Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Hair Type - 4A

Type 4: Kinky hair

If your hair falls into the Type 4 category, then it is kinky, or very tightly curled. Generally, Type 4 hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled and very, very fragile. Like Type 3 hair, Type 4 hair appears to be coarse, but it is actually quite fine, with lots and lots of this strands densely packed together. Healthy Type 4 hair won't shine, but it will have sheen. It will be soft to the touch and will pass the strand test with ease. It will feel more silky than it will look shiny. Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg and the actress Angela Bassett are all Type 4s.Type 4 hairs looks tough and durable, but looks can be deceiving. If you have Type 4 hair, you already know that it is the most fragile hair around. Why? Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, which means that it has less natural protection from the damage you inflict by combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it. The more cuticle layers in a single strand of hair, the more protection it has from damage. Each time you damage your hair – fire up the curling iron, fry it with chemicals – you break down a cuticle layer, robbing your hair of much-needed moisture. I cannot emphasize this enough. It's like taking a wire and bending it again and again. Eventually, it's going to snap and break.Many women with Type 4 hair rely on chemical relaxers to make hair easier to control. In its natural states, sometimes Type 4 hair doesn't grow very long because every time you comb it, it breaks. (Of course, if you have dreadlocks and never comb them or keep them braided, your hair can and does grow quite long.)There are two subtypes of Type 4 hair: Type 4A, tightly coiled hair that, when stretched, has an "S" pattern, much like curly hair; and Type 4B, which has a "Z" pattern, less of a defined curl pattern (instead of curling or coiling, the hair bends in sharp angles like the letter "Z"). Type 4A tends to have more moisture than Type 4B, which will have a wiry texture. But what if your hair has been chemically straightened? How can you tell which subtype you belong to if your hair is relaxed? You'll need at least one inch of new growth to tell. Pull at the roots. If you can see a definite curl pattern, then it's an A, if not, then it's a B.

Addendum: type 4 readers have found the above description limiting, and somewhat misleading. We offer the following addendum:Type 4 hair can range from fine/thin to wiry/coarse strand texture. Generally, this hair is densely packed to give the appearance of very thick but fragile hair. 4a hair has a clearly visible curl and wave pattern that ranges from pen size curls to pen spring size coils. 4b hair has a tighter wave pattern and kinks of various size. This texture does not exhibit the shine or silkiness of looser type curls, but instead has sheen, and a soft, almost cotton-like feel. As with other types of curly hair, showing the true length can be an extra challenge, as the hair may grow "up" or "out" before starting to hang down. In its unlocked/unbraided state, type 4 hair is known to shrink up to 75% of the actual hair length. With the proper care and technique, type 4 hair is indeed resilient, manageable, durable, growable and easy to control.

What to try: For Type 4ab, creams and butters work best.

Tips: This hair type needs extra moisture and tender care to prevent breakage. Let the hair air dry and do not brush or comb. To refresh bed head or fight fuzzy hair line, use a moisturizing hairdress like Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme or Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade.



Anonymous said...

beautiful hair and interesting article. I have type 4a hair and some 3 as well. I would have to agree with ya but also state that sometimes my hair doesn't feel very soft at all haha

Anonymous said...

true creams and butters are good for this type hair and also the CG "curly girl" method works out well for some people too as to put in moisture and seal it in.. whateva type hair you have.. let's be grateful that we have any hair and embrace it!! It's a gift from the Creator (God) and so are wigs :)

Anonymous said...

I am starting to go natural, I have 4months of new growth.(2 inches) I see spiral curls for new growth so I am 4a hair type. I'm doing a long transition. (trim as I go) and its okay for now. I got braids so I can jus let it be for a while and then I can learn my natural hair. I have a VERY small amount of 4b hair but majority is 4a. I really would like to grow to BS length (Bra Strap) when it'z curly(not stretched jus natural) but I know that because of the shrinkage it will probably be longer than BS length stretched. I love this article it gave me a few tips on things I didn't know. -Thanks (:

Anonymous said...

I am transitioning, I think I have about six months before my hair is FULLY natural. I have type 4a hair and I am still looking for different products that work for my hair. I think co washing,creams,deep conditioning,hot oil treatments and lotions work really good. I love my natural hair and you can also learn how to take care of your hair through youtube.just type in what you want to learn about and make sure they have the same type hair as you.