Type 4 Hair: What the A, B, and C Means and How to Care for Them All

What you really need to know about your hair type.

Without the proper knowledge about your type 4 natural hair type, things can become a little challenging when it comes to caring for and styling your hair. Type 4 hair, which consists of 4A, 4B, and 4C textures, tends to be the driest of all hair types. Many women become so frustrated when caring for their type 4 hair as one of their main concerns is retaining moisture and creating definition.

There are so many products on the market that promises hydrated hair (some even say long-lasting hydration) but it seems as though this hair type becomes quite thirsty even after moisturizing. How can one find the right products and retain moisture all while sporting juicy, defined curls? We’ve got answers. Read on as we break down what you should be using on your hair by hair type:

Type 4A Hair

type 4 hair curls updo headband
Use styles like twist-outs and braid-outs to help elongate your curl pattern.

The curl pattern you’ll notice is a wiry, coily curl. The hair tends to shrink about 50-60% of the actual length when wet.

If shrinkage is a major issue for you, look for products and styling techniques that help elongate your curls. After washing your hair, be sure to follow up with a cream-based leave-in conditioner for added moisture and conditioning.

Dove Amplified Textures Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner is a great option to try. It not only leaves your have soft, but it also preps your hair for your styling process whether that involves using a blowdryer to dry or creating curly styles as it protects hair from heat and helps prevent frizz.

Style Inspo: Curly Bangs

type 4 hair 4a
Try out the curly bangs style, it’s super trendy and chic. Photo credit: Gift Habeshaw

As different bang trends resurface like curtain bangs and middle-parted fringe, curly bangs have also demanded their moment. The combination of bangs on beautiful curls can’t be beaten, and many curly-haired girls are realizing how perfect this style is and giving it a try.

If you have type 4a hair then curly bangs are a must. Your coily curls will shine as bangs as they bring definition and volume to the popular cut.

Type 4B Hair

type 4 hair afro medium length
Embrace your afro! Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

Super coily coils. Hair shrinks about 50% or more when wet.

Very often, women with 4B hair tend to worry the most about lack of moisture. As this hair type has a tighter curl that 4A types, the natural sebum has an even harder traveling down your strands which leaves you with dry hair.

If you can, opt for a deep conditioning with a conditioner or masque like SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque once a week if you’re experiencing super dry hair.

After rinsing your hair, you can use an oil like coconut oil on damp hair. Coconut oil has the ability to penetrate your strands allowing it to condition from within. If you want to seal in moisture, lock it in with a sealant oil like castor oil which sits on top of the hair strand.

Style Inspo: Big Curls

type 4 hair 4b
Create large curls for fun and voluminous look.

Girls with smaller and tighter curls can achieve larger and loose curls, too! We love this big curl moment that is boosted by the volume and body that type 4B hair provides. This look does require some hot tools–so it while it might not be a go-to style on the reg, it’s a great look to wear every once in a while.

Prep your hair with some heat protectant like Dove Style + Care Smooth and Shine Heat Protection Spray. Take a large barrel curling iron and start styling. Focus the barrel toward the top of your sections, leaving the bottom out for a more natural look. You don’t have to curl every section, leaving some out will make this style look like it’s your real texture, no styling required.

Type 4C Hair

type 4 hair: long and short hair
Type 4C hair in different lengths. Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

Extremely tight curls. Some women with curly hair often describe their 4C hair as hair that doesn’t curl at all. It does, it’s just a really tight coil. You can also have a mixture of 4b/4c hair.

This hair type has a coarse feeling. Moisture, of course, is your friend; however, the styling tools you use in your hair also play an important part. Be sure to only comb through your hair when it’s moisturized to avoid breakage. The best time to detangle is while a conditioner is in your hair.

Use a detangler like SheaMoisture Wig & Weave Tea Tree & Borage Seed Oil 2-in-1 Conditioner and Detangler. This detangler is designed for natural hair types like 4C hair and will help make the detangling process gentle yet effective.

Style Inspo: Shaped Afro

type 4 hair 4c
A shaped afro adds so much style to a look, without even requiring much styling! Photo credit: Juan Manuel Merino

Switch up your look by going for a shaped afro style. Depending on your preference you can go for a more square-shaped cut or a more rounded style. We love how bold this clean-cut shape is–it demands attention and doesn’t require too much styling time.

That’s the full breakdown on type 4 hair. Understanding your hair type and its needs is so important to maintain healthy and happy strands. Type 4 hair requires lots of moisture, nourishment, and a gentle hand on those beautiful curls!

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