The 4b hair type has the tendency to go under the radar, because it has a very unique pattern. This article will help to identify what 4b hair is and why it is important to know your hair type.
What is 4b Hair?
4b hair is the middle pattern of the Type 4 hair types. 4b curls are densely packed and bend at sharp zig-zag angles, much like the letter Z. 4b hair is less defined than type 3 hair, but a little more than 4c hair.
What does hair type mean?
The hair/curl type chart, created by Oprah Winfrey’s hair stylist Andre Walker, is a guideline of what type of curl your hair has. The curl chart is mainly used for knowing what products to use, what styles work best for your hair, and how to properly care for your hair.
There are 4 different hair types, 3 of which include wavy or curly hair. Type 1 is straight, Type 2 is wavy, Type 3 is curly, and Type 4 is coily. The hair type is the shape that the curl makes, but the letter specifications represent the width of the curls. The letters range from A-C with A being the widest size and C being the smallest size. 4c hair has the smallest curl diameter, curls that could even be hard to see with your eyes.
If you’re wondering, the curl type of hair depends on the hair follicles on the scalp. The flatter, more oval-shaped the follicle is, the curlier the hair is. If the follicle is more circular in shape, the hair will come out straighter. These hair strands can be either fine or coarse.
Many times, people with curly hair have more than one hair type. For example, it is possible for someone to have 4c in the middle of their head, but 4b around the edges.
Important factors for knowing your hair type
The hair type is only one factor that goes into hair, other big factors are density and porosity. The porosity of your hair is its ability to absorb and retain moisture.
High porosity hair absorbs the most moisture because the hair cuticles are literally spread wide and gaping with holes. Moisture easily enters high porosity hair, but it also leaves the hair just as easily – leaving the hair frizzy and prone to tangling. This kind of porosity also leaves the hair dry if not consistently moisturized.
Hair has cuticles that are not as porous as high porosity hair and takes in a balanced amount of moisture, as well as emitting it. This kind of hair usually is easy to maintain because it does not dry out quickly, or is hard to absorb moisture.
Low porosity hair has strands that are hard to impart moisture into. The cuticle of the strands are very tight for low porosity and can leave the hair dry and sticky from product buildup. When the hair does absorb the moisture, it is hard for it to escape.
Your hair type does not determine your density or porosity, so you could have 4c hair with high or low porosity. 4c hair has a tendency to look dry, but that could be because it has either high or low porosity. Also, hair that starts out as low porosity can become high porosity due to heat or chemical damage.
Hair density is determined by how closely the strands of hair are grouped together. The density is partly due to the curl pattern and diameter of the curls, but also largely due to how thin or thick the hair strands are.
People with thinner hair have low density, and people with thicker hair have high density. 4c hair is usually high density, but the strands can vary from fine to thick.
Read more: How to Know Your Hair Type
How to Identify 4b Hair
4b hair is coarser than 4a hair and tends to clump up more in its curls. The curls are also more kinky than coily and have a high density. They tend to take on a Z-shape, growing out with sharp angles that are clumped together.
4b curls experience more shrinkage than 4A curls and benefit from heavier products such as gel and some creams. Shrinkage is the effect that curly hair has on the appearance of length for the hair. The tighter curls are, the shorter the hair looks.
How do I know if I have 4b hair?
If after you wash your hair you see that your hair naturally clumps together, but does not have a defined curl pattern, then you most likely have 4b hair.
Also, if you find that your hair is continually dry, then you also may have 4b hair. The zig zag pattern of 4b hair makes it hard for the oils on the scalp to make it to the ends of the hair shaft.
What products work best for 4b hair?
1. Curling Gel
A curling gel is a great way to encourage actual spirals for 4b hair. Due to the natural clumping of the hair, a gel will help hold the curls in place and keep them defined.
Curling gels work best when used for finger curling or just a wash and go. Gels lock in other moisturizing products that are placed in the hair. If your hair is high porosity, then a gel can stop the moisturizer from seeping out.
2. Curl Cream
Curl cream is a good product to use for achieving soft curls. 4b hair is naturally dry and can be coarse, so using a curl cream not only helps to impart moisture but also gives it a softer and fluffier look. You could even add a moisturizing oil to the curl cream to give it an extra moisturizing quality.
3. Deep Conditioner
Deep conditioner is one of the best ways to combat dryness for 4b hair. When hair is dry, its curls do not define as much as they could. Deep conditioning the hair will impart a base of moisture that the hair needs, and that will last throughout the week.
Deep conditioners also work to repair weak and damaged hair. High porosity hair soaks up the moisture from regular conditioners very easily but also releases that moisture easily as well.
Using a deep conditioner allows for moisture to be imparted into the hair for a longer period of time, also leaving it moisturized, even after it is rinsed. Low porosity hair takes longer to soak up moisture, so a deep conditioner is good to use because it can penetrate the shaft over time.
When 4b hair is properly moisturized, it helps to prevent breakage and gives the hair a natural shine.
The Final Word
4b hair is a very unique hair type. Knowing the attributes of your hair type is beneficial, and will help you bring the best out of it.