According to hair experts, 4c natural hair is considered one of the most fragile hair types. This is because 4c curly hair grows out of the head in a tight, zig-zag shape that can leave strands susceptible to breakage at their weakest points.
For optimal health and growth, naturalistas with 4c hair should invest in the right hair care products and formulate a foolproof hair care routine.
For example, when shopping for hair products, pay attention to whether or not the product is formulated for your hair’s porosity.
What is hair porosity? Well, porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture, and also refers to “how well oils and moisture pass in and out of the outermost layer of your hair, [also] known as the cuticle” (Cobb).
Here are the three types of porosity:
- Low porosity: Cuticles that are close together
- Medium porosity: Cuticles that are less tightly bound
- High porosity: Cuticles that are more widely spaced
Shampoos made specifically for low porosity hair will be formulated to get in between those tight cuticles, with the goal of reaching your hair’s cortex.
Alternatively, products formulated for medium or high porosity hair will help your strands to hold on to moisture and inhibit it from slipping out of the cuticle.
With the right hair care products and knowledge about how to use them, your hair will be healthy and grow long and strong!
Continue reading to learn more about the 5 key hair products to incorporate into your 4c natural hair care routine.
1 - Shampoo
Shampoo is the crucial first step for healthy 4c hair. Shampoo works to cleanse the hair and remove the buildup, dirt, or other oils that may be clogging the hair follicle.
Contrary to popular belief, naturalistas should not fear shampoos! There are tons of sulfate-free, organic, and natural shampoo options on the market today, especially ones that have been formulated specifically for your 4c hair type.
2 - Rinse-Out Conditioner
Next up on the list of must-have products for curly hair: conditioner. Perhaps the most important product for your 4c hair, a moisturizing rinse-out conditioner will help to restore moisture into your hair following the shampoo, and keep your tresses juicy and hydrated until the next wash day!
Pro tip: Silicone-based conditioners may be a good idea for your hair pre-straightening as they leave a protective coat over your cuticle, but avoid using conditioners with silicones on a regular basis in order to allow the cuticle to open up and let the moisture in!
3 - Deep-Conditioner/Masks
We already know that 4c hair can tend to be dry and brittle due to the structure of the hair strand. That’s why naturalistas can benefit from consistent deep conditioning.
In terms of consistency of the product, deep conditioners will tend to be on the heavier/thicker side. This is because they work to moisturize and soften on a deeper level, and are often meant to be left on the hair for longer time than a rinse-out conditioner.
By contrast, masks tend to repair or restore facets of the hair that have been damaged by over-styling or chemical/heat processing. For example, protein masks are popular because they work to restructure the bonds in your hair.
4 - Leave-in Conditioner
A great leave-in conditioner will keep your hair hydrated until your next wash day. A leave-in conditioner can also be used as a styling product, to help define your 4c curls and to tame frizz or flyaways.
To protect your precious curls, avoid leave-in conditioners that may contain alcohol or sulfates in them, as these agents are often added to styling aids to increase drying time!
Pro tip: Work in the leave-in conditioner with water to use less product and increase slip to aid in styling!
5 - Hair Oils
For 4c hair types, two categories of oil work best.
First, we have nourishing oils. Nourishing oils contain vitamins, fatty acids, and tend to be thinner in consistency. Their lightness increases their absorption into the hair strand (Carol’s Daughter). Nourishing oils you should try include coconut, avocado, or olive oils!
If you have high porosity hair, listen up! Sealing oils tend to be heavier and work brilliantly to lock in, or “seal,” the moisture in your hair. Sealing oils you should try are Jamaican black castor, grapeseed, or jojoba oils!