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!
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.
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.
Eden Bodyworks All Natural Curl Defining Creme
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.