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What Is 4C Hair?

What is 4C Hair?

In 1997, hairstylist Andre Walker gave a numeric grading system to define human hair. He divided hair into four major groups according to different hair textures, that is, 1 for straight, 2 for wavy, 3 for curly, and 4 for intensely curly or coily hair. He further divided these categories according to the coil variation in each type. The Andre Walker system classified afro-textured hair as type 4C hair. So basically 4C hair type is a type of hair that is found mainly in Africa. 

However, afro-textured hair is difficult to categorize as there are a lot of variations in every individual’s hair texture. It has been seen that genetic variation is the main reason behind the vast difference found in human hair pattern, texture, density, volume, and color.

Although according to scientific research, a single gene can not be blamed for the way your hair looks, it depends on several genes passed by your biological parents.

But it is believed that black hair of African origin tends to differ in some chemical compounds found in human hair and this could be the main reason that gives 4C hair its well-known pattern and texture.

4C Hair Texture


4C hair texture is similar to 4B hair texture but 4C hair is even more tightly coiled. The 4C hair pattern is usually zig-zag but it is so tight and detailed that it’s almost invisible unless seen closely.

And sometimes it’s not even a zig-zag but a very tight ‘O’-shaped pattern (also known as kinky-coily pattern) that gives 4C hair an enormous volume and sponginess.

The 4C hair type has the highest shrink rate that is up to 75% and they are naturally dry hair. Therefore you should apply a leave-in conditioner or leave-in moisturizer for 4C hair care. Black castor oil, red palm oil, or cocoa butter curl stretch pudding are some great options if you have to manage your 4C hair.

But it is difficult for anyone to identify your hair type due to the variety in every individual’s hair pattern and texture. So if you are wondering “what is my curl type” here are all the types of hair texture explained in detail for you as this can help you understand your hair needs better.

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Types of Hair Texture

The type of your hair texture mainly depends on the type of hair follicle you have. If your hair follicles are more flatter or oval-shaped then you tend to have more curly hair. And if your hair follicles are more circular then most probably you have straighter hair.

It is also possible that you have more than one texture in your hair. For example, some people have a combination of curly and wavy or kinky and curly on their heads. But let us stick to the Andre Walker approach to define your hair type and that is as written above. Type one straight, type 2 wavy, type 3 curly and type 4 kinky coily. So let us start with type 1 hair

Type 1 Hair : The Smooth And Straights


Straight hair is categorized as type 1 hair. So we can say, naturally pin-straight hair is the real OG type 1 hair. These straight locks appear smooth and shiny in texture. Also, they are usually thinner or finer than other hair types. 

Mostly type 1 straight hair do not have any curls or kinky pattern but they can have slight waves. Therefore type 1 is further divided into 3 categories which are as follows

Type 1A:

Type 1A hair is baby fine, pin-straight hair. Natural type 1A hair is very rare to find as these are straight from root to tips and usually have no volume or body.

Type 1B:

1B hair is not as flat and straight as 1A hair. The strands are medium in thickness giving more body than type 1A hair. Also, it is not quite rare because most women with straight hair have this type of hair.

Type 1C:

Type 1C hair is the most desired hair type as it perfectly lies on the verge of being straight and wavy. In this hair, type hair strands are usually thicker and coarse as compared to  1A and 1B hair giving the perfect volume and ability to hold curls when styled.

Type 2 Hair : The Curvy Waves


Type 2 hair is the perfect combination of straights and curls as this lax and fun hair type is neither as straight as type 1 nor as curly as type 3, it is just somewhere in between. This hair type is known as wavy hair as it mostly has the letter ‘S’ shape waves naturally. And to go even deeper in these waves let’s see the subdivisions of type 2 hair which are as follows.

Type 2A:

Type 2A hair is the straightest and softest in all type 2 hair categories. It basically has a letter ‘C’ shaped wave closer to the head and the hair strands are quite thicker than type 1 hair but also not that thick to carry the weight of loads of hair products.

Type 2B:

Type 2B hair is frizzier and less straight than 2A hair and has more defined and visible waves that form a letter ‘S’ shape naturally. 

The strands are thicker and voluminous than 2A and can be styled easily.

Type 2C:

Type 2C hair has tighter and more defined waves that start right from the roots and go full length to the tips of the hair. 2C waves are more like loose spiral curls that is why this hair type is said to be the beginning of curly hairs. 2C hair has a lot of volumes and is quite thicker in all the type 2 hair categories but also this is the type that is the most frizzy of them all.

Type 3 Hair: The Bouncy Curls


Type 3 hair is the naturally curly type. Like I must have seen Shakira’s natural curls. Although the density and size of curls vary in their subtypes. People usually think that this 3rd category of hair has thick, tough to manage hair but surprisingly enough type 3 hair is fine and easy to style hair.  

The only thing that one has to care about type 3 hair is that this type of hair is drier in nature as compared to type 2 and type 1 hair.

Following are the categories of type 3 hair.
Type 3A:

The Type 3A hair has those beautiful old-school Shirley Temple locks that naturally curl up into loose soft curls. These curls appear shiny and smooth in texture; also sometimes it is seen as a mixture of curls and ‘S’ shaped waves. The hair strands are thick and heavy as compared to type 2 hair and the size of curls is the largest in all type 3 hair.

Type 3B:

The type 3B hair has tighter and naturally defined curls that form a pigtail shape. The size of the curls is, though smaller than 3A hair curls but still big enough to define each curl apart from the other. These heavenly curls look smooth and soft though but can get a little bit frizzy if not taken good care of. 

Type 3C:

The type 3C hair has the most tightly curled up hair of them all in the type 3 hair category. The curls are smaller in size and are of the shape of a corkscrew. The thick hair strands remain tightly packed together in this kind of hair and get quite frizzy if not maintained properly.

Type 4 Hair: The kinky Coilies


Finally, the type 4 hair has the most tightly packed coily curls of them all and the curls are not loose and defined as in type 3 hair but are coiled up together to form bunches of hair. This hair type has the most texture with its zigzag and criss-cross patterns. The hair strands are quite a lot thicker as compared to any of the hair categories above but in some type 4 hairs, the density of hair on the scalp can be below.

Following are the categories of this 4th category of hair.

Type 4A:

The type 4A hair has the most defined curls in the type 4 category as they naturally form dense ringlets curls beginning right from the roots. The size of curls is the largest of them all in this 4th type of hair category which can be of the diameter of a pencil. Yes, quite small in size but still biggest in their own category. These curls are springy and bouncy in nature but tend to be dry and dull if not taken care of properly.

Type 4B:

The type 4B hair has quite tightly packed Z-shaped kinks and S-shaped coils. The hair strands are quite thick but packed together that makes the curls look less defined than 4A hair. The texture of this hair is quite dry as the natural oil can not get to the lengths of hair due to the pattern of this hair.

Type 4C:

Finally, the last part of this hair list is type 4C hair which has the most loosely defined or you can say next to undefined curls. The curls are tightly coiled and packed together in a Z  shape. The curls are so small that you can hardly see them therefore they are more referred to as kinks or coils rather than curls. And the length of all type 4 hair drinks due to this coily pattern especially in the 4C hair where the length of hair drinks the most

There isn’t much difference in the texture of 4C and 4B hair so the two can not be quite distinguished if we go into the debate of 4B hair vs 4C. But still, when looked closely, 4B hair is more defined than 4C hair. But the problem of dryness remains the same in both 4B & 4C hair as both need moisture and care.

Following are some tips to take care of your 4C hair

How to Take Care of 4C Hair?

4C hair is quite dry in texture as the kinky coily pattern of hair doesn’t allow the natural oils of the scalp to go down the hair lengths. So they need a lot of moisture or it gets frizzy easily and becomes hard to manage. Therefore it is suggested that you should take extra care of 4C hair. And should always apply leave-in moisturizer or hair oil after washing. You can also try some moisturizing hair masks to make hair a little extra smooth and shiny. 

Also, it is suggested to towel dry 4C hair instead of blow dry or air dry as it can make your 4Cs dry and frizzy. Use a microfiber towel or cotton cloth to dry your hair after washing. This post-wash care is very important for your 4c hair to look perfect.

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, hopefully, all this information about 4C hair and all the other types of hair helps you find your hair type so that you can take good care of your beautiful locks. And if you have those beautiful rare 4C hair then this article will surely help you better understand what is 4C hair and what its needs are.

Frequently Asked Question ( 4C Hair )

  • What Does 4C Mean In Hair?
  • How Do You Know If You Have 4C Hair?
  • What Is 1C Hair?

    1C hair is a subdivision of type 1 hair. 1C hair is usually straight but a little wavy. It is the type of hair that lies perfectly between straight and wavy hair. 1C hair strands are thick enough to style but finer than type 2 hair.

  • How Do You Know Your Hair Type?

    If your hair is thin and straight that means you have a hair type somewhere in type 1 hair and if your hair is wavy or curly and thicker then it tends to lie somewhere between type 2 and 3 and if you have thick coily hair then your hair type is type 4 hair, according to the Andre Walker hair system.

  • How Do I Know If I Have 4C Or 4B Hair?
  • How Can I Make My 4C Hair Grow Faster?
  • How Long Does 4C Hair Grow In A Month?
  • How Often Should 4C Hair Be Washed?

    4C hair should be shampoo washed once or twice a month and co-washed in between because 4C hair is dry in nature and shampoo washing too often can make your 4C hair look frizzy and drain away from from from the natural oils.

  • Can You Change Your Hair Type?
  • What Is The Difference Between 4B And 4C Hair?
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