4c Hair: What Is It, and How Can You Care For It?

woman with 4c hair

Hey everyone! We wanted to provide some insight into a super popular topic/question that keeps coming up in the natural hair community: what is 4c hair? 

If you’ve asked yourself this question or are just looking to learn a little more about different hair types, then keep reading, this is for you! 

So, what exactly is 4c hair?

A natural 4c hair pattern tends to be very coiled and tightly curled. It’s is considered the most fragile and has a denser, thicker texture than other curl patterns. This results in tangles and breakages. It’s also described as “kinky,” with a tight, zig-zag pattern.

4c hair history

So, where did this term even come from? 4c hair is one of the four hair types in the popular hair typing system developed by hair stylist Andre Walker. The four hair types are: 

  1. Type 1: Straight hair
  2. Type 2: Wavy hair
  3. Type 3: Curly hair
  4. Type 4: Coily hair (4a, 4b, and 4c)
hairtypes from straight to kinky

This hair type is the coiliest of the four hair types and is generally considered the hardest to manage. It is characterized by its tightly coiled, kinky curls and tends to have a high porosity, meaning that it absorbs moisture easily but also loses it just as quickly. This can make 4c hair prone to dryness, breakage, and tangles.

Although many people found the hair typing system to be very helpful when its comes to profiling their hair and finding products specifically for their hair type, the hair typing system has received backlash in the past for leaving out other important factors that relate to hair care, like hair porosity. (Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here too! Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on hair porosity).

12 Tips for Managing 4c Hair

Even with these challenges, 4c hair is absolutely gorgeous, especially when treated properly. As someone who has this hair type, I understand how challenging it can be to maintain. Sooooo, I wanted to share a list of 12 tips that will help you care for yours:

1. Choose a sulfate-free shampoo

Sulfates harm your hair by stripping its natural oils, causing dryness and breakage. Find a sulfate-free shampoo to gently cleanse your hair without stripping it.

2. Use a deep conditioning treatment

4c hair is very prone to dryness, so it is important to use a deep conditioning treatment regularly to moisturize and nourish the hair. Look for a treatment that contains natural oils and proteins to strengthen the hair.

3. Use a leave-in conditioner

A leave-in conditioner can help detangle and moisturize the hair, making it easier to style while preventing breakage. This is not only true for coily hair; leave in conditioner has the same benefits across all hair types!

4. Use a wide-tooth comb

4c hair is prone to tangles and knots, so it is important to use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle it. You can minimize breakage by starting at the ends and working your way up to the roots of your hair. 

5. Invest in silk or satin pillowcases

Cotton pillowcases absorb moisture and can cause friction, leading to tangles and breakage. Instead, use silk or satin pillowcases to reduce friction and keep your hair moisturized.

6. Avoid heat styling

Heat styling can damage 4c hair, leading to dryness and breakage. If you do need to use heat, be sure to use a heat protector and keep the temperature as low as possible.

7. Use protective hairstyles

Protective hairstyles, such as braids, twists, and buns, can help protect your hair from damage and breakage. Personally, protective hair styles are my go to since they require less time to style during those busy work weeks!

Even though protective hairstyles require less styling time, it’s still very important to cleanse and moisturize your scalp. Oiling your scalp with oils like jojoba oil and argan oil will moisturize your scalp and add shine to your protective hairstyles.

8. Wear a satin/silk scarf or bonnet

Like silk or satin pillowcases, satin or silk scarves or bonnets can help prevent friction and keep the hair moisturized.

9. Avoid over-washing

4c hair is prone to dryness, so it is important not to wash it too often. Aim to wash your hair every two to three weeks, or use dry shampoo in between washes. When you over wash your hair, you are essentially stripping it of the natural oils that are produced on your scalp.

The main natural oil that is produced on the scalp is called sebum. It’s often referred to as “nature’s greatest conditioner.” We wouldn’t want to loose too much of it, which is why the goal is to not over wash your hair!

10. Avoid tight hairstyles

Tight hairstyles, such as ponytails and cornrows, can put unnecessary tension on the hair, especially at the edges, which can lead to breakage. Opt for loose hairstyles that put less strain on the hair instead.

In addition to breakage tight hairstyles can lead to hair falling out around the edges of your head. This is especially the case for tight ponytails and braids. The medical term for this experience is called traction alopecia. The good news is traction alopecia can be reversed by wearing looser hairstyles and using oils specifically aimed at hair growth.

11. Trim your hair regularly

Regular trimming can prevent split ends and breakage. Aim for every six to eight weeks.

12. Dry your hair gently using a microfiber towel or old t-shirt

Regular towels can tangle and break 4c hair. Instead, use a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt to blot your hair dry. 

4c Hair FAQ

There you go! A few extra tips and tricks to help you maintain your hair. We understand you may still have a few questions so we tried to answer those below:

Q: How do I know if I have 4c hair?

A: To determine your hair type, you can use the hair typing system developed by Andre Walker. 4c hair is characterized by its tightly coiled, kinky curls and tends to have high porosity. It is the coiliest of the four hair types and is typically the most difficult to manage.

There are also numerous fun quizzes out there dedicated to helping you find and understand your hair type. Check out this quiz from Privatestockhair!

Q: Can I straighten 4c hair?

A: Generally, this hair type can be straightened, but it is fragile and can break easily. If you decide to straighten your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant and keep the temperature down. In order to protect the hair from damage, it is also important to use a deep conditioning treatment before and after straightening.

Q. What’s the difference between 4A hair, 4B hair, and 4c hair?

4a hair, 4b hair, and 4c hair are all considered coily. The differences lie in the strands’ curl patterns and density levels: 

4A hair strands have very defined curl patterns that are often called “S” patterns. 4A hair also has the lowest amount of density.

4B hair has less defined curl patterns and is denser. 

4c hair has the most amount of density and is tightly coiled.

hair density


Overall, caring for 4c hair requires patience and dedication. By following these tips and using the right products, you can help to maintain healthy, vibrant curly hair! Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on the best shampoos for coily, kinky hair; it’s dropping soon! 🙂

Caprice Gibson

Caprice Gibson

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