The Tea On How To Take Care of 4b Natural Hair

Aug 1, 2020

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4b natural hair reminds me of the forgotten middle child of the Type 4 family.

It’s distinctly different from 4a natural hair but often gets confused and mixed in with 4c.

Contrary to what you may hear online, 4b and 4c natural hair are not the same, and 4b natural hair has specific needs that need to be addressed that are separate from the needs of 4c natural hair.

Ready to get into the lowdown on 4b natural hair and how to maintain it? Let’s go!

willow smith showing her natural 4b hair

What is 4b Natural Hair?

Before getting into the specifics of a 4b hair care system, we need to first define what the 4b natural hair type is, and how it differs from 4a and 4c natural hair.

4b Natural Hair Type

An easy way to define the 4b natural hair type is to look at the curl pattern:

♥ The 4b natural hair type has a Z-shaped pattern rather than an S-shaped curl pattern that other curl patterns;

♥ The curls of 4b hair contain sharp, angled bends rather than ringlets;

♥ The curls are about as wide as a ballpoint pen

If you’re looking for some 4b natural hair inspo, Willow Smith is a great example of 4b natural hair.

willow smith has 4b natural hair

As defined above, her 4b natural hair type is made up of Z-shaped coils that wiry to the touch. 

4b Natural Hair Texture

There are two known hair textures for 4b hair (i.e. the way it feels).

Generally speaking, it can be fine, wiry textured hair or it can feel more coarse.

If you have 4b natural hair, you also most likely experience shrinkage, meaning your curls shrink up tightly once dried.

This can make your hair look much shorter than it is, which can be annoying for many naturals who want to show off their length (don’t worry, we’ll talk more about how to combat this shortly!).

Now let’s get into the specifics of taking care of 4b hair.

4b Natural Hair Care

Wash Day Routine for 4b Natural Hair

All great natural hair routines, especially for 4b natural hair, starts with wash day.

Your wash day routine is instrumental for hydrated, juicy looking coils. There is no successful natural hair routine without a solid wash day routine in place.

In general, your 4b wash day routine should look something like this:

  • A pre-poo
  • Shampoo (cleansing conditioner one week, shampoo the next week)
  • Conditioner (and use this time to detangle), rinse out with cold water
  • Deep condition/protein treatment
  • Style using a hydrating leave-in conditioner, a cream and an oil/gel

It’s recommended that all naturals wash their hair weekly. However, for Type 4 naturals, shampooing weekly may be too drying and can cause unnecessary breakage.

To mitigate this, a cleansing conditioner can be used on alternate shampoo days.

This will help your 4b hair retain as much moisture as possible, while the cleansing agents (called surfactants) will still ensure your hair is nice and clean.

Products for 4b Natural Hair

Before we get into our product recommendations, there is one more important concept of 4b natural hair we must discuss.

Natural Hair Porosity

Your porosity will also play a key role in your 4b hair care journey.If you didn’t know, your porosity is the building blocks of choosing the right products for your 4b hair.

Natural Hair Porosity

Natural hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb water and/products. 

Low porosity natural hair has a low absorption rate, because the cuticles are stubbornly closed. It is difficult for this hair porosity to absorb moisture.

High porosity natural hair has a high absorption rate, because the cuticles are always open. It is difficult for this hair porosity to retain moisture.

If you have low porosity 4b hair, you want to make sure you’re doing the following:

  • Use heat (hot head thermal cap/steamer) during your deep conditioning sessions to open your cuticles
  • Follow the LCO method
  • Use light-weight leave-in conditioners and creams
  • Avoid using leave-in products with protein and only use protein once a month as a protein treatment
  • Avoid coconut oil and opt for oils such as avocado oil and olive oil

On the other hand, if you have high porosity 4b hair, here’s what you want to keep in mind:

  • Follow the LOC method
  • Use products with coconut oil, aloe vera juice, and silk/hydrolyzed proteins
  • Do the bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar mask monthly

Now, let’s get into some products!! 

The Best Products for 4b Natural Hair

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a million products to take care of your 4b natural hair.

In fact, the best natural hair routines are simply made up for 5-6 products max.

The problem is figuring out which products for 4b hair are right for you.

Below is our recommendations for the best 4b natural hair products to get you started on your journey.

Shampoo

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

This shampoo is a GAME changer for 4b hair. The simple fact that you can detangle with this shampoo is what makes it one of the best products for 4b natural hair. Highly moisturizing and won’t strip your 4b coils of its natural moisture!

Cleansing Conditioner

As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

A perfect, moisturizing cowash in between shampoo days. This cowash has great slip for detangling but contains enough surfactants to give your scalp a good cleanse. One of the best 4b natural hair products money can buy!

Deep Conditioner

TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask

4b natural hair is inherently dry, but the ingredient list of this deep conditioner make it one of the most hydrating products for 4b natural hair, such as honey and jojoba oil! One of our favourite deep conditioners for Type 4 naturals.

Protein Treatment

Palmer’s Protein Pack

Looking for an effective protein treatment? Look no further. This protein treatment is not only super effective, but it’s affordable ($2!!). High porosity 4b naturals will ESPECIALLY love this!!

Leave-In Conditioner

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Back with another TGIN recommendation! No other moisturizer exists on the market quite like this one – not only does it have amazing slip, but it’s rich formula with shea butter and vitamin E will help flatten those cuticles and keep frizz at bay!

Cream Styler

Eden Bodyworks All Natural Curl Defining Creme

Eden Bodyworks holds it DOWN for the Type 4 naturals! This cream styler plays well with your leave-ins and contains incredible ingredients. Just be sure to only use a small amount (nickel sized amount per section) and not go overboard, or you may be left with the dreaded white cast!!

Gel

Camille Rose Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

The most superior ingredient list of any gel on the market. Virtually all-natural, this gel will hydrate the heck out of your curls and works swimmingly for Type 4 naturals, especially for twistouts and braidouts. A definite must-try!

Other tips for maintaining 4b natural hair include:

  • Wash in sections – the smaller the sections, the less breakage and shedding.
  • Never detangle your 4b hair dry. Only detangle when your hair is damp and with product with slip.
  • Finger detangle – your fingers are more gentle on your hair than a comb. Get the larger tangles out of your hair first, then use your wide-tooth comb.
  • Protective style often, making sure to take down the style every 6-8 weeks to shampoo and re-moisturize. 
  • Opt for low maintenance styles when leaving your hair down such as twist outs, bantu knots and braid outs.
  • If doing a wash and go, make sure to band your hair nightly to stretch the hair, avoiding deep tangles and single-strand knots. 
  • Avoid hair serums and glosses (which contain silicones and mineral oil) and stick with plant-based oils.

Final Thoughts on 4b Natural Hair Care

4b hair is NOT the same as 4a or 4c natural hair, and it’s important to understand this fact. 

The zigzag pattern of this hair type makes it susceptible to tangles, breakage and single-strand knots, so be sure to follow the above 4b natural hair care routine to make sure it stays healthy.

The 4b natural hair products we suggested above will also ensure you’re hair stays beautiful and delicate.

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @ayanaaaden

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What's Your Curl Type?

Take The Quiz!

Learning your curl type is an important step in learning how to take care of your natural hair. It can help you understand what products will work best for you, how often to shampoo, how to style your natural hair, and other key information.

This quiz will give you the lowdown on exactly what your curl type is, so you'll never have to wonder again ♥

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