What Is Type 4 Hair?

What Is Type 4 Hair?

The question I used to ask myself back in the day when I first started researching characteristics of my hair was, “What is type 4 hair?”. I kept wondering what the point was of hair “typing”, but I think I really just wanted to know that I fit in somewhere and I needed to know that my hair wasn’t a “freak of nature”. Guess what? I learned a lot!! So, are you a type 4 natural? Keep reading to find out.

Characteristics Of Type 4 Hair

There are different levels of type 4 hair and there is a hair typing chart (seen below) that shows the curl pattern of each level, which ranges from A, B and C… some naturals have even taken it a step further and called their curl pattern type 4 Z, though I’ve never seen that on a chart anywhere.

What Is Type 4 Hair?

As you can see, the hair chart includes all textures, from straight to kinky. Of course, as you can tell by the title of this post and by the focus of my content, I’ll be focusing on type 4 hair only.

Loves Moisture

What Is Type 4 Hair

Any type 4 lady (or gentleman) will tell you that their hair thrives on moisture and any natural whose hair isn’t getting adequate moisture will be extremely dry.

This means that water (the ultimate moisturizer) is something you’ll want to expose your hair to on a regular basis.

Moisture is important because of the shape of our curls and kinks (I mean, come on, look at how tightly our strands are curled around each other!).

Type 4 hair has so many bends and loops and zig zags that it makes receiving moisture harder than those with straight hair or looser curl patterns. Lack of moisture leads to excessive dryness which leads to BREAKAGE.

It Grows Up, Then Out, THEN Down

What is type 4 hair

It took me a while to get used to this once I shaved my head bald and my hair started growing back. I was so used to my hair growing downward when it was relaxed that when my hair began to get longer I found it frustrating that it wouldn’t lay flat.

In my opinion, I don’t think type 4 hair is meant to be slicked back with a gel attack, but to each their own, right? Just keep in mind that while the weight of your strands will eventually lead gravity to pull your hair down once it’s long enough, in the meantime you’ll be dealing with hair that likes being seen and likes to be up and out.

Of course, you can use products to make your hair do whatever you want it to (that’s the magic of type 4 coils!), but in its natural state, type 4 hair likes to reach for the stars.

Teeny Tiny Curls

Even 4c hair has a curl pattern, but they’re usually so small and clumped together that it may seem like the curls are non-existent. Add a bit of humidity or water to the mix and POOF! You’ll have yourself a full on fro.

Even in all of its frizzy glory, type 4 hair HAS A CURL PATTERN, and guess what? Type 4 hair naturals can also have a combination of curl patterns and textures on a single head!

Likes Things Simple

What is type 4 hair

Most naturals that have reached a length beyond armpit length will tell you they keep their routines simple. In the past, I always thought the longer my hair got, the more I would need to do to take care of it, but it’s actually the opposite. It just seems like you’re doing more because it’s now taking longer to do it.

Simple routines seem to be the magical potion when it comes to hair growth and length retention, but that’s just been my observation over the years. I’m sure I’ll put this theory to the test in the future, because if that’s the case then I definitely want to let my hair grow out and stop with the scissor assault.

It May Not Need To Be Trimmed As Often

Again, just a theory, but type 4 hair doesn’t seem to need to be trimmed as much but it seems to be the case only when you have a consistent routine that consists of proper moisture and protein balance.

I think trimming schedules is just a personal preference that is set by your current hair goals. If you want to retain length (like I do) then you’ll likely want to trim only when needed, while other naturals want perfect ends or to even out their hair (or keep a shape) and they’ll usually get a trim to keep things on point every few weeks.

Either way, trimming eventually has to be done, just don’t do like I’ve been doing and end up cutting more than you need to just because you’re paranoid about getting split ends, which is more of a problem for high porosity hair.

It’s Versatile

I don’t need to tell you all the different things type 4 hair can do. When done properly, it can be straightened with a flat iron, stretched, twisted, braided, flat twisted and so on!

This has to be one of my favorite things about my kinks. I know I can pretty much rock any style as long as I get the technique right. I’m ashamed to say though, I’m still trying to learn how to flat twist and do cornrows. I’ve yet to master that but as soon as I do, I’m not gonna have to worry about being bored with my natural hair, and neither will you!

So, What Is Type 4 Hair? To sum it up…

It’s fantastic!

You must have seen that coming, right?

Sure, it can be frustrating when you’re just starting your natural hair journey, but once you find what works for you, you’ll be able to do so much more with it and find comfort in knowing that not only is your hair capable of a multitude of styles, it can also gain lengths just a long as other nationalities!

What are some things you’ve found to be true about your natural hair that have helped you in your journey? Share your experience below!

Aria Len

Sharing my natural hair journey with hopes to inspire you to find what makes your hair happy in order to reach your hair goals.

20 thoughts on “What Is Type 4 Hair?

  1. Hi Aria, I love your article about hair and wonder if you have any particular product you would suggest. Not for me but for my two children; they are a lovely mix of Italian blood with a Jamaican dad and their hair is kind of type 4 A looking at your chart. I do my best to keep them moisturized as they definitely need more attention than mine but is there any particular suggestion you would give? thank you so much

    1. Hi Barbara!

      When it comes to moisturizing type 4 hair, you’ll want to layer their products. Start with a leave in conditioner that has water listed as the first ingredient (my favorite is the Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey leave-in).

      Follow this up with an oil such as olive or coconut oil (a natural oil, not mineral oil) and that should help with detangling and moisture.

      Also, it’s important to pay attention to whether or not products tend to sit on top of their hair for a while or if their hair naturally seems to soak up whatever product you apply. 

      This is going to determine what order you need to layer the products. I hope this helps! 

      Let me know how this goes for you!

      Wishing you the best!

  2. Hi Aria, I patiently grew my hair out and stopped using chemicals years ago. Getting to know my hair has been a journey. After years of combing a lot, I found that this whole lot of manipulating was not the best. After 6 years now and loving my hair more and more I know that my hair seems to be kinky and  of 2 different types. While the kinks in the front are less coiled, , from the middle to the back is thick and tightly curled. All those creams and gels do nothing to make the back manageable. What I do is , after washing, use a cool blow dryer to blow it out. Only then am I able to do anything with it. Thanks for your information

    1. Hi JJ!

      You’re so right that patience is important along with finding what makes your hair happy.

      It’s so common that people get caught up in the hype of all the products that make false promises, but in the end I think it’s just about moisture and protein balance.

      I, too, have a looser curl pattern in the front, but that seems to be the only section that’s easier to manage. From the crown back, my hair gets denser and I have much tighter coils.

      I like to water rinse my hair, apply a leave in then seal with an oil at least every other day in the warmer months. I’m still adjusting my winter regimen.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience and I’m so glad you’ve found what works for you!

      Here’s to your happy kinks!

  3. Hi, I can see that you are very well specialized about hair I love my hair also but according to your post that you talked much about is type 4, don’t you have any package for any one who does not have type 4 hair and second question what can you recommend for hair to be black and shine, your post really meet my need which means it is helpful but I need answer to those question and how can I know the type of my hair

    1. I don’t mean to make you feel left out, but my experience is with type 4 hair since that’s what I have and I find that there is less information about it from bloggers and vloggers. 

      While I don’t specifically address tips and hair care practices for looser curl patterns, these guidelines can be used for all hair types since all hair varies in porosity, density, strand thickness, etc.

      If you want a natural way to darken your hair without worrying about chemicals, I’d recommend Indigo powder mixed with water and applied to your hair, left on for whatever amount of time you have to spare, then rinse, deep condition and style as usual.

      Just keep in mind that even though this is a natural method to darken your hair, you will need to apply and rinse this while wearing gloves since it may stain your hands and skin as well.

      I hope this helps!

  4. I love my type 4 hair. But it is really hard to keep it healthy. The curls love to tangle and make me crazy!!

    But I still love it, I hear using a hair steamer can help with the tangles with time, is that true?

    I have been using a straighter brush but it has caused a lot of breakage, will it be better to use a a hair dryer?


    1. I personally avoid using heat altogether (except when I go to the beach and am in the sun all day) because type 4 hair is naturally dryer than the rest of the hair types and heat just dries it out even more. 

      Using heat once or twice a year shouldn’t hurt if done properly, but using it on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis can cause breakage and heat damage.

      I would get my ends trimmed (or do it yourself if you like to roll like that) and focus less on having a straight style and focus more on protein and moisture balance.

      Your natural hair shouldn’t be tangling that much so I’m guessing it’s dry from the heat tools.

      Any product that adds water to your hair will benefit your hair by adding moisture, which reduces tangles, dryness and minimizes breakage, so I think a steamer would be beneficial!

  5. Hello Aria,

    Thank you for your blog on type 4 hair. 

    As someone with type 1 hair that does what it likes when it likes I have always wondered what it would be like to have thicker and curly hair.

    It looks like we all have our different problems with our hair depending on its type.

    Perhaps I won’t be so jealous of other types of hair now.


    1. *haha* 

      Yes, every hair type has its own set of issues.

      Plus, even within a single hair type (type 1, for example) there are so many variables to consider when choosing a hair care regimen such as hair porosity, density and even length can alter something about one’s styling methods or product choices.

  6. Most certainly I did not know what Type 4 hair was, and after reading through the article plus seeing the graphic you used, I do know now. I am a 3 a to a 3 c myself, and it can get pretty rowdy depending on where I am and what time of year it happens to be.

    In Dubai, for some reason, my hair develops a lot of curls naturally in the  Summer months, and to a lesser degree also in the Winter months. If I am in Germany during the same seasons, the hair is curly but not the tight curls that I get here in Dubai. 

    The moisturizing aspect is important here no matter what kind of hair you have. The sun, the heat, and the winds will have your hair trying to break free and fly away from the brittleness or the elements that you face day in and day out. I am sure there are some products that will help that you can recommend. 

    I am perusing your website, I just left a comment on another post you have, and I must say I want to nose around a bit more, you have an easy writing style that makes me want to find something to buy. Thanks for the education on type 4 hair, I am now hoping to find out some hints on you handle this type of hair, and maybe I can apply the hints to my own type 3 hair!  

    1. Hello again, Dave!

      Something I love about hair care is that certain tips and tricks can be used on any type of hair, it just depends on what your hair needs.

      I’m glad you’re finding the information here useful and know you can contact me anytime if you have any specific questions about general hair care and I’ll see if I can help point you in the right direction if I don’t have the answer.

      Climate definitely plays a role in hair moisture and I’m guessing one of the locations you frequent has more humidity than the other, which would explain the difference in your curl definition.

      Looking forward to seeing you around!

      Best of luck on your hair journey!

  7. Wow, I never thought that there are sort of types on my hair.

    My hair is a little bit kinky. May be type 3…

    Well, it’s very helpful article because I didn’t know how to treat them.

    It’s very truthful because this article seems that it is created from the author’s own experience.

    Thanks for the good article!

    1. Hi Shawn!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article! 

      With time, patience and a bit of research, you’ll figure out a way to take care of your strands! 

      I’m wishing you the best on your hair journey! 

  8. Hi Aria,

    Interesting article, I suspect that my hair type might be 3c or 4A. it’s quite hard to tell exactly, do you know if there is a clear difference between the two? As a man I tend to keep my hair fairly short opt for a fade of some description with my hair natural on top. Do you have any ideas for more creative hairstyles for men with 4A type hair?

    1. Nate,

      I will say that type 3 hair can have the same curl shape/pattern, but type 3 curls are usually easier to manage because they’re looser and the curls themselves are much larger and naturally more defined, whereas type 4 hair, while the curl shape/pattern may be the same, the size of the curl is about the size of a ballpoint pen so much smaller than type 3 curls which gives type 4 hair the appearance that there is no curl pattern.

      A bunch of super tiny curls clumped together gives type 4 that “fluffy” appearance. Also, type 4 hair is generally drier than any other hair type because of how small the curls are. There are a lot more “hidden” twists and turns that may not be getting moisture on type 4 heads.

      As far as more creative hairstyles for men goes… I’m a personal fan of 2 strand twists. This style can be done on shorter or longer hair. If you want shorter twists you just won’t need to grow your hair as long before having it cut back.

      Or, if this is your thing, you could have designs cut into your hair as a style. 

  9. What an insightful and well written article!  I especially like your attitude throughout that type 4 hair is something to be embraced and loved!  The chart was a true blessing to properly assess your hair pattern so as to give it the special love and attention that they type requires!

    So many who have this hair type get so hung up on the negatives whereas your article points out the positives and how they can be worked with.  So refreshing!  I love your advice about keeping things natural!

    Love your hair and nurture it and it will love you back!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this!

      It’s true, when we stop fighting our hair and “listen” to what it’s trying to tell us then provide the nourishment it needs, it will flourish! 

      I think the problem is that people are so impatient when it comes to getting desired results.

      They either aren’t sure where to start or just decide they don’t have the time or energy to put into their hair care practices.

      I find that natural hair products work better in general because it allows you to see and feel how products work (or don’t work) for your hair which helps you make better product decisions when it comes to hair care.

  10. Cool, never knew there’s a type! I guess I’m a type 2c although my mum is a type 1 and my dad is a type 4a but somehow I feel like I inherited the need for moisture part though, I can’t get enough of it. Out of curiosity, do type 4 hair people usually brush their hair, or comb it? My dad combs it I have no idea how seeing my friend can simply put the comb on his hair and wouldn’t budge 😀

    1. Riaz,

      If your hair is wavy to curly, then you probably do need more moisture!

      Type 4 hair can be brushed (particularly when styling an updo) and it can also be combed, the only difference is that type 4 hair must be dampened with water or a water based product to be able to comb or brush it. 

      Otherwise, it’s too dry and will break if you dry style.

      I hope this helps clarify things! 

      Thanks so much for stopping by and I wish you the best with your hair care!

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