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What’s the Difference Between 4A, 4B and 4C Type Hair?

 By Tiffani Douglas

Knowing your curl pattern is the key to a healthy, curly crown. With its fragile nature, different types of curly hair require different types of routines. Though many people think that curly hair, is just that - curly hair. There are actually three distinctive curly hair types all within just the type 4 hair category. Type 4 hair is the most common type of Black hair. Though each is a little different, all Type 4 hair is extremely fragile, dry and prone to breakage. Type 4 hair is grouped into three categories based on the kind of curl pattern it forms. These categories are 4A, 4B, and 4C, and we're going to take a look at the uniqueness of each one.


Which Type 4 Curly Hair Are You?

Type 4A, 4B and 4C all require moisture treatments and continuous maintenance, but each hair care plan is unique based on your type. Do you know yours?



Type 4A Hair

Type 4A hair is coily or tightly curled hair that can look coarse but is actually very soft and delicate. Type 4A hair type has lots of tight coils and forms an “S” pattern when stretched. It has a clear, well-defined curl pattern, and it tends to look darker than it really is because it has a high density, which means that it’s usually very thick.



Here's how to know if you have Type 4A hair:

  • Easily breaks because it has very few cuticle layers, hence, no natural protection.
  • More prone to dryness than other Type 4 hair types.
  • Retains moisture well.
  • Less shrinkage than other hair types.
  • Wash and go styles are ideal for this hair type.
  • Sulfate-free shampoos and rich, creamy butters are great for this hair type.

Product recommendations: Creme Brule Whipped CURL Cream, Creamy Curl Cleanser


Type 4B Hair

Type 4B hair does not have a clearly defined curl pattern, and it's soft and fluffy. Its tight coils form a "Z" shape, and it resembles a zigzag shape with sharp angles, which makes this hair type extremely prone to dryness. Because of the zig-zags, the hair’s natural oils may never make it to the ends on this wild ride down the hair shaft.

Here’s how to know if you have Type 4B hair:

  • It’s fluffy like cotton.
  • Curls aren’t well defined, so you’ll have to work to bring out your curl pattern.
  • Even more prone to breakage because of its sharp edges.
  • Requires a lot of moisture and care.
  • Can see shrinkage up to 70% of its length.

Product recommendations: Blueberry Bliss CURL Control Jelly, Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask


Type 4C Hair

Type 4C hair has the tightest, coily-est curl pattern, and because it too can look like cotton, it's often mistaken for Type 4B. It's densely packed and can range from soft to very coarse.

Here’s how to know if you have Type 4C hair:

  • More tightly coiled that other Type 4 hair textures.
  • Even more susceptible to dryness because it’s so tightly coiled.
  • Requires tons of moisture.
  • Can see shrinkage up to 75% of its length.
  • Protective styles are great for 4C – the less manipulation the better.

Product recommendations: 92 Mineral Glow ConditionerMoisture Magnet Sea Moss Curl Cream

Share your hair type and tips on how you take care of your Type 4 hair, and check out www.curls.com for more all-natural products for curly hair.