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.
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.
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
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
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.
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…
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!