Being a stylist is about more than creating beautiful hair; it’s about providing a service to a customer that makes them feel comfortable in their own skin.
When Pekela Riley, a second-generation hairstylist, decided to go into the beauty industry, she knew she wanted to create an environment that was about promoting inclusivity and diversity. Riley, who is a nationally published celebrity stylist and salon owner, is known for her expertise in texture. Her desire to take texture education globally and create conversation in the industry on the topic led her to a role on Ulta Beauty’s Pro Team and as Mizani’s Global Artistic Director.
“Texture isn’t a trend,” Riley says. “It isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay. As a stylist, if you don’t embrace texture, you’re omitting a huge number of potential clients.”
Riley says the best way to understand texture is through education.
Ulta has taken several steps toward educating its stylists with texture knowledge and tools.
“At Ulta, texture isn’t just taught, but it’s also a priority,” Riley says. “We want texture specialists to feel like they have a home at Ulta as well as for other stylists to learn about servicing texture. We also want clients with textured hair to feel comfortable. They want to see themselves represented.”
Ulta has made huge efforts to promote texture for their photo shoots, in their salons and in their curriculum.
“It’s one thing to feature texture in marketing,” Riley says. “But Ulta has gone beyond that. We’ve developed a thorough curriculum that teaches stylists all about texture. It’s about building trust and honoring this sector of the hair industry. For me, it’s about choosing to service someone’s style choice in an honorable way.”
Ulta has plans to add specific services to its salon menus geared toward textured hair, Riley says. For stylists looking to learn more about texture, Riley says it’s important to think of hair as a fabric.
“Texture is a very delicate fabric,” she says. “Because of volume and variation within the texture, you have to be a bit more intentional with your styling choices.”
Below, Riley breaks down the different curl types and her recommendations for working with each type:
- Type 3A
- Type 3a curls show a definite loopy "S" pattern, Riley says. The curls are well-defined and springy. They’re also naturally big, loose and often very shiny, with a similar circumference to sidewalk chalk. Generally, this hair type can be easily straightened, but the curls are also affected by climate. Stylists can reach for a variety of styling products to achieve curl formation and definition with this type.
- Type 3B
- Type 3b curls are well-defined, springy, copious curls that range from bouncy ringlets to tight corkscrews, with a circumference about the size of a Sharpie. Although Riley says type 3b hair can be straightened, she warns it can be a long process. Type 3b hair generally isn't particularly super shiny, she says, and its texture can be coarse. Gels and creams work best to reduce frizz and add definition.
- Type 3C
- Type 3c hair has voluminous, tight curls in corkscrews, approximately the circumference of a pencil or straw, Riley says. The curls can be either kinky or very tightly curled, with lots of strands densely packed together. Achieving a straight style with a blow dryer or flat iron is more challenging than it is for 3a or 3b. The very tight curls are usually fine in texture.
- Type 4A
- Type 4a is tightly coiled hair that has an "S" pattern. It has more moisture than 4b, and it has a definite curl pattern. The circumference of the spirals is close to that of a crochet needle, Riley says. The hair can be wiry or fine-textured. It is very fragile with lots of strands densely packed together. Type 4a hair has fewer cuticle layers than other hair types, which means it has less natural protection from damage.
- Type 4B
- Type 4b has a "Z" pattern, with less of a defined curl pattern. Instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter "Z". Type 4 hair has a cotton-like feel, Riley says. The hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled or bent and very, very fragile; Riley says stylists must take great care when caring for it. Type 4b hair can range from fine/thin to wiry/coarse with lots and lots of strands densely packed together. This type of hair often shrinks up to 75% of the actual hair length.
- Type 4C
- Type 4c hair is composed of curl patterns that will almost never clump without doing a specific hair style. It can range from fine/thin/super soft to wiry/coarse with lots of densely packed strands, Riley says. Type 4c can look identical to 4b except that the curls are more tightly kinked and there is much less definition than other hair types. This type of hair can also shrink more than 75%.
Talking Texture with Ulta Beauty