Your hair is one of the most important aspects of your physical and aesthetic well-being, and everyone (no matter what age or gender) feels better when their hair looks good. Getting and keeping good looking hair is another matter entirely, particularly when it comes to African hair which is usually falls into the hair type classification known as type 4. In this guide, you will learn about simple methods and techniques that can be used to achieve and maintain healthy, good looking hair.
Type 4 hair typically has coils and curls, and individuals with type 4 hair can have different hair densities and porosities (how the strands absorb moisture) both of which influence the way the hair behaves in terms of manageability and appearance.
A few general characteristics of type 4 hair are as follows;
- It often feels dry, and has trouble with holding on to moisture, hence the dense thick quality of the Afro
- Type 4 hair experiences a phenomenon known as shrinkage where it can be reduced by up to 75% of its actual length, until it is stretched, and voila, magic happens!
- It tangles easily and breaks very easily which can make styling a hassle, but this is why this guide has been put together for you!
We will look at a few topics which will be familiar to you if you have African type 4 hair, and how to get the best of your crowning glory in simple, repeatable steps.
Kinky hair has tight curls and is very prone to dryness because coily nature of the strands makes it difficult for the sebum (oil) that is naturally secreted by the scalp to be evenly distributed along the hair shaft. Imagine a car trying to get through traffic in zigzags as opposed to doing so in a straight line; challenging, right? That is exactly how type 4 hair feels with getting moisture, so it needs a little help, in the form of a good moisturizer.
The job of a good moisturizer is to hydrate and nourish the hair from within, and if it can keep the moisture in, then its as good as perfect. I find that the denser the hair the more it benefits from a thicker moisturizer, so Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter work great in this regard. Even better are thick water-based creams which hydrate and seal giving the hair all round moisture infusion which also facilitates hair growth.
If you are reading this, you are most likely familiar with the tangling skills of kinky coily hair. Regular detangling is necessary to keep things in order, especially if your hair isn’t in a protective style, or if you just took down a style. Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, a good conditioner to provide slip and prevent snagging, and remember to be gentle. We are trying to get smoother hair, not broken strands. Last tip; don’t do this too often, once every few months or between long term protective styles is fine.
If you are African, you are probably familiar with the term “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, as far as hair is concerned, cleanliness is next to curly fabulousness, and the only way to get your hair really clean is shampoo. Depending on your lifestyle, you may need to wash your hair daily, or you may be able to get away with quarterly wash days. It is entirely up to you, but a few tings to consider are whether you sweat on your scalp, if you get build up from product use, and the density of your hair.
There are so many shampoo options that can be confusing, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything with sulfates, parabens, etc. A quick Google search will tell you more about that, cowashing which is the use of a conditioner instead of a shampoo is a gentler, more moisturizing approach, which is beneficial to thirsty hair. If you use a lot of product, a clarifying shampoo is a good choice every few washes.
Final wash tip; part your hair into 2 or more sections, and wash, condition and rinse in sections. This will prevent tangling and breakage and will make the whole process way less stressful.