Haircare 101 for type 4 hair

More often than not, there is an overwhelming bunch of information online telling us how to care for our type 4 hair which can often cause unnecessary confusion and stress. Luckily for you, we have put together this comprehensive post detailing the most important facts and tips that you need to know to care for your naturally coily and kinky hair.

What is type 4 hair?

Generally known as coily or kinky hair, type 4 hair has a tight curl pattern with each strand forming tight s’s, z’s or coils (think of the spring in a pen). Whether you have type 4A, 4B or 4C hair, this hair type has many different hair densities and levels of porosity (the hair’s ability to absorb and keep moisture) which changes the way your hair behaves towards water, products and even to hairstyling.

The main qualities of type 4 hair are:

  1. Hair can experience extreme shrinkage after a wash or even in humidity.
  2. Hair is very dry, fragile, and brittle and often suffers from frizz and fly-aways
  3. Hair struggles to absorb, hold and maintain moisture and often requires rich moisturizing products to help nourish the hair
  4. Due to the tight curls and coils, hair is prone to tangles and can break easily if not detangles correctly.

Because type 4 hair is so fragile and dry, it is important to make sure that you are caring for your hair correctly in order to keep it healthy and strong. We also recommend cutting down on heat styling tools, chemical treatments and any colour treatments as these can cause the hair to dry out and even break.

So, what should your hair care regime look like?

Daily hair care

While it might seem like a lot of effort to maintain your hair daily, doing a few simple things every day can increase your hair’s strength, leaving you with healthier hair in the long run.

Detangle

Because the tight curl pattern in your hair can cause the strands to wrap around themselves and cause knots, it’s important to gently comb through your hair with a wide-tooth comb. Do it at night or in the morning to keep your hair tangle-free. It is also very important to do this step while applying leave-in-conditioner to your hair.

The easiest way to do this without causing damage to your hair is to separate the hair into 3 or 4 pieces, working with each piece to gently comb and apply your leave-in-conditioner. If you don't have any, then apply a very light layer of coconut oil to the ends of your hair to prevent split ends and any moisture loss.

Oil the scalp

Because type 4 hair is prone to dryness, it makes sense that your scalp will be dry too. Before bed (or even in the morning), apply a small amount of pure coconut oil or olive oil to your fingers and gently massage your scalp on the areas where it is mostly dry. This not only keeps your new hairs and the hairs close to your scalp moisturized, but helps to promote blood flow to the scalp, inspiring healthy hair growth.

If it is too cold to add the oil as it is (like in Winter), then feel free to gently heat the oil over a bowl of boiled water before massaging it into your scalp

Cover your hair with a bonnet

Before sleeping, make sure that you protect your hair so with a satin or silk hair bonnet. Sleep it not just sleep when you have a head full of curls, kinks and coils as one wrong move in your sleep is enough to cause damage and breakage to your hair. Covering your hair with a bonnet before bed helps to preserve your hair’s natural curl pattern and helps to keep the moisture in your hair. Sleeping in cotton or polyester can dehydrate your hair of its oils and moisture, which can leave you waking up with dry, dull, frizzy and super knotty hair.

If you can't get your hands on a sleeping bonnet then try to sleep on a silk pillowcase. While your hair won’t be completely protected, you can sleep better knowing that your hair won’t be getting stuck in your pillow as you sleep, causing breakage and split ends.

Weekly hair care

Even if you are unable to care for your hair on a daily basis, make sure that you at least do a weekly hair care treatment to ensure that your hair is healthy and nourished.

Pre-shampoo your hair

Before doing your weekly hair wash, be sure to “pre-shampoo” your hair with a heavy oil or nourishing hair masque. For coily and kinky hair, we love products containing coconut, olive or castor oil as they help to deeply nourish and condition dry and brittle strands. Pre-shampooing your hair also helps to prevent your hair from losing out on too much moisture during your wash and ensures that all tangles and knots are out of your hair before you shampoo. Be sure to wash your coily and kinky hair with sulfate, silicone, and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner since these additions can cause your hair to become dehydrated, dull and brittle over time.

Adopt the LOC method after washing

Known as the “Liquid, Oil and Cream” (LOC),  the LOC Method is a technique used to help moisturize dry, frizzy and damaged natural hair. This method details the exact order in which your hair care products should be applied for bouncy, defined and healthy natural hair.

The LOC method is especially important for curly and kinky hair since hair is naturally depleted of moisture and needs the extra few levels of hydration that can only be achieved by the LOC method.

So, how do you do the LOC method?

Start by gently sectioning your hair and spraying the hair with water from a spray bottle. If using, then apply your leave-in conditioner to all of your hair ensuring that the ends of your hair are properly covered in the product since this is where the majority of split ends are.

Once you have completed the first step, apply a light layer of oil to each section of your hair, being careful not to overdo it since this can cause product build-up. For high porosity hair, we recommend products that contain olive or castor oil. If you don't have any products containing those oils, then feel free to use the oil on its own, just make sure to warm it between your hands and apply a very little at a time.

Once the oil has somewhat sunk into your strands, apply a light layer of rich hair cream to your hair, working it through a section at a time. Feel free to slowly build-up to the desired amount of product that you want to use without overwhelming your natural hair, causing it to feel heavy and look weighed down.

Do a protective hairstyle

Once your hair is moisturized, dry and ready, be sure to do a protective hairstyle to keep the ends of your hair in good condition. Also known as a hairstyle that protects the fragile ends of your hair, a protective hairstyle helps to decrease tangling, shedding and breakage of the hair. This hairstyle is known to hide the ends of your hair from exposure without leaving them in a detangled state. The easiest way to achieve this style is by doing Bantu knots and buns. Whatever you choose, make sure that the ends of your hair are gently tucked in under your hairstyle.

Deep condition

While you can get away with doing this every 2 weeks or so, we recommend deep conditioning your type 4 hair at least once a week for best results. By deep conditioning your hair, you will improve hair health, add extra moisture to your coils and kinks while ensuring that your hair is soft, bouncy and glossy. It is especially important to add a deep conditioning treatment to your hair care regime when the weather is extreme such as in summer and winter.

Monthly hair care

Perform a scalp cleanse

After a month of applying products, doing the LOC method and keeping your hair moisturized, it's also important to take a step back and set some time aside for a scalp cleanse. A scalp cleanse should become an important part of your hair care regime since it helps to clarify pores in the scalp, alleviate dryness and dandruff, and promote healthy hair growth.

The easiest way to do this at home is by using some good quality apple cider vinegar to help balance the pH of your hair and scalp. Simply mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water and pour it over your hair while working it into the scalp. After a few minutes, rinse the mix out and shampoo as normal.

Do an extra hydration treatment

While you should already be doing a deep hydration treatment once a week, once a month, do one additional deep hydration to help replenish moisture into your locks and ensure that no moisture is escaping your strands. 

There you have it, the 101 hair care guide for type 4 hair!