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

04 October 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 taken off over the last few years, flooding the beauty industry with all the information about textured hair it so desperately needed. Whether they have dark brown hair or dirty blonde hair, we love to see women embracing their natural hair, but with new knowledge 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 one 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.

What is 4B hair?

The most defining characteristic of 4B hair is its Z-shaped curl pattern. Because the Z pattern creates very sharp angles in the hair, 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 significant differences between the curl types. While 4B hair typically means Z-shaped curls, 4A hair has an S-shaped curl pattern that allows 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...When 4B hair is in a protective style, the moisture has a better advantage of locking itself in.
 
 
 

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

Because 4B hair is among the most fragile hair types, maintaining a healthy hair care routine is of the utmost importance. Ensuring your mane stays 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 will 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) from the L'Oréal portfolio of products. 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's time to wash your hair.

“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.”

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, we're sharing several of go-to styles down below.

4B Hairstyle Ideas

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 equal in size (but feel free to get creative with the way you part your hair).

You can add a cool visual element to your style by parting your hair so that the bases 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 build a knot shape and secure it with bobby pins or a small elastic.

Lacers

Apply setting lotion to 1-inch sections of your hair and wrap them around the lacers, 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 lacers.

Pineapple

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.

Wash-And-Go

If you’re a naturalista, chances are good the wash-and-go is a staple style for you. All you need to do is apply a leave-in conditioner like Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk and a styling product like Mizani’s True Textures Perfect Coil Oil Gel throughout your strands and scrunch your curls to create definition. Allow your ringlets to air dry or dry your strands with a diffuser, and you’re good to go!

Side Bantu Knots

If you love the look of a shaved side but aren’t interested in actually shaving off your strands, you’ve probably tried braiding just above the temple before. That’s not the only way to achieve the look you’re going after! These side bantu knots give the side of your head a somewhat smooth appearance while allowing the rest of your hair to flourish.

Just section off three 3-inch sections of hair on the side of your hair and create bantu knots with each section. Then, fluff the rest of your hair with a hair pick to create stunning visual contrast.

Mohawk

To begin, apply a firm hold product like Mizani’s Edge Control Taming Gel all over your edges. Working with one side at a time, brush your hair up to the center of your head.

Place several bobby pins in your hair to secure the mohawk in place. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side of your head. Once your mohawk is secure, use a hair pick to give your hair significant volume and set your look with a formula like Mizani’s HD Shyne Hair Spray.

Double Poofs

For this look, you’ll need a brush, a hair pick, a firm hold pomade, and two hair elastics. The key to a flawless poof is to make sure your edges are entirely laid and your poof is as big as possible.

Begin by using a hair pick to create volume all over your head. Then, create a center part down the middle of your hair and apply the firm hold pomade all over your edges. Brush the pomade through until your hair lay completely flat. Working with one side at a time, gather the section of hair in the top of your head and secure with a hair elastic. Repeat the same steps on the other part of the hair. Once your poofs are secure, fluff to make sure the style is even on all sides.

Half Up Bun

If you’d like an upgrade from the simple half-up ponytail, consider swapping out your pony for a bun. Just gather the top half of your hair in a ponytail and fasten it with a hair elastic. Then, wrap your ponytail around itself until you form a bun and secure the style with several bobby pins. For a final touch, use a hair pick to fluff the remaining hair for a voluminous look.

Undefined Afro

For this look, you’ll need a comb, a brush, a hair pick, a spray leave-in conditioner, and a few hair clips. This style works best on day three or four hair when your curls have already begun to become a little frizzy. To prevent tangles, part and clip your hair into a couple of sections and lightly mist them with a spray leave-in conditioner like Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk to make sure your hair remains moisturized. Then softly begin to brush out your curls until your hair is fluffy and your curl pattern is barely visible. Continue this process section by section until you’ve completed your whole head. For a final touch, use a hair pick to give yourself volume at your roots.

Interested in personalized advice about your hair type? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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