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What Is Type 4B Hair and How To Care For It

6 mins

Catherine Abel

Type 4B hair is known for its tight coils and dense texture. Here, we explore this unique subtype and offer tips for taking care of it the right way.

Understanding your unique hair type is one of the first steps in creating a hair care routine. Knowing your hair type can also help you choose the best products for your hair needs. Natural hair types come in various shapes and sizes, from pin-straight hair to coily hair.

Andre Walker’s hair typing system includes four distinct hair types: straight, wavy, curly, and coily or kinky hair. Type 4 hair, or coily hair, has three unique subcategories. Type 4B is one of these subtypes; a tight, zig-zag pattern and Z-shaped coils or corkscrews mark its curl pattern. 

Like all hair types, coily and kinky curls require their own unique care routine. Here, we’ll explore type 4B hair, examining some of its qualities and providing important tips on maintenance and care.

Table of contents:

  • The Importance of Understanding Your Hair Type
  • How Is Hair Type Determined?
  • Type 4 Hair (Coily or Kinky): Type 4A, Type 4B, Type 4C
  • What Does Type 4B Hair Look Like?
  • Type 4B Hair: Benefits and Drawbacks
  • Care Tips for Your Type 4B Hair

The Importance of Understanding Your Hair Type

As mentioned above, natural hair type falls into four distinct categories: straight, wavy, curly, and coily or kinky hair. They each vary quite a lot by hair texture, hair growth pattern, and curl type. 

Each hair type has its own subtypes: 

  • Straight hair (Type 1 hair) includes type 1A, type 1B, and type 1C hair. Straight hair types are without any natural curls. Type 1 tends to be fine to medium and is known for ease of maintenance and high concentration of natural oils. 
  • Wavy hair (Type 2 hair) includes type 2A, type 2B, and type 2C hair. Wavy hair types are defined by their slight S-shaped wave patterns. These wavy hairstyles are known for their tousled appearance and seemingly endless styling options. 
  • Curly hair (Type 3 hair) includes type 3A, type 3B, and type 3C hair. Curly hair types are quite diverse. Curly hair can range from loose ringlets to tight, S-shaped curls. This type is known for volume and bounce — along with frizz and tangles.
  • Coily hair (Type 4 hair) includes type 4A, type 4B, and type 4C hair. Type 4 hair is best known for its extremely tight coils or corkscrews. Texture-wise, type 4 hair tends to be the most coarse. It is also most prone to dryness. 
how to know my hair type, hair types

Determining your unique hair type is important if you’re seeking healthy hair. When we speak of hair type, we essentially refer to the natural shape of a person’s hair. This is often referred to as the curl type or curl pattern. Some have uniquely defined curls, while others have none.

Proper hair care (styling routines) starts with understanding your hair type. For instance, the maintenance requirements and styling options will look vastly different for someone with naturally straight hair compared to someone with a head full of bouncing curls.

Hair Type Determines Hair Structure

The structure of our hair is also largely determined by our hair type as well. This includes our hair texture. Hair texture refers to the form and thickness of our individual hair strands. 

It is defined in three ways: fine, medium, and thick or coarse. 

  • Fine hair is considered the most fragile hair texture. It is most common in type 1 hair. It tends to be more susceptible to damage from hair care products than type 2 hair.
  • Medium hair texture typically styles well. It’s also much more resistant to heat damage and breakage than coarser hair textures. It works well with styling products too.
  • Coarse or thick hair texture holds most styles well and tends to be the most tolerant of styling products. Coarse hair also takes the longest to dry.

How Is Hair Type Determined?

Your genetics largely determines your hair type and hair texture. It is a phenotype (physical trait) expressed from the genes we inherit from our parents; a few other examples of phenotypes include the height and eye color. 

Other factors influencing hair type include chemical hair products like hair relaxers, bleach, and coloring dyes. 

Type 4 hair, like all hair types, is formed by keratin, a hardening protein that also helps form our nails. The keratin of our hair consists of three layers to keep our hair strong.

curly hair, coily hair, type 4 hair

The medulla is the innermost layer of keratin. Next is the cortex, or middle layer of keratin. The cortex houses pigment cells that give our hair its color. The outermost layer is known as the cuticle. The cuticle serves a protective function. 

Type 4 Hair (Coily or Kinky): Type 4A, Type 4B, Type 4C

Type 4 hair is often referred to as coily or kinky hair. It is most well-known for its tight spirals or corkscrew-like curls. The spongy texture can range from soft and fine to thick and more coarse. This unique hair texture is full of body and bounce. 

While this coily hair type can look extremely robust with all its densely packed coils, it is actually quite fragile. Most concerns about this hair type are centered around its issues retaining moisture, potential for tangles, and susceptibility to shrinkage. 

Type 4 Hair Is Low Porosity

Type 4 hair is known for being extremely low porosity. This means the cuticles are packed closely together. This makes it difficult for type 4 hair to absorb and maintain moisture. 

Type 4 hair strands get a little help from natural hair oils called sebum. Hair oils give hair its natural shine, help lubricate, and help with hair strand hydration. 

But, due to the low porosity and tightly coiled hair strands of type 4 hair, hair oils have difficulty lubricating the entire hair strand. This is why type 4 hair is most prone to dryness and breakage. 

Thankfully, this is where hair products like hair oils with argan, jojoba, and castor oils come in. These can help nourish, hydrate, and restore moisture for type 4 hairs. 

Type 4A Hair

Type 4A hair is best known for its medium-sized, loosely packed curls or coils. These S-shaped curls have quite a bit of spring and are roughly the circumference of a crochet needle. 

They are full of volume and bounce. The naturally defined curls of 4A hair make it easier to style than 4B and 4C hair. Hair care concerns for type 4A hair include moisture retention. 

Type 4C Hair

The thickest and tightest curls belong to type 4C hair. From a distance, type 4C hair can look like a thick afro. A closer look will reveal small, densely packed springs and coils on each strand. 4C hair is so tightly wound that it is more prone to breakage and shrinkage. 

The tight density and coarseness also make type 4C more prone to damage and dryness. This is why utilizing the right products is key. This can include hair care products like hydrating shampoos and leave-in conditioners, hair oils, and hair masks. 

Make sure hair care products are free from sulfates, silicones, and parabens that can strip hair of its natural oils, making the hair look dry and more prone to damage.

type 4 hair, curly hair care

A Closer Look at Type 4B Hair

Type 4B hair is the happy medium between the loosely packed coils of 4A and the dense spirals of 4C hair. The main difference between 4B curls and others lies in the differences in density and coarseness. Let's take a closer look. 

What Does Type 4B Hair Look Like?

Determining 4B hair starts with identifying the curl pattern. The curl patterns of 4B hair tend to have sharp angles. The curls do not have a uniform curl or coil. They are better described as having a zig-zag pattern. Each hair strand of 4B is tightly wound, creating that dense, voluminous look and bounce. 

But, the beauty of 4B also comes with drawbacks. The zig-zag curl patterns make it very difficult to hydrate with natural hair oils. This can cause unmaintained 4B hair to look very frizzy and dry. But, if properly cared for, its kinky texture and abundant volume can give the appearance of a soft, fluffy cloud. 

Type 4B Hair: Benefits and Drawbacks

4B Hair Boasts Big Volume 

One of the biggest benefits of 4B hair is its abundance. This unique hair type is known for being big, bold, and voluminous.

This is thanks to the tightly packed nature of the coils that give the hair a fuller appearance. So, if awards for big volume and bold styles were being given, 4B would definitely take home the prize. 

Protective Styling Is Easier

Since 4B hair is beaming with texture, it lends itself well to protective styles. In short, protective styles keep your hair tucked away, minimizing manipulation. It better protects your strand ends from harsh weather too. 

styling curly hair, how to style coily hair

Protective styles include buns, braids, cornrows, and Bantu knots. Straight and wavy hair types are as easily manipulated into protective hairstyles since they lack texture. 

Very Prone to Dryness

One of the biggest challenges for 4B hair, and all curly hair types, is dryness. While the many twists and turns of the curls and coils offer a nice visual appearance, they also make it difficult for the scalp’s natural hair oils to reach the end of the hair strands. 

The result is a higher susceptibility to brittle hair and breakage. Dry hair is not healthy hair. That is why one of the most crucial care tips for 4B hair is moisture retention. 4B is also much more fragile because of this. So, care must be taken when it is being styled, washed, or manipulated. 

Sensitivity Chemicals and Heat

The fragile nature of type 4B hair also makes it very sensitive to heat treatment and chemicals. The dry nature of the hair can open up the door to heat damage by heat-styling tools like flat irons and blow dryers. 

Chemicals like bleach, dyes, and other treatments can also be damaging since type 4B hair lacks cuticle protection. Of course, this can limit styling options. While straightening is possible, it requires loads of heat and sometimes harsh chemicals. 

Care Tips for Your Type 4B Hair

  • Deep conditioning is a must with type 4B hair. So, choose a deep conditioner that can help boost hydration for dry, brittle ends. Co-washing with a trusted cleanser can also help remove dirt and harsh product buildup from the scalp. Using hair oils between wash days can help keep the hair strands moisturized too. 
care tips for curly hair, how to maintain curly hair
  • Take care of how you dry your hair too. When it comes to properly drying type 4B hair, the less heat and the less friction, the better. Try not to rub your curls dry; instead, gently squeeze out excess water with a microfiber towel and let it air dry the rest of the way.
  • Be gentle with your 4B hair. Styling can require a lot of manipulation of the hair. So, when you do style or brush, avoid tugging by using a wide-tooth comb to avoid potential breakage. Detangling requires precision when it comes to 4B hair.  

Type 4B hair is known for being big and bold. This coily hair type is also fragile and most prone to dryness. So, choosing the right hair care routine is key. 

Make sure to visit WOW to check out our complete hair care collection for your type 4B hair needs.

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Catherine Abel

Catherine Abel works in the cosmetics industry. She has thousands of happy clients that look up to her for expert guidance on everything beauty-related. Catherine uses her extensive domain experience to guide people in choosing the right products for their skin, hair, and body.

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