4B Hair Guide: Care and Styles for Your Hair Type

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The work involved in keeping our hair healthy, shiny, and just overall stunning requires more than just buying hair care products. It ideally starts by knowing what hair type you have.

Luckily, there are existing hair typing systems that allow us to classify our hair to better understand what it needs to stay lustrous.

a beautiful african american woman wearing a white tank top is smiling at the camera flaunting her 4b hair

So if you think you have 4b hair, keep reading because we’ll tell you ways to determine if this really is your hair type. 

We’ll also give you some of the best care tips and styles to wear 4b hair loud and proud!

What Is the Hair Type Chart?

One of the most widely used hair typing systems was developed by celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker in the 1990s. 

Known as The Hair Chart, it breaks down hair types into four categories:

  • Type 1 is straight hair
  • Type 2 is wavy hair
  • Type 3 is curly hair
  • Type 4 is coily hair

Each of them has subtypes — A, B, and C — that distinguish between particular hair types based on several features. 

curl pattern chart infographic

What Does 4B Hair Look Like?

Kinky hair, like 4b hair, generally has tightly packed coils, so it’s easy to confuse 4b hair with other coily hair subtypes. 

However, there are a few characteristics that will make it easier to identify 4b hair. 

Curl Pattern

Hair types 4a, 4b, and 4c generally have tight curls.

But if you look closely, you’ll find that each subtype has a different curl pattern or shape.

In this case, the 4b hair type has sharper curl angles, creating a Z-shaped pattern. 

So if you’re wondering if you have 4b hair, gently lift a few strands and let it naturally dangle. Then see if your curl pattern looks like a zigzag pattern. If so, this is very likely your hair type.

The size of the curls doesn’t really affect your hair type. 

Whether your curls are on the smaller or larger side, as long as you see that they create a Z-shaped or zigzag pattern when dry or not stretched, then it’s a good sign that you have lovely natural 4b hair.

Shrinkage Factor

Aside from being the telltale sign of your hair type, the shape of its curls also affects the other characteristics of curly 4b hair, such as the appearance of its length. 

Coily hair tends to shrink a lot, and that’s especially true for this hair type because its curls have a sharper pattern.

This shrinkage causes even long 4b hair to appear shorter than its actual length. 

Density

All type 4 hair, in general, naturally has more density than other hair types.

This means that with 4b hair, you will see more strands packed tightly together on the scalp, which tend to grow in an out-and-upward direction. 

Texture and Porosity

These are hair characteristics that are not necessarily the same for everyone with 4b hair.

When hair texture is discussed, it’s usually about how thin or thick every strand is. As with any hair type, 4b hair texture can range from fine to wiry or coarse.

Porosity, on the other hand, refers to the hair’s moisture absorption and retention abilities.

This is largely dictated by how flat or far apart cuticles are laid in every strand. 

Low-porosity hair tends to have overlapping cuticles, making it tougher for natural moisture to escape from its strands.

However, hair products may also have more difficulty penetrating low-porosity hair.  

If a hair has high porosity, that means there are substantial gaps between the cuticles that allow for easy moisture loss.

On the bright side, high-porosity hair absorbs moisturizing hair products that fight dryness and frizz more efficiently.

4B hair can also vary in porosity from individual to individual. 

Ultimate 4B Hair Care Tips

Regardless of your 4b hair’s texture and porosity level, there’s a good chance that dry hair is one of your common concerns. 

That’s because the natural pattern of coily hair makes it more challenging for natural oils from the scalp to go down the hair strands.

And if you have the 4b hair type, the sharper zigzag pattern of your hair — compared to the S-shaped curls of 4a hair — may make it more difficult for you to look for ways to keep your hair moisturized, shiny, and bouncy.

The good news is by maintaining a hair type-specific hair care routine, your natural 4b hair can be as beautiful as it can be.

Here are some tips you can follow to achieve this:

Create and Maintain a Consistent Wash Day Routine

Most people with the 4b hair type wash their hair once every week.

Washing too often could strip the strands of natural oils, even when you use products with gentle formulas. 

The core steps of your wash day routine should include the following:

  • Cleansing with a gentle shampoo
  • Using a nourishing conditioner
  • Applying moisturizing leave-in conditioner after washing

Depending on what your hair needs, you can add these steps to customize your routine:

  • Co-washingCo-washing means using conditioner instead of shampoo to wash your hair.

Once you find the best routine for your specific hair needs, be consistent and do it regularly. This is how you can keep your hair and scalp healthy.

Condition Your Hair After Washing It

After washing your hair, you should use leave-in conditioners as a vital part of your routine. 

One excellent product is Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk, which is designed to restore any moisture lost during the washing process and keep your coils glossy and frizz-free.

Deep conditioning your hair after washing it can also help replenish lost moisture.

Keep Your Hair Moisturized

In between wash days, it’s important to keep your hair properly hydrated.

You can do this by conditioning your hair every time you shower and using products like leave-in conditioners formulated for daily use.

Moisturizing sprays are also ideal to use if your hair is styled in braids, twists, or updos. 

Use Oils and Hot Oil Treatments

Another great way to get the moisturization your 4b hair needs and help it retain moisture is by using oils and sealants. 

Coconut oil and olive oil are some of the best options for moisturizing. For sealing oils, jojoba oil and Jamaican black castor oil are great choices.

Getting monthly hot oil treatments at home or at the salon is also a good way to revitalize your 4b hair. 

a beautiful woman wearing mustard longsleeves top smiling at the camera with her 4b hair behind a purple background

Detangle Your Hair Gently

There are a couple of non-negotiable rules when it comes to detangling 4b hair — don’t do it when it’s dry, and don’t do it aggressively.

The hair is weaker when it’s wet or damp, which means you can detangle wet 4b hair easier.

If you want to do it before you hop in the shower, use a detangling spray to help further soften your hair.

Don’t be forceful when you encounter some stubborn knots.

Detangling your hair gently might take time, but this would be the least damaging and least painful way to do it.

A wide-toothed comb is often recommended for detangling. For those with the 4b hair type, though, it’s best to detangle with just your fingers. 

Start from the knots at the ends of your hair and work your way up. Doing so will help minimize damage and breakage.

Be Mindful of How You Sleep

Many of the knots and tangles in your hair are formed while you’re asleep. 

So it’s highly recommended to protect your hair by putting it in a simple pineapple bun (which is created by gathering your hair and putting it up into a loose bun at the top of your head) or covering it with a satin or silk bonnet. 

This will reduce the friction as you move around while sleeping, and you’ll wake up with much less detangling work to do.

Hair experts also advise swapping your cotton pillowcases for satin or silk because the cotton fabric can absorb moisture from your hair.

Minimize Heat Damage

Any hair type can suffer when exposed to too much heat from styling tools, but this can be more damaging for 4b hair because this hair type is already naturally dry and thus more prone to damage and breakage.

Foam hair rollers and flexi rods are good alternatives for styling 4b hair without using heat. 

However, on occasions when you need to use heat-based styling tools, make sure you apply a heat protectant like the Mielle Organics Mongongo Oil Thermal & Heat Protectant Spray to your hair beforehand. 

Products To Use and Avoid for 4B Hair

Maintaining 4B hair is not difficult if you know the basics, like being familiar with what products should be included in your routine, what ingredients to look for, and the ones you have to avoid.

What To Use

All types of hair can get dry due to various reasons.

But with 4b hair, it’s just something you have to learn to navigate because it’s one of the caveats of having those gorgeous coils.

Because this coily hair type is prone to drying out, using moisturizing 4b hair products is essential to your hair care routine. 

You’ll want to use products with aloe vera, shea butter, and coconut oil, which can restore moisture to your hair.  

Additionally, it’s a good idea to look for humectant-rich products, which will improve your hair’s moisture retention capability.

Humectants bind well with moisture, so they help your hair from getting dry. Some of the commonly used humectants in hair products are glycerin, jojoba oil, and panthenol.

What To Avoid

Make sure to steer clear of shampoos and conditioners with ingredients like sulfates and alcohol, which can dry out your hair and make it more susceptible to damage. 

So take time to read the label of your hair care products to ensure you don’t buy anything that’s too harsh on your delicate coils. Your hair will thank you for it!

Instead, remember that gentle cleansing products are your friends. 

This means if you have natural 4b hair, you really have to opt for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners like the Tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner pairing. 

Unlike products with sulfates, these can cleanse and condition your hair without stripping your hair of much-needed natural oils.

How To Grow 4B Hair

Your short 4b hair can grow longer by combining a proper hair care routine with additional practices to keep your scalp and hair healthy.

Here are some tips for promoting 4b hair growth:

Trim Your Hair Regularly

This may seem a little contradictory because why would you trim your hair when you want to grow longer, right?

Well, the operative word here is trim. You’ll only have to cut just enough length to remove split ends. 

Trimming split ends regularly is vital to hair growth because they tend to make their way up through the hair shaft and cause your hair to suffer more breakage, preventing it from growing.

When we say “regular,” we mean doing it once every few months to avoid significantly reducing your hair length. But you can do it whenever you see that you have plenty of split ends.

Adding this to your routine will help improve your hair’s overall health and address breakage sooner.

Protect the Ends of Your Hair

There’s a good reason split ends are one of the most common signs of hair breakage that could hinder growth, especially for natural 4b hair. 

The ends are the oldest part of the hair shaft, so they’re typically weaker and more prone to breakage.

Over time, the ends of your hair can lose its protective layer and become more susceptible to dryness. 

So whenever you’re applying any moisturizing product like leave-in conditioners, don’t forget to pay attention to the ends of your hair.

You can also use products specifically designed to address split ends, like the Redken Extreme Length Leave-In Conditioner.

Use a Hair Mask or Deep Conditioner

Remember, hair growth relies a lot on the overall health of your hair.

Using at-home treatment products like masks and deep conditioners regularly can help revive and maintain the health of your hair.

You don’t have to use them every time you wash your hair.

But adding them to your weekly or bi-weekly hair care routines can do a lot in keeping your hair in perfect health, which can encourage hair growth over time. 

Maintain Good Scalp Health 

Scalp health is a huge factor in the strength and elasticity of your hair, which is crucial when it comes to letting your mane grow longer.

One of the ways to keep your scalp healthy is by ensuring it’s clean. Dirt and buildup, when not managed, can lead to irritation and a flaky scalp. 

Cleanse your scalp regularly with sulfate-free shampoo to remove product and sebum buildup from your hair follicles and strands.

However, note that a dry scalp can get irritated too.

So make sure you’re using just enough leave-in products after washing your hair and scalp. Avoid overwashing as well.  

Choose the Right Hairstyles

Protecting your natural 4b hair from damage and breakage is crucial to maintain the length you already have. 

Some of the best options for curly 4b hair are styles that require minimal manipulation. 

This way, you won’t exacerbate existing damage and cause further breakage.

a woman wearing a pastel pink eyeglasses and wearing a cardigan is posing seriously at the camera

Best 4B Hairstyles To Match Your Hair Care Routine

The beauty of having natural 4b hair is you won’t run out of style options.

With proper care, it can stay shiny and bouncy, so it looks stunning even when you just want to let your coils down.

That said, some of the 4b hairstyles are not just for aesthetics because they can also affect the health of your hair. 

When deciding what styles for 4b hair to wear, the general rule is to choose something that won’t be too tight and will put too much tension on your hair and scalp.

Some of the best 4b hairstyles include the following:

  • Braids and twists or any protective styles that protect your hair from environmental elements that can damage it
  • Wash-and-go afro style to show off your lustrous curls
  • Updos and hair buns accessorized with a scarf or bandana
  • High ponytails for an elegant look

These types of hairstyles can help 4b hair retain moisture to keep it drying out.

They also require minimal maintenance, which also means less manipulation as well to avoid breakage. 

You have to worry less about detangling too! Styles like protective twists are particularly helpful in keeping the ends protected.

Just make sure that your braids, ponytails, and updos aren’t too tight to avoid straining your hair and scalp. 

Using products like Aunt Jackie’s Curl Boss Coconut Curling Gel is also great when styling 4b hair because it will make your pretty curls pop and hold your hairstyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Wet 4B Hair Every Day?

Absolutely! You can, and you should wet your hair daily. This doesn’t mean washing it with shampoo or any product every day. 

Whenever you stand in the shower, just let the water flow through your scalp and hair. 

Should I Moisturize My 4B Hair Daily?

Adding moisture to your hair can be achieved by letting it get wet in the shower.

When it comes to using leave-in conditioners and other products, the necessity for daily usage will depend on the condition of your hair. 

While 4b hair typically gets dry because of its structure, some can go for a few days without moisturizer. 

But if your hair tends to get super dry, you can replenish your hair’s moisture by applying water-based leave-in conditioners daily.

How Do I Know if My 4B Hair Is Damaged?

Hair damage is inevitable because environmental factors can also trigger it. It’s important to catch it early and treat your hair appropriately. 

Split ends are just one of the signs of hair damage. When the strands get easily tangled or snap and break, these indicate that your hair is damaged.

A change in texture and persistent frizz are common signs, too. 

Celebrate Your Natural Hair With a Consistent Care Routine

Before you get tired of hearing it, we want to reiterate that your natural 4b hair is incredibly gorgeous. 

Don’t let that beauty slip by; let it shine through with a hair care regimen that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Your 4b hair will require some specific care and attention because of its pretty curl pattern. 

Whatever routine you follow, remember that moisturizing your hair is key and contributes to keeping breakage at bay.

Once you find the best 4b hair products and the best routine to follow, try your best to do it consistently. The reward of having healthy, shiny, and bouncy hair will make it so worth it!

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Author

  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

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