How Often Should you Wash 4c Hair?

Published By: Kennedy

Last Updated: February 15, 2022

Many of us don’t want to wash our hair any more than we have to, but we also don’t want to do it less than we should. 

The way you wash your hair can either help it or hurt it. So we are going to now dive into the right way to go about this crucial process. 


4c hair is naturally dry because its texture prevents the natural hair oils that the scalp produces from traveling down the hair shaft. 4c hair is also prone to damage, so you want to make sure you are treating it delicately – that includes while washing it. 

Typical shampoo strips the hair of dirt and oils, which is great. What is not great is that it not only strips the hair of dirt and oils but also moisture and the natural oils that it needs. You don’t want to strip the hair of necessary nutrients on a regular basis, therefore, you should not use shampoo to clean your 4c hair on a regular basis. 

A good rule of thumb is to shampoo once every two weeks. The shampoo that you use should be gentle and moisturizing. Usually, cheap shampoos are the ones that do the most damage to your hair. It is beneficial to the health of your hair to invest in good quality shampoo, free of harmful ingredients such as sulfates and parabens. The better the shampoo, the better the results. 


For the times when you need to clean your hair more than once every two weeks, it is recommended that you co-wash. Co-washing is a method used to clean the hair, while not stripping the hair of the moisture that it needs.[1]

The method of co-washing is simply using a conditioner to clean your hair. Shampoos are great for the day that you want to do a deep clean, but co-washing is great for removing product buildup. Usually, after a week or even a couple of days of using styling products, your hair will start to get stiff and in need of a fresh start.

Co-washing will not only re-moisturize your hair but also cleanse your hair and scalp enough to hold you over for the next wash day. You should co-wash as needed, it really depends on what your lifestyle is and how frequently you use products. 

How to Properly Wash 4c Hair

Knowing how to properly wash the hair is also important for its effectiveness. When you properly wash your hair your scalp will be cleaner and your hair will feel better.

1. Finger Detangle

Finger detangling is the action of combing out your hair with your fingers instead of a comb. You should ideally finger detangle with conditioner or pre-poo before you wash your hair.  The reason why this detangling method is beneficial is that you pull out less of your hair and are able to untangle knots more gently.[2]

The other benefit to finger detangling is that you can feel what your hair needs. You can feel that your hair is dry or where there is excessive product buildup better when you use your fingers. Combing your hair also pulls out more of the new growth, stunting overall growth. It may take a while to finish detangling your hair this way, but it is healthier for your hair overall.

If you don’t have time to finger detangle, an alternative option is to use a detangling brush. A detangling brush is specifically made to detangle the hair in a more gentle way, which makes it easier to comb. 

2. Shampoo or Pre-poo

After your hair is fully detangled, you can then shampoo or co-wash. 4c hair is very dense, so it would be beneficial to part your hair into four sections, and wash them one by one. When you wash your hair in sections, it helps to ensure that you are washing each part of your hair thoroughly.

You want to start first by washing the scalp, and then work your way down the shaft. It is very important that you rinse the shampoo or conditioner out completely because if either is left in your hair too long, it can dry it out. 

3. Condition

Conditioning your hair is crucial for keeping it moisturized. After you shampoo your hair, you should leave a conditioner in for at least 15 minutes. Every two weeks you should go for a deep conditioner. 

When using a deep conditioner, it is best to leave it in for at least an hour. After a co-wash, the best product to use is a leave-in conditioner. 

4. Air Dry

Air drying is the best way to dry your hair. Air drying prevents frizz and also does not add heat to your hair. Depending on if you have high or low porosity, it may take shorter or longer for your hair to dry fully. If you have low porosity, you could sit under a heater in order to dry your hair or use a diffuser for at least half the time. The same is applicable if you don’t have enough time to fully air dry.

How do I know my hair is clean?

You know your hair is fully clean when you part your hair on every part of your head and don’t see any more product buildup or dandruff left. Sometimes, you may need to wash a couple of times for the hair to be completely cleaned – especially for 4c hair. 

If your scalp feels itchy after a wash, you may not have washed it thoroughly. It is easier to wash the hair further down the shaft, but it is harder to wash the scalp and roots properly. Checking to see if you are thoroughly cleaning your hair will cut down the number of times that you need to wash it. 

Signs that You Need a Wash

It’s that time again, you can feel that you need a wash. Maybe you do, but how do you actually know? Here are 4 signs that you need to wash or co-wash your hair. 

1. Your scalp is itchy

If your scalp is itchy it can mean a number of things – it can be dry, dirty, or irritated by a product you have used. If your scalp is dry, it may just need moisture, which can be solved by applying oil to it.

If your scalp is dirty, you will be able to see and feel the dirt or dandruff building up. Make sure you are properly finding out where the itchiness is coming from.

2. You feel a lot of product buildup

Using products every day, especially heavier products like gels and curl creams will start to build up over time. 

When your hair starts to get stiff and hard to style, you know it is time to wash that product out. If you also see excessive flakiness, you should wash your hair. It is best to use products that don’t flake, to ensure you are not washing your hair more than you should. 

3. Excessive amounts of dandruff

Some people have more dandruff than others. If you find that you are someone that consistently produces dandruff, you can try using an anti-dandruff shampoo, to cut down your wash days. Usually, we will see large amounts of dandruff after having it in a protective style for a while. 

4. Your hair smells 

If you are someone with a very active lifestyle, the sweat you produce mixed with the products on your head may create an unpleasant smell from your hair more often. 

If you touch your hair, and it does smell bad, you know that you need to wash it. If your hair starts to smell, that means you have gone a while without washing, and dirt/grease has built up in your hair. 

Signs that You are Washing Too Much 

Washing your hair is such a necessary thing to do, it doesn’t seem possible that you can wash too much. However, that is not true! Here are 3 signs that you are washing too much.

1. Your hair feels brittle

If your hair feels consistently brittle, that means it is dry. Shampoo has a tendency to strip the hair of necessary moisture if you use it too often. The hair is also hard to comb when it is brittle and dry. 

2. Your hair breaks off easy

Breakage is also a sign of dryness. You want to make sure that you are not stripping your hair on a regular basis, and also that you are conditioning your hair to strengthen it. 

3. Your hair looks extra frizzy 

Frizzy hair happens when the hair is not moisturized. If your hair is constantly frizzy, or even frizzy after washing, you need to impart moisture into your hair more often. Moisturizing the hair also helps with curl definition. 

Read more: How Often Should you Wash 4c Hair?

The Final Word

4c does not need to be washed all the time, but it doesn’t need to be washed properly.

Your hair needs moisture and ensuring that moisture is always kept in your hair will keep it healthy and strong.


I have always had a love for writing and have been blogging for about 3 years now. I have a passion for teaching what I have learned over the years, especially about hair. I have had almost every hairstyle - typical of a cosmetologist’s daughter- including the big chop in 2015. With all the knowledge I have gained, I feel it is my duty to help others on their healthy hair journey. I believe education can be fun, and I strive to make it fun to learn about beautiful black hair.

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