What Is 4C Hair? (Natural Hair Types Explained)

4c natural hair

What is 4c hair? 4c natural hair can be said to be the kinkiest hair texture in the type 4 hair family, it is more curly and springy that 4a hair type however how do you know you have 4c natural hair and how do care for and maintain 4c hair type? 4c natural hair does not always have a defined shape or curl pattern which means it’s quite delicate and needs additional tender care and love.

4c hair is beautiful and caring for it is quite simple as long as you know how to properly clean, to moisturize, and maintain it, maintaining your natural hair can be a challenge, if you are not sure how to keep your natural hair healthy and strong, in this article, we would be breaking down everything you need to know about your natural hair and how to take care of it to ensure maximum health and growth.

Without further ado, let’s jump right to the mega guide to keeping a healthy, vibrant natural hair.

What is 4c hair and what are its characteristics?

The tightness of 4c hair provides the characteristics that set it apart from other hair types, the texture of 4c can vary from extremely fine to very coarse which means that the way 4c hair looks varies widely from one head to the other. 4c natural hair tends to become easily fragile especially if a transition was done, because of the tightness of the coil, it is difficult for the hair’s natural oil to reach the very end of the strand.

Many 4c naturals can have shrinkage up to 70%, coils have to be defined by either twisting, braiding, or shingling through the strands. Below are some of the qualities of the 4c hair type.

  • 4c hair type dries out quickly and struggles to maintain moisture more than other curls pattern
  • Most 4c natural hair can experience extreme shrinkage sometimes up to 75%
  • Hair is fragile and prone to breakage
  • Hair is prone to tangles and matting if not properly cared for and regularly detangled

How do you deal with 4c hair?

4c hair type looks a lot similar to 4b hair type however it is more lightly coiled, 4c hair is also as densely packed as 4B, but with less definition as well as more shrinkage, the hair texture, which is tightly coiled like all Type 4s, ranges from super fine and soft to coarse and wiry. 4c requires more care, some of which are listed below.

  • Retain moisture, the kinks and coils of 4c prevent the proper distribution of sebum which is the natural oil throughout your hair.
  • You need to shampoo regularly to keep your hair and scalp clean but keep the duration of washing to every 3 or 4 weeks interval.
  • Deep condition every 2 weeks to keep your hair healthy, bouncy and shiny
  • It is vital to detangle regularly because of the curls
  • Go for protective hairstyles that prevent shrinkage and also avoid hair products that cause your hair to shrink.

Why does 4c natural hair grow slowly?

All hair grows about 1/5 an inch every month, which is 6 inches per year and by 2 years that would be 12 inches and having 4c hair type doesn’t really affect this growing process however how fast your hair grows also depends on the hair products being used and some factors like a hormone, age, over manipulation, chemical damage, stress, nutritional deficiencies, and disorders.

Moisture is the one aspect that would prevent your hair from breaking.

To grow 4c natural hair, it is best to try more of natural remedies, you can also grow 4c hair by eating healthy and drinking plenty of water, moisturize often, ensure your hair is well conditioned and a lot’s of people proposed hair pills but it is not recommended to take something you have never tried.

Maintaining and caring for 4c natural hair

Natural hair is a fragile type of hair hence it needs lots of care and maintenance to keep it healthy, going the extra mile for your natural hair will help keep it healthy and long. Here are a few things you can do to make your 4c hair type thrive.

  • Deep conditioning is a great way to keep your natural hair healthy, natural 4c hair type dries out so quickly due to it’s tightly curled pattern, deep conditioning your hair once every 2 weeks is a great way to keep moisture locked in.
  • Don’t overuse styling products on 4c natural hair, this can cause it to become crunchy, greasy, weighed down, stiff, and or frizzy hair. A little product will do just fine.
  • Limit your shampoo usage to once a month and rather try co-washing
  • Try to prevent excessive tangling by not piling your coils on top of your head and rubbing products on it
  • Cleanse your scalp thoroughly to avoid shrinkage.

Protective styling for 4c natural hair

4c natural hair type is considered to be the most fragile hair type and how you style it would play a lot’s of vital role in it, the tight coils could cause breakage if proper styling is not done. We would be recommending 5 protective hairstyles you would love on your 4c natural hair.

1. Afro Ponytail

natural hairstyles
Image: @naturalhairstylestz // Instagram

Here is one gorgeous hairstyle for practically all hair types, it keeps your curls well tucked in, prevents breakage and requires less effort to maintain it.

2. Protective Twist

4c natural hairstyle
Source: Popsugar

A protective twist without extension is an amazing way you can enjoy your 4c natural hair, it’s simple and won’t stress your curls or pull at your scalp.

3. Braided Twist Out

natural hair style
Image: @curlsandcouture // Instagram

Braided twist out ids recommended for a strong 4c hair type and not a fragile as this could easily pull at the scalp causing you to have split ends, braided twist out should also not be kept for too long.

4. Crochet Braid

natural hair hairstyles
Image: @curlsandcouture // Instagram

Another awesome hairstyle that protects your hair and scalp from damage is a crochet braid, it’s quite a chic hairstyle and there are varieties of crochets to choose from.

5. Ponytail With Fringes

natural hair hairstyles
Image: @naturalshairisdope // Instagram

Keep your hair healthy with a simple at-home styling like the one above. This hairstyle can be done at home yourself at requires less manipulation on your curls.

Do you have 4a, 4b or 4c hair type?

Hair types are categorized ranging from type 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c to 4 but type 4 hair is the most hair type black women have and it broke down into 4a, 4b, and 4c hair type. Not sure what kind of 4 hair type you have?  Well below is what will help you determine your natural hair type. Being able to discover your hair type will make your styling efforts and product

Type 4a hair

4a natural hair type
Source: Pinterest

4a natural hair consists of tightly coiled curls that have the circumference of a crochet needle, 4a hair type is extremely fragile and slightly prone to breakage due to its’ poor natural protection however 4a natural hair coils tend to hold more moisture in their strands than 4b and 4c hair type. 4a hair type can be fragile, highly porous, fine and wiry.

Type 4b Hair

4b natural hair
Source: Curly hair

4b natural hair type is a lot more similar to 4c hair type, it has a less defined pattern of curls and looks more like a z as the hair bends with very sharp angles, it is less fragile than 4c hair type and requires just as much care as other natural hair types.

Type 4c hair

natural hair type
Source: Fashion vaire

4c hair types may resemble 4b hair type in lot’s of ways, it curls pattern has no clear definition either, it assumes a z shape as well, 4c hair type can vary in texture, from softer to harsher ones and what makes 4c hair type stand out from other hair types is due to its coils which are densely packed.


Natural hair is wonderful and this is regardless of your hair type, every hair types need care and maintenance to stay healthy and grow, 4c natural hair has been described as a more challenging version of 4b natural hair and quite common among black women with natural hair, generally speaking, it retains moisture well compared to other hair texture however without proper care it has it’s disadvantages too.

With the growth of the natural hair community, knowing your hair type is vital in keeping healthy hair. What is your natural hair type and how do you care for it? We would love to have your reply in the comment box below.

Read more on natural hair care tips and protective hairstyles:

Team ThriveNaija
Team ThriveNaija, Helping you live well and look good. This account is maintained by the elite authors, editors on ThriveNaija.com contributing to different pieces on the site, one article at a time, and making them better. Send us an email? [email protected].