How to Embrace and Care for Your 4A Hair

Although classifying your hair can be tricky, we know it’s a list we must cross off on our curly hair journey. Particularly in the group 4 hair category, there has been a great deal of confusion. If you think you are a 4a but sometimes also wonder if you’re a 3c or 4b, this article will clear up your doubts and teach you how to care for your particular hair type properly.

To get you started, type 1s, which are straight; type 2s, which are wavy; type 3s, which are curly; and type 4s, which are coily. The subclasses of A through C are defined by the width or diameter of your wave, curl, or coil.

What is 4a Hair Type?

4a Hair Type
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Coily hair is categorized as a group 4 hair type, which includes 4a. Coily hair is firmly coiled and can range from a spring-s pattern to a zigzag pattern, with subclassification 4a being the least dense and 4c being the densest and most tightly coiled.

The term “afro hair,” “black hair,” and “coarse hair” are commonly used to characterize group 4 hair. The four hair groups are prone to dryness due to how tightly curled the strands are based on the structure of the hair follicle; as a result, the strands are deprived of oils from the scalp and become excessively dry and brittle.

There’s a general misconception that all black people have the same hair type, and that’s untrue; typically, the afro hair is the 4c hair type.

How to Identify 4a Hair type

4a Hair Identification
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The 4a hair has a very tight s-shaped curl pattern and grows vertically from the head, giving it a naturally lifted and volumized root. Take a hair strand and stretch it out to see the contour of the curl pattern; this will help you identify it. Because it is curly and springy, the 4a hair type is readily confused with the 3c type; nevertheless, the difference lies in its growth and voluminous features.

Care and Maintenance Tips for Type 4a Hair 

4a Hair Care
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Knowing the nature of your hair will help you better understand how to care for it and what it needs. As with the other hair types in its family, the 4a hair type is prone to dryness. Adding moisture and more moisture can help! Additionally, practicing good hair care.

1. Know your Hair Porosity

Understanding your porosity, which determines how much moisture your hair absorbs, is just as important as knowing your hair type. How well your hair absorbs and retains moisture depends on its porosity.

Low, normal, and high porosity hair are the categories of hair porosity. Curly hair with low porosity has trouble absorbing moisture but does an excellent job holding it in. The more hair is damaged—heat styling, exposure to the sun, chemical processing, and excessive manipulation—the more porous it becomes.

High porosity can quickly lose moisture yet can easily absorb it. Thus, normal porosity hair has suffered only minor damage and is still capable of efficiently absorbing and holding onto moisture. Visit this link to learn more about determining your hair’s porosity. Knowing your hair’s porosity will help you choose the right hair products for your requirements.

2. Do a Pre-poo Treatment 

Pre-pooing is necessary for the type four hair category! Pre-pooing is the process of treating your hair before washing it. Since shampoo often contains harsh surfactants, using it can significantly deplete the natural oils from the hair. Your type 4a hair might benefit from an additional layer of protection because it is undoubtedly prone to dryness.

Apply a hot oil treatment, which involves heating a bowl with various oils. Once the oil is warmed, massage your scalp while applying the oil to your hair in portions. Blood circulation is improved by scalp massage, which promotes hair development. You might also gently untangle your hair and leave it alone for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Before shampooing, conditioners or other hair treatments can be applied to the hair to add a layer of protection and to keep the hair moisturized.

3. Use a Sulfate free Shampoo

Sulfates are harsh surfactants, and those found in shampoo overly strip the hair of its natural oils. Since 4a hair is already prone to dryness, increasing that wouldn’t be beneficial to the hair. Use a shampoo with a milder surfactant for the hair strands, and avoid vigorous rubbing and scrubbing when shampooing because wet hair is incredibly brittle.

Then, after lathering your hands with a good amount of shampoo, massage the scalp by rubbing your hands together and rubbing the scalp back and forth with your fingertips to remove any buildup.

Before shampooing low porosity hair, thoroughly saturate it in warm water to gently raise the cuticle. You can also use a co-washing conditioner instead on a wash day; find out more about co-washing conditioners here.

4. Deep Condition Weekly 

The coils are kept hydrated and in good condition by deep conditioners. They function three times better than a typical conditioner and prevent split ends. For the 4a type, dryness is a significant issue, and weekly deep conditioning treatments can make all the difference.

Apply the deep conditioner from the mid-length to the tips after dividing your hair into four quadrants to ensure all the strands are covered. You next put on a shower cap or a hooded dryer, primarily for low porosity hair. Depending on the product directions, let it sit for at least 30 minutes before giving it a good rinse. 

5. Detangle with a Wide-tooth Comb

Make it a habit to detangle your hair regularly, but use a wide-tooth comb and do it gently while working in sections.

Tangling slows down hair growth and leads to breakage. Conditioned hair offers that slide and makes detangling much more manageable; thus, it is recommended to detangle hair in that state.

Add a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray when you aren’t washing your hair; a leave-in conditioner doesn’t require rinsing and can hydrate the hair all day long; a wonderful and reasonably priced option is Kinky Curl Knot today. When you are untangling a painful knot, don’t yank the knots out; instead, use your fingertips, or you could saturate it in running water, that’ll soften the knot.

6.  Moisturizing Products are Essential 

It cannot be overstated that 4a hair needs moisture assistance because it is dryness prone. Natural oils have a tougher time penetrating the hair shaft because of the oval-shaped follicle, and the four hair categories have the tightest curl pattern, which makes it harder!

Using the LCO or LOC method, which stands for leave-in (liquid), cream, and oils or leave-in, oils, and creams, add your moisturizing products after washing your hair; the leave-in conditioner that is best for your hair type and porosity, gel, curl cream, hair oils, and serum. Discover the technique that suits you the best.

Emollients and humectants, which are commonly found in creams and oils, act to lock in moisture by forming an oily coating. I advise choosing a cream or oil based on the porosity of the hair. A heavier-weight product contains substances like oils and butter for much more porous hair, whereas lighter-weight products are for hair types with less density and low porosity. Pay close attention to regions more prone to dryness when applying these products, then rake the styling products through the hair to define curls.

7.  Avoid Overstyling!

Your hair may become weighed down, dry out, and break off from using styling products. Give your hair a break from over-touching and over-styling, and refrain from excessive physical manipulation.

Alternate between some protective hairstyles and fewer products. Protective hairstyles like Bantu knots, single plaits, and twists are easy to do yourself and protect your hair, especially its ends, which are more exposed to mechanical and environmental damage, promoting hair growth.

7. Maintain a Hair Trimming Schedule 

Split ends should be cut off as they may impede hair development and signal damage. Split ends are noticeable when the hair strand splits; you should be able to tell if you have them. Because split ends are weak, they are more likely to tangle than healthy ends, which makes the hair more prone to tangles.

It is advisable to cut hair when stretched since the 4a hair type is prone to significant shrinkage. Your hair would look better overall, and there would be less breakage. Every six weeks is the suggested time for a trim, but consistency is crucial.

8. Put on a protective head wrap before bed

A head cover for protection is necessary if you use cotton sheets to sleep on! Because of friction or increased tension caused by the cotton material surface, especially during tossing and turning, the moisture from the hair strands is absorbed.

Therefore, if you apply an overnight hair treatment and then sleep, it all goes away, leaving your hair looking dry and unruly when you wake up. Sleep with a silk or satin bonnet or scarf to avoid that. Their smooth surface reduces friction and strain, allowing the hair to retain moisture and wake up with healthy coils.

It’s straightforward to wrap your hair in silk or satin; take your selected piece, join the opposite ends to form a triangle, making sure the silkier side is facing out, bend forward, and drape the scarf over your neck with the middle point aimed at your forehead. Take the ends hanging at the sides and tie them in a knot above the middle piece at the top hairline. The remaining pieces should be tucked into the sides of the wrap. 

10. Clarify once a While 

Regular hair care and style routines leave behind product residue that can damage hair and make it appear weighed down. To get rid of that buildup, you’ll need a clarifying treatment, and there are home remedies for this.

A chelating shampoo is recommended if you live in a hard water environment, as you may have a mineral buildup. A chelating shampoo functions similarly to a clarifying shampoo but contains EDTA agents that bind to minerals allowing them to be washed away. If you don’t have a clarifying shampoo, a sulfate-containing shampoo will do; an acid vinegar rinse and baking soda in a regular shampoo also work.

Best Products for 4a Hair Type

4a Hair product
Instagram / @sheamoisture


  • Shea Moisture African deep cleansing soap.
  • Nature little Secret Cucumber Shampoo
  • Naturally Azelia’s Mint Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Kinky Tresses Avocado Infusion Shampoo
  • Uniqurl 2-1 Conditioning Shampoo
  • Adwoa shampoo 



Deep Conditioner 

  • Kinky Tresses Restorative DC.
  • Bring Me Back to Life Moisture Repair Mask.
  • Nature’s Little Secret Mixed Fruit & Milk Strengthening Mask.
  • Soultanicals Fro Despair

Leave in & hair milk



  • Kinky Tresses Coconut and Mango Hair Butter
  • Soultanicals Marula Muru Moisture Guru
  •  Beautybynesaf Nourish Me Herbal Hair Growth Butter



  • Coils In Paradise Multipurpose Oil.
  • Dominican Curly Ayurvedic Oil
  • June Rose Kurls 5 Essential Oils
  • Jojoba oil


Your curls are gorgeous, and they require specific products tailored for your hair type and porosity to thrive. Some additional tips are to avoid heat styling, as it could alter the hair proteins, or ensure your hair is protected while at it by coating the hair strands in a heat protectant and using a low heat setting.

If your curls aren’t where you want them to be yet, switching up your products might be all you need and most importantly, take it a step at a time. Focus on keeping your hair healthy.

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