Hair Types

Curly Hair Type: Fractal and Zigzag Curls

For many women, the standing appointment at the hair salon is their pampering-highlight of the month. This is where busy women get to catch up on their favourite magazines, chat with other clients and kick back knowing that they’ll walk out of the salon looking their best.

One of the many conversations that keep on coming up during these regular hair styling sessions is the fact that straight-haired women suffer from curl-envy and vice versa – it’s a classic case of hairstyles always looking better on someone else’s head.

There are different types of curls, but when it comes to curl-envy, the fractal and zigzag-heads seem to be the greatest source. And it’s hardly surprising – a beautiful head full of voluminous, wild and bouncy curls really can be breathtaking.

Just think back to the first time you saw Columbian popstar Shakira whirl across the stage – those curls have become part of her act as much as her sensual dance moves. Or, perhaps you’re a part of the “Beyhive” and have been trying to imitate her curls since you saw her rocking hers au naturel.

Whether you have fractal and/or zigzag curls yourself and are trying to get the best out of them, or are thinking of having them professionally imitated, there are a few things you’ll need to know about how to care for them. Here are the secrets to perfecting your fractal and zigzag curls!

The Characteristics

First of all, how do you define fractal or zigzag curls? With so many different curl types, it can be hard to distinguish corkscrews from zigzags, but each type has its very own characteristics that make them easier to define.

According to Lorraine Massey, the author behind the Curly Girl Handbook, there are several characteristics that define fractal or zigzag curls. The typical tell-tale signs are:

  • Persistent dryness and hypersensitivity to rough handling and hair regimes
  • A step-like pattern that isn’t immediately recognizable as a zigzag unless you study each curl individually
  • A tendency toward receding hairlines due to the weight of the hair and the style methods used (i.e. weaving, relaxing and tight hairdos contribute to this)
  • No seasonal changes
  • Low porosity and high density and typically fine hair

The Best Haircare Regimes for Fractal and Zigzag Curls

Due to the natural density of fractal and zigzag curls, using sulphate-free cleansers comes highly recommended as it can be tricky to rinse all the shampoo remnants out of that thick mop of hair thoroughly.

There are great cleansing conditioners and low-poo products available that’ll make maintaining your curls much easier and more efficient. Another great haircare method for this curly hair type is treating your hair to a pre-poo pampering session with coconut oil or shea butter prior to cleansing.

While fractal and zigzag curls are usually very fine, the sheer amount of them makes for a very dense texture which can be super challenging to cleanse, detangle and style. One simple trick is to section your hair first and cleanse each part individually for the best results. Yes, it’ll add more minutes to your daily hair care regime, but it’ll be so worth it!

Recommended Products for Fractal and Zigzag Curls

The key to beautiful, soft and bouncy fractal and zigzag curls is hydration. Due to its natural dryness, you need to ensure that the products you use to cleanse, condition and style are packed with moisturizing ingredients.

Recommend products for this curl type include Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner or Kinks’ I am Strong Silky Kinks Ultra Hydrating Conditioner for detangling and conditioning, and the Sunny Isle Pimento Oil with Black Castor Oil for a healthy, moisturizing boost.


Hi I'm Hati and my hair is naturally very curly, obviously! I have started this blog to share curly hair stories and what I use to manage my own hair. Hopefully you will find it useful! My other main passions are food, art and animlas. I have a little cat who I love very much.

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