Is 4C a Hair Type or Dry 4B Hair?


Style Icon Kanga

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. 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?

Share Button


Empowering women of color to break barriers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

  • Afrochelle

    You’d have to use every letter in the alphabet to create a category for every type of textured hair, it’s SO diverse. IMO, 4a, 4b, 4c etc. is unnecessarily specific and ultimately meaningless (can YOU pin down the difference between 4b and 4c? Can anyone?). We should just call type 4 hair Afro-textured (everyone knows what that means), type 3 curly, type 2 wavy, and type 1 straight. That’s it.

    • BritBrit83

      @Afrochelle never thought of your suggestion and it would make the typing process very simple, but what about the type 3 curly hair that is also Afro-textured?

      • Ava

        Then maybe we can say Type 4 hair is Coily.

        • Jenga

          I think the specific typing helps. It definitely helped me figure out why no matter how much I tried, my hairstyles would never come out the same way as 4a/b Youtube hairstyles. I won’t think I have to spend a ton of money to get my hair that way. I can now focus on figuring out what actually works for my type.

  • The Mane Captain

    It is a fact that many have been able to bring their hair from the stereotyped “hard” hair to soft, pliable and moisturized hair over time. Some people’s curl pattern have even changed in the process. For me, I believe I have 4c hair, which is the reason why I can’t achieve any out style overnight. Unless I leave the style in for at least 2-3days, even this isn’t a guarantee.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the hair typing system. I think it’s necessary since there are so many different types of hair textures amongst the black community. someone with 4c hair can’t practice the same haircare regimen as a 3a hair and expect the same results. Likewise, a wash n go on a type 3 hair will look different from that of 4c.

  • Afriana

    Yes, there is such a type as 4C, as a matter of fact, I would venture to say I have type 5 (FIVE) hair and I moisturize at least twice a day. People who don’t think it exists don’t have it growing out of their heads. I’m a witness everyday that type 4c/5 hair is NOT a unicorn!

  • NCchick

    I have 4c hair and i keep it moisturized with olive and coconut oils. So I believe that moisturized or un-moisturized doesn’t matter on the type. i have bad shrinkage where when stretched or straightened my hair is at my shoulder, wash it, it is about an inch long.

  • Neenee

    I have 4c hair. My hair is not “difficult” my hair is not under moisturized. Thank you.

  • 4c girl

    I have 4c hair with 4b in the middle but my hair isn’t dry it is moisturised and it is not that hard to manage

  • Alexis

    I have 4c hair.. My sister has 4b. Our hair is very different. My hair does have a curl pattern. Each strand looks like a pen spring. Teeny tiny coils and yes they clump too.

    • Diedre viaLife

      You are of course entitled to label your hair as you find most convenient and comfortable. I however, think it’s interesting that you categorise your hair as 4C. The hair typing system is about curl PATTERN mainly and not texture. 4C is characterised for its lack of curl pattern AND kinky texture (but mainly curl pattern cuz that’s what hair typing is all about). I think your curl pattern is 4A but your texture may be more along the afro-kinky. Does that make you 4A or 4C? #foodforthought

      • Alyssa

        I’d dare to say she has a clumpy 4C texture. It’s just weird to me that clumps or definition make someone automatically a 4a when all other texture groups (1, 2, and 3) are separated by curl size (or lack there of) or curl pattern as you say. Because we know that from 3a to 3c, the curls go from bigger to larger; the amount of clumping is insignificant. However, from 4a-4c, we somehow base it on clumping (curl definition vs size). It’s just inconsistent.

    • cacey

      this describes my son’s hair. when dry it has no definition whatever. clouds come to mind. but when small sections are wet or oiled the hair clump into very tiny clumps. he doesn’t have any zig zags going on, all distinct little coils. but they’re all tinier than a pen spring. i think he’s a mix of the two but i don’t definitively know the difference bt 4b/c. So i say he’s both, with a hint of 4a around the perimeter.

  • Ivy

    4c is definately a hair type. I say this because I have seen healthy, thriving 4c hair. My grandmother has the softest hair I have ever touch (excluding baby hair). With her simple regimen of washing her hair with natural soap (Kenyan) and protecting it by keeping it in a silk scarf 24/7 (no acceptions) she has managed to maintain soft hair that shows no signs of breakage, dryness, or protein overload. Her hair has absolutely NO curl pattern… every hair does its own thing despite her hair showing every sign of hydration and moisturization.

  • Saundra

    Absolutely not. 4c and 4b hair is distinctively different. That is a fact. 4b and 4c hair LOOKS and feels different. 4b hair when wet with a curl definer will coil or curl hair. 4c hair will not do the same. Also, 4c hair has a spongy bounce unlike 4b hair is not spongy but springy. I have 4a/4b hair and it is a MAJOR difference. 4b hair when wet can form some curls but dries afro-textured. The hair system is right.

  • Mzkee

    I would not be surprised if the author if this post isn’t 4b or 4c. I’ m sure if it ! Why? Bc there’s a very distinct diff in 4b and 4c hair. If 4c is dry 4b hair wouldn’t that imply that 4c and 4b hair looks the same dry?! Which they def don’t. And I hate ppl who say they hate the hair typing system. Usually Ppl who don’t have 4b 4c hair. If it weren’t for the hair typing system most would have gave up their journeys for lack of know knowledge and being able to find related hair types. I can’t just type in natural hair in the search engine, or YouTube and expect hair types like mine to pop up! Thank god I can literally type in 4c hair ect.. Bc if it wouldn’t for the system I wouldn’t know what to do with ‘my 4c hair’ and feel so alone.

  • Soraya

    I have all 3 hair types and both thick and thin strands on my head. I’m not a fan of labels, but if I had to label my hair there’s definitely 4c sections as well as 4b and 4a. I treat all of my hair the same way so I don’t see how this theory would work tbh.

  • Victoria

    I think defining the hair type and texture have been really helpful to women ,that way they could identify it and See which products were better fit for their haïr. To me the limit is the lutter. In my opinion, It should not be limited to 4C. But there is as many type of hair as there exist individuals that makes the différence.

  • Melissa

    the hair typing system is confusing as hell. I thought I was a 4b however when my hair is well moisturized I have curls. They are tinier than the 4a definition but they are distinct curls. I think everything after 4a gets lumped into no definition or the mythical z shape (rarely have I come across it) but there is way more going on.

    • Alyssa

      Yes, I need a pic of zigzag curls, too! Lol

      I find it strange that in the 4 group, the only difference is whether the hair clumps or doesn’t. In all other groups, it based on curl diameter/size. Why don’t they keep it consistent? I’ve seen ppl with teeny tiny clumped coils and others with larger clumped coils… they’re both 4a? *shrug*

      I kind of wish A. Walker would fix or update his typing system. I don’t think it’ll get every type, but it could definitely be better.

  • jl

    I never got into the ab or c of the hair type system. its difficult and your 4a doesn’t look like everyone else’s 4a hair. I simply say I am a type 4 which is kinky hair. so much easier and to the point. I also don’t do the “i’m a 3b in the back and have a patch of 4b in the front and smedge of 2c in the middle. i see this all the time and it clear the person is just one type all around.

  • Denise

    I don’t know what I am either. When I wash it and add oil it still shrinks to frustration….yes frustration and when I moisturize it with KNOT TODAY and MISS JESSIE BUTTERCREAM (expensive!!!!) and twist it….I’m in love. I think I’m 4c. The shrinkage pic is a week after the twist out.

    • SecretShopper

      You’re 4b

  • Aliyah

    I have 4a hair mix with some 3c I would say 4c is really kinky no curl pattern and 4b has a zig zag pattern but still kinky . I describe my hair as coily because that’s what it is .

  • Aliyah

    Also that’s my hair in a wash in go just water moisturizer and oil added . I didn’t do a twists out .

  • Aliyah

    This is my friend Chantilly I would say she has 4c kinky hair .