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By Chinwe of Hair and Health

When Andre Walker’s hair typing system was introduced, there was no mention of a 4C hair type. 4A was described as tightly coiled with a more defined curly pattern while 4B was described as tightly coiled with a “z” shaped, less defined curly pattern.

Is 4C a hair type?

Fast forward to today. With the growth of the natural hair community, new hair typing systems have been created, and at least one includes a 4C type. NaturallyCurly.com builds upon Andre Walker’s system to describe 4C hair as:

“composed of curl patterns that will almost never clump without doing a specific hair style.  4c hair has been described as a more “challenging” version of 4b hair. Some say 4c looks identical to 4b except that the curls are so tightly kinked, there is seemingly no definition. 4c hair can shrink more than 75%.”

… Or is 4C hair just 4B hair that is dry?

Not too long ago, I watched a video in which a natural-haired woman – who initially appeared to be 4A/4B – described her hair as 4C.  Some of the viewers disputed her claim leading her to create a second video showing her hair in its shrunken, un-moisturized, un-conditioned state.  Low and behold, many of the viewers were now stating that she was 4C or a mix of 4B and 4C.  Amidst the audience were a group of viewers suggesting that 4C is actually 4B hair that has not experienced optimal hair care, especially when it comes to moisture.  This woman, to them, was an example of how a great hair care regimen and adequate moisture can transform what appears to be “4C” hair into 4B.

What say you?

So I pose the question to you, BGLH readers.  What is 4C hair?  With the right hair care regimen can naturals who claim to be 4C actually be 4B? Or is 4C truly a hair type of its own?

What is your definition of 4C hair?

Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more!
http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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104 Comments on "Is 4C a Hair Type or Dry 4B Hair?"

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bri
Guys, we have what I call “chameleon hair” as in it can pretty much look like any and every type under the sun! My hair, for example, when styled in a wash n go looks like its firmly in the 3’s. Right after I wash it? It looks like a straight type 4 haha~ So why worry about if 4c is actually another hair type but w/o moisture? Depending on where you are in your hair journey, your regimen and your UNIQUE hair and body properties(health,scalp condition, nutritional deficiencies,moisture levels internally,etc), your hair could be any type, but look like… Read more »
sam

I believe that 4C is an actual hair type. I am a new natural. However, I have curls ranging from 3C to 4C. I have a pretty good hair regimen, and judging off of my experiences w/ freshly washed and conditioned hair, there are front sections of my hair that fit the description of 4C. while the rest of my hair will be all curled and clumped up, the front of my hair, even when soaking wet, won’t clump up nor show any type of curl pattern

Jessica

I am the same way, Sam- Most of my hair has a very defined curl pattern, however the sides of my head and a random patch on top of my head ranges from straight to wavy…the section on the top of my head also has the lowest porosity, however even though I baby it and try to infuse it with as much moisture as possible, I STILL cannot get it to curl the way the rest of my hair does

Jas

No. I definitely have 4c hair. It never clumps together even while wet. And I would say that I take care of my hair.

Lexibugg

Sorry jas, love that was notmeant as a reply to you my ipad is janky, lol

Lexibugg
I can only speak of my own experience, but what i considered my hair type to behas changed over the course of my natural hair “journey”!!! Even while relaxed my hair was dense, tightly coiled and i could visibly see it began to shink once it became anything less than soaking wet. There was no clumping and it behaved and appeared as if each strand or two was its own individual curl they were also about the size of a spring inside of a pen. My hair was stiff, felt wiry and fro’ed with ease.Based on those characteristic i assumed… Read more »
Caramelcurls
Does it really matter? There will forever be an endless debate about what exactly is 4a/b/c hair, and in all reality it doesn’t matter. Even if you can identify a group of women as 4b or 4c, no two heads of hair will be the exact same. There may be similarities, but that’s it. Hair texture has SO much more to do with curl diameter/size; density, thickness, and so many more factors come into play. The bottom line is finding the right products for YOUR head of hair to keep it healthy and moisturized, and most importantly embracing the hair… Read more »
Jessica

I totally agree CaramelCurls….actual curl pattern has nothing to do with your hair texture and even less to do with how to care for your hair. THe only time that it is relevant is if you are concerned curl definition…for some it is a matter of just wettng and moisturizing, others stick with braid outs and twist outs…this letter/ number system is really only helpful when to styling

au napptural

I think that’s true for some people, but I have a friend with a beautiful fro. I always thought she was combing out the definition, but as it grows I see there are no curls to define! It’s like straight hair almost, only it grows up. On the other hand, I’m a 4b. My hair can look like it has no curls, but only when it is over-stretched or intensely dry. When moisturized it’s ultra-curly/coily.

Carmelicious
I am not an expert either but I do believe that the more you hydrate and moisturize the hair, 4C would eventually be 4A. Using the “right” products can also turn 4C hair into 4B or even 3C! For instance, if you have to detangle your hair for a long period of time after you wash, you are using the wrong shampoo. If your conditioner does not give you “slip” (smooth detangled hair), you are using the wrong conditioner. You MUST use products for black hair, or products that are made for you. Forget the Suave or Mane and Tail,… Read more »
cacey

please don’t tell ppl not to use mane n tail and suave. i swear by suave pro sleek as well as mane n tail conditioner, as those are the ONLY products i’ve ever used that have made my coarse crown hair smooth as butter, completely dissolving tangles. no supposedly expensive “natural” brand of product has accomplished for me what those bad-ingredients-ladled condishes have.

Vee
All Hair should be moisturized, and drinking (preferably) water, if not it, then liquids will keep you hair hydrated. I can say that if your hair has a natural curl pattern it will ALWAYS have a natural curl pattern as it grows out. If your hair DOES NOT have a curl pattern, no matter what you do no matter how many products you layer on, no matter how much you pray and techniques you use, you WILL NOT have curls if your hair does not come with curls in the first place. No matter how much you moisturize, 4c hair… Read more »
Mocha Dier

i see ur point, but once u wash ur hair out and no products are in it, it will revert to its original state…

Carlyfanjaxfan
I don’t know about all that. Lol I’m 4b with a sprinkling of 4a and when I was chasing curls, I’d do something I called the “curl exposing technique” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hzR1ZRSf3c every other day-30 minutes of pre pooing with mini baggies all over my head, another 30 minutes with mini baggies of a dc concoction, then finally the final 30 minutes with mini baggies of my conditioner. *sigh* And, I will be darned my 4b hair did turn to 4a *without* any product in it BUT when I stopped the technique it was right back to 4b hair! **Long story-short, I… Read more »
Nicole
I know I am not responding to the question asked above and quite frankly I just don’t know. I however wanted to make a comment on my natural hair. I personally cannot categorize my hair as a 4 anything. My hair In my opinion, in the state that it grows out of my head starts out as a 1. My hair starts out curly kinky straight. How can I then categorize how my hair grows naturally then as a 4 anything? A 4 or something farther from that is what my hair would become in an unnatural state. For example,… Read more »
LaNeshe

I think there is definitely a difference. I consider my hair to be 4b but I have friends who are 4c. Their hair even when moisturized or soft does not have an innate curl pattern unless coaxed with gel.

LBell
Seriously, guys? It wasn’t that long ago that people were saying 4b hair was unmoisturized 4a hair… I’ve been participating in online hair discussions since before “3c” was a thing so I’ve witnessed the evolution of both “3c” and “4c” as hair classifications. They were created precisely because the Andre typing system was so limited. Keep in mind that that system was pseudoscience to START WITH. The system that’s commonly used online now, as limiting as it is, really shouldn’t have Andre’s name associated with it without the words “inspired by” and/or “improved upon.” It’s due to our experiences and… Read more »
Jo Somebody
I agree with all of this! It’s funny because I’ve seen a few people claim their hair pattern changed when they learned to look after it properly, but that change always seems to go from 4c to 4b, or 4b to 4a. Is there a reason why looking after hair never appears to make the hair go ‘up’ in numbers and letters? And if not, why not? And what are you therefore saying about the hair at the ‘end’ of the classification? That from 4c, with care, hair can only get ‘better’? Think about it… Here’s my theory for those… Read more »
Emilia

As I read was reading this article, what you mentioned in the last paragraph was ringing in the back of my head. However, I think it is healthy that these ideologies are being discussed in the open to prevent any subliminal reactions that can do more harm than good.

silkynaps
I read a comment the other day that stated 4c hair was the most coarse type of hair. I thought, by now, we’d seen enough YouTube videos to learn to stop generalizing afro hair. Based on the chart, my pattern is predominately 4c coils. Tight, little coils. I wear a puff everyday, but there is not a single curl pattern that my hair can’t mimic without styling. As a matter of fact, I learned to puff my hair using the technique of a 3c curly. As it turns out, we have the similar density and texture. My curls are just… Read more »
Vee

Exactly! I believe that there four elements to your “hair type” texture i.e. coils, curls, waves etc., density, porosity, and texture 2, fineness or thickness of individual strands. All of these combined will help to take care of your hair. Since someone can have the exact density, texture1, density, but you have fine hair, and she has medium thick hair. So how you take care will be different than hers because of the strand thickness.

My4CHair

4C hair is real! Part of my hair curls a lot when wet and other parts have completely NO curl pattern what so ever. 4C hair in itself varies and is unique!

Carmelicious

4C hair, in my opinion, is not the only hair that varies. All hair types vary which is why hair typing is sort of silly. There are many people who have different textures all at once on one head of hair!!!!!!! It is not an exact science so just remember that.

A.J.

@ neochasez how does knowing your porosity help you? I think I have low poro hair. I have to use the l.o.c method for my hair to be moistured. Anything else doesn’t work. That’s the only way know my porosity helps me. Please share

neochasez
For starters, it took trial and error and research on the ins and outs of hair porosity to realize that I can’t simply follow a regimen catered to a specific hair category (i.e. 4A, etc.). I highly suggest reading “The Science of Black Hair” to get more information on topics such as water (hard vs. soft and hot vs. cold). I had tried to use apple cider vinegar (with water as a rinse) on hair that had been rinsed with cold water to no avail…my hair needs a warm rinse to keep the cuticles open when I still apply my… Read more »
amy

What chelating shampoo do you use? Baking soda isnt enough? I know some people use it for clarifying purposes.

Could you also detail your routine/regimen/products? Please

A.J.

thanks for your input neochasez

NenoNaturalDotCom

I find this post a little rude.

I have 4C hair and it’s not dry! I am also beginning to realise that even within 4C there different type of hair.

One characteristic I have found with 4C hair is that it behaves differently to 4A and 4B hair when it is wet, twisted or plaited so it must be different. I have 4A hair at the very back so I should know!
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Natasha

I never thought of it in this way before. I am very confused about my hair type. I could’ve sworn I was 4z before but then, I looked at some 4b girls, and said, “yes, that’s me!” then I saw some 4c girls and said the same thing! I think, because my hair isn’t very shiny, it can sometimes look like it’s 4c. So long story short, I haven’t got a clue what my hair type is but I think it’s 4c with a hint of 4b.

Kate
I definitely think the hair typing system is an area where people should tread carefully. To be fair, I’d probably classify myself as a 4C, and I do believe it is a hair type of it’s own, but I don’t think this should be an issue of debate. No two heads of hair are the same! If someone feels that they need to classify their hair in order to look after it, then good for them, and so be it. Hair typing seems to be divisive, and while it does enable people to search for hair care methods suited to… Read more »
neochasez
I’m going to take a stab at this at the risk of being controversial. Some people find hair typing beneficial, some do not. In regards to the classification of 4C hair, it — along with 3C hair — was never mentioned in Andre Walker’s book. Now I know he’s not end-all, be-all hair stylist, but perhaps is there is something to be said that it wasn’t included. Nevertheless, my hair looks and functions differently according to the moisture level of my hair. I went natural before Mr. Walker unveiled his classification, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t helpful in figuring… Read more »
Ak

Could you please let me know what vid this is? I’d like to see what her moisturizing routine is.

coffeeandfingernails

Can’t say I’m an expert but since I first went natural 3 years ago, as I’ve developed better habits and discovered better products my texture has changed dramatically. More definition, less shrinkage–definitely a big enough difference to qualify as a different “type” of hair all together.

Also, when I first saw the video from Naptural85 you guys posted a few days ago, I thought, cute but my hair is tighter/less manageable than hers. Then I saw she describes herself as 4a/4b, same as me–so clearly still have a ways to go regimen-wise.

stephanieb

I hear ya, I feel the same way, I’m a 4a/b/c and I see others with the same hair types and their hair is so thick, long, healthy, and moisturized. I know that I do have a ways to go though, since I did the big chop several weeks ago, but I can say that I have seen some improvement in my hair.

Caramelcurls

coffeeandfingernails: You can “step up” your regimen, and by all the products in the world, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean that your hair is going to look like Naptural 85’s. Just because she describes her hair as 4a/b and you can describe yours the same, doesn’t meant that your texture is going to mimic hers. Food for thought…

coffeeandfingernails

Fair point–and I really have no complaints with my hair as it is now. But seeing how dramatic the difference has been as I’ve taken better care of my hair makes me think I might be able to get a wider range of looks with even better habits.

Amber

Also keep in mind that the longer our hair gets, the looser our texture can appear. My hair texture feels different now than it did a year ago and I’m since Naptural85 has pretty long hair now, hers has loosened from the weight as well.

Jesse

Absolutely. If one looks at Whitney’s (Napturl85) old videos, you can see her short hair had very tight coils. Her long hair still has tight coils, but the added weight and the different stretched styles makes her hair look elongated.

Vee
I was going to add that! My friend has a similar hair texture to mine, which are both 4c hair, hers is longer than mine, and most people would say that she has 4a hair because of her length. It’s past her back almost waist length. Her coils are much looser, and she always wears her hair in braids, so her braid out looks like a wavy slightly coily braid out. Mine is only to my nose, so still really coily, but I have noticed that my twist and braid outs are more wavy and coil up more the longer… Read more »
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