For black women, especially those of us with type 4 hair, hair isn’t as simple as what grows out of your head. Our entire experience in the United States and in many other parts of the Western world, our hair has been criminalized and politicized.
This still endures today. However, despite all of that, we are again living in a time of a resurgence of love for textured, curly, coily and kinky hair.
I am proud of the natural hair that grows out of my head and part of my purpose is to help others love and appreciate theirs through providing inspiration, product suggestions, hair care tips and hairstyles. But I haven’t always been proud.
Growing up as a child in the 80’s and 90’s, everywhere around me, long silky straight hair was celebrated. And my short, dry coils were anything but. So, I wished to have long hair that could casually toss over my shoulder and easily sweep up into a messy bun.
So, when I finally got permission from my mom to relax my hair at the age of 13, I was ecstatic. I thought I had finally achieved the look that I had always dreamed of. My natural hair was in my rear view and I had no plans to return.
Fast forward a couple decades to 2014, out of the blue, my hair began to reject the relaxer. No matter what I did or how much care and attention I gave to my hair, it began to break off. My looked straggly and lifeless. It got so bad, that I couldn’t hide it anymore and I was forced to go natural. So July 3rd, 2015 I did the big chop!
Little did I know how much self-discovery, self-love and self-confidence I would find after I let go of my dead relaxed hair and embraced what was growing naturally. And I want the same for you, wherever you are in your natural hair journey.
What is Type 4c Hair?
The hair typing system was created by Oprah Winfrey’s stylist, Andre Walker. It was originally created to help market his hair care line, but now it’s widely adopted as a way to classify hair. It ranges from type 1 to type 4c, from straight hair to wavy to the tightest of coils. Type 4c hair strands are tightly coiled, fragile and typically experiences about 75% shrinkage, much more so than other textures.
There is some backlash about the hair typing system, they say that it has no real life use. But, I disagree. I do believe that identifying your hair type can help to narrow down the products, regimen and styling that could work for you. I know that it has helped me tremendously.
What does type 4c hair look like?
The story of our diverse heritage can often be found in our hair strands. Most of us have a variety of hair types in our hair. I can tell you that I have every single hair type growing out of my head, from 1 to 4c. But the majority of my hair is made up of 4b and 4c hair.
Type 4c hair typically does not have a defined coil pattern without manipulation. But, if you take a close look at the individual strands, it is tightly coiled and spring-like.
Type 4b vs Type 4c Hair
Hair type 4b and 4c hair are very similar, so it can be hard to distinguish between the two. But 4b hair has a zigzag pattern and strands have a tight “Z” shape without much definition. And type 4c has little definition with a spring-like coil shape to the strands.
If you’re interested in learning more about what type of hair you have, take this hair type quiz from curly hair site Naturally Curly.
Next to hair type, hair porosity is another identifier to help you understand your hair better. It can also help you determine what it needs and how best to treat it. Hair porosity refers to how well your hair strands can absorb and hold moisture.
There are three type of porosity Low, Normal and High. Low porosity hair has a more difficult time receiving moisture but when moisture does penetrate the strands, it can hold on to it pretty well. High porosity hair has an easy time absorbing moisture but it has a hard time holding on to it. And normal porosity is right in the middle, it has no problem absorbing or holding onto moisture.
How to care for type 4c hair
No matter what anyone says or recommends that you do or don’t do, stick to whatever regimen is working for your hair. I stick to a very basic regimen, my weekly wash days consist of Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in conditioner.
Keeping the hair, clean and moisturized on a regular basis is the foundation of caring for your hair. Check out my most recent wash day regimen.
How to get type 4c hair to grow
Dry, fragile type 4 hair is all prone to breakage. So it isn’t that type 4 hair can’t grow long, it’s more a matter of retaining length. If this is a problem for you, there are treatments that you can include, outside of your regular wash day regimen, to help your hair reach longer lengths.
Rice water treatments are an ancient practice that women in Asia have used for centuries to achieve their ultra long and shiny hair. They soak rice in water, allowing it to ferment and they use the fermented rice water as a rinse. The vitamins and minerals in the rice water help to fortify your hair strands making them stronger and more able to resist breakage. The process is fairly simple and there are even products you can purchase that have the rice water already in it.
There is a stereotype that type 4c hair cannot grow long, but there are more and more women proving that wrong.
and her twin sister TK Wonder
and my celebrity hair crush Teyonah Parris
Best products for type 4c hair
In my 6 plus years on my natural hair journey, here are some of the products that I have tried, love and continue to repurchase.
- Best Shampoo
- Best Conditioner
- Best Leave-in Conditioner
- Best Edge Control
- I leave my edges alone, so I personally don’t use edge control, but I know few people that do. I wrote an article rounding up the best edge control for the natural hair website Textured Talk. You can read about some of their favorites
How to keep 4c hair moisturized
Contrary to what was preached for relaxed hair, water is the #1 ingredient to keep 4c hair soft, supple and moisturized. Water in all of its forms, drinking it, washing with it and spritzes of water in between washes, help to hydrate your curls.
Minimizing friction by protecting your hair from rubbing against rough materials like cotton will also help it to retain moisture and prevent breakage. Protect your hair strands by wearing a silk scarf or bonnet over your hair when you go to sleep. And if you are averse to wearing a bonnet, you can still protect your strands by sleeping on a satin or silk pillow case instead.
Also, keep in mind that the more the hair is worn loose, the faster moisture will escape from your fragile strands. So you might need to spritz water or apply more moisturizer on your hair in between washes if this is your preferred way to wear your hair.
Type 4c hairstyles
My go-to hairstyle is the wash n go. It’s a simple style that I can get close to a week’s wear out of. And because my hair is thin, this style gives my strands some extra volume. I’ve shared my routine in a two part video series below.
Wash n go tutorial part one:
Wash n go tutorial part two:
The versatility of type 4 hair is unmatched.
from wash n gos,
to flat twist outs,
to fro hawks and more
Whatever you decide to do with your type 4 hair, I celebrate it and I celebrate you!