What in the world is 4c hair? – Let’s talk hair typing

Afro puff on 4c hair

I remember scrolling through YouTube videos about a year ago and most of the natural hair vloggers where like; “this product/technique is sooooo great for my 4B/4C textured hair…” etc. And I was like 4 what?? So this post is for you if you ever wondered what this hair typing business is about or even if you never wondered you probably should read it anyway because it might just help you “find your spot” in this community.

There are 2 hair typing systems one by Andre Walker and the LOIS system, I personally found the former easier to understand.

Firstly, it is important to make it clear that each individual person is unique and so is our hair but we certainly have similarities, as a result hair typing is a way of helping one find common traits in our hair so that we can better understand and take care of it. Some people have multiple hair textures and choose not to use a hair typing system but a lot of people have mostly one texture or curl pattern mixed in with a little of the other. I have 4c hair but some small sections on my head maybe classified as 4b and there are sections that are off the chart i.e. 4d hair. Lol.

Type 3 and 4 hair is where the majority of black people find themselves (curly and coily/kinky), here’s a quick run over the other types:

Type 1 – Straight hair
This hair type can vary from fine to coarse, tends to be very oily and it is hard for it to hold a curl.

Type 2 – Wavy hair
This hair type also varies from fine to coarse and tends to be frizzy and hard to style the thicker it gets.

Image from http://www.naturallycurly.com

Type 3 – Curly hair
3A – Curls have a definite “S” pattern and tend to be big, loose and well-defined, hair tends to be shiny and more easily straightened. Hair also tends to be frizzy and is affected by the weather.

3B – Curls are bouncy, well defined ringlets that tend to be springy, hair is thicker and not very shiny and though it can also be straightened it is a bit more difficult to. This hair type is also frizz prone and stylers and gels can be used to control it.

3C – Curls are coily like corkscrews densely packed together roughly the circumference of a pencil. This hair type can also be kinky and is frizz prone and is the most difficult to straighten in the Type 3 family. This type was also not in the orginal typing system but was added on with time.

Shrinkage for type 3 hair can be up to 30%

Type 4 – Kinky/Coily hair
Generally type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than all the other hair types and as a result it is the most fragile of hair types.

4A – Curls are tighty coiled and they tend to have a distinct “S” pattern with a circumference of a crochet needle. The texture varies from fine to wiry but the common feature is that it is very fragile so it should be handled with care and heat must be limited because it has less natural protection from damage.

4B – Hair has a less defined curl pattern as it has a “Z” pattern that bends at sharp angles. The strands are fine and densely packed. This hair type is very fragile and can also range from fine to coarse but must be handled with care, always. 4b hair can shrink to up to 75% of it’s length.

4C – Hair has a curl pattern that is not very well defined as the coils are very kinky and tight, around the circumference of pencil lead and they very rarely clump together unless styled so. It has been described to feel like cotton wool though it can range from fine to wiry to coarse in texture. It is said to be the most challenging type in the type 4 family due to its ‘kinky-ness’. 4c hair can shrink more than 75% of its actual length.

Shed hair

Type 4 hair is the most “thirsty” and needs to be moisturised well in order to keep it healthy and strong. Limiting chemicals that dry out or strip away the hair’s natural oils is a must and contact with heat should also be limited.

More about moisturising in the next post.

Have a happy hair day!



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