4C Hair Type Guide: What Is It & How to Care For It

Learn all about the 4C hair type in this guide. Discover 4C hair care methods, hairstyles to consider, how to identify the 4C hair type, and more!
two women with 4c curl type

4C hair is the curliest hair type and is on the delicate side. These beautiful, tight, voluminous coils thrive with moisture and a gentle touch. Here’s how to identify if you have the 4C hair type and how to take care of your gorgeous curls.

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What is 4C Hair?

graphic explaining the 4C hair type and other curls in the category

The 4C hair type is characterized by tight “Z” pattern coils with about 75% shrinkage compared to the length of the hair strand. The “Z” pattern can be difficult to distinguish because the coil is tight and dense.

The 4C hair type is characterized by tight “Z” pattern coils with about 75% shrinkage compared to the length of the hair strand. The “Z” pattern can be difficult to distinguish because the coil is tight and dense.

And because 4C hair doesn’t retain moisture easily, it’s also the driest of all curly hair types. This means your 4C hair is delicate, frizz-prone, and easily tangled and matted. So, finding the right 4C hair products to help nourish and moisturize your coils is essential to a good hair care routine.

How to Care for 4C Hair?

4C curls are beautiful, but they’re also extremely delicate. As a result, the 4C hair type needs lots of extra tender loving care to stay healthy. Here are a few 4C hair care best practices to keep in mind.

  1. Shampoo infrequently: All curly hair types are prone to dryness, but the 4C hair type requires extra moisture. Overwashing will strip away the natural oils that keep your coils healthy and hydrated. Shampooing just once every two to four weeks is plenty. When you do shampoo, use a gentle, hydrating, sulfate-free formula, and minimize tangling by conditioning before and after cleansing.
  2. Deep condition frequently: In between washes, use a thick, deeply moisturizing conditioner to help soften and detangle stubborn coils. At least once a week, deep condition with a hot oil treatment or nourishing hair mask.
  3. Try the LOC/LCO method: The 4C hair type has difficulty retaining moisture, but using the right combination of products in the right order can give you great results. In the LOC/LCO method, the “L” stands for liquid conditioner, the “C” stands for creme, and the “O” stands for oil. Spritz your parched curls with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, then use a deeply hydrating cream or oil to lock in moisture and seal out frizz.
  4. Stay away from heat: When you have 4C hair, heat styling should be done sparingly. Rely on curl-defining 4C hair products and styles to tame your frizz rather than heat tools. Styling products that can help include frizz hair gels, styling spray, or curl reset sprayThere are also many heatless hairstyles to rock!
  5. Regularly detangle and protect: 4C hair is extra prone to breakage, damage, and frizz. Regularly coat your curls in conditioner or curl cream, and gently separate and define those corkscrews with your fingers.
  6. Sleep gently: To protect your curls at night, wrap your head in a silk bonnet or scarf and use a satin pillowcase to minimize frizz-causing friction.
  7. Get frequent trims: Ward off split ends and breakage with frequent trips to the salon.
  8. Hydrate from the inside out: Drinking lots of water helps to nourish and protect every cell in your body, including those parched strands.

5 Styles for 4C Hair

Full-bodied 4C hair types can wear some super fun styles. Here are a few of our favorites.

  1. Space Buns: Buns are one of the easiest hairstyles for any hair type to rock, but the 4C hair texture gives this style an edge. Braid your coils before twisting them up into buns, and add some face-framing twists to get this look.
  2. Bantu Knots: Like buns, Bantu knots are a fun way to tame your corkscrews. To get the look, part your hair into small sections, twist, and wrap around your finger to form knots.
  3. Twists or Twist-Outs: Twists are a great protective hairstyle, and when you unravel them, you get gorgeous, perfect corkscrews every time. Experiment with two-strand twists, flat twists, and even box braids for a different look.
  4. Mohawk: This fun, edgy style is super easy to achieve and looks fantastic with gorgeous 4C curls. Pin both sides of your hair up and leave the middle free.
  5. Au Naturale: Embrace the texture and body of your 4C hair type by wearing it down and loose. Just spritz with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and go!

Key Takeaways

  • 4C hair is characterized by tight “Z” pattern coils that can be delicate, frizz-prone, and easily tangled and matted.
  • Hair care for the 4C hair type is all about moisture retention and protection. This means avoiding frequent shampooing and heat, deep conditioning, trying the LOC/LCO method, gently detangling, protecting your hair while you sleep, and always keeping your water bottle nearby.
  • 4C hair is incredibly versatile! Try heat-free twists, space buns, or Bantu knots, rock an edgy mohawk, or embrace that beautiful texture and go au naturale.

Love those kinks and curls. Check out more John Frieda hair care tips for curly hair and our hair care products.

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