How To Care For And Style Type 4C Hair

What exactly is Type 4C Hair?

Type 4C hair is the ultimate in tight curls. Boasting a super coily zig zag-pattern, these tight, springy curls are so compact and fine in texture that they create a dense, full-bodied look with a lot of natural volume.

4C hair is the curliest of all the curly hair groups.

Curly girl with tight curls

Do I have Type 4C Hair?

Identifying whether you have type 4C hair involves observing your hair's curl pattern, texture, and overall behaviour. 

4C hair typically has tight kinks and coils.

They are prone to shrinkage. If your curls have a very tight zig-zag pattern right from the scalp and experience significant volume with minimal definition unless styled, you most likely have 4C hair.

Identifying 4C Hair

To identify 4C hair, when in its natural state (unstyled and dry) look for a tightly coiled curl pattern that is less defined and ‘fuzzy’. 

More prone to shrinkage (up to 90% of its actual length!!) The texture of 4C can range from fine and thin to wiry and thick. Additionally, 4C hair tends to be more delicate and requires gentle care to maintain its health.

  • Your hair is dense. 
  • Your hair strands have a zig-zag pattern
  • Your curls loop together so tightly that you can only see the strands when you’re up really close.
  • Your natural hair rocks a ‘fro’ like no ones business
  • When braided or ‘twisted out’ your hair stays put - type 4C hair is really versatile
  • Breakage and shrinkage are unfortunately your biggest challenges

If this all sounds too familiar, you probably have 4C curls.

How is 4C different from other Type 4 Hair?

Type 4C hair is different from other type 4 hair categories mostly due to its tightness of coils and shrinkage level. It often has less natural definition and needs more moisture and protection to prevent breakage. Its densely packed coils make it the most fragile of the type 4 family.

4C Porosity and Texture

Understanding Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is a critical factor in determining the health and care routine for your hair. It measures your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture, which influences how well oils and moisture pass in and out of the outermost layer of the hair, known as the cuticle.

Diving into the Science of Hair Porosity!

To assess your hair's porosity, conduct the water test by placing a strand of clean hair in a bowl of water and observe how it reacts. Depending on whether the hair strand sinks or floats, you can determine if your hair has high, normal, or low porosity. Once you know your hair’s porosity, you can style and look after your hair accordingly.

The Three Levels of Hair Porosity:

  • High Porosity

    High porosity hair has cuticles that are widely spaced or have gaps, which allows moisture to be absorbed into the shaft easily but also means it's lost just as quickly. This can lead to frizz, tangles, and quick drying after washing. While this type of hair can easily accept moisture and treatments, it struggles to retain it. Consequently, high porosity hair may often appear dry and damaged and may benefit from regular deep conditioning treatments and the use of leave-in conditioner and sealants to lock in moisture.

  • Normal Porosity

    Normal porosity hair has a cuticle layer that is looser, allowing the right amount of moisture to enter while preventing too much from escaping. Hair with normal porosity tends to hold styles well, can be dyed and heat-styled with minimal damage, and generally is considered healthy. This type of hair maintains a good balance of moisture but still benefits from routine maintenance such as regular deep conditioning.

  • Low Porosity

    Low porosity hair has tightly bound cuticles with overlapping scales that lay flat, making it difficult for water or moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. While it's more resistant to moisture absorption from the outside, once it's in, it stays in. This hair type tends to accumulate build-up more easily and can feel stiff or straw-like if too much protein is present. Lightweight oils and moisturisers are best for low porosity hair, and techniques like steaming can help to open up the cuticles to receive moisture.

How to Determine your Hair Porosity: The Water Test

The simplest way to assess hair porosity is through the water test. Here's how to do it:

  • Start with a Clean Slate: Ensure your hair is clean and free from products to avoid skewed results.
  • The Float Test: Fill a glass with room temperature water. Take a few strands of your hair that have naturally shed and drop them onto the surface of the water.
  • Observe the Reaction: 
  • High Porosity Hair: If the hair sinks immediately, it's highly porous.
  • Normal Porosity Hair: Hair that floats for a while before sinking has normal porosity.
  • Low Porosity Hair: If the hair continues to float on the surface after a couple of minutes, it's low porosity.

Remember, this test isn't foolproof and many factors can influence the results. For more accurate determination, consider other factors such as how your hair reacts to products, how quickly it dries, and its overall health and history with chemical processes. A holistic approach that considers these aspects along with the float test can provide you with a better understanding of your hair's porosity and how to care for it effectively.

What is the Texture of 4C Hair?

The texture of 4C hair is often coarse or wiry, though it can vary from person to person. This Afro-textured hair exhibits a dense, full-bodied appearance and is distinct from the hairstyle known as a 'fro.

  • Fine Texture:

    Fine hair is the most fragile, with a tendency toward oiliness. Comprising only two structural components — the cuticle and the cortex —fine hair can be quickly overwhelmed by heavier styling products. Light gels and mousses are recommended to avoid weighing it down. For maintaining a healthy scalp a washing frequency of every 2 to 4 days is recommended to keep the overproduction of oil at bay. Fine textured hair is more prone to accumulating oil, however bear in mind that Type 4C hair is the driest of all types and some natural oil will help maintain its overall health- it’s the ultimate balancing act.

  • Medium Texture:

    A notch more substantial than fine hair, medium texture carries a stronger, more resilient framework and may include an additional protective layer. This added strength allows medium-textured hair to retain styles with ease. To preserve the natural oil balance and prevent the strands from becoming dry, a wash schedule of every 4 to 5 days is optimal. During wash intervals, the scalp's natural sebum sufficiently conditions curls, keeping them hydrated, if you feel like washing will only strip these oils, maybe push out your wash day 1-2 days longer.

  • Thick Texture:

    The most durable of the three, thick hair texture possesses all three layers — the cortex, cuticle, and the innermost medulla — providing robustness and extended style retention. While it's more tolerant to heat styling, it also demands more drying time. Because of its superior moisture retention capabilities, a weekly wash is typically all that is needed to keep thick hair in good condition.

    *It's important to note that while thicker hair may tolerate heat better than finer textures, the naturally drier nature of type 4C hair means that minimising heat exposure is still advised to maintain hair health and prevent damage.

Hair Texture Simplified

Within 4C hair, there are variations in texture from fine to thick, each requiring different care strategies. Fine hair, being more prone to oiliness, needs more frequent washing, while thick hair retains moisture better and can handle less frequent cleansing.

Caring for your 4C Hair

To care for 4C hair, focus on gentle washing techniques, deep conditioning, and a pre-poo regimen to protect the hair before shampooing. Heat usage should be minimal to avoid damage.

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Moisturising + Hydrating your 4C Hair

Deep Conditioning Treatments

Incorporate regular deep conditioning treatments into your routine to infuse your 4C hair with the necessary moisture and strength.


Deep conditioning enhances the hair's elasticity and moisture retention, leading to less breakage and healthier curls.

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The Benefits of Oil Treatments

Oil treatments can seal in moisture and fortify the hair's natural lipid barrier, improving overall health and shine.

How to Use Oils:

Apply oils to damp hair to lock in moisture or to the scalp to stimulate and nourish hair follicles.

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4 Essential Care Tips for 4C Hair

To maintain the integrity of your 4C hair

  1. Avoid harsh chemicals 
  2. Establish a protective sleep routine with silk or satin coverings 
  3. Opt for air drying. 
  4. Develop a post-shower routine that minimises manipulation to preserve your curls' natural pattern.


Embrace hairstyles that protect your ends and maintain moisture. Consider cuts that work with your hair's natural volume and density, allowing for both expression and manageability.

Nurture your 4C Curls with LOHY.

At LOHY, we're dedicated to providing tailored solutions for the unique needs of 4C hair, supporting your journey to vibrant and resilient curls. For more information on products, accessories or curl education, reach out to us and one of our friendly team will be in touch!


Every curl type deserves to flourish! This section will address common questions and provide helpful  insights into caring for 4C hair types. 

How often should I wash my 4C hair?

Type 4C hair typically benefits from less frequent washing to prevent it from becoming too dry. Generally, washing every 1 to 2 weeks is recommended. However, this can vary based on your lifestyle, scalp health, and the products you use. Listen to your hair’s needs and adjust accordingly.

What are the best ways to moisturise 4C hair?

Moisturising 4C hair involves regular use of water-based products followed by oils or butters to seal in the moisture. Deep conditioning treatments every week, using leave-in conditioners, and layering with a sealant like shea butter or castor oil are great practices. Also, drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy diet contribute to overall hair hydration.

Can I use heat on my 4C hair?

While you can use heat on 4C hair, it’s important to do so sparingly and always with a heat protectant to minimise damage. Because 4C hair is prone to dryness and breakage, frequent heat use can exacerbate these issues. Opt for low heat settings and consider heat-free styling options whenever possible.

What are the best protective styles for 4C hair?

Protective styles for 4C hair include twists, braids, bantu knots, and cornrows. These styles tuck away the ends of your hair and minimise manipulation, helping to protect your hair from breakage and retain length. It's important to not install them too tightly and to continue moisturising your hair even while it's styled.

Why is my 4C hair always dry?

Type 4C hair may often feel dry because its tight coils can make it difficult for scalp oils to travel down the hair shaft. To combat dryness, incorporate regular deep conditioning, use a daily moisturiser or spritz, and seal in moisture with oils. Also, ensure that you’re protecting your hair from the elements and not over-cleansing it.

How can I define my 4C curls?

Defining 4C curls can be achieved through techniques like finger coiling, twist-outs, or braid-outs. Using styling gels or creams can also aid in curl definition. Remember, each head of hair is unique, so curl definition will vary from person to person.

What ingredients should I look for in products for 4C hair?

Look for products that are rich in hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, honey, and natural oils such as coconut oil, rosehip, and jojoba oil. Additionally, ingredients that strengthen hair, like protein,  can be beneficial when used in moderation. Avoid harsh sulphates, parabens, and mineral oils that can strip or weigh down your hair.