Your hair defies gravity. It absorbs the sun. It rejects the rigid winds of winter and it tells the stories of our ancestors' perseverance. We have braided maps into our tresses. We have harbored rice for our future in our locks. We have covered our kinks and coils as a way of protection that was soon turned into a form of oppression. As Black women, our hair has been the topic of conversation in rooms we are usually not present in. Our hair has been deemed unprofessional, unclean, untamed; by people who simply do not understand something so magical. Sometimes we allow ourselves to succumb to such criticisms, forgetting that it is a crown that we wear. Those who do not understand, simply aren't meant to and the day and age of being shamed is far over! The shift has begun and we are confident in our element defying manes.
With something as special as what we were given naturally, it is imperative that we treat our hair with the utmost respect. To be more specific, we must treat our roots and scalp with the same respect we treat our bodies. Since the hair you physically see coming out of your hair is technically dead, your scalp is the most critical factor for hair growth and the overall health of your hair. The scalp is very much alive and must be treated as so. If your scalp is provided with vitamins, nutrients and proteins, it will be in the finest of conditions that produce strong hair strands that resist breakage and shedding. Here is a guide to how to best maintain your 4C crown.
Yes, the scalp is crucial for all hair but what about 4C hair? The very nature of 4C hair makes the journey to your scalp a bit more ambitious. This means there has to be a certain level of care and diligence to ensure that the scalp is stimulated, clarified and tended to. Natural ingredients are the best way to provide your hair with all of its needs.
What is the category, 4C?
Whether you are new to the natural hair journey or are a seasoned veteran, you have heard of the hair typing chart. While there are a few different charts, the most familiar would be the chart created by Andre Walker. Andre Walker was Oprah Winfrey’s go to stylists for over 20 years. He has been a pioneer in Black hair care for decades. The initial purpose for this chart was to help women identify their hair and the needs specific to its pattern.This chart identified hair in 4 types: Straight, Wavy, Curly, Coiled. With his chart came sub categories, which is what you see mostly today, i.e 2a, 3b, 4c. These subcategories brought to light just some of the differences between all kinds of hair but today, we are talking about a specific category.
4c hair is the ever mysterious section on the chart that is a complete conundrum to anyone who does not possess it. They don’t understand the anatomy of every single kinky coil that intertwines with one another. 4c hair comes with challenges that are not unique to anyone else with hair on their head. Individuals with 4c hair experience trouble with moisture retention, elongation and sensitivity to heat just to name a few. For the woman with 4c hair reading this blog, this is for you. This is the spotlight that you needed to uplift your crown.
Cleansing your scalp is the most important step in any hair care routine, no matter the hair type. A cleansed scalp creates the optimal environment for healthy hair production. Without a properly cleansed scalp, your pores and follicles will become clogged. Your scalp will then be susceptible to infections, dandruff, irritation, fungus and many other complications that no one wants to deal with. A 4c person has to be specific to their scalp. Your kinks and coils may make it harder to get to your scalp if you are not diligent. Parting the hair in sections will help you target your roots and scalp without making your detangling process that much harder down the line.
Picking the proper shampoo is where it gets a bit tricky for a 4c NaturAllistas. Although we want a cleansed scalp, we have to be weary of an incredibly stripping shampoo. Shampoos heavy in sulfates will strip your coils and scalp of the necessary oils it produces. While a build up of these oils is less than ideal and should be avoided; it is also incredibly important to keep a balance. Find yourself a sulfate free shampoo that also introduces moisture to your scalp and roots. Our Hydrating Shampoo provides the perfect balance of hydration while still removing excess dirt caused by product build up, sweat, etc. Being free of sulfates means your natural oils are safe!
Condition, but how?!
Now there's a little bit of a debate about conditioning in the 4c hair world. The debate is not whether conditioning is important or not (spoiler alert: it is the MOST important), the controversy comes from HOW we should condition. Should we use the rinse off conditioner that comes with your shampoo as a default in conjunction with a deep conditioner or do you skip that altogether to focus on the everlasting benefits of your favorite deep conditioner? We’re not here to tell you which to choose but what we can do is give you a little information about both. This way you can make an informed decision!
A daily conditioner or a “rinse off” conditioner is formulated to be used in conjunction with a shampoo. Its purpose is to soften the hair shaft, add shine and lie the hair follicle down for a smoother finish. This type of conditioning is mainly targeted to the surface of the hair for easier manageability which is the exact conditions you need for proper detangling. A rinse off conditioner is not formulated to deeply penetrate the hair shaft although there are some out there! These conditioners are meant to be used more often than a deep conditioner so while you may see the results quicker, they will be gone as soon as they come.
A deep conditioner is usually made of ingredients that are known to penetrate the hair shaft such as coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. Because these ingredients penetrate the hair shaft and roots, you will have longer lasting hydration long after your wash day. This alone should tell you all you need to know about deep conditioning. Moisture retention is KEY! NaturAll created our Hydrating Ice Cream™ Treatment Deep Conditioner w with 4c hair in mind! This deep conditioner includes Meadowfoam Seed Oil which acts as a hydration barrier. It locks moisture into the hair shaft and does not allow moisture to escape.
Another great characteristic for deep conditioning is the option to apply heat while you do it. Adding heat to your deep condition incorporates all of the benefits we know hot oil treatments give our hair. Heat will open your pores and follicles which will also benefit from the nourishing vitamins and minerals that live within your deep conditioner. No matter whether you choose to use a rinse off conditioner or head straight to your favorite Ice Cream Treatment Deep Conditioner, be sure that you listen to your hair! Every 4C wash day routine can benefit from a step that includes a deeply penetrating product to maneuver through every kink. Again, be sure your hair is sectioned. Sectioning your hair will keep your hair strands from reverting back to their natural, wild state. It is fair to say that 4C hair should only be detangled while wet and while there is product in the hair to help slip. Detangling with your fingers, a very wide tooth comb or a detangling brush during this step will help reduce any breakage.
So now that you have washed out your conditioning product, you need a product that is going to continue to introduce moisture to your hair. This time you are looking for a product that is going to stay on the hair. Your 4C textured hair is going to need back up when it begins to dry, which is usually fairly quick. A good leave-in conditioner is there to pick up where your deep conditioner left off. A leave-in conditioner is usually lighter than both your rinse off conditioner and deep conditioner. Its formulation is meant to target moisture, increase elasticity and add slip for easy manageability. NaturAll’s Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner provides long lasting moisture that aids detangling. Detangling at this point in your regimen needs to be the most gentle and slip is the best way to ensure that. The best part of a leave-in conditioner is the versatility in its uses! Not only can you use this product before you begin to style your hair, a leave in can be used to refresh tired styles and bring them back to life! A leave-in conditioner is vital for 4C hair care regimen because as mentioned before, moisture is the foundation for healthy growth and easier manageability. More slip in your hair means less breakage and shedding which is another concern of the 4C community.
Show Your Style!
Now all that is left is to put your twist on this whole production! 4c hair works best when it is put into low maintenance styles such as twist outs, braid outs, protective styles or even a slick up do. The less manipulation in between wash days, the better! Along with low manipulation, 4c women also think about elongating their coils. 4c hair is notoriously known for the incredible amount of shrinkage it experiences. Most times when 4c hair is in its natural state, you may only see 50% of the length of the actual strands. This is a great sign! Coils that spring back show just how elastic your hair really is. Elasticity is one of the biggest determining factors in healthy hair. So while your shrinkage is a sign of progress, let’s be real, you want to see some length! This means you are choosing styles that show off your inches without having to be touched at all.
The best thing you can do for 4c hair is let it be and let it thrive on its own. You have to choose a styling product that provides a strong hold while it consistently introduces moisture to the hair. This is why we recommend a strong gel or paste that leaves no residue. If you choose the wrong styling product or apply your products incorrectly, you can experience flaking which will cut your style’s lifetime super short. Our Hydrating Twisting Paste is a wax free styling paste that is jam packed with hydrating ingredients that help to maintain slip while holding shape.
We all know that 4c hair can have trouble retaining moisture. All of the products and methods mentioned before would all be in vain if we did not take a step to maintain all of the nourishing and hydrating elements we just meticulously added to our hair. Now is this time to seal it all up! The best way to keep all of this moisture is to use a lightweight oil at the very end of your wash day/styling regimen. A lightweight oil will coat your hair shaft and only slightly penetrate the scalp to add a final barrier between your hair and all of the outside forces coming to soak up all your hard work! A perfect example of a lightweight oil would be our Hydrating Oil Blend with Avocado and Kiwi.
Here at NaturAll we celebrate Blackness and all it encompasses in every way possible. Whether it is through hair care, activism or simply just spreading awareness. Our 4c community has been neglected in the hair care industry for too long. Inclusiveness is important but it is even more important to recognize that not all hair is taken care of the same way. Anyone rocking their 4c tresses knows that they need definitive care instructions and products that cater especially to their needs. NaturAll has taken the time to curate a bundle that we believe will meet every standard a 4C NaturAllista looks for in a product launch. Take a look at our AvoKiwi 4C 4-Step Recipe. This bundle includes the 4 crucial steps of 4C hair care. We hope that we have created something that our 4C sisters can be proud of! Shop the new 4C recipe here. Available now at naturallclub.com.