Everything You Need to Know About 4A Hair

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How well do you know your 4A hair? Whether you think you know it pretty well or you’re still not 100% positive you have the curly hair type, we’ve got exactly what you need. The guide below discusses how to care for, how to style, and the best products for 4A hair. Be sure to bookmark this page, because you’ll be referencing it regularly.

4A hair type guide | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Getty)

What Is 4A Hair?

The first of the type 4 hair types, the curls tend to be kinky and coily. Your ringlets tend to be fairly tight, though they have a defined S pattern when pulled out. Those with the curl type also tend to have a coarse hair texture. Dove hairstylist Cynthia Alvarez tells Popsugar, “Type 4A is very tight and small curls, very wiry and fragile. When you stretch them, they get super long.”

Your curls are also somewhat soft and delicate, though sometimes coarse and thick. Due to the tightness of your curl pattern, your hair is prone to shrinkage. It often tends to break easily and be fairly dry, but the good news is it does retain moisture well. You just have to care for your coils properly. Don’t worry, we’ll get into that in just a second.

One of the best features of type 4A hair is its versatility. You can rock various hairstyles, from beautiful afros to defined twist-outs. However, maintaining 4A curls requires a specialized approach, as this hair type tends to be more prone to dryness and frizz. But it's nothing that a curly hair care routine can't help manage.

3C vs 4A vs 4B Hair

Distinguishing your hair type from 3C hair and 4B hair can be a bit tricky. When it comes to 3C hair, the curls are a bit larger and not as tightly packed as 4A curls. Additionally, type 3C curls tend to be a bit bouncier, while type 4A coils are denser.

Some also mistake 4A for type 4B hair. The difference between 4A and 4B hair types comes down to the curl pattern. While 4A curls have a defined S pattern, 4B ringlets have a Z pattern. The 4B curls are a bit more angled and bent, with a pattern that is tighter and less defined than 4A curls.

3C vs 4A vs 4B hair types | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Getty)

4A Hair Care Routine Tips

We know you’ve likely already heard this, but your hair type does require an extra bit of care and attention than some of the others. A good hair care routine is the foundation of healthy and beautiful 4a curls. That being said, once you’ve determined a routine that works best for your natural hair, everything will fall into place and your curls will be allowed to thrive. We have a few suggestions on how to get started caring for your 4C hair type.

1. Use a moisturizing shampoo.

Yes, you should be shampooing your hair type. We know there is often the idea that you don’t need to, but you need to. Sorry to burst that bubble. You can get away with shampooing once or twice a week, depending on what works best for you. However, make sure you use a moisturizing shampoo. Look for ones that are sulfate-free as well so they won’t dry out your curls. Even a cleansing shampoo is a great option, given it gently helps remove buildup without stripping your strands or scalp of their natural oils.

2. Add a deep conditioner to your wash day routine.

Again, you need a ton of moisture. Your curls soak it up rather quickly so be sure to introduce a deep conditioner into your weekly hair care care routine. They’re especially great to use after you’ve shampooed your hair—any moisture that was taken out will be put back in tenfold with this product. Deep condition your hair with a hair product containing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera.

3. Try heavier hair products.

Butters and creams will really benefit your curls. Other hair types tend to need more lightweight products, but you need ones that will penetrate your tight ringlets to keep them nourished and hydrated throughout the day. Don’t be afraid of a heavier product, we promise it’s exactly what your 4A hair type needs.

4. Limit your use of hot tools and chemical treatments.

The more often you use hot tools for styling and subject your strands to chemical treatments, the less likely they are to be healthy. So limit heat styling and treatments as best you can. If you absolutely must style your curls with heat, make sure the setting is on low and you drench your ringlets in a heat protectant.

5. Be gentle with your curls.

On the same wavelength as the above point, it’s critical you’re gentle with your coils. They are incredibly fragile and require you to treat them with the tender loving care they deserve so they can thrive. When your hair gets tangled, be gentle in your detangling process. Also, avoid wearing tighter hairstyles too often. They’ll only further damage your hair.

How to Style 4A Hair

Hair care is the foundation of healthy hair, but how you style it also plays a role in hair health. When it comes to styling your 4A hair type, you’ll want to go with styles that can help define your curls and that won’t cause any damage. Protective styles, along with wash-and-go styles, are perfect for your hair type. Tight ponytails and twists can cause damage to your scalp though, so try out those hairstyles sparingly. All in all, you want to focus on being as gentle as possible with your coils.

The Best Hairstyles for 4A Hair

We know a few hairstyles that look great for your hair type, though these aren’t the only ones you should sport. Dare to experiment with your looks.

1. Wash-and-Go Hairstyles

As mentioned above, the classic wash-and-go style is great for you. You’ll want to ensure you add enough moisturizing products into your ringlets so that they’re hydrated all day long.

2. Braid Outs

Braid outs are a great option to add more elongation to your ringlets, given they’re prone to shrinkage. They also tend to cause less frizz than twist-outs, which is why we recommend them for your hair type.

3. Space Puffs

You’ve got the hair, show it off with these adorable space puffs. They can be styled any which way and you can even toss in a few accessories if you feel so obliged. We really love this style on curlier hair types, it’s so darn cute!

4. Bandana Updo

Toss your curls up in the ever-so-defining pineapple hairstyle. Then, adorn the updo with a bandana to really make it pop.

5. Highlights

Not so much a hairstyle but rather a hair color, we love seeing perfectly placed highlights in 4A hair. They really showcase your curls in a way that is unlike any other. Give your coils the pop of dimension they need with some highlights during your next salon visit.

The Best Products for 4A Hair

There are a number of products that will benefit your 4A hair type. Really, it will come down to a little experimentation. However, we have a few staples everyone with 4A hair needs to add to their haircare routine.

1. Tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo

Tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo 4A hair products
(Image Source: Ulta.com)

Your tightly-packed coils need an extra dose of moisture and this shampoo is here to give it to them. Formulated with amla oil and coconut oil, the sudser gently cleanses your curls while working to reduce breakage and increase moisture retention.

2. Ouidad Coil Infusion Triple Treat Deep Conditioner

Ouidad Coil Infusion™ Triple Treat Deep Conditioner 4a hair products
(Image Source: Ouidad.com)

As we mentioned, the hair strand of 4A types tends to require a deep condition. Crafted specifically for all type 4 hair types, this incredibly moisturizing deep conditioner can bring the driest, most damaged, dehydrated curls back from the brink of death. Packed with good-for-curls ingredients like black castor oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, apple cider vinegar, and peppermint, your coils will feel as good as new after every use.

3. Glow by Daye Deep Conditioning Heat Cap

Glow by Day Deep Conditioning Heat Cap
(Image Source: GlowByDaye.com)

A heat cap is essential if you want to get the most out of your deep conditioner. The gentle, calming heat opens up your curls’ cuticles to ensure the product can be completely absorbed. We love this Deep Conditioning Heat Cap from Glow by Daye because it not only gets the job done, but is ever so stylish as well.

4. Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter

Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter
(Image Source: Ulta.com)

This decadent styling butter blends pumpkin, macadamia, and olive in a nutrient-rich almond milk base to nourish and elongate coils while styling. It’s essential for those days when you’re throwing your hair in a twist-out or braid-out.

5. Pattern Wide-Tooth Comb

Pattern Wide-Tooth Comb
(Image Source: PatternBeauty.com)

With coils that tend to get knotted rather easily, working through them with this wide-tooth comb is the best way to go. You can even use it on wet or dry hair to work through any kinks in your curls. And the best part is it won’t cause any further damage to your 4A hair type.

Embracing Natural Hair

Embracing your natural curls goes beyond just managing your hair. The curl pattern and hair texture of the 4A type make it unique and beautiful. And for that reason alone, it's worth celebrating and embracing. Let your curls be a reflection of your authentic beauty.

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