How to take care of Natural 4C Hair
To begin with, one of the most asked questions is how to take care of 4C natural hair and keep it moisturized. That question is often asked because 4C is one of the hair types within 4 range of hair types that has proved very challenging to take care of for many.
With that in mind, 5 years ago I tried my hand at keeping my hair natural and I miserably failed because I literally had no idea of how to take care of my 4C hair.
I walked back to the salon and relaxed my hair. Now, I swear daily that I would never relax my natural hair again.
Well, one of the reasons why I started a blog is to share tips on how to take care of 4C hair.
Tighter curls of 4C hair that for S’s
The difference between 4C hair and 4B hair the fact that 4C hair has tighter curls that form S’s whereas 4B hair has curls that form Z’s.
The most compelling evidence is that 4C hair also shrinks the most even up to 75%. True story!
Challenging hair type to take care of
This hair type is also defined by others as the challenging version of 4B hair and that’s the reason why it requires one to understand their 4C hair, the products that work, and begin taking care of it by applying the tactics that work best.
The kinkiest of all hair types
Although often overlooked, 4C hair is beautiful and unique the kinkiest of all hair textures. From experience, I would say the one characteristic I would use to distinguish 4B hair from 4C hair is that 4C hair strands tend to clump more at the ends and hence more prone to shrinkage than 4B hair.
Clumping of hair strands at the ends of 4C hair
My hair type is, and my hair strands really clump at the ends, but I would not dare use a comb however wide-toothed the comb is. What you should do is apply condition and smoothly run my fingers through.
Equally important to note that for 4C hair can be fine in texture (like mine) or course in texture for some. The hair porosity also varies in different individuals.
As a 4C hair naturalista, I have outlined some of the basic ways to take care of your 4C hair from the cleaning, to conditioning, moisturizing and just the general tips and regimen for 4C hair that have worked for my 4C hair.
However, before we begin, it’s wise to look at some of the defining traits of 4C hair.
- Dries out quickly and struggles to retain moisture
- Very delicate and prone to breakage
- Hair has the tightest curls of all hair types
- Extreme shrinkage even up to 75%
Now that we know the challenges of 4C hair, how then do we address these challenges?
Prepoo before a wash to take care of your 4C hair
What is prepoo? To pre-poo basically means to pre-treat your hair before shampooing. It helps to retain moisture, reduce breakage, and helps in detangling the hair.
In the beginning of this post, we learned that 4C hair has tight curls thus takes a lot to detangle. It is important to regularly detangle your 4C hair to avoid excessive clumping of the hair strands.
Important to realize, if you don’t have enough don’t begin the detangling process because you need plenty of time to avoid getting impatient and begin yanking your hair in the process. I f you do that you end up with a lot of breakage.
How do you pre-poo your hair?
Here is how to detangle 4C hair.
- Leave in treatment/conditioner
- Oil of your choice
- Wide toothed comb(optional) you can use your fingers
- Hair clips (the number depends on the amount of hair you have)
Separate hair into sections before shampooing
First, divide/separate your hair into chunks/sections depending on the amount of hair on you have. Some people do 4,6 sections but that may not work especially for those who have a whole bush of hair on their heads. That’s me. Feel free to section your hair in a way that comfortable works for you.
Detangle hair properly before shampooing
Secondly, after sectioning your hair, it’s time to detangle. Use your leave in conditioner or daily leave in treatment to detangle your hair. A good conditioner makes the work easier and you can run your fingers through the hair strands. That’s how I decide which conditioner or leave in to settle for. You do not even need to use the comb most times with a good conditioner. Remember to work on each section at a time.
Rub oil through each detangled section and do a twist out
Upon detangling each section and successfully running your fingers through, rub a generous amount of your oil on the hair strands using both hands from the roots to the root to the ends. When you are done with each section, do a twist out. Now, you understand why patience is key in taking care of 4C natural hair.
At this instant, clip the sections of hair you are not working on to make your work easier. Make sure the hair strands are the end are also well conditioned, detangled, and oiled. The hair strands at the ends are the most delicate part of your hair.
Use a heating cap/Leave hair overnight before shampooing
When you have done the whole process, you got 2 options. Wear a satin bonnet and leave your hair overnight or wear a cap sit under a heating cap for 15-20 minutes. Some people do more. Having done either of these you now shampoo your hair.
To put it differently, if you prepoo your hair before washing it, you don’t end up scrapping your hair of all its natural oils and leave it dry and frizzy.
Shampoo your hair
It is important to shampoo your hair regularly to keep it clean however you can lengthen the period between one week, two weeks or even four weeks depending on how you generally feel about the state of your hair and scalp.
Use a sulfate free shampoo that makes your hair easy to detangle and leaves hair with its natural shin. Sulfate strips your hair of its natural oil and leaves it dry and frizzy. You may follow this with a conditioner and leave it for about 3 to 4 minutes before you rinse it out.
Benefits of using Apple Cider Vinegar to take care of 4C natural hair
Because ACV is rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for the hair, it balances hair and scalp ph. ACV has a ph. of 3 whereas wet hair has a ph. of between 4-5 to 5.5.
As a result, this lowers the ph. of your scalp, flattens, and closes your hair cuticles. It therefore leaves your hair staying smooth, less tangled, shiny, and less frizzy.
Another benefit of ACV is that it contains alpha-hydroxy acid that helps exfoliate the scalp. It’s also anti-inflammatory and helps those scalps prone to dandruff.
Benefits of using a co-wash to take care of 4C natural hair
- Like ACV, a co-wash also helps reduce dandruff that causes itchy scalp and flaking
- A co-wash moisturizes your hair
- Reduces breakage
- Detangles hair or reduces tangles and gives your hair curls a better definition
Deep condition regularly to take care of 4C natural hair
Each time you wash your hair, you should make it a habit to deep condition using a deep conditioner of your choice. The recommended time intervals for washing hair is weekly or after every two weeks depending your scalp and hair condition.
4C hair really does well when deep conditioned regularly especially on a weekly basis. In fact, your hair 4C hair really grows long and healthy when you deep condition religiously. Besides, deep conditioning is one of the best ways to keep 4C hair moisturized, grow the hair, and retain length.
It is one of the critical parts of 4C hair regimen to maintain, grow and care for 4C hair.
In addition, deep conditioning regularly also keeps your 4C hair looking healthy and bouncy and prevents tangling of hair strands, especially at the ends. When you deep condition your hair regularly, you also make your work easier during the detangling process and this prevents lots of breakage and hair loss.
Moisturize your 4C hair often
It is evident that a lot of people with 4C natural hair often ask how to keep 4C natural hair moisturized. I asked that question as well many times years back when I realized more black girls began embracing their kinky hair. Back then, I had relaxed hair till 2019 when I decided to transition to natural hair. I don’t regret that decision to date.
Why it’s important to moisturize as part of taking care of 4C hair
The tight curls of 4C hair prevent even distribution of the hair’s oil (sebum) that’s produced by the scalp. Consequently, 4c hair dries faster than all other hair types if not properly taken care of. I hope it is now clear why a lot of people with 4C hair tend to ask how to keep it moisturized.
The answer of how to keep 4C natural hair moisturized is the LOC method which simply means Liquid/Leave-in-Conditioner, oil, and cream of your choice to retain moisture and prevent drying.
It is also important to invest a good water spray bottle and spray your hair daily before moisturizing it. Also, invest in a good moisturizer and sealant for your hair.
Again, I would recommend that you understand what product works best for your hair and go for that. Don’t use a product just because someone else is using it. What works for their hair will necessarily work for your hair.
In the last one year, I have tried to find good affordable products and I’m glad I did.
I’m definitely sticking to these products for the long run.
Try heat free-styles to stretch your hair
Shrinkage is one of the most frustrating things that every 4C hair naturalista must deal with. Sometimes it is unbelievable to how your hair just shrinks up to 75%.
The other challenging feature of 4C hair that you must embrace other than shrinkage is clumping of strands especially at the ends as I had mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Twist outs, braid outs and bantu knots are some of the styles that don’t involve applying heat to your hair than you can use to stretch out your hair. I’m not saying that you don’t use heat at all on your 4C hair but its should be minimal. I have seen most 4C hair queens opting for a silk press when they feel they really need to stretch their hair and see the growth progress.
Otherwise, don’t bother with the shrinkage and learn tom live with if you made the choice to have natural hair because after all 4C hair offers a ton of styling options that you can explore.
Detangle regularly to take care of your 4C natural hair
Because of the tight curl patterns of 4C hair that we mentioned earlier, detangling is an important part of the regimen of taking care of 4C hair.
Detangle regularly and be gentle with your hair all through the process. Spritz some water and use a leave-in conditioner while detangling. Work in sections and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle or alternatively you can finger detangle which is the method I prefer most. While detangling be patient and spare enough time to avoid breaking your hair. Practice patience.
While detangling 4C hair, please don’t run a brush through the hair strands. I see most people using a brush after applying a conditioner to their hair while detangling, but I wouldn’t subject my hair to that.
The only time you should use a brush is after detangling your hair properly and maybe you need that puff look, and you don’t want loose strands of hair all over your head. While doing this, you brush off from the back just to lay the strands but don’t brush to detangle your 4C hair. You end up losing a lot of hair.
When you come across knots while detangling especially at the ends, use your fingers to gently detangle the hairs. Don’t yank your hair. If the knot seems too tight, add some conditioner, and smoothly run your fingers through the knot. A good conditioner should be able to work.
Don’t over-style your 4C Natural Hair
Excess products on your hair cause buildup on your scalp which closes the hair follicles and causes hair loss. Then, there will be flakes on your scalp and thereafter you experience inflammation. Under that condition, there be infections on your scalp. Your 4C hair cannot thrive under such an environment.
Excessive styling also leads to breakage because of the excessive touching of hair. Instead, go for hairstyles that require fewer products, low manipulation and this gives your hair the break it deserves.
Don’t leave the whole work to your hairdresser
Make it a habit to understand what your 4C hair needs and follow the healthy regimen for your 4C hair that we have just discussed.
Your salon appointments alone are not how to best take care of your 4C natural hair. You got to take a personal initiative to have a care routine or regimen.
What I have learnt over time is that for 4C hair requires a healthy regimen, time and patience to flourish. Also don’t forget to get yourself a satin bonnet to wear as you go to sleep.
It is also important to make sure your hair is well protected as you go to sleep since statistics show that we sleep for a third of our lives.
Friends, those are some of the main ways of how to take care of natural 4C hair. Fell free to add what is not mentioned here in the comments.