Our 4C curls are bounteous & tight-textured. They move through space like the most talented breakdancers, always surprising & delightful. But if you have 4C hair, you also know that your strands sometimes call for special care.
So, how should you care for 4C hair—and what does it look like, in the first place?
These pillowy-soft coils require a routine of their own, whether for washing, styling or sleeping. To care for your 4C curls, you’ll first want to identify their individual curl pattern. Then, you can discover how to maintain healthy 4C hair & our favorite ways to style this fabulous hair type.
What is 4C Hair?
Determining your unique hair type is the first step in finding your ideal natural hair care routine. But what if you’re not sure whether your hair is 4C or not? No worries—we’ll break it down for you.
Here’s how to identify type 4C hair:
- Your hair is dense.
- Your curls zig, zag & loop so tightly that you have to be up close to see exactly where the strands are going.
- Your natural hair texture is super happy to spring into a joyous afro & is equally suited to sleek braids. 4C type hair is extremely versatile.
- Your delicate coils may break or shrink without the loving care & moisture they deserve.
If this sounds familiar, you probably have 4C curls.
The Gravity-Defying Science Behind 4C Hair
If you have 4C hair, you might think your curl pattern’s incredible & unique texture defies explanation. But there actually is a reason why your hair works the way it does.
The amount of curl your natural hair has depends on the shape of your hair follicle (the part of your scalp where the roots of your hair live). Round follicles produce straight hair, while oval-shaped follicles produce curly hair. The more the follicles shift from circles into ovals, the curlier they become.
We can break curliness down into four categories:
Because your 4C hair is coily, you fall into the fourth hair type. Your follicles are shaped like ovals rather than circles.
Another element of your curly crown is the width of your coil. Type 4C hair has the tightest coils of all hair types.
How Should 4C Hair Be Cared For?
Your 4C hair type deserves the sweetest love & attention—like all curls do. But compared to other patterns, your hair might need some one-of-a-kind care to live its best life.
Here’s what your 4C curls need most:
- Moisture – If your 4C hair sometimes feels a little dry, it’s only natural. Their beautifully kinky shape can prevent sebum, your scalp’s natural oils, from spreading throughout your hair. This means it’s ultra-important to keep your curls moisturized. With this in mind, take advantage of products that allow you to enjoy the major benefits of sea moss for hair, along with the many grapeseed oil benefits for hair.
- Detangling – Those cute 4C curls can get wound up in each other more easily than in other hair types. Fortunately, you can find plenty of nourishing ingredients that help to detangle your hair with a gentle touch, like our curly hair detangler. Instead of tugging or pulling on your coils, tease them apart with patience. You’ll be so satisfied with your smooth curls once you’re done.
- Nightly protection – Type 4C hair rejoices when it’s wrapped up in silk, like our Satin Cap, or laid to rest on a silk pillowcase. Unlike cotton, silk encourages the moisture in your hair to stay there—whereas cotton loves moisture, too, & will siphon it off your hair with glee. As a bonus, silk reduces friction, which can protect your strands from natural hair breakage.
- Regular trims – Because 4C hair is delicate, you’ll want to keep an eye on your ends. Trim them regularly to keep split ends & breakage at bay.
Give your 4C curls lots of love & attention & be sure to treat them with products designed specifically for tight textures. They’ll be sure to reward you with plenty of springy, exquisite styles.
What is the Best 4C Hair Care Routine?
Keeping in mind the particular tendencies & needs of your 4C hair, these are our recommendations for caring for your curls.
Follow these wash tips to protect & elevate your natural curls:
- Wash sparingly. Overwashing can dehydrate your 4C hair, & you want to retain as much hydration as possible. Aim to wash your hair no more than once a week—but you can also wait up to four weeks. Use a product like PATTERN’s Hydration Shampoo for a soft, moisturizing lather that can gently remove hair product buildup & dirt.
- Wash in sections. Give every section of your hair unique attention to minimize the opportunity for those coils to tangle. They’re like best friends sitting at the back of the classroom & ignoring the teacher—they love each other so much, they just have to be separated.
- Condition often. Be sure to condition every time you wash, & don’t be scared to skip the wash & stick to conditioning only. Our deep conditioner is specially designed for tight-textured hair like 4C curls.
- Use a wide-tooth comb to do some in-shower detangling after you apply the conditioner. Using a tool like our Wide Tooth Comb, work from the ends up to the root to tease apart tangles. If your tangles need an extra assist, apply a product like the PATTERN Detangling Nectar to help you with a finger detangle beforehand.
- Always remember the Leave-In Conditioner. Keep the hydration in your hair with this final wash step. Our Leave-In Conditioner for curly hair can help your 4C hair stay supple & moisturized & keep your curls bouncy & happy.
Your gorgeous, tight-textured type 4C hair can be styled in so many breathtaking ways. Remember these tips while you style to keep your curls looking & feeling their best:
- Use the LOC method. The letters LOC stand for leave-in Conditioner, oil & cream (try our Styling Cream for curly hair for an otherworldly crown). Apply these products in this order to your hair after a wash to ensure ultimate hair hydration.
- Choose protective styles. Certain hairstyles are ideal for keeping your 4C hair hydrated & safe from damage. Try heat-free styling methods & remember to keep your ends concealed. There are many easy protective hairstyles to choose from that can help keep hydration in your hair & promote length by preventing damage to your ends.
- Use silicone-free styling products. Silicones in hair products essentially waterproof your hair, keeping each hair strand dehydrated. To ensure any nourishing ingredients you apply don’t just sit on top, skip the silicones.
- Embrace your natural beauty. Your 4C curls are stunning. Let them shine as often as you can. Take your hair down from its styles when it’s time, & give it the care & hydration it needs before it begins to yearn for moisture.
Now that you know the best way to keep your type 4C hair healthy, let’s look at some of our favorite ways to style it.
What are the Best Protective Styles for 4C Hair?
Protective styling methods can keep your hair hydrated & minimize breakage. From wraps to braids to knots, you have endless options to choose from when it comes to:
- Head wraps are an excellent short-term, versatile, protective style for all curly hair types. Turn to head wraps when you want to add personality to your high puff or keep your hair covered. Be sure to choose silk scarves & wraps, since cotton can dehydrate your hair.
- The world of braids is wide & exciting. From butterfly locs to classic French braids, cornrows to a braided bun & everything in between, braids can protect your exquisite curls from damage.
- Bantu knots are a gorgeous traditional protective hairstyle. These stunning, eye-catching twists protect your 4C curls & have spiritual significance. They are powerfully symbolic & are a heavenly expression of the sacredness of your hair.
The protective style possibilities for your hair are endless. As you style, always remember to use curly hair products to keep your 4C natural hair feeling nourished.
How Should I Style My Natural 4C Hair?
We want to see your crown shine. When it comes to 4C curls, we have a few juicy ideas for helping your hair flourish:
Choose the right cut
Some cuts are better than others when it comes to keeping curls voluminous. A side-part bob can keep your 4C curls bouncy & carefree—but feel free to ask your hairstylist for more recommendations.
Dry it by plopping
This heat-free method of drying your hair can lift your curls & keep them luscious. By skipping the blow dryer, you can also protect your delicate pattern from any unnecessary damage.
Pick volumizing styling products
Curly hair stylers like our Curl Mousse can give your curls weightless lift & hold. For the ultimate uplift, forego the oil & go straight for the mousse. Just remember to balance your voluminous days with protective, hydrating ones to keep your 4C curls healthy & happy.
Condition your ends
If your roots are feeling heavy, keep the conditioner to your ends & mid-lengths. Always be sure to wash & condition with a proper shampoo & conditioner for curly hair, like our Hydration Shampoo & Intensive Conditioner.
Whether you style your hair protectively or cue up the curls, be proud of your naturally delightful 4C hair. Your irreplaceable style (and a fine-tuned care routine) is what makes this hair type truly stand out from the rest.
Cherish & Nourish Your 4C Hair with PATTERN
Your coils inspire us to reach new heights. When you embrace your authentic beauty, you show the world that it’s worth it to be proud of who you are.
At PATTERN, we love every type of hair—especially curls, coils & tight textures. That’s why we developed products to help every curl defy gravity.
Our Detangling Nectar can make your after-shower routine a no-sweat experience. But if you’re starting your 4C routine from scratch, we’re here to help. The Tight Texture Starter Bundle has everything you need to keep your curls hydrated & happy.
Cleanse, detangle, style & protect your 4C hair with PATTERN products designed just for you.
Allure. How to Figure Out Your Curl Type. https://www.allure.com/gallery/curl-hair-type-guide
PATTERN Beauty. Curl Guide. https://patternbeauty.com/pages/curl-guide
Hey Curls. How To Care For 4C Hair Texture https://www.heycurls.com/blogs/thehue/how-to-care-for-4c-hair
Byrdie. The History Of Bantu Knots Is Important To Know. https://www.byrdie.com/bantu-knots-history-5214601
4C Hairstyles. Protective Hairstyles For 4C Hair. https://4chairstyles.com/protective-hairstyles-for-natural-hair-growth/
PATTERN Beauty. Different Types of Braid Styles for Curly Hair. https://patternbeauty.com/blogs/news/different-types-of-braid-styles-for-curly-hair
PATTERN Beauty. How To Achieve Voluminous Curls That'll Last: 6 Simple Hacks. https://patternbeauty.com/blogs/news/how-to-achieve-voluminous-curls-thatll-last-6-simple-hacks