Hair Type 4 can be described as very curly or kinky. It poses unique styling challenges, but can be very attractive and healthy once you learn how to manage it. This hair type is most common among African American, biracial, and multiracial people.
Type 4 hair tends to be very tightly curled or kinky with a visible curl pattern. The hair is wiry and can range from thin and fine to quite thick and coarse. This hair type tends to be much more fragile than others due to the fewer layers of cuticles. The sparse amount of cuticles means that the hair will not tolerate excessive combing, blow drying, or other heat treatments as well as other types. It simply has less natural protection and will become damaged easily. When dry, this hair type can shrink losing up to 75% of its length. This is why it is so rare to find women with visibly long kinky hair. For example, hair pulled straight may reach mid-back, but left curly it appears at a chin length.
How to tell if you have Hair Type 4
Curly or kinky hair is very tight curls usually densely packed together and is Type 4. Hair is often finely textured. Kinky hair is fine to coarse very tightly coiled hair that shrinks up to 75% of its actual length. The hair is densely packed and is very wiry and fragile. It is easily damaged because it has fewer cuticle layers and has less natural protection. Normal care from brushing, combing and blow drying can damage hair.
- 75% shorter when curled than when worn straight
- Very fragile and prone to breakage
- Very susceptible to frizzing
Subcategories of Hair Type 4
Hair Type 4 has three subcategories. Type 4a has a defined S curl pattern much like other curly types. It retains more moisture than the other subcategory and has a tightly coiled appearance. Type 4 b, meanwhile, has a less defined curl pattern. The hair bends at sharp Z angles as opposed to coiling like type 4a. It is very dry and feels like cotton when touched. Type 4c simply means that you have 4b hair, but with almost no curl definition.
Celebrity Styles with Hair Type 4
Celebrities who sport style 4a include Macy Gray and Monique Coleman. Singer Erykah Badu has an incredible natural hairstyle created with her Type 4b hair. Jill Scott also stylishly shows off long 4b locks.
Tips for Growing Natural
Growing type 4 hair naturally can be intimidating, as not many people are brave enough to let their hair be itself. If you are used to excessively styling and/or straightening your hair, these tips can help you transition to natural locks without chopping it off.
- Find a transition style. Figure out a way to style your ‘do in order to blend the two very different textures. This might be a Bantu knot out or a twist out.
- Comb hair when wet. Use a wide tooth comb to work out knots while hair is wet and slippery with conditioner. Detangling dry hair is a recipe for breakage.
- Lock in the moisture. Keep heat usage to a minimum and deeply conditioning hair on a regular basis.
- Be gentle with your hair. Do not use styles that yank the hair near your temples as this area is usually finer and more prone to breakage. Also recognize the weakness of the hair at the transition point between your two textures.
- The transition phase can be rough, but natural type 4 hair can be really amazing.
Not everyone wants to have this kind of hairstyle, so straightening and relaxing this hair type is a common alternative. Choosing to force curly hair to be straight, however, is difficult and expensive. Though not as common as it used to be, this