How to Understand, Love, and Care for Your 4C Hair: Expert Tips

Caring for 4c hair

4C hair is a canvas for creativity and self-expression. You can rock an afro to show off its volume and seamlessly transition to the protective elegance of Bantu knots the next day. 

You only need to understand its unique characteristics and create a personalized hair care routine with the right products.

And we’re here to guide you! We’ll help you determine if your hair is 4C, unravel its distinct traits, show you how to properly care for it (including product selection), and suggest the must-try hairstyles.

What Is 4C Hair?

A woman posing and flaunting 4C hair

4C hair is dense and has the tightest curl pattern compared to other hair types. It’s often defined as kinky, coiled, or coarse hair. It’s also versatile, with multiple patterns like curls, coils, and zig-zags throughout the hair. This makes it difficult to see the curl definition in most cases.

4C hair also has a high level of shrinkage (75% or more of its true length). This shrinkage gives it a naturally voluminous appearance that forms a dense afro. 

The downside of this hair type is that it’s delicate, prone to breakage, and easily matted. As a result, it requires proper moisturization to maintain healthy curl patterns and improve manageability.

Is Your Hair 4A, 4B, or 4C?

Couple with afro hairstyles- 4c hair full guide

Have you heard of Andre Walker’s hair typing systemOpens in a new tab.? It’s one of the easiest methods of determining your hair type. 

The hair typing system categorizes natural hair into four main types based on texture, density, and curl pattern.

  • Type 1: Straight (smooth with little to no curl)
  • Type 2: Wavy (loose waves that aren’t tightly defined)
  • Type 3: Curly (defined curls that can be S-shaped or spiral)
  • Type 4: Coily (tight and fragile coils)

The system divides each type further into subcategories (A, B, and C). 

If your hair texture is naturally kinky with tight coils, it’s type 4. But is it 4A, 4B, or 4C? You can tell by the tightness of the curls, coil pattern, and texture, as shown in the table below.

Hair Type Curl Pattern Density Proneness to Dryness, Shrinkage, and Breakage
4A Tightly coiled curls with well-defined S-shaped pattern Least dense Least prone to dryness, shrinkage, and breakage
4B Tighter, zig-zag curl pattern or “z”-shaped curls with less definition Denser More prone to dryness and breakage
4C The tightest coils of the three with minimal to no defined curl pattern  Most dense with a voluminous look Extremely prone to dryness, shrinkage, and breakage

How to Maintain Beautiful Coily and Kinky 4C Hair

A great 4C hair care routine should accommodate the unique challenges of this kinky textured hair. That’s the only way you can enjoy healthy, flourishing, and tangle-free coils. Follow our expert tips below to maintain bouncy, well-defined, and voluminous coily hair.

Keep Your Hair Moisturized

Applying moisturizer on 4c hair

Dryness is a significant challenge for any coily hair type. The situation is harder for 4C hair as it’s naturally dry. The coiled hair strand pattern makes it hard for sebum (the scalp’s natural oils) to effectively travel down the hair shaft. This can make the hair brittle and cause breakage. 

Use moisturizing products, from cleansers to the best leave-in conditioners, and a spray bottle to hydrate your dry hair strands. You can also seal moisture with butter and natural oils like coconut, shea, or jojoba.

Detangle Gently and Regularly

4C hair is very delicate, so it’s crucial to detangle it gently. Look for the best detangling brush or a wide-tooth comb. You can also use your fingers when the hair is damp and coated with conditioner. Start from the tips and work your way up to minimize breakage.

And be gentle with knots and detangle regularly to ensure it doesn’t tangle too much.

Don’t Over-Shampoo 4C Hair

Young woman using shampoo

Using shampoo frequently can strip your coarse hair of its natural oils. So, use shampoo sparingly. 

Make sure to select the best clarifying and moisturizing shampoo for curly hair, and avoid shampoos that contain sulfates.

The best way to avoid over-shampooing kinky hair is to extend the period between washes to two or three weeks. If you must wash your hair weekly, opt for co-washing (using conditioner to cleanse).

Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning 4c hair

Learning how to include deep conditioners in your hair care routine is a game-changer for anyone with coily hair.

Regular deep conditioning treatments and hair masks help to replenish moisture, detangle, and improve elasticity. Consider using a deep conditioner with natural ingredients like honey, avocado, or hibiscus for extra hydration weekly. 

Protect Your Hair From Heat Styling and Harsh Chemicals

Heat styling and harsh chemicals can damage 4C hair (or any hair). So avoid them as much as possible. Instead, use a high-quality styling cream or any other curl-defining product, and explore heatless hairstyles.

If you must use heat styling tools, apply a heat protectant and use the lowest heat setting necessary.

Use the LOC Method

Try the LOC (Liquid, Oil, Cream) method to naturally hydrate your dry hair. Here’s how to employ it: 

  • Apply a water-based leave-in conditioner or mist to dampen your hair (liquid)
  • Follow the damp hair with a natural oil like coconut, argan oil, or jojoba oil to seal in moisture and combat dryness (oil)
  • Use a rich cream or butter to lock in hydration and provide lasting protection (cream)

This technique helps maintain your hair’s moisture balance, promoting healthy and vibrant curls.

Wear a Protective Style When You’re Not Styling Your Hair

Limit combing, brushing, and styling to reduce stress on your 4C hair. Opt for low-manipulation styles that allow your hair to rest, get a break from the elements, and retain moisture. These styles include braids, twists, bantu knots, and updos. However, avoid too tight styles, as they can cause breakage.

Have a Nighttime Care Routine

Lady on hair bonnet

Use a satin/silk scarf or bonnet to protect your hair while sleeping. Also, invest in a quality silk or satin pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases can absorb hair moisture and cause friction, leading to breakage.

Get Regular Trims

Split ends can make your hair look dry and unkempt. So get regular trims to remove split ends and keep your hair healthy.

Don’t Neglect Scalp Care

Gorgeous 4C curls start with a healthy scalp! A well-nourished scalp promotes healthy hair growth and minimizes issues like dryness and itchiness. 

So regularly massage your scalp with natural oils, like jojoba or castor oil, to stimulate circulation and moisturize it. You can also use a scalp scrub during your wash day.

And give your scalp breathing room by opting for protective styles that don’t tug at the roots.

Understand Your Hair Porosity

4C is typically dry, but the porosity can vary from one person to another. 

Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Understanding your porosity levelOpens in a new tab.—low, medium, or high—can guide your product choices and care routine for hydrated hair. 

For instance, low porosity hair repels moisture, requiring lightweight products and heat during deep conditioning. On the other hand, high porosity hair absorbs moisture quickly but struggles to retain it. As a result, it needs regular moisturizing and sealing.

Plop Your 4C Hair

Avoid wrapping wet hair in a standard towel. Instead, gently wrap it in a cotton T-shirt to enhance curl definition, minimize frizz, and reduce excessive manipulation while your hair dries.

Ensure a Balanced Diet and Hydration

Good hair care starts from within. Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein for healthy hair growth. And don’t forget to drink a lot of water!

How to Choose 4C-Friendly Hair Products

hair products d routine with fewer high-quality products works better. The essential products for textured hair include a moisturizing shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, leave-in conditioner, and some nourishing oils.

Here are some tips to help you select 4C-friendly products for your hair care routine:

  • Prioritize products with water-based or hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, and natural oils (shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil)
  • Check the product labels to avoid sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and silicones, which can dry your hair or cause buildup
  • Consider sampling products before committing to full-size purchases
  • Look for styling products that define curls without making your hair stiff or crunchy

While 4C hair has similarities, everyone’s hair is unique. Some products that work for people with the same hair type might not work for you. Be patient, as finding the perfect products for your 4C hair might take some trial and error.

4C Hair Styling Tips

There are several looks that can highlight the beauty of your curls, from embracing your natural texture to trying out protective styles. Here are some of the best 4C hairstyles to consider:

  • Twists
  • Braids
  • Updos
  • High puff
  • Wash and go
  • Afro
  • Bantu knots 
  • Frohawk 
  • Buns
  • Faux locs
  • Crown braid


Is 4C Hair Good?

Yes, 4C hair is beautiful and unique. Maintaining it properly can lead to stunning, healthy curls that reflect your individuality and style.

Is 4C Hair High Maintenance?

Yes, 4C hair can be considered high maintenance due to its susceptibility to dryness, tangling, and breakage. It requires regular moisturizing, gentle handling, and careful styling to keep the hair cuticle healthy and manageable.

Can 4C Hair Grow Long?

Yes, 4C hair can grow long with proper care and maintenance. It’s prone to a high level of shrinkage, making it seem like it isn’t growing. However, if you stretch it, you’ll see its true length. It’s also a good idea to properly care for 4C hair to avoid breakage. Otherwise, it won’t retain the growth. 


The voluminous beauty of 4C is worth celebrating. Once you understand its unique traits like shrinkage, tight curl pattern, and dryness-prone hair cuticle, caring for it will become second nature!

Follow the hair care tips shared above and rock those nourished, beautiful, shiny curls. And always remember that moisture is key when it comes to curly hair types.

Paulina Romain

Paulina Romain is an entrepreneur and artist in the beauty industry. She is the founder and owner of The Art of Ink Studio, where she provides services such as permanent cosmetics, microblading, and artistic ink, focusing on personalized body art. Additionally, she owns Mill Pond Salon, through which she aims to deliver big-city salon services in the comfort of a small town. Apart from her hands-on work in her studios, Paulina Romain is also active on social media platforms like TikTok, where she showcases her fine line and cosmetic tattoo work. Furthermore, she's been in the salon and beauty industry for over 14 years and operates Team True Beauty with Sam Romain. This platform includes a blog on various beauty-related topics and marks the opening of two beauty brands by the couple.

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