{ "@context": "http://schema.org", "@type": "BreadcrumbList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine", "name": "Beauty Magazine" } } { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 2, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care", "name": "All Things Healthy Hair" } } { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 3, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types", "name": "All Hair Types" } } ] }

How to Care for and Style Your 4C Hair

The key to 4C hair is moisture. 

July 17, 2023

Having 4C hair usually means spending a lot of time doing your hair — from testing out new protective styles to trying the latest hair care for more moisturized strands. One thing we know for sure is that 4C hair is a beautiful coil type that is often neglected in the beauty industry. In the past, hair types like 4C have been categorized in the same manner as curly hair types when they are actually very different. Towards the end of the hair type spectrum (in recent years hair experts and aficionados have identified even more hair types beyond the mainstream classifications), you get 4C hair that is usually thicker, dryer and frizzier than all the other curl and coil hair types. This hair type requires more maintenance and a dedicated routine for the healthiest and strongest texture. Discover more about this hair type, including how to care for 4C hair, the products you’ll want to use and more in this comprehensive guide.
{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" }

What Is 4C Hair?

4C hair has a coily shape that is more fragile than other hair types, takes longer to dry and can look like a thick Afro from afar. This look is really made up of small springy and zig-zag patterned strands. If you’re trying to figure out if you have 4C hair versus 4A, 4B or even 3C type, wash and dry your strands and let the hair air dry to determine your most natural curl or coil pattern. 

Characteristics of 4C hair typically include a dry texture, thick strands and extremely tight coils that shrink in size as it dries. Hair is different for everyone and while there can be a lot of shared traits, ultimately the texture can vary from person to person. According to a study from the International Journal of Women's Dermatology, 4C hair is described as a coily or kinky hair type that tends to be overly dry, making it highly susceptible to damage and breakage


How to Care for 4C Hair?

Caring for 4C hair can feel daunting at first if you don’t know where to start, but once you’ve got the right routine and products down, the upkeep of your coils is simple. Follow the tips and techniques below to create a personalized hair care routine for your 4C hair. 

1. Moisturize Hair Often

To reiterate what we mentioned already — 4C hair needs moisture. Your hair care routine and product regimen should always be mindful of this to eliminate dehydrating practices. Once a week, wash your roots with a conditioning shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and follow up with a revitalizing conditioner like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner (more on their benefits below). 4C hair doesn’t need to be washed daily, but it does need constant moisture. After wash day or when you’re ready to refresh your protective style, use the curly and coily hair-approved LOC method or LCO method.

Both methods use the same products however, the order of the last two products can be swapped based on the individual person's needs. The method utilizes a lightweight leave-in conditioner (the L) and cream (the C) to add nourishment to your mane, followed by a hair oil (the O) to create a sealing barrier that keeps moisture from escaping strands. Pick a method based on hair porosity, if your hair is hard to moisturize no matter how much product you use, then you have low porosity and should use the LCO method. If you have high porosity — meaning hair that is easily moisturized but has a hard time retaining that hydration — you should use the LOC method


2. Keep Hair Detangle

Since 4C hair is made up of tight coils it’s easy for the strands to combine and get knotty, making detangling a weekly task — especially when it’s wash day or you want to try out a new hairstyle. Keep conditioning hair products like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Leave-in Conditioner in your regimen to help you detangle strands quickly and without excessive hair loss from brushing tangled coils. 

3. Use the Right Tools

On the subject of hair tools, you’ll want to put that plastic paddle brush down when detangling hair. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb that’ll gently loosen knots without pulling out clumps of hair or causing excessive frizz. Another frizz-fighting technique is to eliminate cotton from your hair-wrapping tools as this material is known to cause damage to hair from the abrasive use of the rough material. Instead of a cotton towel, use a microfiber towel that’ll softly dry hair without excessive rubbing. And when it’s time for bed, rather than sleeping with your natural hair on your regular pillowcase, tie your hair up at night with a satin or silk bonnet or hair wrap to protect your mane and edges from friction.

4. Be Wary of Dehydrating Practices

Be mindful of any salon treatment that requires a chemical to straighten or relax your hair, dye strands or change the texture of your mane in any way, as it will be damaging and dehydrating, the NCBI confirms. Consider asking your stylist to use a protein treatment on hair to keep it moisturized before and after a chemical process. Avoid using hot tools on hair, but when you do, use them on a low heat setting and always coat hair with a heat protectant product to limit the damage. We love the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Heat Slayer Leave In, which protects against heat damage up to 450 degrees while taming frizz and sealing in shine.

5. Stick to a Routine

The best 4C hair care routine is the one that you use. It’s always an option to do nothing with your hair, but the result will be a matted mane that isn’t able to reach its potential. You may even have to try a few different products and styles before you find the ones that work best for you. And that’s okay, it’s all part of the natural hair journey

What Products Should You Use for 4C Hair?

A 4C hair care routine is all about adding and retaining moisture in the hair while building up the strength and health of coils. With that in mind, make sure your routine includes the following:

1. Sulfate-Free Shampoo

When wash-day comes around make sure you’re using a shampoo that doesn’t overly lather as this is a sign that the product has sulfates in it. A sulfate-free formula like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo cleanses hair gently without stripping strands of the natural oils that it desperately needs. An added plus: This shampoo is infused with castor oil to sculpt curls and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture. 

If your 4C hair is looking flat and limp at the roots, you may be dealing with a lot of product build-up. Cleanse the scalp with a clarifying shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Micellar Shampoo which turns into an airy foam that removes dirt and excessive product while moisturizing strands with added castor oil. 

2. Hydrating Conditioner

For healthier 4C hair that combats dryness, use a conditioner that will detangle hair while hydrating tight coils. After shampooing with one of the above products, we recommend using the next step in the Dream Lengths Curl line, the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner. This product is also formulated with castor oil and hyaluronic acid and offers hair 72 hours of lightweight moisture when used in the complete system. Don’t forget to saturate the ends of your hair with conditioner as these are the oldest and most fragile parts, according to the AAD

3. Wash-Out Hair Treatment

Your mane will love you for the added nourishment that a pre-poo product like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Bond Strengthening Pre-Shampoo Treatment brings. As an optional step before your shampoo, use this wash-out bonding treatment to treat the brittleness that 4C hair is known for. Not only will this treatment help detangle hair before washing and conditioning, but it also helps reduce breakage over time. 

Another optional (but hair-loving) step is the use of a deep conditioner or hair mask. If your hair is dryer than dry even after the conditioner, add some extra protein and moisture to strands with a dedicated product. Once a week — or as needed based on your hair status — follow up your conditioner with a wash-out hair mask like the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm Rinse-Out Mask which nourishes and repairs hair with the added almond oil and protein concentrate. Let the product sit on your hair for 5 to 15 minutes before thoroughly washing your mane. The result is softer hair that’s detangled and ready to style. 

4. Lightweight Leave-In

You can probably already guess what your 4C hair post-shower routine should include; more moisture. The right nourishing leave-in cream, oil or spray will soften hair without leaving excessive product buildup that may require more shampooing. After using the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner, finish out the moisturizing system with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Leave-in Conditioner

For 4C hair, the leave-in conditioner is best applied to wet hair to guarantee a smooth and even application. Part your hair into four sections before applying the cream to your coils and gently combing the product through. Tight coils will be more defined with the lightweight formula that wraps around strands for a frizz-free, crunch-free and non-greasy shape. On the days you need to refresh your ‘do, spritz the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape leave-in spray all over your hair before re-defining coils with your fingers or a fine tooth comb. The hyaluronic acid and castor oil included in all of the Dream Lengths Curl line products will add softness and shine while keeping all the moisture and nutrients locked into the strand. 

5. Extra-Hold Styling Product

If you have 4C hair then you’ve probably already got your preferred protective style of choice down. Natural hairstyles like cornrows, box braids, and locs require a gel, wax or pomade product to keep 4C hair flat while styling. Next time you’re getting your hair done, or doing it yourself, use the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Invisi Gel which offers an extreme hold without the annoying product build-up that 4C hair should avoid. This gel works on damp or dry hair and keeps hair down while leaving behind a high-shine look. 

9 Hairstyles for 4C Hair 

Allow yourself to have some fun with your hair. If you’re new to the “natural hair life” or maybe only switch between two protective styles, now is the time to shake things up with a fun hairstyle or haircut. 4C manes take dedicated time to style, but with the right hair care products and tools your look of choice can be simplified. While there are endless options to choose from, we rounded up a few staple hairstyles and haircuts that you’ll want to twist and braid your 4C mane into.

Wash N’ Go

A wash-and-go hairstyle is exactly what it sounds like — a natural hairstyle where you shampoo, condition, and style your hair as normal and go about your day. No heat, hair parting or braids, just your natural hair in all its 4C glory. This hairstyle is more about the products you use than the manipulation, so make sure you’re using moisturizing formulas like the ones mentioned in the previous section.


Cornrow Updo

Take your cornrows to the next level with a braided updo. When braiding 4C hair in this style you’ll want to section hair in four parts before cornrowing hair to the scalp. Starting from the edges of the hair, cornrow to the crown of the hair in a manner that leaves the length of the hair in a loose braid to be tied into a bun. Use a texturizing product like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty which secures braids and the edges of hair from breakage. 

{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" }

Pulled Back Puff

The pulled back puff hairstyle is ideal when you can’t be bothered to braid your hair or you just want your coils out of your face. Simply slick strands back using a clear hair gel like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Invisi Gel while leaving the length loose to be tied back into a ponytail. This fluffy hair moment seems to come back in trend every few decades with added twists to make it more personal. Make this style your own by adding butterfly barrettes, beaded charms for your hair or front-framing coily strands. 

Micro Locs

If you like the look of traditional locs but want to keep the volume that you’re used to with 4C hair then this hairstyle is for you. A twist on classic locs, the microloc is thinner in size since it uses less hair. And even though there are more mini locs on the head, they’re still lightweight so you don’t have to worry about heavy tugging on your follicle. 

{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" }

Bantu Knots

To achieve this style, start by sectioning your washed and detangled hair into multiple sections. The number of parts you have will equate to how many Bantu knots you end up with — all based on preference. Grab a section of hair and apply a leave-in conditioner and lightweight hair oil like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Sheer Oil to each part before twisting the hair. You’ll end up twisting the entire strand before wrapping the hair around itself to form the knot. This style is ideal for those with 4C hair who are new to protective styles and want something easy to do that’ll keep hair moisturized. 

Box Braids

Box braids are a great style for those with 4C hair who want to braid their natural hair length or with extension hair for added length. This style is easily achieved by parting hair in multiple sections before tying hair in a classic three-strand braid. When using extensions for this style make sure you have strands ready to go for a quicker installation and allow the added extensions to serve as one of the three strands of your braid. Refresh hair as needed with a styling spray like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape leave-in spray, and when you need to shampoo try to only cleanse the scalp so as to not loosen your braids. 

Stretched Afro

The trick to styling 4C hair with this look is to stretch out the strands that are usually tightly wound due to shrinkage — the act of hair getting smaller in size as it dries. While heat is one of the quickest ways to achieve a stretched afro you can still rock this look heat free by waiting until after you take out an existing style — like cornrows, bantu knots or box braids. After undoing your previous style,  gently comb out your hair to get it to its fullest length while incorporating hair oils and leave-in conditioners as needed for added hydration. 

{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" }

Tapered Cut

If you’re overwhelmed by how much hair you have, consider thinning out the sides for a tapered cut that resembles a mohawk. This undercut style trims the hair close to the scalp on the sides of the head, leaving the top part longer and fuller. Before you sit in a salon chair talk with your stylist about trimming hair that has been completely dried and styled for the most accurate length. 

Low Fade

One of the most important haircuts for 4C hair is the big chop. As this choice has a lot of history, if you decide to cut your 4C hair you’ll be joining hundreds of thousands of people who chose to rock their natural hair by starting fresh. Traditionally done to rid hair of any previous chemical treatments, you don’t need any specific reason to cut your hair super short — but when you do you maybe amazed that you didn’t do it sooner. With your freshly cut hair, you can enjoy a low fade style that can be customized with intricate designs and patterns — or a simple side slit.   

{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" }

Next: What Is Coily Hair?

Photo Credit: Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris, Design: Sarah Duvivier

{ "@context": "https://schema.org/", "@type": "WebPage", "speakable": { "@type": "SpeakableSpecification", "cssSelector": ["speakable-content"] }, "url": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair" } { "@context": "http://schema.org", "@type": "BreadcrumbList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@id": "/", "name": "Home" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 2, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine", "name": "Beauty Magazine" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 3, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care", "name": "All Things Healthy Hair" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 4, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types", "name": "All Hair Types" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position": 5, "item": { "@id": "https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/hair-care/all-hair-types/how-to-care-for-4c-hair", "name": "how-to-care-for-4c-hair" } } ] }