4C Hair Type: Basic Characteristics, Care and Helpful Products

No doubt, type 4 hair is one of the most difficult to maintain afro-textured hair. And if you have third-grade type 4C hair, you would need special care for it.

Not that afro-textured natural hair is bad, but the coils and curls make it tiresome to keep. However, a well-kept type 4 hair is flourishing hair. It would be the center of attention because its beauty and shine are wholesome.

Nevertheless, this hair needs to be cared for. And one of the categories that need extra care is type 4C hair.

The hair is the hardest to place in a box and style. But it has the strongest coils. If you know how to care for your type 4C hair, you will definitely get the best hair experience.

On the other hand, if you are lost in your tresses, stroll down this lane and find everything you need to know about 4C hair type.

What is 4C Hair Type?

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The best way to describe 4C hair is as a yarn of fluff without a well-defined curl pattern. Unlike other type 4 hairs, 4C is different with its texture too. It varies between fine to coarse texture on different people.

This makes the hair hard to manage because the strands have both ‘S’ and ‘Z’ curl patterns tightly woven. Rather than having curls, it has coils. But this does not mean the density and porosity of the hair are different.

Hair density/thickness and hair porosity are mostly specific to each individual, their genetics, and their hair care routines.

Characteristics of 4C Hair Type

Type 4C hair has basic characteristics that distinguish it from other hair types. These characteristics are to be noted because they define your hair. If you have natural 4C hair, these are the characteristics you should take note of:

1. There is no defined curl pattern

Rather than have a specific ‘S’ or ‘Z’ curl pattern, it has a tight mixture of both that makes it hard to place.

2. It shrinks up 75% of the hair

4C hair type is extremely shrunk from its original length. Up to 75% is tightly coiled, making the hair woolly. You would have to chemically relax your hair to get its stretched length.

3. Natural oil is not evenly spread

This is because the coils are tightly woven. The natural oil from your scalp wouldn’t reach the ends of your hair strands. This, in turn, leads to dry brittle hair.

It constantly needs products to care for its hair dryness. It is also in knots and tangles because the coils bunch together.

4. No defined texture

There is no defined texture for type 4C hair. It can be coarse and dense, soft and dense, soft and fine, or fine and dense. There is no particular texture. The texture is determined by each individual.

5. Prone to breakage

4C hair type is prone to breakage because oils and products are not evenly spread. Most times, the products are left hanging in the middle because of the coil pattern. That’s why it’s difficult to style.

Hair Care Routines for 4C Hair Type

4c hair type

1. Moisturize

This is essentially the golden rule for 4C hair. You need to retain moisture to avoid further shrinkage, dryness, and damage. Also, moisturizing your hair would determine how well your hair grows.

If you moisturize your 4C type hair, you will get it more nourished and hydrated. Plus, you get to stimulate the anagen (hair growth)phase. And when you moisturize, be sure it seals in.

This is mostly determined by your hair porosity. If you have high porosity, you need moisturizing products that have sealants. Meanwhile, low porosity hair should have products that are lightweight and would penetrate the hair cuticle easily.

2. Shampoo Less

4C type hair doesn’t need rigorous washing as you would think. It’s good to keep the scalp clean. However, it shouldn’t be done too frequently. You can space your washing interval to two if not three weeks.

You should also avoid using chemical shampoos. Rather use sulfate-free shampoos to retain your natural hair oil as much as possible.

An alternative is co-washing your hair if you find your hair itchy or dirty, or you can use a dry shampoo to keep your scalp clean. And when you wash, do it in sections.

4C type hair is usually tightly coiled, so working in sections allows for easy penetration of products.

3. Deep Condition

You need to deep condition your hair once a week to keep it shiny and nourished. This includes hot oil treatments, using hair masks, and deep conditioners to keep your hair healthy.

When you deep condition your 4C hair type, you are saving yourself from tangles and knots. Also, hair dryness is reduced due to your ends getting enough nutrients to stay healthy and moisturized.

4. Detangle Frequently

4C type hair needs detangling, like frequently. Because the curl pattern is not defined, 4C hair is prone to tangle. And tangles lead to breakage if not cared for. Therefore, always detangle your 4C hair.

You can use detanglers or conditioners for easy slip, and a wide-tooth comb to get the knots and tangles on your damp hair.

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5. Don’t Over Manipulate

No matter what you think, your hair needs more when it comes to styling it. It’s best to lower the frequency at which you manipulate your hair. Touching it or manipulating it into stressful styles too frequently could lead to breakage.

The best is to leave your 4C hair in protective styles to keep things simple and also keep your hair from tangling up. Use as few style products as much as possible.

6. Wear Silk Head Wraps

This also has to do with protecting your hair. Besides, it’s a general rule for anyone who wants to keep their hair healthy. Afro-textured hair is not the same as other types of hair. It becomes weak with friction, leading to breakage.

Therefore, you should keep your hair in protective silk wraps or bonnets to help it stay tangle-free. Moreover, using silk wraps protects your hair from losing beneficial products and natural oil.

7. Remember, Your Hair Shrinks

Always keep in mind you have a 4C hair type when you want to style your hair. You would see hair growth with some particular hairstyles. Besides, your hair would be knotless and tangle-free if you have these special styles on.

Here are some hairstyles that care for your shrinking hair:

Products for 4C Hair Type


1. Shampoo

Your shampoo needs to be sulfate-free to protect your natural oil (sebum). The shampoo also needs to be free from harsh chemicals that could strip your hair of its nutrients. And rather than a clarifying shampoo, choose a moisturizing shampoo.

For instance, Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Curl Quenching Shampoo provides intensive moisture while it cleanses your hair.

2. Conditioner

The conditioner you use has to be deep moisturizing with nutrients like protein to keep your hair always growing. Whether you use leave-in conditioners, normal conditioners, or deep conditioners, they should have moisturizing ingredients.

Additionally, the products should have antioxidants that keep the hair protected. Humectants, like glycerin or aloe vera, are great additions to a conditioner.

I’ll say 4ORCE OF NATURE 4C Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair does a great job of keeping the hair moisturized at all times.

3. Moisturizer

Moisturizing products should have lots of nutrients that keep your hair always shiny and healthy. You can use Design Essentials Almond Butter Moisturizer to keep your hair smooth and supple.

4. Edge Control

Edge control is meant to smooth your baby hair. 4C hair type usually has stubborn baby hairs that do not slip easily, even with the product. An edge control makes styling your hair smoother. For a quick session, use She Is Bomb Collection Edge Control to keep your edges tight and smooth.

5. Oils

Oils are essential for every hair type and texture. They are used for deep conditioning treatments. Furthermore, treatments like hot oil treatment help to keep your hair shiny, moisturized, and healthy.

Coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, castor oil, olive oil, and argan oil are staple oils used in hair treatments. They penetrate the hair scalp easily, adding the necessary nutrients. 

6. Hair Masks

Hair masks protect the hair strands and make them healthy and strong. You can use it once or twice a month to boost hair growth and strong strands. Also, they prevent hair breakage, making hair fuller and thicker.

I would recommend Aunt Jackie’s Fix My Hair Intensive Repair Conditioning Masque. It is great for keeping your hair strong and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does 4C type hair grow?

Yes, it does. 4C hair type grows just like every other hair.

Although 4C hair type shrinks about 75% of its hair, it does not stop growing. As long as you can stimulate your hair to the anagen (hair growth) phase, your 4C hair would keep growing.

Healthy hair is growing hair. Therefore, you need to care for your hair properly for it to grow continuously.

Is 4C hair low porosity hair?

Not all 4C hair is low porosity hair.

4C hair type is characterized by being dry, brittle, and dull. However, this is from natural oil not getting to the ends of your hair.

Low porosity hair dryness is caused by the cuticle being closed, thereby not taking in enough moisture. 4C hair type can be any type of hair porosity.

How often should I wash my 4C hair type?

Once every 2 or 3 weeks.

4C hair needs to avoid stripping oils and products from its strands. That’s why you don’t need to wash your 4C hair too often. However, maintaining a washing frequency and routine would be beneficial to your hair.

Does 4C hair need heat?

This depends on the hair porosity.

High porosity hair does not need heat or hot tools. Meanwhile, low porosity needs a boost from hot tools from time to time.

Nevertheless, if you are to use hot tools for your 4C hair type, use heat protectants to protect your hair strands.

What is the difference between 4A, 4B, and 4C hair?

The major difference between 4A, 4B, and 4C is in their curl patterns.

4A has an identifiable ‘S’ curl pattern. On the other hand, 4B has an identifiable ‘Z’ curl pattern that looks like a zigzag line. And 4C doesn’t have an identifiable curl pattern. It has too tight ‘S’ and ‘Z’ patterns or none at all.

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4C hair types are hard to manage, but they give great results. It easily becomes the center of attention when people get to see the lusciousness. What they usually don’t know is how the hair got to that healthy stage.

You need to care for your hair with meticulous preciseness to get the best result. As you know, 4C hair isn’t the type to keep itself moisturized, you have to constantly give it some TLC.

If you use the right product coupled with the best hair care routine for your 4C hair type, then you are well on your way to having the best healthy hair result you want.

Thanks for reading. Africana Fashion provides hair care articles that suit your curious mind.