4C hair is said to be the most difficult hair type to grow and maintain. It can be feisty, happy, or moody – like it has a mind of its own. But you know what? It’s not that hard to care for if you know the right way to go about it. Yes, you heard that right. Your 4C hair doesn’t have to be grumpy all the time.
Here are some tried, tested, and trusted tips to help you care, grow and maintain those curls. But before we go into that, let’s quickly look at some of the features of 4C hair that make people think it’s challenging to maintain.
Characteristics of 4C Hair
4C hair is similar to the 4B hair type, but it is known to be the most coarse and curly. You tend to see this hair type forming tight curls in a kind of tangly manner. Like the other 4 class hair types, 4C hair is highly susceptible to dryness and breakage; in fact, some call it “the curse.”
One interesting feature of 4C hair is its varying porosities and densities. So, how your 4C hair behaves might differ from how another person’s 4C hair behaves. Although 4C hair has different porosities and thicknesses, some characteristics are peculiar to them all. Some of those characteristics include:
- Unrelenting hair dryness even after using a moisturizer
- Very coarse hair (usually tough to comb)
- Extreme shrinkage, sometimes up to 75%
- Prone to tangles
- Prone to breakage
So how do you manage these features to get and maintain healthy and glowing 4C hair? Here’s what you can do.
How to Appropriately Care for Your 4C Hair
1. Keep Moisturizing Your Hair
4C hair needs to be constantly moisturized and hydrated because it gets dry very fast. Given the tightly coiled hair strands, you have to keep it moisturized to prevent it from drying out; else, it’s going to start breaking. Asides from breaking, 4C can frizz and tangly if not properly moisturized. It’s a sad hair look that you just don’t want to experience.
The nature of 4C hair prevents the thorough and even distribution of the natural oil produced by your scalp (sebum) throughout your hair. Due to this, the hair dries out faster than other hair types. This is why you need to make conscious efforts to keep your hair properly moisturized and hydrated.
You’ll need a good moisturizer and hair sealant to keep your hair moisturized and healthy. Shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and carrot oil are super perfect for locking in moisture in your hair. So, you should always keep them as part of your hair care regimen.
2. Deep Condition Your Hair Frequently
Since the 4C hair has a constant dryness problem, it’s prone to breakage. By deep conditioning your hair, you are strengthening and enabling it to lock in moisture. Every single time you wash your hair, it’s advisable to do a deep condition. This is because every time you wash your hair, it loses some of its moisture and natural oils that keep your hair hydrated.
So you need to deep condition to make up for the moisture loss. Deep conditioning your 4C hair is an effective way of balancing your hair’s moisture and protein needs. Although there’s no set-in-stone rule concerning the number of times you can or should deep condition your hair, it’s advisable that you deep condition it weekly or every two weeks.
Even if you cut corners with the regular/thorough wash, endeavour to still deep condition it frequently. Doing this will help make your hair shiny and reduces tangles and frizz.
3. Use a Leave-in Conditioner
Want to keep your hairstyle perfectly in place until your next wash? Leave-in conditioners have got you covered. Most people with 4C hair are forced to get a new hairdo done frequently due to humidity and frizz.
Well, it doesn’t need to be that way anymore. You can make your hairdos/hairstyles last longer by investing in a good leave-in conditioner made specifically for 4C hair. The leave-in conditioner should come in a spray can so you can easily spray it over your hair from time to time- twice daily should do the trick.
4. Detangle Your Hair
4C hair tends to tangle and knot up frequently, if not all the time, due to the thick, coarse, and curly nature of the hair. Well, tangles lead to breakage and even thinning that hinder hair growth and make it look dead. This is why you need to detangle your hair regularly.
Before detangling your hair, dampen it a bit with water or conditioner, then use a wide-toothed comb to smooth out the tangles and knots. Please don’t use a brush to do this as it’d break your hair and even make it tangle more. In fact, it’s advisable to first use your fingers to detangle the hair before using a wide-toothed comb.
When you find knots, don’t yank them abruptly (that’s painful and would also pull out your hair). Instead, use your fingers to untie the knots and smooth out the hair gently.
5. Avoid Over-washing Your Hair
Yeah, most people dread washing 4C hair because it takes time and patience, plus it’s stressful. But there are some people who actually over-wash their hair. Unfortunately, 4C isn’t the hair type that takes kindly to excess washing. It hardly gets well moisturized, so when you wash it too many times, it strips the hair of its natural oils, causing it to lose moisture. This causes hair to become dry and brittle, which later leads to breakage and thinning.
Naturally, you don’t want to deal with this. So, lengthen the duration in between washes to 2,3 or even four weeks. And when you do wash your hair, avoid shampoos that contain harmful ingredients like parabens, sulfate, and laureth sulfate. Instead, opt for mild or even organic shampoos. Also, remember to partition your hair into sections before washing to prevent tangles.
6. Stop Touching It Every Second
Yeah, girl, we know those curls beg to be touched every second. You just want to feel its coarseness or even check its length. However, you’ll want to keep your fingers out of your hair for the following reasons:
- If your hand is dirty, you’d get your hair dirty too, and you’ll need to wash it.
- Germs can get into your hair scalp.
- Over-touching the hair could lead to tangles and breakage.
Also, avoid over-styling the hair. Excessively combing, brushing, and styling your hair will lead to breakage and thinning. The rule of thumb for 4C is ‘less is more’. In other words, avoid touching your hair all the time, make protective styles to keep your ends tucked in, and avoid hairstyles that put too much pressure on your scalp.
7. Avoid Over-styling Your Hair
Styling hair frequently or excessively using styling products have a way of drying out the hair, particularly 4C hair that’s already known to be generally dry. The reason is that hair styling products tend to build up on your scalp, weigh down your hair and suck off the natural hair nutrients. And, of course, frequently changing hairstyles make the hair grow weak. If you keep that up and your hair grows weak due to too much handling, you might start suffering from hair thinning or breakage. In fact, two of the leading causes of receding hairlines today are over-styling and putting too much pressure on your scalp and delicate edges.
It’s natural to want to switch up and try out new hairstyles with your hair. But you don’t have to style the hair every other day. Schedule specific times that you’d style your hair. It can be once a week, once in two weeks, or even monthly. To make your hairdos last longer and promote hair growth, go for protective hairstyles- more on this below. Also, explore styles that wouldn’t require much usage of styling products and too much manipulation. This helps you grow your hair and keep it healthy.
8. Go for Protective Hairstyles
You probably think that “oh, my hair is natural… so I can style it however I want”. You can indeed style your hair however you want and make any hairdo. But are you aware that not all hairstyles are good for growing and protecting your hair? That’s right, some hairstyles are bound to chop off your edges, while some are going to reduce your hair volume, particularly if the hairstyle has to do with excessive hair manipulation.
If you are keen on growing and maintaining hair, then you have to embrace protective styles. Always remember that the rule of thumb for 4C hair is ‘less is more. In other words, the more you allow your hair to breathe without manipulating it constantly, the healthier it becomes, and you can achieve faster growth because you’re able to retain length.
So, what are protective hairstyles? Protective hairstyles are hairstyles that won’t cause tension to your scalp and keeps your ends tucked in. As the name suggests, it literally protects your hair from constant manipulation, tension, and weather elements. As a result, it reduces hair breakage, tangles, thinning, and promotes hair growth.
9. Protective Hairstyles You Can Try
- Classic Two-strand Twists (lasts up to 2-3 weeks)
- Chunky Plaits (lasts 1-2 weeks)
- Flat twist
- Faux locs
- Halo Twists with cornrows (1-2 weeks)
- Simple All-back cornrows – chunky or small (2-3 weeks)
- Cornrows with Single Strand Twists at the front
- Bantu Knots
- Crown braid
- Finger coils
- African Threading – can be made into different styles (2-3 weeks)
- Box braids–(3-6 weeks)
- Marley Twists (2-4 weeks)
- Havana Twists (2-4 weeks)
- Updos ( 2 weeks)
3 Common Myths About 4C Hair
To properly learn how to grow and care for your hair, you first need to learn how to differentiate between 4c hair myths from facts. There are so many myths that keep flying around about 4C hair. Knowing which practices to include in your hair regimen and which to discard can make a lot of difference in your growth journey. Here are four common myths about 4chair.
1. 4C Hair Need A lot of Hair Grease
Sadly, there are still a lot of people who believe you need to grease, grease, and grease your hair and scalp to keep it healthy and moisturized. Unfortunately, grease doesn’t moisturize the hair. In fact, when used too much, it can cause major hair product build-up and dryness.
So should you knock off this item off your hair products? No, while you shouldn’t use hair grease as moisturizers, they are great sealants, i.e., they seal in moisture. The trick is to use it moderately to avoid overly greased hair or buy hair grease products without mineral oil and petroleum jelly as ingredients.
2. All Braids Are Protective Hairstyles
While most braid hairstyles are good protective styles, wearing them can also make your hair fall out. For instance, wearing braids for too long or braid extensions that are too heavy can cause breakage. Also, wearing tight hairstyles can pull and thin out your edges and hair. Besides, if you have thin hair, you might want to consider hairstyles that don’t add tension to your scalp and edges.
3. 4C Hair Doesn’t Grow
This myth is far from the truth. 4c hair does grow, and with the proper hair regimen and care, you can grow your hair to your preferred length. Although genetics play a role in hair volume and length, it doesn’t mean your 4c hair isn’t growing. It can be difficult to notice this growth if your hair is in its natural shrunken state, otherwise known as shrinkage.
To keep tabs on your hair growth, take some parts of your front and back and stretch it down to see the full length. Try to take a picture of this length and use it to compare every 4 or 8 weeks. You’ll definitely notice some progress. However, we advise you to embrace your natural hair journey as it comes and not to become overly focused on length. Instead, focus on achieving health. The healthier your hair becomes, the more length you’d able to retain
Properly caring, growing, and maintaining your 4c hair is impossible. Yes, this hair type has a mind of its own, and it can be pretty feisty. However, with the right regimen, products, and with a little bit of patience, you can grow and keep healthy hair. In this post, we have looked at the essential things you need to know to grow, maintain, and care for your natural hair. Read them, and try some of them out today. You’d be surprised how much fun you’ll have taking care of your 4c Hair.