It’s really a shame that a specific category of black hair is such a mystery. It’s been ridiculed, mocked & insulted for too long. The hair that grows on your head is beautiful as it is, in any colour, texture or curl pattern. Type 4 hair specifically is very versatile and enduring. It’s mouldable enough to put it into different styles and withstand the harsh chemicals it can be subjected to. Though the British weather isn’t the best for this type of hair, it endures!
Hair at its very basic level is a natural accessory. It can be used to dress up or dress down an outfit, make a political statement, or be the focal point of your look. So let’s demystify the 4’s a little… Hair type is generally split into three different categories and each with their own individual curl pattern. Most people have a few different curl patterns on their head, and the curl pattern can also be manipulated slightly to change its appearance for a particular style.
Type 4A hair is quite easy to spot & has a very distinctive ‘S’ curl pattern when you stretch it. This type of hair has the loosest curl of the three & needs extra care as it can often be a little fragile. This hair type benefits from natural butters and products rich in moisture. You can also use Jojoba oil to help lock in extra moisture.
Type 4B hair is a little more difficult to identify. It is soft & fluffy. The curl pattern for this type is not as defined as the 4A, sometimes presenting as a ‘Z’ or a looser ‘S’. This hair type is tightly coiled and benefits from lots of moisture. Butters & creams can be a little too heavy, & it is advisable to opt for lighter oils like Coconut oil or Sweet Almond oil. A spray bottle of water infused with tea tree oil and a light oil of your choice is a great idea to keep this hair type soft and workable.
Type 4C hair is extremely distinctive as it is very dense and looks like a thick cloud. It also does not have a defined curl pattern, but again, it can be created with a little manipulation. This hair type is more prone to shrinkage and is the most fragile. It’s better to work with this hair type than against it. It benefits from moisture and lighter oils also.
All hair types, especially 4B and 4C need extra care when it comes to styling. Protective styles like wigs, braids & twists are advised to reduce breakage. When settling in for the night, it’s a great idea to wrap your hair in a silk scarf to help reduce tension and friction while asleep, as this also causes breakage. Braids & twists do require sitting down for long periods for application so they are not always practical. Another way to protect these hair types is to apply a little bit of moisture and wrap it up in a scarf. There are so many ways to tie a scarf and so many colours to choose from, so this is a common choice.
Type 4 hair can be worn out, but it does take some work to get it ready. One way of doing this is deep conditioning the night before and setting the hair in a twist out (a collection of tightly coiled twists) before unravelling them the next day and letting the hair loose. This style allows the hair to form a loose curl pattern and ease of style. It can also be worn in under a wig or a weave. Weaves are lovely and require less maintenance, but they can also be damaging if not applied correctly: the key is to avoid tension on the temples. If a black woman is wearing a wig or weave it is an extension of her hair: so if it’s on her head, it’s her hair.
So, now that you know how much work goes into the maintenance of Type 4 hair, please don’t touch it. On behalf of the black hair community: thanks.