Knowing how to properly care for your hair type can really help your hair reach its healthiest, best-looking potential. It can also help avoid damage and stunted hair growth.
There are several ways to care for 4a hair specifically, and if applied to your consistent hair routine, will bring major beneficial results.
What is 4a hair?
The 4a hair type can be identified by its distinct S-shaped curls. It has a soft, cotton-like texture and is prone to frizziness. It has the most defined curl pattern out of the other type 4 patterns and has the least shrinkage. It has very few cuticle layers, so it does not clump together like the other hair types do – giving it less protection.
In order to properly care for this hair type, you need to know your hair porosity. Hair porosity is how well your hair can absorb water. Low porosity hair does not retain water well and it can be difficult to wash and style.
While it is difficult to impart moisture into low porosity hair, it is better at retaining the moisture. High porosity hair soaks up water very well, but because it is very porous, the moisture can also leave quickly.
Knowing the porosity, not just your hair type will really aid in knowing how to create your healthy hair routine!
7 Ways to Care for 4a Hair
4a hair is very prone to tangling because it doesn’t clump together and the curls are tight. It is very important to make sure that tangles and knots are not forming in your hair for too long- it can cause breakage.
The best way to ensure you are not regularly combing out knots is to detangle your hair at least every other day. A leave-in conditioner is a great product to bring moisture into the hair and easily comb through it. Leaving in a moisturizer will also keep the hair from tangling and will sustain healthy hair growth.
A de-tangling brush can also help keep the hair follicles from being pulled out, and enhance the curl pattern at the same time.
Pre-pooing is what you do before shampooing. Type 4 hair has is very delicate, and the shampooing process can strip the natural oils from the hair – causing dryness and damage.
To help retain the natural oils in the hair, a great pre-poo is a hot oil treatment. When the hair soaks up the oil from the pre-poo, it will help prevent the shampoo from stripping away all of the moisture.
Oil isn’t the only pre-poo treatment you can use, you can even make your own pre-poo with ingredients like bananas, honey, and eggs. Eggs contain protein which combats brittleness and softens the hair.
#3 Clean Your Scalp
A clean scalp is vital to healthy hair growth. Buildup and dirt on the scalp can prohibit the new growth from growing in properly – which can cause painful bumps and ingrown hairs.
In order to clean the scalp properly, you need to have a good clarifying shampoo- which is a shampoo that cleans the scalp really well. Shampoo’s that sud a lot also help cleanse the scalp thoroughly.
Due to the hair having a lot of volume, it may be difficult to get down to the scalp while washing. Parting the hair in sections is also very useful when cleaning 4a hair. When you part the hair into sections, you want to focus on cleaning the scalp thoroughly in that section before cleaning the hair.
Also while washing you want to massage the shampoo into your head in circular motions, causing the blow to flow in that area and lifting the dirt out. Helping the blood to flow on your scalp will stimulate hair growth.
Sulfate-free shampoos are more gentle on the hair, which will help keep it healthy and the curls looking their best.
Conditioner is a must for 4a hair. After the moisture is stripped from the hair, a good conditioner will revitalize and nourish it again. Good conditioners are free from silicones and parabens. As a matter of fact, the more natural your conditioner is, the better.
Conditioner also helps in the detangling process, which helps avoid knots that can cause breakage to the hair. 4a curls are very defined, but if they are not moisturized then they can become frizzy.
Using a deep conditioner, and leaving it on your head with a shower cap for about an hour can impart moisture into the hair that will help keep the curls defined. Low poorsity hair benefits from deep conditioning the most, because it takes more time for it to absorb moisture.
When conditioning you want to focus on your ends. The ends of your hair are the most prone to dryness and breakage, but when they are conditioned they stay healthy and strong.
After conditioning, you want to maintain the moisture level in your hair. Using oils or creams is good to keep in your hair all week.
Because the hair tends to dry out faster when it is out, then the best best way to lock in the moisturizer is to braid the hair into big braids afterward.
There are moisturizers you can purchase, such as a leave-in conditioner. Applying a moisturizer should be the first thing you do before styling your hair. Other products, such as gel have the tendency to dry out your hair – so if you are styling with those products you want to add a protective layer of moisture first.
It is best to leave the hair alone as much as possible when moisturizing the hair, this will help the hair soak up the products.
#6 Be Gentle
Being gentle with your hair is important to be conscient of. 4a hair is fragile, so tugging and pulling it can pull out the delicate new growth, which will stunt hair growth. It is best to avoid manipulating the hair as much as possible.
However, when doing certain style there are certain things you can do to ensure the best outcome for your natural hair. When wearing protective styles such as box braids and and cornrows, be sure to not to make the braids too tight. Tight braiding can damage the hair at the root.
When wearing extensions, such as lace front wigs which require glue close to the hairline, it is important that you remove the glue the right way. I once tried to pull of a lace front right after it was applied. Needless to say, it did not turn out well, and my edges took a toll. In addition to 4a hair being delicate, the hairline is even more delicate.
You want to make sure whatever you are removing from your hair, you do it gently and according to the instructions.
#7 Heat Protection
If you want the healthiest hair possible, you definitely want to refrain from regularly applying heat. In fact, it is best to stay away from heat for the most part, because heat is very damaging to 4a hair.
On the occasions that you do apply heat, a good way to keep the heat from completely penetrating the follicles is to use a heat protectant. A heat protectant is simply something you apply to the hair to create a protective layer from the heat. The product has to be abe to withstand high temperatures, while also imparting moisture into the hair.
There are heat protectant sprays you can buy, but there are also natural products you can use as well. Argan oil and coconut oil are some of the best natural heat protectors – but you don’t want to use too much or your hair will smoke. Deep conditioning your hair will also help it to retain moisture during the heating process.
Also read: How to Straighten Afro Hair
The Final Word
4a hair is beautiful, and properly caring for it will keep it that way! The more you know about your hair the better it will look.
Keeping away from damaging the hair and using the right products for your hair type and porosity keep it growing and thriving for years to come.