How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair?
Many people believe that washing 4C hair once every two months is healthy, while some stand by their ‘once a month’ routine.
Every person with 4C hair has a different say when taking care of 4C hair. Although having a myriad of opinions is good in some cases, it can surely confuse you regarding hair care and wash routines.
Since 4C hair is the most misunderstood hair type, we have curated this comprehensive guide about 4C hair and its wash methods in extreme detail.
With our suggestions and tips, we are sure that your 4C mane will feel healthy, manageable, and shiny by the end of your first hair wash cycle.
The 4C hair type is considered the most remarkable and unique because of its distinct curl pattern.
4C natural hair can be easily considered the most tightly coiled hair of all hair categories and types, and its tightness and texture ultimately give off an astronomical shrinkage.
This type of hair lacks definition because of its density and looks deceptively short when completely dried. But that doesn’t mean it needs any less care; on the contrary, 4C type hair needs more care, conditioning, and moisturizing than regular hair types.
Since the 4C hair type is the most fragile, it is considered very special in the hair realm. One can consider their hair as a 4C type if it showcases the following primary characteristics:
- If the hair is very tightly coiled
- If the hair lacks any defined curl pattern or definition
- If the hair showcases shrinkage up to 70 percent
- If the hair strands break off easily
- If the hair locks and tangles easily
- If the hair feels extremely dry to the touch
Any hair wash cycle and schedule of 4C hair highly depend on the person’s hair quality and requirements.
Most people opt for a delicate balance between washing their hair with shampoo and co-washing without shampoo.
Constant use of shampoo tends to harm the hair, and thus a balanced hair routine shall help you clean your scalp while retaining the hair’s natural moisture and oils. Ideally, once a week feels like a safe spot to start.
From there, you may increase or decrease the number of days according to your needs. We have laid out a few one-month-wash routines with timestamps that can work wonders if you have demanding 4C hair.
Routine 1: Two times shampoo and two times co-wash
- Shampoo: week one
- Co-wash: week two
- Co-wash: week three
- Shampoo: week four
Routine 2: One-time shampoo and three times co-wash
- Co-wash: week one
- Co-wash: week two
- Co-wash: week three
- Shampoo: week four
Routine 3: Two times co-washing, one-time shampoo, and one-time clarifying shampoo
- Co-wash: week one
- Shampoo: week two
- Co-wash: week three
- Clarifying shampoo: week four
Before giving any suggestions, we would like to mention that there is undoubtedly no one-size-fits-all solution.
You might have to consider washing your hair depending on your hair type, daily routine, climate, topography, season, etc. Thus, how often one can wash their 4C hair is entirely subjective. However, we recommend limiting your hair wash cycle to once every week to the maximum.
We would also like to mention that, in general, washing once a month can crop up various underlying issues in your 4C hair, so consider steering clear of ‘once a month’ wash advice. Combining this routine with several co-wash cycles is feasible to balance hygiene and hydration.
To determine how often should you should wait till your next shampoo cycle, consider the following points:
- How many conditioning masks or leave-in products do you use?
- Do you have healthy or abnormal scalp conditions?
- How much do you exercise per week?
- What is the current climate?
- Do you use hard water or soft water?
To sum up, consider opting for a ‘once a week routine’ if your 4C hair is naturally oily and greasy. We also recommend a ‘once a week routine’ if you workout a lot, have a humid temperature, and use hard water.
Similarly, if you have dry and brittle hair once every two weeks should work in your favor with adequate co-washing in between. Finding out these variables is necessary to understand your hair’s needs for accurate wash cycles.
The following steps are quintessential in ensuring your 4C hair gets adequately cleaned without any additional dryness or damage.
Pre-shampoo or pre-poo is excellent if you often experience dry and frizzy hair after shampooing your 4C hair. This treatment involves using a high-fat oil or conditioner to nourish your hair’s dryness.
As shampooing can strip the natural oils and alter the pH levels, a quick pre-poo step can ensure healthy locks until the next wash cycle.
- Slowly divide your hair into six manageable sections and twist them to form separate areas.
- Your next step is to warm your oil or pre-poo conditioner using your fingertips and massage slowly in your scalp. Once successfully covering the scalp, move down towards the hair’s tips.
- After oiling the hair strands, braid or loosely twist each section and cover the head with a plastic hair cap. You can leave this for an hour, but overnight oiling works best to provide complete moisturization.
Finger detangling is an essential process that helps eliminate all the tangles, matts, and knots without damaging the rest of your hair.
One shouldn’t skip finger detangling as it may cause interference while shampooing. Thus, we recommend that people with tight coils follow detangling before initiating their shampooing regimen.
- Since your hair has all the pee-poo conditioner or oil, it becomes relatively easy to detangle the hair with a finger. You can even spritz a little water to make it even more manageable.
- Gently divide your head into multiple manageable sections and start the detangling process with your fingers. Be gentle, as too much tugging or pulling can result in hair fall.
- You can start this detangling process from the roots of your hair and move up further to cover all the parts. When your fingers encounter any knots, slowly remove each strand attached to it and try to make it smaller. If the knot is subsequently tiny, you can use a scissor to snip it. Ensure that you preserve your hair length as much as possible while trimming it.
We highly recommend opting for sulfate-free shampoos as they are gentler than sulfate shampoos. Regular sulfate shampoos tend to strip the hair of its natural moisture, thus making it dry and brittle.
So consider purchasing more milder shampoos with less harsh chemicals to keep the hair healthy. We also recommend washing the hair by partitioning them. As 4C hair has a thick wiry texture, it can be challenging to clean them thoroughly, so sectioning provides the much-needed ease of operation.
It also allows you to reach the scalp to get an overall healthy cleanse. We have also noticed that this method reduces the use of shampoo by ⅓, thus saving you money in the long haul.
- You can start your shampooing by sectioning your hair and cleaning each section individually.
- Give appropriate time to each segment during the lathering and the washing process.
- Repeat the same steps for the rest of the areas and give your head a final rinse to clean any remaining residue.
Conditioning is the most necessary step to regain the moisture and oils that have been lost from your hair during the shower. It discourages the hair from getting dry and forces it to grow adequately.
- By now, you must have noticed that sectioning your hair is a common step throughout the entire washing process. Just like previous steps, sectioning works best to distribute the product equally.
- Avoid skimping on the conditioner and use a generous amount to coat each strand with a healthy quantity of the product.
- Since 4C hair has curly strands, the natural oils do not reach the ends, making them extra dry. Therefore, we highly recommend focusing on the ends to provide extra moisture.
- You can also lightly detangle your hair after the conditioner sets to eliminate unnecessary knots.
- Cover the hair with a thick plastic cap and leave it for a while so the product absorbs well.
- Rinse the conditioner with care and use a t-shirt to dry your hair. Using a t-shirt reduces the frizz, which should be your utmost goal.
Also read: Best Leave-in Conditioners for 4C Hair
LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method is the most hydrating technique ideal for 4C hair type. The method involves using water-based liquid products for hydration, oil for extra nourishment, and cream for added moisture.
We do not recommend skipping this particular step as the LOC method is quite crucial to help define the curls. People with low porosity 4C hair should target hair from the root to the tip for maximum results.
Your final step is to apply any setting cream of your choice and style your hair to lock the moisture in. People prefer protective styles like locks, braids, and twists to keep their hair healthy and well-nourished.
Clay cleansing is a unique concept that is highly ideal for dry and brittle 4C hair.
As constant shampooing tends to strip away the oils, every alternative shampoo cycle using a clay cleansing method can help keep your hair healthy.
We highly suggest using any one of these three clays – Kaolin Clay, Rhassoul Clay, and Bentonite Clay to clean your scalp without much damage. Many professionals also recommend using a combination of all three to create a soothing hair pack for hair wash.
These three clays are excellent at providing a thorough cleaning than any co-wash cream available on the market. If pure clay cleaning is something you do not wish to try or cannot access, you can opt for clay-based cleansers that work in similar tangents.
Ensure that the cleaner isn’t very harsh and has considerable clay in its ingredients. If your hair appreciates this type of cleaning, you can rely on clay cleansing every alternative wash cycle to keep your scalp clean without any additional dryness or stripping of sebum and oils.
You must have seen people warning you about using a clarifying shampoo.
Since these shampoos are very harsh and clear out all the oils from your scalp, no one recommends using them on every wash cycle.
However, we suggest opting for a clarifying shampoo cycle once every two months to reset the hair.
Since people use many hair products starting from creams, moisturizers, oils, setting spray, curling cream, leave-in conditioner, etc., your hair needs a wash of clarifying shampoo to remove all the product built-up or residue from your scalp or hair.
This step ensures that your 4C hair is thoroughly cleaned without any product residue. However, be mindful about the cleansing cycle as too many clarifying shampoo hair wash cycles in a short period can dry out your hair beyond recognition.
Unlike other hair types, 4C hair doesn’t clearly show any signs of greasiness or fall flat under the weight of scalp oils traveling through the hair strands.
Thus, finding the right window for the wash is relatively tricky. If you wish to avoid any over or under-washing, peruse the following signs that help you understand the correct time to wash your 4C hair.
If you notice reasonably large chunks of knots or tangled tips, it is time to hit the shower for a hair wash.
Mostly tangles or knots occur because of dirt, dust, oils, and sweat trapped in your head. So if they feel very tangled to touch, you can be sure that it is an excellent time to clean your 4C hair.
4C hair seldom shows oily hair as it takes a considerable amount of time for the natural sebum to travel from the scalp to the hair.
However, if you feel your scalp is getting oily to the touch, try to take a hair wash. Clay cleansing also works wonders when your scalp feels oily to the touch.
If you don’t opt for regular hair wash, your 4C hair will probably experience a noticeable product buildup.
This buildup’s leading cause is the constant hefty use of numerous hair styling creams and products. People often experience excessive oiliness and clogged hair follicles that usually stunt hair growth and itching.
The most effective way to clean your product buildup is to use a clarifying shampoo once every two months or using a sulfate-free shampoo every week.
Consider a thorough hair wash right after taking down your protective hairstyle.
Deep clean hair wash at this time eliminates all the dirt and gunk accumulated in your hair, thus making your hair even more healthy and clean for your next set of hairstyles.
Constant itching can be a big tell-tale sign that your pores are clogged or have a product buildup. Clay cleansing can be a good remedy as it soothes the itchy, inflamed scalp while removing all the dirt.
If you have a heavy workout routine or sweat a lot, you might want to consider opting for frequent hair wash cycles. A harmonious balance of clay cleansing, co-wash, mild shampoo, and clarifying shampoo will work best for such sweaty 4C hair.
Most hair experts and professionals recommend a hair wash of a maximum of once every week unless you have an oily scalp that needs to get washed twice every week.
Thus, it is entirely safe and healthy to wash 4C hair every week, given you use a sulfate-free mild shampoo or have an alternative cycle of shampoo, co-wash, and clay cleansing.
We do not recommend wetting your 4C hair every day as it tends to strip away the natural oils, making it very weak and dry in the longer run.
To keep it well moisturized, consider washing your hair every week, followed by a rich, nourishing conditioner and leave-in butter.
Since 4C hair has a dense-packed curl pattern with a Z shape, they are the most fragile hair types. Because of their delicate nature, most people prefer to stretch their wash cycles to avoid shampooing their hair.
However, not washing the hair for a long time can lead to product buildup, irritation, clogged follicles, stunted growth, and much more. The maximum time you can go without washing your 4C hair should be between two to three weeks.
Avoid washing your hair once every month as that can lead to multiple issues starting from the scalp to the tip.
Summers often leave your 4C hair feeling sticky, oily, and sweaty, so constant washing might feel the right thing to do.
However, washing thrice or twice a week can leave your hair dry and brittle. To avoid dryness while keeping your hair clean during summertime, try to opt for clay masks every alternative hair wash cycle to clean and soothe your scalp.
With that, we have come to the end of this comprehensive 4C hair wash guide.
Since 4C hair is very fragile and challenging to maintain, you might need to pay close attention to it during the initial days.
Moreover, consider using the right products with the right ingredients to keep your hair healthy, shiny, and manageable.