazallia provide intense moisture and repair to Type 5c hair. These products help restore and strengthen the hair, making it more manageable and less prone to breakage. 

Use them weekly for optimal results.

Curl Defining Cream or Gel

Type 5c hair often benefits from curl-enhancing products that define and shape curls or coils.

These products help reduce frizz, create more defined curls, and add hold without stiffness, like those from Mizani.

Scalp Oil or Serum

Type 5c hair can be prone to a dry scalp. Scalp oils or serums from Vegan Mia can help alleviate dryness, itchiness, and flakiness.

They also promote a healthier scalp environment, which is essential for strong 5c hair growth.

Oil serum, hair care or black woman with afro in studio on brown background for a healthy scalp.

Heat Protectant Spray

If you use heat styling tools like flat irons or curling irons, a heat protectant spray, like this one from Chi, is essential.

It forms a barrier between your hair and the heat, reducing the risk of heat damage.

Clarifying Shampoo (Occasional Use)

Over time, products and environmental pollutants can build up on Type 5c hair, leading to dullness and reduced curl definition.

A clarifying shampoo, such as options from Paul Mitchell, can be used periodically to remove this buildup and refresh your hair.

Anti-Frizz Serum or Spray

Anti-frizz products from DevaCurl can help combat frizz throughout the day, especially in humid conditions.

They provide a smooth and polished look to Type 5c hair.

Protein Treatment (As Needed)

Occasionally, Type 5c hair may benefit from protein treatments such as SH-RD, especially if it feels weak or overly porous.

These treatments can strengthen and repair the hair shaft, improving its health.

Famous 5C Hairstyles

Now that you know about 5c hair, what it looks like, and how to care for it, let’s look at some stylish hairstyles that highlight the beauty of the unique 5c tight curls and coils.

Happy male hairdresser styling hair of African American woman during appointment at the salon.


The Afro is a timeless and iconic style that accentuates natural curls or coils, forming a voluminous and circular shape. 

You can choose between a neatly rounded, compact Afro or a larger, more dramatic one, depending on what suits your mood and personality.

A high-quality leave-in conditioner such as the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls and a nourishing hair masque from SheaMoisture are essential to maintain a healthy and vibrant Afro.

These products will keep your Afro moisturized and manageable, enhancing the natural beauty of your curls.


Braids are a versatile and timeless style for Type 5C hair.

Whether you choose single braids, cornrows, or other braiding patterns, they involve weaving strands of hair together to create a neat and visually appealing look.

Braids can be worn long or in various lengths. They are both a protective and beautiful style option.

We recommend a leave-in conditioner and a hold product like a gel to keep your braids looking fresh and frizz-free.

Try Marc Anthony Leave-In Conditioner Spray and Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly Scrunching Jelly. These products will ensure your braids stay neat and shiny while promoting hair growth and scalp health.

A woman with braided hair.

Bantu Knots

Bantu knots are a playful and unique style where you divide your hair into sections and twist them tightly before wrapping them into knots.

The knots can be worn as a striking hairstyle or unraveled to reveal beautifully defined curls or coils.

Bantu knots are a fashion statement and a protective style that keeps 5c hair healthy by tucking away the ends.

A good twisting cream like the Creme Of Nature and a hydrating oil such as from Pantene are essential to keep your Bantu knots looking their best.

These products will ensure that your Bantu knots are well-defined, shiny, and moisturized while promoting healthy hair growth.


The twist-out is all about embracing those beautiful, well-defined curls. You achieve this look by twisting sections of your damp or moisturized hair and allowing them to air dry or set.

When you unravel the twists, your hair reveals textured and eye-catching curls.

To ensure your twist-out is well-defined and frizz-free, we recommend keeping hair hydrated and using a curl-defining product.

You can try  DevaCurl Curl Defining Gel and the Paul Mitchell Hydrating Mist. These products will define your curls, keep them hydrated, and add that extra shine for a perfect twist-out.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

If My Hair Is Chemically Straightened, Is It Considered 5C Straight Hair?

No, chemically straightened hair is not classified as Type 5c straight hair. This classification is based on the hair’s natural curl pattern and texture. 

Despite a temporary straight appearance due to chemical treatment, the underlying curl pattern of Type 5c hair remains the same. 

Once the treatment effects wear off, the hair reverts to its original texture. Thus, hair is categorized based on its natural state, not its chemically altered form.

Can You Dye 5C Hair at Home?

Yes, but there are some important things you need to consider when dyeing type 5c hair at home.

  • First, the unique characteristics of 5c hair, such as its tight coil pattern and potential for dryness, mean that selecting the appropriate 5c hair dye is crucial. 

    It’s advisable to opt for hair dye products explicitly designed for natural and curly hair, preferably those that are ammonia-free or low in ammonia, to mitigate potential damage.
  • Since type 5c hair often exhibits low porosity, using hair dye formulated for low-porosity hair or implementing techniques to enhance dye penetration is vital to achieving the desired 5c hair color. 
  • To ensure a successful outcome, prepare the hair with deep conditioning and maintain adequate moisture before and after applying 5c hair dye.
  • If in doubt or desiring a drastic color change, consulting a hairstylist experienced in working with naturally curly hair is recommended, ensuring a safe and effective color transformation

Is There a Difference Between 5C Hair in Males and Females?

No inherent difference exists between Type 5c hair in males and females. 

The hair type, including 5c, refers to the curl pattern and texture of the hair, which is determined by genetics, not gender. Both males and females can have type 5c hair. 

However, how hair is cared for, styled, or cut may vary based on individual preferences, cultural practices, or societal norms, but these factors do not change the hair’s natural type or texture.

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Type 5C Hair: A Crown of Individuality, Resilience, and Beauty

In a world that celebrates diverse beauty, Type 5c hair stands as a testament to the unique texture of this lesser-known natural hair type.

Its tightly coiled pattern, characteristic shrinkage, and resilience make 5c hair a symbol of strength and individuality.

While caring for 5c hair may present challenges, it also offers an opportunity for self-expression and creativity in styling. With the right tools and products, you’ll be amazed at what you can do with your locks.

Type 5c hair can shine in all its glory, reminding us that beauty comes in many forms, and the celebration of our unique attributes makes us truly extraordinary.

What To Know More About Other Hair Types?

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  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

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