4c vs 4b Hair: Differences and Similarities
Let’s get real. Natural hair can be tough to deal with, especially when identifying your curl type from photos you see online.
But why do you need to know your curl pattern?
Learning your curl pattern isn’t just crucial for understanding how to manage and style your hair correctly – it’s also key to unlocking the perfect hair regimen, finding the right hair products, and doubling length retention!
Your current hair regimen might be working for you but let’s not forget that there are many types of curls, and each has a unique personality. Once you know your curl pattern, the proper hair regimen can make achieving long-term length retention effortless.
Moreover, if you figure out your curl pattern, given that everyone has different textures in their hair, it gives a much better understanding of what works and doesn’t work for your very own head of hair.
In this article, you’ll get insights into the two types of type 4 curls and how to maintain your natural type 4 hair perfectly.
The type 4 hair texture is known as ‘kinky’ hair. It has a curl pattern that resembles the letter “z” and is highly dense.
This type of hair isn’t defined by ringlets or curly patterns like the other types of natural curls. Type 4 can appear flat in its natural, unwashed state; however, it holds its shape whether it’s wet or dry.
Also, since natural oils from your scalp can’t reach kinky hair, you must moisturize it daily to maintain its moisture levels and prevent breakage and shrinkage.
When it comes to determining your hair type, you may have many questions about what makes 4b and 4c hair different from one another. While both types share similarities with coily hair textures, they are each distinct in how they naturally curl.
If you doubt what kind of curls you have or would like to self-identify as either a 4b or 4c, here’s an in-depth breakdown of the characteristics that make each type unique.
What is 4B hair?
4b hair, like 4a and 4c, is tightly coiled and highly textured. It stands out from 4a and 4c because of its tight zigzag pattern that lacks definition in curl shape.
Because of the sharp angles at which the strands are pointed, 4b hair bends more quickly than other hair textures worn curly and can be harder to maintain than straighter or less curly textures.
Despite its porosity, dryness is a common problem for hair covered by this texture, with the scalp being too far away from the surface of the strands. The most effective way to style it is to use water and styling creams to hydrate and moisturize those tight curls.
What is 4C hair?
The 4C hair texture is the most common texture for black women worldwide; it is also the most fragile hair type.
4C hair is coarse and highly prone to shrinkage, even without adding any oil or cream product to your hair. The 4C type features no actual curl pattern as it comes in its natural state as straight African-American hair.
As the 4C hair is fragile, if you want to achieve the longest of lengths, you’ll need to stretch this type of hair. To achieve the best results possible with texture 4C hair, you should use the LCO (Leave-In, Oil, Cream) method when styling, which will allow your hair to be more malleable than if you don’t use these products.
Regular moisturizing and hydrating products applied early in the styling routine will ensure this specific texture remains as healthy as possible to withstand daily wear and tear.
What is the difference between 4B and 4C hair?
So 4b hair vs. 4c—how can you mark the difference?
It all comes down to hair strand textures and patterns. To document texture more accurately, Andre Walker (Oprah’s hairstylist) developed a methodology for classifying curls to understand hair textures better. Essentially, bone straight hair ranks as a “1” and has no visible wave or curl.
The scale is numerically ordered to depict increased curliness (i.e., 1, 2, 3, and 4). And it is further divided into subcategories (i.e., 2a, 2b, and 2c) to describe curly hair types. Hair categorized as type 4 is the curliest, twirliest hair and makes up one of the most common hair types among black women.
With all this texture comes a more challenging time for those natural oils from your scalp to make it down your strand. Hence, type 4 hair has lots of curls.
To manage this moisture level, you might need higher conditioning levels for hair care products such as coconut oil and rice water. Some of these popular ingredients are known for their ability to moisturize profoundly and effectively.
While the 4A hair type is coiled firmly with an evident “S” curl pattern, Type 4B hair twists and bends in sharp angles characteristic of the letter Z. The curls in 4B are more dense and chunky than those of the other textures, ranging from delicate, coarse, wiry and thin.
On the other hand, hair type 4C is densely packed; its curls are less defined and experience more shrinkage. It’s also more fragile, with strands that range from super fine and soft to coarse and wiry.
In its natural state, when dry and unwashed and unstyled, 4C hair may look extremely dry, but it appears softer than it seems upon touching them. Type 4C hair is more densely coiled than 4B and lacks a curl pattern.
However, when braided, twisted, or shingled after using good hair care products, the curls stand out beautifully, and the strands do not clump easily. When not stretched out, it shrinks more than 70% and appears to be much shorter than it is.
4B hair has a similar appearance but a distinctive z-shaped curl pattern. 4B hair is very diverse and can range from fine texture and low density to coarse textured hair that is densely packed.
4B hair has a Z-shape pattern and has a more soft cottony appearance.
Due to the curves and bends in the hair strands, it is highly susceptible to dryness, breakage, and shrinkage. Because of shrinkage, it will appear shorter than it is. 4c hair looks very similar to 4b hair type, but it is more densely coiled.
The curl pattern has sort of a squiggly appearance that’s tightly coiled. When the hair is in its natural state (meaning no products are added or freshly washed), a curl pattern remains undefined. So, this hair type has to be defined by twisting, braiding, or shingling the strands into the desired shape.
Many naturals have tight curls that shrink up to 70% or more after being washed and dried. The texture of 4c hair reacts best with products on the heavier side, like rich creams and buttery leave-ins. Type 4b hair has densely packed curls tighter than 4A curls but less tight than 4C hair.
4B curls bend so that it makes a zigzag pattern. 4B curls are also less defined and smaller than 4A curls. They vary anywhere from fine and thin to wiry and coarse. This type of hair is more prone to breakage, and if you neglect to care for your 4b hair properly, you can increase your chances of breaking and tangling your hair.
So, if your curls form densely packed zigzags and your fro look like sweet cotton candy, you could be rocking beautiful 4b hair. On the other hand, 4c hair is tightly coiled and brittle. Tangle prone and high porosity, your hair will break easily if it’s not cared for properly.
If your curls seem inseparable and you experience a lot of shrinkages, you’re probably rocking glorious kinky 4C hair.
To understand your hair type, take a couple of hair strands and compare them to the shade they create against a piece of paper. It will be easy to identify the difference between 4B and 4C hair once you carefully look at the hair pattern.
Given the shrinkage, delicate and fragile texture, and dryness, type 4B hair requires a lot of special treatment to be healthy. Here’s what you should do to ensure your hair stays healthy:
Moisturizing: Because of how tightly coiled 4b hair is, it’s prone to dryness and requires lots of moisture to thrive and not break off. An essential aspect that many African American women with this type of hair prefer is the idea of applying hot oil treatment to their hair once a week.
It serves several purposes, including keeping the scalp cool to keep dandruff at bay, preventing thinning hair. A leave-in conditioner is another way to apply additional moisture on top of your hot oil treatment. Deep conditioning ensures more moisture in your hair and keeps your tresses healthy.
Styling: Go for hairstyles that need less manipulation, like Senegalese twists, box braids, Bantu knots, and high puffs.
Stretching: It is best to stretch 4B hair when wet or damp to protect your hair from breakage.
Washing: It will be best if you use moisturizing and hydrating shampoo.
Detangling: To minimize breakage, always detangle the hair strands using a finger.
Night care: Bonnets and scarves are essential to help keep your hair in tip-top shape. Use them at night and switch from cotton pillowcases to silk ones, which will help retain moisture.
Haircare tips for 4C hair
Just like 4B hair, 4C hair also needs a proper moisturizing element in its maintenance to ensure a healthy and nourished look. Here is how to care for 4C hair:
Detangling: Combing your 4c hair with a wide-tooth comb is best to detangle your hair. You can also apply your hands to help you if necessary. Make sure not to rush the combing process, though, as you may cause further damage. Don’t forget detangling should be done after washing, before styling, and when installing a protective style.
Moisturizing: 4c hair thrives in moisture. If you want to maintain healthy 4c hair, make sure your routine includes deep conditioning and regular spritzes of water with products specifically designed to hydrate afro-textured hair.
Styling: Even though 4c hair is delicate, the versatility of its natural texture means that it’s pretty easy to pull off a wide variety of styles like Bantu knots, box braids, puffs, and updos to two-strand twists and cornrows!
Stretching: Twist-outs, braids, African threading, and Bantu knots are the best ways to stretch your 4c hair.
Washing: Use hydrating shampoo with co-washing ingredients to prepare your scalp and hair for washing.
Night care: Use a satin bonnet or satin scarf and sleep on a silk pillowcase to retain moisture in your hair. Moisturize your hair every night as part of your night care.
Before you can understand your hair’s needs and how to treat it right, you should know which category it falls under.
The main difference between 4A, 4B, and 4C natural hair is the tightness of the coils and the curl pattern. Both show a high level of shrinkage, and both require a lot of moisture.
You’ll want to make sure you’re selecting the appropriate products and adhering to the correct hair regimen if you are trying to grow your healthy strands out.
Contrary to popular imagination, both hair types are hassle-free to manage and grow very long with proper care. 4C hair might be more complicated to control, but it can still reach its maximum length with the right products.