Understanding & Caring For 4C Hair
By Qhemet Biologics
Hair texture is inherited and determined by the shape of the hair follicle. Round follicles produce straight hair while oval, oblong and flat follicles produce progressively curlier hair.
Curly hair is defined by the presence of bends along the length of a strand so the more numerous and closely spaced the bends are, whether round or angular, the curlier, colier or kinkier the hair will be. Type 4, or kinky/coily hair, falls under the category of curly hair since it contains numerous bends along its length. Type 4 hair can also be coarse or fine, thick or thin and high, medium or low porosity, or a mixture of all of these. However, the curlier the hair is, the more likely it is to be dry.
Curly hair that contains very closely spaced angular or zigzag bends along its length is considered 4C hair. These angular bends give it its characteristic crinkly texture. These angular bends can also prevent the downward flow of sebum, a naturally occurring lipid that's produced by the scalp, from reaching the ends of a strand. Without this slippery, protective lubricant, the strands can be left feeling dry and fragile. The cuticles positioned at these angles may also be raised, creating a gap which allows the moisture inside the hair's cortex to seep out. An absence of this slippery coating and the presence of raised cuticles on a coily strand makes these strands more likely to wrap around and cling to adjacent strands causing tangling and making the process of separating them, or combing, difficult. Those gaps can also cause the hair to be porous or leaky which is why retaining moisture in high porosity, 4C hair in particular, can be a challenge. In order for this texture to thrive, the moisture it absorbs must be effectively sealed in so that it doesn't leak out. Its edges and ends must also be kept properly lubricated and hydrated at all times to prevent breakage and tangling and to preserve length.
Creating slip and effectively moisturizing
As mentioned above, zigzag shaped hair is more susceptible to tangling since it lacks the slippery coating of sebum to enable each strand to slip and slide against adjacent strands rather than latching onto them and becoming entangled. The naturally dry state of high porosity 4C hair also makes it fragile and vulnerable to breakage and brittleness so it's important to handle this texture with care and properly manage it using the steps discussed below.
Step 1: Detangling
Detangling matted hair can be a painful, frustrating process when you're not equipped with the right tools, techniques and products. To reduce the time and effort it takes to restore your crown to a manageable coif that you can glide your fingers through without resistance, you'll need our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee, a multi-functional conditioner capable of both moisturizing and detangling hair. Our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee is a rich cream formulated specifically for 4C hair that contains slip, detangling and conditioning agents that simultaneously wet the hair, flatten the culticles and elongate it by weighing it down. Using a detangler with these 3 features is essential to detangling 4C hair. To get started, grab a jar of our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee, a wide tooth comb and a moisturizer, either our Amla & Olive Heavy Cream or Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade (more on these later). Start by dividing your damp or dry hair into multiple, manageable sections and applying a quarter sized amount of the Cocoa Tree to just one section at a time. Repeatedly smooth it through that section until you feel your hair softening and elongating. Using your fingers and starting from the bottom up, begin separating the strands. Once they're separated, follow up with a wide tooth comb to gently comb through as the tangles slip away.
Our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee can also be used to reduce tangling and shedding while removing twists, plaits and braids. Just coat each plait with a moderate amount of Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee, allow to sink in for at least 30 seconds, then start unraveling from the bottom up. This technique acts to wet the hair, softening it up enough to help each sections pull away from each other without excessive pulling or breakage.Using a thin tooth comb or combing 4C hair while dry, without a creamy detangler, will lead to frayed ends and excessive pulling and ripping of the hair which can result in traction alopecia.
Step 2: Moisturizing
Qhemet Biologics has mastered the art of moisturizing high porosity, 4C hair. Our products contain a balanced and effective combination of plant based ingredients that retain and draw moisture to the hair and lock it in, preventing moisture loss across several days. Our Amla & Olive Heavy Cream is an ultra hydrating cream capable of keeping the thickest, driest hair soft and supple for days. Our Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade is a 100% vegan, mineral oil-free pomade that supports growth and imparts shine, softness and pliability. Using either the Amla & Olive Heavy Cream or the Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade, thoroughly distribute a nickle sized amount throughout the recently detangled section of hair. This will keep the strands fully lubricated and slippery and prevent them from latching onto adjacent strands. Twist, plait or braid this section or otherwise style as desired before moving on. Repeat this process for each section. You'll be amazed at how soft and supple your 4C hair feels afterwards and more importantly, how quick, easy and painless the detangling process was.
Step 3: Minimal manipulation
Many people erroneously believe that because 4C hair has a crinkly texture and can feel wiry or coarse, that it's tough and can be handled roughly. It's time to put that myth to rest. In reality, 4C hair is the most fragile and delicate of hair textures, breaking easily from rough combing, high traction hair styles and harsh chemical treatments. A lack of moisture can also cause it to become brittle. All of these factors can lead to hair that's perpetually dry, dull and short despite growing at a regular and consistent rate. 4C hair should be handled gently and minimally manipulated at all times. This texture is its healthiest when its optimally moisturized, minimally handled and kept in protective styles like 2 strand twists, flat twists, loose plaits and locs most of the time. Type 4 hair in general grows at an average rate of 4 inches per year so if it's kept moisturized and infrequently styled, after 5 years, it should be healthy, strong and at least 20 inches long. Soft, lush 4C hair is easily attainable for just about everyone with the proper care.
Step 4: Stick to this routine and your hair will flourish
Once you realize that the key to achieving and maintaining healthy, radiant 4C hair is using Qhemet products along with texture compatible combing and styling techniques, you'll no longer dread going into wash day or take down day. Our gentle, 4C hair care routine is optimized for simplicity, health and growth and provides all the moisture and nutrients your 4C hair needs to flourish and grow!