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An Ultimate Guide to 4B Hair Type: Care Tips, Styles, and More

January 4, 2023

 by

Verna Meachum

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 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by Verna Meachum

Despite the debate surrounding hair typing, recognizing your curl pattern can be incredibly beneficial in terms of discovering which products are suitable for you.

Without knowledge of your hair type, it is both time-consuming and troublesome to identify what works best with your strands.

4B hair type is a unique curl pattern that requires specific care and styling techniques. Hair textures falling in the 4 range (4A, 4B, 4C) are often deemed as unmanageable or difficult to care for.

Nevertheless, contrary to this belief these types of hair can be incredibly versatile and easy to style with the right products and techniques!

Whether this is all brand new to you or something that’s already second nature for you, no worries; we’ve got it all sorted out!

Our ultimate guide to 4B hair type is here to give you all the care tips, styling techniques, and product suggestions you need to love and care for your beautiful, natural locks.

Though we understand that every head is unique, this guide can be a great starting point in helping you figure out the best methods and products for 4B hair. Even if your texture and porosity are similar to someone else’s, our guide will assist you in finding what works best for YOU!

It’s all about getting started then experimenting to find out what works best for you!

Hair Typing System

Andre Walker hair typing system: 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a, 4b, 4c.

Out of the several hair typing systems out there, the Andre Walker Hair Typing System is undoubtedly one of the best ways to categorize all distinctive textures.

The modern hair charting system may help identify how a person’s hair responds to styling. Hair types help predict and describe how different chemicals and processes might interact with hair. This system also helps us set expectations surrounding hair health, but it’s important not to confuse hair type and hair health.

The hair typing system is an effective tool to understand how a person’s mane reacts to styling aids. Knowing your hair type can help you predict the impact of chemical processes and styling methods — although it shouldn’t be confused with the hair’s actual condition or overall hair health. This system can only support in creating realistic expectations for each individual’s mane!

The Andre Walker Hair-Typing System, which goes from 1A (straight hair) to 4C (tightest coils), has made it easy to understand and care for your exact hair type.

Porosity

Image showing types of hair porosites

Considering texture, it is impossible to leave out an essential element – hair porosity. Knowing your hair’s porosity can be the key to maximizing its health. It can also help you determine which products to use and what techniques will give optimal results.

In simple terms, porosity refers to the hair’s capacity for absorbing and retaining moisture. Elasticity is another way to measure your hair’s overall strength. It refers to how well your strands can stretch without breaking.

Imagine an elastic band stretched to its limit and then released; it will rebound right back into its original shape. This same concept applies when it comes to the elasticity of your hair — the ability for it to stretch without sacrificing strength or definition.

Hair can be classified into three levels of porosity:

  • Low – characterized by difficulty in absorbing moisture. Its cuticles are packed close together and lay flat, providing a stronger barrier to keep moisture out.
  • Medium – typically a balanced porosity level which means it can absorb and retain moisture with ease. Its cuticles are somewhat raised, which is great for moisture absorption.
  • High – characterized by excessive absorption, which it can be difficult to retain moisture. Its cuticles are raised or lifted, allowing it to absorb water instantly and also dry up quickly.

Understanding your hair porosity is key to knowing what types of products and techniques to use for 4B hair.

What Is 4B Hair Type?

Image of Black woman with 4b hair.
Photo credit: Pinterest

4B hair is a form of coily hair that falls within the Andre Walker hair categorization system’s Type 4 group. It’s right between 4A (with defined “o” shaped coils) and 4C (with less defined “z” shaped pattern).

4B hair type is often described as being a mix between 4A (coily) and 4C (kinky). 4B textures are also more prone to shrinkage and require special attention when it comes to styling, conditioning, and detangling.

The coils in 4B hair are less defined because the hair bends at a sharp angle, giving it a spiky, Z-shaped look. It is also highly dense, and when a strand is tugged, it appears to double in length, thanks to shrinkage!

Due to its tight kinks, this type of hair is susceptible to becoming dry and frizzy. The bends in the hair make it difficult for natural oils to coat each strand evenly.

You can, however, maximize the shine and definition of this distinctively patterned hair type with the correct care routine and styling techniques.

How to Identify 4B Hair

4B hair is easy to spot because it is Z-shaped in pattern, has a lot of volume, and grows in a horizontal direction. This type of hair is also different because its coils are not all the same. Instead, they have sharply bent angles and a zigzag pattern.

As a result, 4B hair may appear fluffy and uneven.

It’s crucial to remember that not all 4B hair is the same, and some people’s hair may have a combination of 4A and 4C textures.

Differences Between 4B Hair and Other Hair Types

It’s easy to tell type 4 hair from other hair types, but it can be hard to tell the difference between types 4A, 4B, and 4C within the three main families. Pay close attention to the curl pattern to distinguish between these three types of coily hair.

4A hair has curls that are more defined and are usually in the shape of an O. It is more soft and loose than 4B hair.

4B hair, on the other hand, has a bent structure rather than a distinct curl pattern, which gives it a Z-shaped look. It is also more prone to shrinkage, which can give it a voluminous and fluffy appearance.

The curl pattern on 4C hair is the tightest of the three varieties, but it is less pronounced than on 4B hair. The strands are more springy and may shrink up to 75-80%. Of all curly hair types, it is the most fragile.

Caring for Low Porosity 4B Hair

To begin, it’s important to keep your 4B hair nourished by using a good conditioner or oil. This will help seal in moisture and leave you with hydrated locks that lasts for days.

Look for products that are lightweight and contain natural oils and humectants, such as shea butter, olive oil, honey, and aloe vera.

Avoid heavy oils and products that can weigh hair down and make it appear greasy. Use light, gel-based styling products to help 4B hair stay moisturized and well-defined.

Since 4B hair is prone to frizz, invest in a good leave-in conditioner and use it to add moisture. Make sure to avoid products with too much alcohol, which can dry 4B hair out.

Lastly, 4B hair needs trimming to keep it healthy and free of split ends. I know we like to hang onto our hair and not get it snipped, but regular trims, about 4-6 weeks apart (or as needed), will make sure your 4B hair stays healthy.

High Porosity 4B Hair Tips

When it comes to high-porosity hair, the cause can range from genetics to cumulative damage brought on by heat and chemical treatments. Additionally, as strands turn silver over time due to aging they may become more porous.

Although high-porosity hair is often linked with damaged strands, it is not always the case. Be sure to keep that in mind as you nurture your locks.

High porosity hair has the ability to quickly absorb moisture, but that same capacity for taking in water can also be a liability because it tends to lose moisture just as fast.

To combat this, 4B hair with high porosity should be maintained with a more intense moisturizing and hydrating regimen.

Here are some 4B hair tips for high porosity hair:

Deep condition regularly to help strengthen and moisturize your hair.

Use natural oils like coconut, olive, and avocado to nourish 4B hair.

Employ the LOC method (Leave-in Conditioner, Oil, Cream)

Use a satin pillowcase or scarf to reduce friction while you sleep.

Avoid over-manipulation and mechanical damage.

Avoid heat styling as much as possible.

Use protein treatments to repair and strengthen your hair.

Trim your 4B hair regularly to keep split ends at bay.

To ensure the utmost level of hydration and nourishment for 4B hair, it is essential to use a combination of treatments – both on the surface and deep within.

Other Tips for 4B Hair

Proper maintenance is required to keep 4B hair healthy and vivid. Because this hair is fragile and prone to frizz and dryness, it takes special care to maintain it looking its best.

Here are some recommendations for general tip for your 4B hair:

Moisturization is Important

When it comes to 4B hair, its tightly coiled texture often leads to dryness. To combat this issue and get the most out of your hair care routine, moisture retention and hydration should be the top priority.

Hydrating and moisturizing hair requires combining two strategies that work together in perfect harmony to not only bring water molecules into the strands, but also shield existing ones.

This can be achieved by using oils and butter on the surface of your hair to lubricate it and lock in the moisture.

If you want to keep your hair hydrated and moisturized, using emollients and humectants is key. These special ingredients are designed to provide water molecules that will help revive dull locks while locking in moisture so your hair remains healthy.

  • To keep your hair looking its best, be sure to condition after every wash.
  • Take a moment to treat your hair with a nourishing leave-in conditioner after you step out of the shower.
  • Make it a point to use a deep conditioning treatment at least twice each month. To facilitate efficient hydration of your hair and open its cuticles, consider using heat.
  • Replenish moisture to your 4B hair and keep it shiny, healthy and hydrated with a hot oil treatment or steam cap. This treatment is a simple yet highly effective way of ensuring maximum moisturization to your hair. For maximum benefit, leave the oil on your hair for a minimum of two hours before rinsing it off.

Use the LOC Method

Video credit: tatenda

This method entails adding liquid (or leave-in conditioner), oil, and cream products to your hair in a specific sequence to promote maximum hydration and moisture retention.

Here’s how to go about it:

1. Start by applying a leave-in conditioner to your hair for thorough moisturization.

2. Next, add a layer of oil to lock in that moisture.

3. Finish off with a styling cream that will provide hold to your locks.

By following the LOC method, you can avoid dryness and maintain healthy, moisturized 4B hair.

Avoid Silicone-Based Products

Aside from sulfates, another chemical you may want to avoid in hair products is silicone.

Although silicones are not bad, its lubricating properties can form a coating on your hair over time and make it feel heavy. If you apply silicone-based products often, you may find your hair becoming dry and experiencing build up–especially if you have low porosity hair, which may become difficult to remove.

If your mane is prone to being weighed down, you don’t use a shampoo in your hair routine, and the texture of silicones doesn’t feel right for you, then it’s best to avoid them entirely.

Look for silicone-free products or use natural ingredients instead to avoid this.

Stretch Out Your Hair

Perm rods, braids, twist outs and bantu knots provide a fantastic way to stretch it out and make your locks look as lengthy as they truly are.

Not only do these technique keep your strands from getting overly tangled up or breaking off, but there’s no need for any additional styling products either! Just make sure that the styles are never tight!

You can do it with damp freshly washed hair after its been saturated in water or just spritz some water on them if needed.

Limit Wash Days for Healthier 4B Hair

Wash your 4B hair only when necessary to help it retain its natural oils and stay healthy.

For example, you might want to shampoo your hair to get rid of too much oil or to make your scalp feel better, but use products that are suitable for your hair to keep it from getting damaged.

If your scalp is starts to feel itchy or you start seeing flakes, then it’s time for a wash. A healthy scalp equals healthy hair.

Wash Your 4B Hair in Sections for Ease and Efficiency

Washing 4B hair can be challenging due to its dense and coarse texture.

Divide your hair into parts before shampooing to make the process easier and more effective. This will allow you to properly clean your scalp and hair, as well as reduce tangles and unnecessary damage.

Plus, shampooing your hair in sections can help stretch out your strands and preserve their length.

Overall, this is a simple but effective method that can make a big difference in how you care for your 4B hair.

Use Your Fingers to Detangle 4B Hair

Tangling is more common in curly hair than in straight hair, and the dryness and fragility of 4B hair can make it even more prone to tangles.

To avoid breakage and split ends, detangle your hair while it is still damp and use a gentle approach.

The best way to detangle Type 4B hair is with your fingers rather than a brush or wide-tooth comb.

You can also use oils to help lubricate the strands and make it easier to separate them. When working through tangles, be careful and patient; your hair will thank you!

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to detangle 4B hair:

Video credit: Healthy Afro Hair

Avoid Heat Styling to Preserve the Health and Beauty of 4B Hair

Heat styling may be appealing, but it can damage 4B hair if not done properly.

To get the sleek, 4B hairstyle you’re after without damaging your hair, we recommend investing in a heat protectant. This way, you can enjoy styling your hair, but still take care of it at the same time.

If you do need to blow dry your hair, use a diffuser to reduce damage.

Protective Styles

If you want to preserve your 4B hair, the best way is by avoiding excessive combing or brushing. Using a protective style can help reduce the risk of split ends and tangles while maintaining its natural beauty. This low manipulation approach will ensure that your locks remain healthy, strong, and help retain length!

By opting for protective styles like box braids, bantu knots, twists, and updos you can keep your hair from becoming damaged or broken.

Here are a couple of tutorials on protective styles.

Video credit: Finally Fiona

Video credit by Tropic of Brittany

Best Products for 4B Hair Type

For 4B hair to look and feel its best, it’s essential that you opt for products with moisturizing ingredients and natural oils.

Cleansers

SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo

Camille Rose Naturals Clean Rinse Shampoo

Ouidad Coil Infusion Like New Gentle Clarifying Shampoo

As I Am Long and Luxe GroWash Cleansing Creme Conditioner

Righteous Roots Clarifying Shampoo

EDEN BodyWorks Lavender Aloe Moisturizing Cowash

TGIN Rose Water Sulfate Free Hydrating Shampoo


Conditioners

SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Conditioner

Righteous Roots 2 in 1 Conditioner

Mielle Organics Mongongo Oil Protein-Free Hydrating Conditioner

Cantu Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream

Aussie Moist Conditioner

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Conditioner

TPH By Taraji Make It Rain Conditioner


Leave in Conditioners/Treatments/Detanglers

Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Original Leave-In Moisturizer

Righteous Roots 2 in 1 Conditioner

Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner

Naturelle Grow Hibiscus & Honey Leave In

SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Multi-Action Leave-In Treatment

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque

Soultanicals Hair Sorrell Knappylicious Kink Drink

Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave In Conditioner

Soultanicals Knot Sauce Coil Detangler

Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Ultra Shield Pre-Shampoo Treatment

Black Vanilla 4-in-1 Combing Creme


Deep Conditioners

OBIA Naturals Babassu Oil Therapy Hair Mask 

TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask

Soultanicals Afrotastic Curl Elastic

EDEN BodyWorks JoJoba Monoi Deep Conditioner

As I Am Hydration Elation Conditioner

Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Miche Beauty Warm Sugar Cookie Deep Conditioner

TPH by Taraji Real Love Hair Mask 

PATTERN Beauty Treatment Mask

Alodia Deep Conditioning Masque


Creams

Soultanicals Marula- Muru Moisture Guru

Soultanicals Cant Believe Its Knot Butta

PATTERN Beauty Styling Cream 

Cantu Coconut Curling Cream

Camille Rose Black Castor Oil & Chebe Buttercream Texture Butter

CurlMix Pure Avocado Moisturizer

Miss Jessie’s Honey Curls Enhancer

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

As I Am Double Butter Creme

Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter


Gels/Custards/Pudding

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Flaxseed Recipes Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel

Soultanicals Clump & Curl Afro Vegan Styling Custard 

KinkyCurly Curling Custard

OBIA Naturals Hair Care Curl Enhancing Custard

PATTERN Beauty Curl Gel

Cantu Moisturizing Twist and Lock Gel

African Pride Curl Defining Gel

Revlon Black Seed Oil Twisting Pudding

Eco Style Gel Olive Oil Styling Gel

Wetline Xtreme Gel

Camille Rose Curl Maker


Oils

Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil

Righteous Roots Oils

Melanin Haircare Multi-Use Pure Oil Blend

OKAY 100% PURE OLIVE OIL

Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil 


Accessories

Satin Scrunchies Hair Ties

Denman Original Styler

PATTERN Beauty Wide Tooth Comb

Alligator Hair Clips

Shower Cap 

Conclusion: Handle with Care

You can keep your 4B hair healthy, nourished, and gorgeous by following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide.

To stretch and define your 4B hair, try styles like twists, braids, knots, and updos. Use satin scarves and pillows to keep your hair from getting frizzy and to keep it in good shape.

Your 4B hair can thrive and become a source of pride and beauty with the proper care and attention. Embrace your natural curls and coils, and don’t be hesitant to try new styles and products to see what works best for you.

troubleshooting
Curl care

 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews
Textures

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