What is 4c Hair: The Science Behind the Strand

Your hair type dictates your style and how you maintain your hair, so knowing your hair type can provide a lot of insight into what you need to do to make it as healthy and stylish as you can. 4c hair, like other hair types, comes with its own characteristics, as well as issues that can arise that you need to be aware of to care for it the best.  

Learn what 4c hair is, how to care for this hair type, and steps to take to keep typical 4c issues from occurring.  

4c Hair Type 

4c hair shares many characteristics with 4b hair but there are differences. For instance, both 4b and 4c hair are considered, may encounter shrinkage, and has open cuticles meaning that hair can both absorb moisture and products well but also lose moisture and struggle to retain shape after using other products.  

4c hair, however, differs in that the zig-zag curl pattern may be so tight that it’s not noticeable to the eye, meaning it lacks the definition of 4b hair. While it may have a wide variety of possible textures, from fine or thin to soft or coarse, a common trait of 4c hair is that it is the most fragile hair type, so extra care must be taken when maintaining it.  

Caring for 4c Hair Type 

Moisture is an integral part of managing 4c hair. Not only should you use sulfate free shampoos and conditioners as part of your cleansing routine, but be sure to add in oils and butters to seal in moisture. Look for products with ingredients like jojoba oil, argan oil, and shea butter that work like your hair’s natural oils to hydrate hair.  

Take a look at some common concerns people with 4c hair deal with and solutions to address those concerns. 

Caring for Dryness with 4c Hair 

Hair that naturally has open cuticles will likely be naturally drier, and taking steps to lock in moisture is important if you have this type of hair.  

In addition to leave-in conditioners and using products with natural oils and butters, use curl defining gels or custards to stretch curls and add definition while hair is still wet from showering. Since 4c hair is more likely to experience shrinkage, caring for it in this way while still damp can help your hair’s length, making the most of the inches you have without weighing hair down.  

Weekly deep conditioning, plus using a hair mask monthly, can help hair retain moisture for longer and become more elastic over time.  

Caring for Tangles with 4c Hair 

With such fragile strands, it’s important to detangle 4c hair only when hair is wet. Avoid small tooth combs or brushes which can worsen tangles or cause frizz. Instead, use a wide tooth comb or your fingers to carefully detangle hair. Add some conditioner to hands to aid the process.  

To avoid tangles in the future, use a cap or satin scarf over your hair as you sleep. A satin pillowcase also keeps hair tangle-free and reduces split ends and breakage.  

Caring for Different Style Needs with 4c Hair 

4c hair brings with it different styling needs, meaning sometimes it will be better to put here in a protective style to reduce breakage. Other times low maintenance styles like braids, buns, or twists may be better for your hair’s needs.  

Relying too heavily on styling products may not only lead to product buildup, but cause hair to become frizzy, dry, or dull. Detangle and condition hair often in between washes to keep it strong and prevent breakage.  

Take Our Hair Quiz 

Do you have 4c hair but need a bit more help managing it? Try the HairCode quiz to learn about products made just for your hair type!

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