My Curl Type is … Fractal or Zigzag Curls

Fractal or Zigzag Curls – as defined by Lorraine Massey in ‘Curly Girl the handbook – expanded the second edition’:

  • curls that might be described as twizzles, micro-spirals or fractal corkscrews;
  • an almost step like pattern to your hair. it may not look zigzag when you look at your hair as a whole, but it will when you take a closer look at individual curls;
  • hair that is relentlessly dry even with the best blow dryer;
  • hair that’s hypersensitive to rough handling;
  • curls that don’t change with the season;
  • a receding hairline from having your hair pulled back too tight, relaxed, or the weight of a weave (all curly girls are prone to this, but fractal and zigzag curls are more so than others);
  • a spring factor of 9-16 inches.

According to Massey, the texture of fractal and zigzag curls is typically fine, the porosity is generally low and the density is the highest of all hair types.

However, some fractal and zigzag curls can have a coarser texture and variable porosity.

Caring for Fractal and Zigzag Curls

Cleansers should definitely by sulphate free – because of the dense nature of this curl type it will take a lot of water to remove shampoo from the hair and will be difficult to remove completely! Ideally, cleanse using a cleansing conditioner or low-poo. If your hair is very dense, then you may wish to section it first and cleanse each section separately. Fractal and zigzag curls will benefit from a pre-poo (such as coconut oil) before cleansing.

Cleansers for fractal and zigzag curls

  • 3 Sisters of Nature Sulphate Free Shampoo;
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser;
  • Crown Pride Organic Babassu Conditioning Shampoo;
  • Darcy’s Botanicals Daily Cleansing Conditioner Cream;
  • FRO Island Innocence Creamy Shampoo;
  • Kynx I am Natural Softening Cream Cleanser.

Hydration, hydration, hydration! Moisture is everything for this curl type! Use plenty of your favourite conditioner and ensure every strand is well coated. As with cleansing, you may find that sectioning your hair makes it easier to effectively apply your conditioner. Spend time detangling and conditioning your hair – it will thank you for it! Make time too for regular deep conditioning. If time is tight try overnight treatments – a great way to get extra moisture into your hair! If you have fine strands, regular protein will be needed. Experiment with the type of protein/s that best work for you and how often it is required.

Rinse out conditioners/detanglers for fractal and zigzag curls

  • Lovea Burkina Shea Butter Nourishing Conditioner;
  • Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner;
  • Kinks I am Strong Silky Kinks Ultra Hydrating Conditioner;
  • Kinky Curly Knot Today;
  • Macadamia Natural Oil Moisturising Rinse;
  • Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner.

Treatments for fractal and zigzag curls

  • 3 Sisters of Nature Once per Week Nourishing Treat;
  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque;
  • Anita Grant Deep Condish Heart;
  • Crown Pride Tucuma Curl Moisture Mask;
  • Nothing But Intense Healing Mask;
  • Komaza Care Olive Moisture Mask.

Leave-in conditioners, oils and butter are a good choice for fractal and zigzag curls. It may be that your curls have a preference for either oils or butter or you might find that you can use both. Experiment with using oils to seal in moisture after using your leave-in. Add a little butter to your coils before twisting into knots or protective styles for the winter. Try a styling cream, pudding or gel after you have moisturized or sealed, for extra hold, definition and shine.

Leave-in conditioners for fractal and zigzag curls

  • Darcy’s Botanicals Peach Kernel Milk;
  • Elasta QP Olive Oil and Mango Butter H2 Leave-in Conditioner.

Butters for fractal and zigzag curls

  • FRO Brazilian Beauty Hair Butter with Conditioner;
  • Keracare Naturals Butter Cream.

Oils for fractal and zigzag curls

  • Sunny Isle Pimento Oil with Black Castor Oil;
  • Crown Pride Shea Oil.

Stylers/Gels for fractal and zigzag curls

  • EcoStyler Custard Olive Oil Styling Cream;
  • Curls Unleashed Take Command Curl Defining Crème;
  • Hairveda Red Tea Stronger Hold Soufflé;
  • EcoStyler Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel.

Mildred Skinner

Baseball fan, shiba-inu lover, record lover, hand letterer and RISD grad. Working at the fulcrum of beauty and purpose to create strong, lasting and remarkable design. German award-winning designer raised in Austria & currently living in New York City.