Skip to Content

4B Hair Type: How is it Different from 3a, 4a and 4c?

4B hair is kinky rather than curly or coily. Rather than forming a tight spiral like 4c hair type, 4b hair bends into Z shaped angles. The bends are tighter than with 4a hair, but less defined.

4b natural hair strands can be anywhere from thin to coarse, and any level of porosity. This guide shows you how 4b hair is different from 3a, 4a and 4c, as well as the best products and routine to care for this unique and special hair type.

black hair types

The Hair Typing System was created in the 1990s by Oprah Winfrey’s hair stylist Andre Walker. He originally designed the The Hair Chart to market his line of hair care products, but the chart has since been widely used as a hair type classification system.

It’s important to know both your hair type and hair porosity when choosing which products and oils to use on your hair. According to The Hair Chart there are four different hair types: type 1 straight, type 2 wavy, type 3 curly, and type 4 kinky or coily.

Type 4 tends to have low porosity levels, just like type 1. If you don’t know your hair porosity level I’ve written a whole guide on how to find your hair porosity level.

This post looks at the very curly, coily and kinky hair types, and in particular the best products and routine for hair type 4b.

4b Hair Type

What does Type 4B hair look like?

Type 4b hair is often referred to as kinky hair or Afro-textured. This hair type is often very dry and has a spongy texture. The hair strands form a very tight zig-zag pattern from the scalp. 4b and 4c hair types are easily mixed up especially if the hair is dry and frizzy. This hair type tends to clump together rather than forming coils.

full head,  4b natural hair type
clip ins, 4b natural hair type

4c Hair Type

Is my hair 4B or 4C?

4c and 4b hair are very similar in texture but the hair strands in 4c type are more fragile and much tighter. 4c hair type is more densely packed together and the hair forms more of a coil shape than a zig-zag.

curl pattern, 4b natural hair type
4c hair type, 4b natural hair type

4a Hair Type

People with hair type 4A have springy tight coils that are in an S pattern. They are more defined and easier to see than with 4c hair, and they don’t have the same sharp angles as 4b hair.

natural type
crochet needle

3c Hair Type

3c hair type is curly rather than coily. The hair strands are densely packed together as with 4c hair, and both hair types have a lot of natural volume. Frizziness can be an issue with 3c hair. 3c and 4c hair types were not included in the original hair chart by Andre Walker but were added in later.

3c hair, hair type chart
3c hair

Caring for Type 4b Natural Hair

Since this hair type is usually low porosity it tends to lack moisture and become dry. It’s important to use a gentle shampoo that won’t strip the hair of it’s natural oils, and a good deep conditioner to keep the hair hydrated.

Using the LOC Method to Retain Moisture in 4b Hair

The LOC method is perfect for moisturising 4b hair and leaving it looking bouncy and defined. “LOC” stands for Liquid / Leave in conditioner, Oil, Cream, and the technique involves applying each to the hair in that order.

The LOC method actually works best for those with high porosity hair since this hair type tends to be dry, frizzy and dry very fast. For low porosity hair types it still works well but with one small change – add the cream before the oil, so it becomes the LCO method. This difference in order means low porosity hair is less likely to be weighed down by the products.

Step 1 – Cleanse and Apply Leave in Conditioner

When cleansing 4b natural hair you should choose a co-wash or sulphate free shampoo that won’t dry your hair or strip it of its natural oils.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser

The Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser is perfect for helping 4b natural hair to retain moisture. It contains both coconut oil and shea butter which help to control frizz and leave the hair vibrant and bouncy. This gentle formula also won’t interfere with the scalp’s natural oils.

Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly Wash

If you don’t want to use a co-wash, the best shampoo for 4b hair is the Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly Wash. It is a sulfate-free shampoo infused with vitamin b5 to soften the hair and leave bouncy, defined, and glossy coils. This shampoo was formulated specially for curly, and coily hair textures and will leave your hair amazingly springy and light.

Once you have cleansed your hair you should choose your leave in conditioner. Leave in conditioners are usually water-based and have light milky textures. If you have 4b hair try to choose deep conditioners which contain Argan oil or avocado oil as these are rich in essential fatty acids which will increase the hair’s elasticity and make it less likely to break. Shea butter is another good ingredient to look for when choosing products for your hair care routine as it adds moisture and shine to the hair.

Noughty Intensive Care Leave In Conditioner

Noughty Intensive Care Leave In Conditioner

The Noughty Intensive Care Leave In Conditioner contains both Argan oil and shea butter and helps to increase the hair’s elasticity and moisture levels. This is very important for 4b and 4c hair types which are more prone to dryness than other hair types.

Step 2 – Apply Cream

Low porosity hair types should apply cream next whereas high porosity hair types should apply oil. This stage involves using a creamy butter to seal the hair. The purpose of the cream is to make the hair more hydrated, and defined in texture. Cream helps the coils to hold their definition.

As I Am DoubleButter Cream Rich Daily Moisturizer

The As I Am DoubleButter Cream Rich Daily Moisturizer works well on all curly hair types in helping to create a defined curl pattern. If you have a coily hair type or dry hair this product will leave your coils bouncy and full of moisture.

African Pride Shea Butter Miracle Crème Hair Moisturizer

Another great choice for 4b natural hair is the African Pride Shea Butter Miracle Crème Hair Moisturizer. It is one of the best 4b hair products for eliminating dryness since it’s enriched with shea butter. It helps to improve the hair’s texture and create definition in high density hair.

Step 3 – Apply Oil

Applying oil is the final step only for low porosity hair. High porosity hair should apply oil second and then seal with the cream last. The reason the order is changed for low porosity hair is because this hair type is more prone to product build up.

Ensure you only apply a thin layer of oil to lock in moisture, but be careful not to be excessive and end up making your hair look weighed down or greasy. Try to choose a hair oil that has been formulated with an emulsifier as this will help the oil to mix with water and deliver moisture to the hair instead of just sitting on top of the hair shaft.

When choosing the right oil, castor oil and olive oil tend to work well on high porosity hair and Argan oil and avocado oil work well on low porosity hair.

Ogx Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Penetrating Hair Oil For Dry Hair

ogx Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Penetrating Hair Oil For Dry Hair

The Ogx Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Penetrating Hair Oil is perfect for for dry, damaged or coarse 4b natural hair. It helps to soften the 4b hair texture and add shine to any curl type including type 3b, type 3c, type 4c, spiral curls, and wavy hair.

Best Hairstyling Tools for 4b Hair

It’s important to have the right combs and brushes to style 4b hair. I recommend that you use a wide-tooth comb when trying to detangle 4b curls, or a detangling brush. Detangle the hair after you have applied conditioner as this helps to prevent the hair pulling or breaking. Also always make sure you work from the roots towards the ends. I have tested out 15 different wide-tooth combs which you can view here: 15 best detangling wide tooth combs.

Protective Styles for 4b Natural Hair

A protective style is a hairstyle that keeps the ends of the hair protected by tucking them away. They give the ends of your hair a break from being manipulated or from harsh weather conditioners. Protective styles usually involve grouping the hair strands together to hide the delicate ends. Some examples include box braids, cornrows, bantu knots, twist outs and braid outs.

If you have 4b hair you may want to put your hair into a protective style during the winter to keep it healthy. One of the most popular winter protective styles is box braids.

Box braids in 4b Hair Type

Box braids are a type of hair braid that are popular among black women. They are called “box braids” because they are made up of square shaped hair divisions. They are usually put in with synthetic hair to make them thicker and can last for 6-8 weeks. It can take a long time to put box braids in but they are known to be easy to maintain. They are a protective style which can protect the hair ends whilst the hair grows. They are not attached to the scalp like cornrows.

Box braids
Box braids

Andre Walker Hair Products

Andre Walker was Oprah’s hair stylist and the person responsible for originally creating the Hair Type Chart below.

Andrew Walker's chart

He created the hair type chart to help market his hair care line which included the right products to take proper care of natural, black, curly and kinky hair. His products all contain high quality ingredients and are the best way to help improve the hair’s natural texture. His range called The Gold System is specifically made for type 3 and type 4 hair.

I highly recommend the shampoo, conditioner and styling creme from Andre Walker’s The Gold System.

Which Products Are Curly Girl Approved?

Check out the following posts to find out whether your favourite hair care brand is CG approved.

This post was all about how to care for 4b Hair Type

Thank you for reading this post. What is your hair type? Have you tried any of the products recommended in this post? Please leave me a comment below and let me know how you got on.