4A Hair : How To Style And Take Care Of It

The best way to highlight your natural 4A locks is by accentuating their look with subtle accessories.

Reviewed by Meredith Boyd, Licensed Cosmetologist Meredith Boyd Meredith BoydLicensed Cosmetologist facebook_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc linkedin_icon Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , BA Anu Pallavi BA linkedin_icon

Many of us find it difficult to distinguish between the different types of textured  curly and coily hair. Also known as type 4 hair, textured hair has the curliest structure. Today, we will discuss 4A hair! There are three types of 4 hair – 4A, 4B, and 4C.

4A hair type has a perfectly-defined, loose spring curl structure

4B hair has a tighter zig-zag curl structure. The curls are a bit tightly wound but still fluffy.

And 4C hair is the coiliest hair type – the curls are tight and spring-like.

Let’s begin with 4A hair type. Keep reading to learn what 4A type hair is, how you can take care of it, and different hairstyles you can try! Keep reading to discover everything about 4A.

protip_icon Before You Get Started
  • Cut the 4A curls in layers. Layering adds movement, instantly opens up the face, and gives a voluminous hair look.
  • Ideally, you should get regular trims after every six to eight weeks. It will make the curls look healthier and more defined.
  • 4A hair is versatile. Styles such as twists, Bantu knots, and braids don’t manipulate the hair and prevent breakage.
  • Use the right kind of shampoo and conditioner to nourish your hair. Mild, sulfate-free, and hydrating products work wonders for 4A hair.

What Is 4A Hair?

4A hair has an ‘S’ shape and is tightly coiled. These cylindrical coils are quite defined and are the width of a pencil. They are also stretchy. 4A hair has a cork-screw texture that retains moisture well but is still prone to dryness. It is tighter than 3C hair though the two get mixed up more often than not. This is because, sometimes, 4A opens and seems looser than it is, thus looking like 3C hair.

While all scalps need to be cared for, 4A hair requires a bit of extra attention. Scroll below for some tips for proper 4A scalp care.

How To Take Care Of Scalp Health For 4A Hair

  • Maintaining healthy 4A hair involves following a few dedicated care tips for the scalp:
  • Use gentle sulfate-free shampoos to prevent irritation and stripping of natural oils from your scalp.
  • Focus on massaging the scalp while washing to help enhance blood flow and reduce product buildup.
  • Regular deep conditioning treatments can help combat scalp dryness and maintain moisture content.
  • Scalp massages with natural oils like coconut, jojoba, or olive oil stimulate circulation and nourish the scalp.
  • Protect your scalp from friction and environmental stressors by covering it with a silk scarf or bonnet while sleeping and stepping out.
  • Minimize heat styling and opt for protective hairstyles to reduce stress on the scalp.

While all scalps and hair types need maintenance, caring for kinky hair takes time, and it is imperative to have a regular hair care regimen. 4A hair has a well-defined curl pattern, which is why most women choose a wash n’ go look. But you need to maintain your hair to be able to flaunt it. Here are a few tips to get the best out of your luscious curly locks.

How To Take Care Of 4A Hair

  • Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize!

This cannot be stressed enough. If you have kinky hair, hydration is a priority. As this hair type is prone to get dry, it results in hair breakage and damage. The natural hair’s oil from your scalp cannot coat the entire hair strand due to its shape. So, moisturize your hair regularly.

“Healthy hair starts at the scalp,” says Meredith Boyd, a licensed cosmetologist. “Washing your hair every 7-10 days is optimal for coily locks. Try incorporating an exfoliating shampoo once a month to invigorate blood flow and wake up the hair follicles for a gentle deep cleansing that won’t strip the hair. Then, use a sulfate-free hydrating shampoo on the second wash to moisturize the hair. Gently rinse out with water. Make sure it is not too hot to reduce the risk of heat damage.”

Don’t wash your curly hair every day. Shampooing every day can strip your hair of its natural oils. Use a cleansing conditioner to cleanse your hair without stripping it of its moisture. Additionally, deep condition your hair. Your hair health depends on it.

Keep some clean water in a spray canister to spritz on your hair from time to time. On a similar note, Marian Lynae, a YouTuber shared her experience of how she takes care of and maintains her 4A hair. She said, “Starting with freshly washed hair, you all know I do not use towels, so I am taking a cotton T-shirt (i).” She further adds, “I enjoy working in sections, it just makes everything easier.” The vlogger also stated that she uses a spray bottle to drench her hair and then applies a leave-in conditioner to get defined curls.

  • Heat Protectant

Your hair gets damaged easily from heat. So, use a heat protectant whenever you are heat styling your hair. Apply it just before you curl or straighten it. Also, let your hair air dry sometimes or blow dry your hair on a low setting.

If you use a blow dryer, use a diffuser with it. It spreads the heat evenly through your hair and defines your curls.

If you keep straightening your hair, over a period, you will lose the natural hair texture.

  • Shampoo And Conditioner

Use a cleansing shampoo. These shampoos make sure that your hair is clean without stripping it of moisture. You can also use sulfate-free shampoos.

Use shampoos that are specially made for damaged hair as curly hair dries out fast.

Limit the number of times you wash your hair in a week. Try not to wash it more than twice a week. Also, wash your hair with cold water as it locks in the moisture from the conditioner.

Conditioning your hair is critical. Use a deep cleansing conditioner if you have too much build-up on your scalp and hair.

Deep condition your hair. Curly hair gets dry faster than straight hair due to its coils. Deep conditioning your hair helps moisturize your hair. Apply conditioner to your hair just before you get into the shower and cover it with a shower cap. The steam produced from the hot water will help keep the moisture in your hair. Rinse afterwards with water.

protip_icon Quick Tip
When it comes to washing 4A hair, use a clarifying shampoo once a week. You can use a hydrating shampoo or a co-wash to keep your hair clean throughout the week.
  • Combing Hair

Comb your hair in sections – this prevents breakage and damage.

Detangle your hair by running your fingers through it. If you want to comb your hair, use a wide-toothed comb to do so. Detangle your hair when it is wet as it’s easier. Brushing can lead to hair loss.

Avoid hairstyles that add tension or pressure to the roots and scalp, like tight high ponytails. When using protective hairstyles like braids, make sure you don’t keep them on for too long as this can lead to hair loss.

  • Leave-In Conditioner

Leave-in conditioner is your savior that keeps your hair moisturized and fresh until the next time you wash your hair. Use a natural leave-in conditioner as it is good for your curls.

  • Use Apple Cider Vinegar

If you use extensions, dip them in apple cider vinegar and water. This will remove lye from the extensions that can make your scalp itch.

The acetic acid in ACV removes the build-up of hair products from your hair and imparts shine to it. Use it after shampooing and before conditioning your hair.

Mix equal parts of water and ACV and rinse your hair with it. ACV has antifungal and antibacterial qualities that can keep scalp infections and dandruff away.

  • Twist-Out Hair
Twist outs for 4a hair
Image: IStock

This is one of the best ways to get 4A curls to look their best. Twist your black hair, cover it in a scarf, and keep it on overnight. Remove the twists in the morning, and you’ll have amazing curls.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can twist your hair in bantu knots and wrap them overnight. In the morning you can remove the knots to get perfectly coily hair. Remember to apply a curl-defining cream before knotting your hair.
  • Oil Your Hair

Apply cream or oil that not only helps moisturize your hair but also seals the moisture in your roots. You can also use moisture hair gel, edge control cream, and mousse, but they are mainly used to style your hair.

The best oils for 4A hair are coconut, jojoba, Jamaican black castor, avocado, and almond oils as they contain tons of nutrients that afro-textured hair or kinky hair requires.

  • Coconut Oil

Massaging coconut oil on your hair can help boost scalp circulation. More oxygen and nutrients are sent to hair follicles which, in turn, helps stimulate growth. Coconut oil has natural antioxidants and nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin K, and iron.

  • Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil moisturizes your hair follicles without leaving behind any residue. It also helps the hair cells reproduce and is a great hair conditioner. It contains vitamins B and E and minerals such as silicon, copper, and zinc. It is antibacterial and antifungal, which keep dandruff at bay.

  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Castor oil contains omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids that improve blood circulation to the scalp and encourage hair growth. They also strengthen roots and nourish thinning hair.

  • Avocado Oil

Avocado oil improves hair growth. It contains oleic acid that moisturizes the scalp and vitamin D that is crucial for new hair follicles. It also provides deep moisturization and fights dandruff – thanks to the monounsaturated acids.

  • Almond Oil

Almond oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, vitamin E, and magnesium. It nourishes and strengthens your hair and is optimal for treating hair loss and damaged hair. It also imparts silkiness and shine to your hair.

While applying any oil on your hair, massage your roots as this will stimulate growth in the follicles.

  • Protein Masks

Protein masks contain high levels of nutrients and proteins that help to strengthen and restore curls. You can get protein hair masks at a pharmacy or a local beauty store.

  • Drying Your Hair

Allow your hair to air dry rather than using heating tools. When using a towel, pat your hair dry instead of rubbing it vigorously. This prevents hair breakage.

  • Care At Night

Make sure you cover your hair with a scarf at night to protect it from damage. Use a silk or satin bonnet or pillowcase. This prevents frizz and lengthens the lifespan of braids.

Now that you know how to give your 4A hair the care it needs, here are some great ways to style it.

7 Stunning Ways To Style Your 4A Hair

1. Middle-Parted Curls

Middle-Parted Curls
Image: Shutterstock

Who says curly-haired women can’t leave their hair open? This classic middle-parted hairstyle looks stunning. And the best part, curls styled this way gel perfectly with all outfits and for all occasions. It’s time to celebrate your long and luscious 4A curls!

2. Pulled Back With Headband

Pulled Back With Headband
Image: Shutterstock

Why spend time styling your hair when you can look trendy with a simple headband? This look is perfect for lazy days when you don’t feel like spending too much time on your hair. There are days when your 4A curls look a bit stretched out, but you don’t really want to style your locks heavily. Simply, brush your hair, then pull it back with a chic headband, and let them loose at the back.

3. Mohawk Curls

Mohawk Curls
Image: Shutterstock

Mohawks are badass, but this curly mohawk is so much more! This is one of the best hairstyles because it’s so stylish yet easy to maintain.

4. Bantu Knot Curls

Bantu knots for 4a hair
Image: Inatagram

Why leave your hair loose when you can get playful with it? This double Bantu knot hairstyle is easy to do. Divide your hair into two sections and tie them into half buns, leaving the ends to hang down.

5. High Bun With Curly Bangs

High bun with curly bangs for 4a hair
Image: Natural Hair Queen

This uber-stylish hairstyle is perfect for any occasion. Bun up your hair, leaving out some hair in front to fall like bangs.

6. One Side Clipped Hair

One side clipped hair for 4a hair
Image: Natural Hair Queen

Yes! This hairstyle is as easy as it sounds! Pin up a little hair on the side, leaving the rest of your hair free.

7. Threaded Twists And Colored Ends

Accessorizing your hair is one of the best ways to style it. Take some hair on one side and divide it into four sections (or as many as you wish). Twist each section while adding threads to them. You can use the threads to tie a knot to keep the twists from unraveling. The colored ends help with face framing and make your jawline appear lean.

Infographic: 7 Tips For 4A Hair Care

Super coiled spring-like 4A hair can be difficult to manage. Additionally, using wrong styling techniques and not knowing how to take care of your 4A locks can worsen their condition. But fret not! We have compiled a quick list of tips that can help you get shinier, softer, and healthy hair. Scroll down to the infographic below to know more!

7 tips for 4a hair care (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The 4a hair type has a cork-screw structure with well-defined curls. Although this thick hair type retains moisture better than 4b and 4c curl types, it is hardly sufficient and warrants care. So, keep your hair moisturized and do not wash it every day. Also, use cleansing shampoos and conditioners to get rid of dirt without stripping away the moisture from the strands. Go for deep conditioning whenever necessary and apply oil regularly. Comb your hair in sections to prevent the strands from getting tangled and use a silk pillowcase to reduce friction while sleeping. Include the suggestions discussed above in your hair care routine and see the results for yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I condition 4A hair every day?

You may condition your hair every day or every alternate day if it gets too dry. You can use hydrating oils like coconut or castor oil to tame dry and frizzy hair.

Does 4A hair shrink?

Wet 4A hair strands tend to shrink to about 50-60% of their actual length. Fortunately, they are easy to moisturize. Therefore, use leave-in conditioners and products that will help elongate them.

How can I add volume to my 4a hair?

You can use volumizing products like mousse or foam along with styling tools like a pick, or a diffuser to add volume. You can also opt for layered cuts that do not weigh your hair down.

What are some styling tips for 4a hair during different seasons?

During winters, avoid heat styling and deep condition your hair once a week. Wash your hair with cold water and use a humidifier. In summer, use gels and creams to moisturize and co-wash often to refresh your hair.

How can I create a sleek and polished look with my 4a hair?

You can style your hair in sleek buns, ponytails, or any other style you like. The first step is to make sure that your hair is perfectly moisturized. You start by using hair gel to settle your curls and some strong hold hair spray to hold the look in place.

Key Takeaways

  • 4A hair type features S-shaped, defined curls, while 4B hair type showcases zig-zag, tight curls. 4C hair, on the other hand, displays tight, spring-like coily strands.
  • 4A hair type helps retain moisture due to its structure but is still subjected to frizziness and dryness.
  • Some maintenance tips to take care of 4A hair type are using a heat protectant and a sulfate-free shampoo, moisturizing regularly, and combing the hair in sections to prevent damage, frizz, and breakage.
4A Hair : How To Style And Take Care Of It

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Are you looking for tips to care for your naturally curly 3C/4A hair? Check out this video for a hair care routine to make your locks more manageable.

Personal Experience: Source

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Meredith Boyd

Meredith BoydLicensed Cosmetologist

Meredith Boyd is a licensed cosmetologist and an award-winning celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist with an experience of 23 years. Her clientele includes top brands like ABC, AMC, AT&T, CBS, Coca-Cola, Delta, ESPN, Golf Channel, HBO, Netflix, and Nickelodeon. She specializes in natural makeup looks for film and television celebrities, including Samuel L. Jackson, Paula Abdul, Kathleen Madagan, Jeff Foxworthy,...read full bio

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