What Is 4C Hair

What Is 4C Hair | Hair Care Guide To Coily Hair Types

If you’ve ever wondered “what is my hair type?”, this is the article for you! Check out if you have 4c hair type through the hair type chart and know what 4c hair products you should use. 

When you hear the word “4C” hair just think of curls in their superlative form. Yes, it isn’t just regular curly hair; it is the curliest hair type out there!

Most often also known as Afro-textured hair, 4C hair comes under the 4th category of hair types and is a very dense hair type to have. 

Related: Type 4 Hair

Related: 4a Hair Type Guide

Related: What Is 4B Hair

While all hair types have their own set of advantages and disadvantages in terms of looks and maintenance, the 4C hair type even though it may look pretty, it still can be quite hard to maintain because of the hair’s density, volume and coily texture.

Knowing what hair type and texture you have is very important in order to give your hair the right care it requires.

 So, if you are someone who isn’t still quite sure about the hair type you have, this article is the perfect read for you.

This article is going to talk all about hair types in general and about the 4C hair type, characteristics of the 4C hair type and the best methods you can use to care for your 4C hair in specific.

Hair Types as per the Andre Walker Scale

what is my hair type

The Andre Walker Scale or Hair Typing System often gives us the best classification of hair types. 

Each hair type is tagged with a number and an alphabet. The numbers 1 to 4 represent the type of hair texture, and the alphabets A, B and C represent the shape of each hair strand.

So while 1 hair type will be straight hair, the 2 hair type – wavy hair, the 3 hair type, curly hair and  the 4 hair type coily or kinky hair, it still may be hard to distinguish between the hair types 4A, 4B and 4C.

So let us get into a few of the details of the 4C hair type.

What is the 4C hair type?

The 4C hair better known as tightly coiled, kinky or Afro textured hair comes under the 4th category of hair types on the Andre Walker Scale, which means that this is the curliest hair type anyone can have. Yes, hair doesn’t get any curlier than this!

This type is extremely dense and hence also looks very voluminous and thick. This can be one of the main causes of why 4C hair is very prone to becoming dry and succumbing to frizz and hair breakage.

How do you know if your hair is of the 4C hair type?

The best way to distinguish between your hair type and another is by knowing the characteristic features of your hair type. Check out some of the main characteristics of the 4C hair type below.

  • Your hair always feels dry, rough and frizzy.
  • Your hair is very difficult to untangle.
  • Your hair is prone to hair breakage.
  • Your hair type is very dense, coily and each hair strand looks like tight coils.
  • Your hair is prone to shrinkage even up to a fourth of its actual length.
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So, if you now know your hair belongs to the 4th hair type category, but you cannot seem to figure out which one, here is a tip – have a look at your curl pattern. While 4A hair has looser coils, 4B hair will have zigzagging coils and 4C hair will have the tightest coils.

How To Maintain 4C Hair

1. Deep condition your hair regularly

how to maintain 4c hair

Using a deep conditioner that contains protein and is rich in amino acids is ideal for your 4C hair. You can even choose to use an all-natural deep conditioning hair mask if you wish to. 

When you deep condition your hair, it helps keep it moisturized and can thereby prevent it from drying out easily. When the hair isn’t dry, it automatically is less prone to frizz and breakage. It will also help promote better hair elasticity with an improved hair lustre and shine.

2. Oil your hair every other day

One of the biggest issues the 4C hair type faces is that the hair natural’s oils do not flow smooth along the hair strand and most often never gets to the tips. 

This is because of the tight coils of the 4C hair type, which doesn’t allow the natural hair oil (sebum) to flow smoothly and evenly down the length of the hair strand.

So this means that only the hair near the scalp gets moisturized while the hair along the length of the strand and the tips lack moisture. 

Therefore, using hair oils and massaging it into your scalp and hair will help coat each hair strand and help it get sufficiently moisturized.

3. Make sure to use protective hairstyles


what is 4c hairstyle

For those of you who aren’t aware of what a “protective hairstyle” is, it is exactly what the name suggests it to be. It is a hairstyle that is done and meant to protect the hair from extensive hair damage.

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Protective hairstyles help conceal and tuck away the fragile ends of the hair that can otherwise be prone to severe damage if exposed. 

The common types of protective hairstyles used are braids, dreadlocks, cornrows, hair twists or wigs.

4. Use the right hair brush

It is quite normal for 4C hair to get tangled super easily, but while getting rid of your tangles it is important that you use the right kind of hair brush so as to reduce extensive damage to your hair.

Therefore, choosing to use a wide toothed comb is the best way out. Using hair brushes or combs with fine teeth are simply a big no-no! 

You can also try detangling your hair by just using your fingers, before using a wide toothed comb. If you really need to “brush” your hair (while it is not recommended you do, because it will cause your 4C hair extensive damage), you can use a boar bristle brush.

5. Make sure to cover your hair while you sleep

Since 4C hair is already very prone to hair damage, when you turn in your sleep, there is friction that takes place between your hair strands and this can cause your hair severe damage. 

Therefore, one of the best ways to safeguard your 4C hair is by tucking all your hair into a bonnet or head cap or you could gently tie your hair with a satin or silk scarf before going to sleep.

For those of you who do not wish to use a bonnet or cover your head with a scarf, you can simply sleep on a pillowcase made of silk or satin material.

6. Trim your hair regularly

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As our hair grows, the hair just growing from the hair follicle is the newest, while the hair towards the ends of the hair strand gets older and older over time and becomes very fragile. 

This means that it will be more prone to hair damage, breakage and most of all, can succumb to split ends very easily.

So if it is under-moisturized, heat damaged or not trimmed, the hair tips begin to split and work their way up, damaging the entire hair strand. So for those who want their locs to grow long and luscious, then hair trims and haircuts are super important and should be done at least once every three months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 4C hair:

1. Are getting protective hairstyles safe?

Well, while protective hairstyles are meant to protect the hair from external damage, if it is kept on for too long a period of time, there will be tugging on the hair strands near the hair follicles in the scalp and this can lead to a condition called traction alopecia (meaning permanent hair loss).
Therefore, keeping your protective hairstyle on for a maximum of two months is recommended and then give your hair time to breathe and rejuvenate between style changes.

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2. Why are boar bristle hair brushes better for 4C hair?

The bristles of the boar bristle brushes are made from boar hair. Boar hair contains the hair protein called keratin, just like in human hair. These bristles are best for 4C hair because they are not just soft, but help reduce the hair damage caused while brushing the hair.

3. Is it true that co-washing is very beneficial to 4C hair?

Using a shampoo too often can strip away the moisture from the hair and make it dry. Therefore, for those with 4C hair, using the co-washing technique (also called as the conditioner washing technique) maybe once every week can do your 4C hair good by rejuvenating it, reducing frizz and keeping it sufficiently moisturized.

4. Can I co-wash my hair on a regular basis instead of shampooing it?

Well, absolutely not! A conditioner is by no means a cleansing agent and therefore your hair requires to be shampooed in order to be cleansed off the dirt, grime and product buildup. Co-washing can be done every other day, but not too often.

The final takeaway

While 4C hair may be relatively harder to maintain as compared to the other hair types, adopting a good hair care routine and following it diligently is key. 

Remember to always keep your hair well-moisturized and sufficiently hydrated at all times. 

Don’t forget your regular hair trims and maybe even get a good protective hairstyle to protect your 4C hair from extensive hair damage.

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