Differences In Natural Hair Types 4C, 4A & 4B

Our focus is on 4A, 4B and 4C Hair, in addition to 3A, 3B and 3C natural hair.  which is the predominant hair types found on Black and African American women. We will also explore some of the best afro kinky products for natural hair

What Is Type 4 Hair ?

Type 4 hair is commonly known as kinky hair. It is characterized by curls that resemble the letter “z” and extreme density. It doesn’t have defined ringlets and curly patterns. Type 4 usually maintains its shape, whether dry or wet.

However, you need to moisturize it daily since the natural oils from your scalp don’t reach the hair’s shaft. It’s also worth noting that Type 4 hair is prone to knotting and shrinkage. Hence, it requires careful handling and proper maintenance to preserve the length and prevent breakage.

    • Another remarkable feature of type 4 hair is that it can shrink up to 70-85% of its actual length. Your hair may be waist-length, but it may look like you have much shorter hair. 
    • Example of afro blown out kinky straight hair extensions 

What Is Type 4A Hair

Type 4A Hair

 Loose or tight coils characterize 4A hair type. It is thick and springy. To achieve an attractive luster with this hair, you’ll need to use plenty of leave-in conditioners. When it comes to styling Type 4A hair, it is advisable to have a water bottle on hand so you can regularly spray it to prevent breakage. 

 

What is Type 4B Hair

type 4b hair

Featuring very tight coils or a zig-zag pattern, 4B hair type somewhat behaves like the 4a hair type. The most effective way to keep it moisturized and hydrated is by using water and styling creams.

It is also essential to co-wash it regularly. Co-washing is when you wash it with conditioner only and skip the shampoo. Co-washing usually results in softer,  smoother, more manageable hair.

If you have Type 4A hair, it is advisable to style your hair immediately after washing. Styling soon after washing helps to tame your crown, making it easy to manage. Also worthy of note is that styling your whole head at once may not deliver the desired results. Consider breaking this hair type into small sections when styling it.

Example of 4B Hair Products

 

What Is 4C Hair

type 4c hair

The 4C hair type is the most common hair texture for black women around the world. While in it’s natural unprocessed state, 4c hair is coily hair and highly prone to shrinkage upwards of 85%.

This high reduction in length can occur even without adding products such as creams and oils to loosen dry hair follicles. The 4C hair type features no real curl pattern.

It is the most fragile of all Type 4 hair. If you want to show off your hair-length with this type of hair, you’ll need to stretch your hair to achieve that. Thanks to its wiry and coarse nature, 4C hair requires regular moisturizing to achieve most styles.

It usually works well with the LCO or LOC Method (leave-in, oil, cream) styling method. Regular use of leave-in conditioners, heavy creamers, and butter will help keep this type of hair in great shape.

When 4c hair is wet the hair is much more easier to manage especially when adding products to capture moisture. Many women of color find it difficult to distinguish the differences between 4b and 4c hair as they both have similar characteristics to each other. Please see chart below for all the major differences.

 

Differences Between 4A, 4B and 4C Hair / CHART

4A Hair Type 4B Hair Type 4C Hair Type
SOFT KINKS TEXTURE / Tightly coiled. Extremely Delicate. Features a highly defined curly pattern WIRY TEXTURE / Tightly coiled. Very Delicate. Less defined curly pattern. ZING TEXTURE / Looks quite like 4B hair type but with tightly kinked curls
  • While the 4A hair type is coiled tightly with an evident “S” curl pattern, Type 4B hair bends in sharp angles characteristic of the letter Z. The curls in 4B are tighter and less defined, with strands ranging from fine, coarse,  wiry and thin.
  • While the 4c hair type is densely packed, its curls are less defined and experience more shrinkage. It’s also more fragile, with strands ranging from super fine and soft to coarse and wiry.

Best Products for 4A, 4B and 4C Hair ?

black women hair products

Use latex gloves when applying products Sometimes, we can be too heavy-handed when applying products. This can lead to unnecessary breakage, causing slow growth. Furthermore, your nails and the small grooves in your fingertips may irritate your cuticles and create micro-tears in your hair strands. The best way to prevent these problems is to use latex gloves. The gloves will serve as a protective barrier between your hands and your fragile hair, reducing the amount of breakage when working on your hair.

Balance moisture and protein treatments If you’re over-moisturizing your 4A/4B or 4c hair, you could be denying it the necessary protein boosts to keep it curly and bouncy. Excessive moisture and insufficient protein, known as hygral fatigue, can make your hair weak, floppy, and lifeless. Also, too much protein can make your hair dry, stiff, and brittle. Hence, it’s crucial to balance moisture and protein treatments.

For example, if you’re deep conditioning four times a month, three washes should focus on moisture and one wash on protein treatment. It is advisable to use medium protein treatment. However, if you are somewhat protein-sensitive, consider a light protein deep treatment. Pre-poo with a moisturizing oil Pre-pooing is the practice of applying oil to your before you shampoo it.

 

Ecoco Eco styler Professional Styling Gel with Olive Oil

This product is composed of 100% pure olive oil and is ideal for wash-and-go or coily drawstring ponytails. Olive oil helps to control the scalp’s moisturizing system naturally. It will give a healthy sheen.

TGIN Honey Miracle Mask

If your hair is dry or damaged, this rich deep conditioner will deliver instant restoration. Formulated with raw honey for softer, gleaming curls and olive oils for nourishing and healing damaged strands. It also smells great.

Kinky-Curly Knot Today

This is one the best leave-in conditioners for 4c, 4a and 4b hair. It is useful in smoothing the cuticle and removing knots and tangles from kinky curly hair. You can use it as a leave-in conditioner for thick curly hair patterns or as a daily rinse out conditioner for wavy hair.

Long and Luxe GroWash Cleansing Creme Conditioner

This product from As I Am, a potent combination of naturally derived ingredients, which help your hair grow longer and healthier. It is useful in detangling and moisturizing hair and scalp.

 OBIA Naturals Hair Care Neem & Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

This revitalizing shampoo is useful in soothing a dry scalp and removing unwanted buildup. Its main ingredients, Tea Tree Oil and Neem Oil, are potent astringents that will leave your scalp relaxed. It also has a pleasant aroma.