Type 4 hair is captivating with its bouncy coils and unmatched volume, and there is plenty to admire. Although this hair type can present a range of challenges when cared for properly, it is absolutely stunning.
At WOW Skin Science, we strive to be a helping hand as you work for healthy hair. This complete hair care guide compiles all you need to know about type 4 hair and how to treat it.
Table of Contents:
- How to Tell Type 4 Hair Apart
- The Three Subtypes of Type 4 Hair
- Type 4A
- Type 4B
- Type 4C
- What to Expect from Type 4 Hair
- How to Care for Type 4 Hair
- How to Style Type 4 Hair
- Wear it Up
- Go Short
- Let It All Go
- What Products You Should Use for Type 4 Hair
- Moisturizing Conditioner
- Hair Oil
- Hair Mask
How to Tell Type 4 Hair Apart
Type 4 hair is predominantly common amongst black women and is often unmistakable for its natural beauty and unique bounce. This hair type is often referred to as coily, kinky, or Afro-textured and is highlighted by its tight curls that are better defined as fine spirals. Type 4 hair has a spongy texture and can feel either soft and fine or rough and coarse.
The Three Subtypes of Type 4 Hair
Although easy to tell apart from the other three types of hair, not all type 4 hair is the same. Type 4 hair is often categorized and distinguished by its thickness and texture. Your subtype depends largely on your hair’s density and how tightly coiled it is.
Type 4A hair is the first step above curly hair. This hair type is closer to coils and spirals than curls. Type 4A hair can be distinguished from curly hair by the more distinct ringlets that it forms. This hair type is the final step before the S-shaped curl starts to turn sharper.
The 4B subtype hair texture is tighter than 4A. Generally, the coils in this hair type are generally about the width of a pen. However, you can really tell 4B apart from 4A by observing the direction of the hair coils. Instead of having straight, tight coils that fall in one direction, 4B hair bends more in a variety of directions.
Type 4B hair curls more in sharp turns and in directions that give it more of a Z-shaped pattern than an S-shape. The individual strands of hair in type 4B can range from fine and thin to coarse. With dense coils, it is difficult for the natural sebum to move through the hair.
Type 4C hair has the most densely packed curls compared to subtypes 4A and 4B. The dense structure means that these coils are also the smallest of the subtypes. The density of this hair type makes it most susceptible to dryness and damage, which means that it may also become frizzy more easily. Similar to 4B, 4C hair can also incorporate a variety of textures, from thin to coarse hair.
What to Expect from Type 4 Hair
Type 4 hair is marvelous and stunning, but it has a few challenging tendencies that should influence how you style it and care for it.
With its densely packed coils, type 4 hair is more likely to shrink. When you wash your hair, you should expect it to shrink considerably when it dries. The tight coils of type 4 hair also make it more delicate and vulnerable to damage. The fragile texture of the hair makes it important to be cautious during styling and when going about your daily routine.
Because type 4 hair is densely packed together, dehydration is one of the greatest risks associated with this hair type. The dense structure of type 4 hair makes it difficult for the natural oils to move from the scalp down the strands of hair. Dehydrated hair is more likely to become frizzy and damaged.
All subtypes of type 4 hair are also very sensitive to the weather. Just a little bit of humidity can cause a significant amount of frizz and throw your hairstyle out the window.
How to Care for Type 4 Hair
With natural beauty and graceful pattern, type 4 hair deserves to be cared for appropriately in order to stay lively, bouncy, and voluminous. Taking a mindful approach to caring for your hair and finding a proper routine makes it easy to embrace its natural vitality. Consider the following when developing a hair care routine that works for you and your type 4 hair.
Since type 4 coils are more delicate than other hair types, it is vital that you take a gentle approach to styling and managing it. With type 4 hair, you can all but forget about using a hairbrush. Using the wrong tool can have drastic consequences. In many cases, a wide tooth comb may even be too much. It is often better to detangle your hair just by running your fingers through it.
This gentle approach should also extend to drying your hair. The best practice is to use a towel to pat your hair or gently press it between towel-covered hands to squeeze out excess water. After removing a portion of the water, let it air dry completely.
Try to avoid using a hair dryer entirely. If it is absolutely necessary, then make sure to use a heat protectant and keep the dryer at its lowest setting.
Limit Your Washing Routine
Like other curly hair types, you should avoid washing your hair daily. In fact, with how slowly oil moves through type 4 hair, you can reduce your shampoo routine even further. Those with type 4 hair can limit washing to just once or twice a month. It’s also recommended that you complete a co-wash in between.
When you do shampoo, use a product that is powerful enough to cleanse all of the impurities from your hair but gentle enough to nourish and hydrate the strands and scalp. For a formula that does both, try WOW’s Coconut Milk Shampoo.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
As highlighted, the dense structure of type 4 hair makes it more vulnerable to dryness. Moisturizing is a crucial part of any hair care routine for those with type 4 hair. In order to keep your hair moisturized, you can consider several approaches. Every hair care routine should incorporate an effective post-wash conditioner, but leave-in conditioners, hair oil treatments, and hair masks are all great ways to boost your hair’s hydration.
Choose Natural Products
Unlike thin and straight hair types, type 4 hair can handle heavier hair products without becoming flat or weighted down. In fact, products with heavier ingredients like coconut oil, argan oil, and avocado oil are especially helpful to type 4 hair. These ingredients can coat each strand of hair to boost its softness and flexibility.
Lighter products can be a better option for those in humid environments. If your hair tends to be oily, then lighter products are a better choice for you as well. Of course, every head of hair is different, so it may take some trial and error to determine which products your hair responds to best.
When choosing products, avoiding synthetic, harmful ingredients is one of the best steps you can take. Harmful chemicals like parabens and sulfates can significantly dry out your hair and make it more susceptible to damage and breakage. Always aim for products that use 100% natural ingredients.
Be Careful at Night
It cannot be emphasized enough that type 4 hair is precious and needs to be handled with caution. This even extends to the time you spend a sleep. The constant friction of your hair against the pillow will lead to breakage and damage. Try to use a pillowcase made of a soft material like silk or satin to prevent extra friction.
It also helps to go to bed with your hair tied up. Leaving your hair tied up in “pineapple style” keeps it from rubbing against the pillow case and agitating the fragile strands.
How to Style Type 4 Hair
Type 4 hair is often considered to be the highest maintenance of the various hair types. Although type 4 hair can have its own unique challenges, it also offers plenty of potential for unique, unmatched styles. Type 4 hair typically does not respond well when forced against its natural pattern and structure, but working with it can offer an extensive amount of potential.
Wear it Up
Although coily hair seems complicated to work with, there are plenty of quick and easy ways you can style your hair just by tying it up. A hair tie and a few bobby pins can go a long way. You can keep it simple by tying your hair up in a ponytail or a bun, or you can get creative by tying your hair up in sections. For example, have the front tied in two buns while letting the back go free, or tie the back in a ponytail and pin the hair in front to the side.
If you do decide to tie your hair up, make sure to be gentle and avoid tying it too tightly. Use a loose-fitting hair tie that will not have too much friction against your hair, like a scrunchie or soft material hair tie.
The unmatched volume of type 4 hair can look great with a short haircut. Even with short hair, the vitality of coily hair provides a variety of styling options. Tightly coiled type 4 hair looks great in a stylish afro, a small bun, or a short ponytail.
Let It All Go
One of the best styling techniques for coily hair is to run with its natural appearance and not overthink it. Coily hair has a stunning natural beauty, and you should embrace it. When washed and conditioned, type 4 hair is at its most lively. A wash-and-go look lets your coils bounce and allows you to show off your natural volume.
What Products You Should Use for Type 4 Hair
The biggest risks you face with type 4 hair are dryness and damage. Therefore, many of the products you use for your hair care routine should be directed toward moisturizing and nourishing your type 4 hair. Here are some great examples of products that should be regular parts of your type 4 hair care routine.
Conditioner is vital to any hair care routine, but when it comes to type 4 hair, it is even more important to stay a step ahead of dehydration. This hair type deserves a conditioner that can penetrate deeply through the thick coils and down to the scalp in order to soften, strengthen, and moisturize the hair.
Use WOW’s Coconut & Avocado Natural Hair Conditioner to provide essential vitamins, proteins, and healthy fats that strengthen your hair and prevent breakage. Avocado oil, almond oil, castor oil, and coconut oil help to soak into your hair to provide UV protection and extra flexibility.
Since type 4 hair shouldn’t be washed too often, you can also consider doing a co-wash treatment in between washes to provide added nutrients.
In addition to using a conditioner after you wash your hair, consider using a leave-in treatment like WOW’s 10-in-1 Hair Revitalizer Spray. This spray provides extra help in the fight against frizz and helps reinforce hair against potential damage.
Oil treatments are notorious for providing added moisturizing power to naturally coiled hair. Washing your hair can dry it out and strip it of its natural oils, so it is a good idea to pre-treat it with hydrating oils before lathering in the shampoo.
Use WOW’s Moroccan Argan Hair Oil to hydrate, soften, and strengthen your hair. This formula combines the fatty acids, antioxidants, and abundant vitamins of argan oil, extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, and castor oil. These powerful ingredients help promote your hair’s flexibility and fight breakage.
Use a few pumps in your hair and let the oil soak in for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight before rinsing. Incorporate this into your routine twice a week for the best results.
Hair masks are an often overlooked but powerful addition to your hair care routine, allowing nutrients to penetrate deep into your hair and scalp. Try WOW’s Coconut Milk Hair Mask, a silky, smooth treatment to boost the overall health of your hair.
The foundation of this mask uses coconut milk to boost circulation in your scalp and combat damage to your hair strands. Meanwhile, shea butter and argan oil help to provide vitamin A and essential fatty acids to improve your hair’s flexibility. Lastly, hydrolyzed wheat proteins help reinforce hairs to shield them from additional damage.
Consider using a hair mask once a week to revitalize your hair. Simply comb it into your hair and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.
Type 4 hair is unmatched by any other hair type. With dense, lively coils, type 4 hair is truly in its own class of natural vitality. However, all good things have their challenges, so it is important to provide your hair with extra care to prevent breakage, damage, and dryness. To learn more about caring for your hair type, visit WOW’s expert advice page.
At WOW Skin Science, we are proud to do all we can to help you provide your hair with the best care. We always strive to use the best ingredients to not only keep your hair looking great but also healthy down to the root. Browse our complete collection of hair care products to find nourishing, plant-powered formulas free from harsh chemicals.
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