A Definitive Guide To 4B Hair: | Hair.com

Care, Tips, and Advice for Your Hair Type

4B Hair: What Is It, How To Care For It And Style Tips

03 April 2018
photo of woman with 4b hair type
Jelani Addams Rosa

Jelani Addams Rosa

Associate Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L'Oréal, Jelani brings her knowledge and passion for hair care to Hair.com. Before joining the Hair.com team, she spent time at Celebuzz, Seventeen, and Cosmo for Latinas.

The natural hair movement has absolutely taken off over the last few years, flooding the beauty industry with all the information about textured hair it so desperately needed. We love to see women embracing their natural hair, but with new information comes new confusion. While we used to describe our hair as either curly or straight, we now know there are many ways to label hair—but which label applies to you?

If you think you have 4B hair but aren’t exactly sure, you’ve come to the right place. Jada Jenkins, Mizani brand ambassador and stylist, is breaking down everything you need to know about what 4B hair is and how to care for it. She’s even sharing some of her favorite styling tips.

photo of woman with 4b hair

What is 4B hair?

Jenkins says the most defining characteristic of 4B hair is its Z-shaped curl pattern. Because the Z pattern creates very sharp angles in the hair, the stylist says 4B hair can take on a wiry appearance and be prone to breakage. Another telltale sign of 4B hair is how much the hair shrinks as it dries. According to Jenkins, tightly coiled 4B hair can experience shrink up to 70 percent.

4B hair is very similar to 4A and 4C hair, but there are a few major differences between the hair types. While 4B hair typically means Z-shaped curls, 4A hair has more of an S-shaped curl pattern tha tallows for more defined ringlets. By contrast, 4B and 4C hair can often take on a frizzy appearance. 4C hair will typically have a mix of waves, coils, curls, and zigzags throughout the hair.

One thing women with 4A, 4B, and 4C hair have in common is dryness. As the curls get tighter, it can become harder for the oils from the scalp to reach the entire mane. To combat this lack of hydration, Jenkins recommends heading to the salon every four weeks for a moisturizing treatment.

Dealing with parched strands is all but inevitable if you have 4B hair, but there are some stellar advantages to having this particular hair type.

“Natural and protective styles last a lot longer with 4B hair,” Jenkins says. “When 4B hair is in a protective style, the moisture has a better advantage of locking itself in.”

photo of woman with 4b hair

What is a healthy hair care routine for someone with 4B hair?

Because 4B curls are among the most fragile hair types, maintaining a healthy hair care routine is of the utmost importance. Ensuring your mane stayed moisturized is the cardinal; rule of 4B hair, according to Jenkins. To achieve this goal, you want to make sure all of the hair products that touch your strands are going to help moisturize your locks.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend Mizani’s True Textures Moisture Replenish Shampoo and Conditioner as well as True Textures Intense Moisture Replenish Treatment (when your hair needs a little extra TLC). We suggest following those up with Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk as a leave-in detangler and Mizani’s Curl Defining Pudding for styling. If you’re looking to add more products to your routine, Jenkins says to make sure they’re water-based formulas

Once your hair has been washed, conditioned, styled, and dried, Jenkins advises avoiding combing your strands again until it is time to wash your hair.

“Someone with 4B hair should never comb their hair while completely dry! Combing 4B hair while dry can cause excessive breakage and shedding,” she explains. “Once water is applied, the curl will loosen while damp—allowing for the comb the slide through the hair.”

photo of woman with 4b hair texture

The best thing about 4B hair is that you can style it any way you like. If you’re looking for a little style inspiration, Jenkins shared three of her go-to styles.

Bantu Knots

Begin by parting your hair, forming enough sections for your desired amount of knots. To make sure your look is as uniform as possible, keep the sections relatively the same size (but feel free to get creative with the way your part your hair). You can add a cool visual element to your style by parting your hair so the base of your knots form geometric shapes.

Once your hair has been sectioned off, coil each section around itself until it forms a tight twist. Then, wrap that twist around itself to form a “knot” and secure it with bobby pins or a small elastic.

Perm Rods

Apply setting lotion to 1-inch sections of your hair and wrap them around the perm rods, repeating until you’ve wrapped your entire head. Allow your hair to dry completely (feel free to use a blow dryer or hooded dryer to speed the process along) before removing the perm rods.


To pull off this look, all you need is a medium hold styling pomade, a brush, a hair pick, and an elastic. Using the hair pick, comb your hair at the roots to create volume all over your head.

Once you’ve achieved your desired volume, apply a generous amount of the medium hold styling pomade all over your edges. Don’t forget to apply the pomade to the edges on the back of your head—they will be visible once your hair is up. Gather all of your curls at the top of your head (near your hairline) and secure them with an elastic.

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