If you’ve been in the Natural Hair Community long enough, one of the things you learn pretty early on, is the system used to classify hair texture. The most popular and widely known system within the Natural Hair Community is the one that was created by Andre Walker, Celebrity Stylist also widely known as Oprah’s stylist. He classified hair into four main categories: Type 1 which is Straight , Type 2 which is Wavy, Type 3 which is Curly Type 4 which is Kinky. These classifications are further categorized into a, b and c which translate to Fine/Thin, Medium and Coarse respectively.
Some within the Natural Hair Community may or may not want to be associated with this system because of personal reasons. But I think because it’s the most popular and widely used classification system, it is quite easy to communicate to others. When you tell someone, “I have type 4 Hair, or type 3 hair etc” they immediately understand exactly what you mean.
In today’s post I will be focusing on Type 4 hair. Basically, Type 4 hair is known to be kinky, zig zag and tightly coiled with little/no noticeable curl definition/pattern.
In my personal Natural Hair Journey, before I big chopped I was aware of the fact that my hair was Type 4 hair because I had been Natural for almost 4 years prior. The first time around, I transitioned into Natural and early on in my journey, I tried watching various videos on YouTube and I would attempt to do a Twist Out, Bantu Knot Out and Wash N Gos and they never came out the way I liked. The styles would not hold and would appear frizzy. I tried various techniques and even tried different products.
Back then I remember a lot of people with this hair type would advice that this hair type is best left alone and thrives with minimum manipulation. (…I’m not saying that this is not true…all I’m saying is it doesn’t have to be the only option.)
After being frustrated with styling for a while, I decided that I will not be wearing my hair out. I often opted to wear my hair in twists and pin them in a protective style. If I did want to wear my hair out I would wear it in a bun or in an updo and if I did do a twist out or bantu knot out and didn’t like it, I would simply pin it up in an updo and go about my day.
For the longest time I believed that my hair can’t do certain things…and I was ok with that.I accepted it and took it for what it is and loved my hair regardless. I think this is something a lot of us with this type of hair, can identify with. I think most of us would watch a YouTube video and see someone else do a certain style or use a certain product and we would attempt to recreate this style or go out and buy this product…and it wouldn’t quite come out as it did for that particular person. I think a lot of people who have this type of hair are usually frustrated with their hair. And I think most of it is also due to the social, historical and cultural connotations of having this type of hair. But this post is not about that!
This post is about a forum post I discovered some weeks ago while researching a new regimen that would work for the length of hair I currently have, for my type of hair and the type of convenience I currently want with my hair. This forum post opened my eyes to a few things which are misconceptions that are often associated with Type 4 Hair.
From this point onwards I will summarize below from my notes that I took from her post and what I understood and learned from her information.I credit all this information to Pinkecube on Black Hair Media Forum.
Basically what she (Pinkecube) was saying is that there are a lot of misconceptions about what hair in the type 4 spectrum that is 4 A, B, C , Z ( lol ) whatever you want to call it CAN do or NEEDS. Before I get into this new regimen I’ll be doing, I just want go through one of the biggest misconceptions she talks about because this is key into understanding what this whole regimen is about.
She first starts by re-defining the word NAPPY. She says that within the Natural Hair Community we tend to equate Type 4 hair to Nappy Hair with minimum to no curl pattern or definition while Nappy hair is actually Frizzy Dry/Chronically Dry Hair. It’s actually a condition of the hair and not a hair type. What causes the frizz is when our hair is chronically dry, the cuticles reach out for moisture which causes the frizzy aka nappy look.
Because of this misconception most of us naturals with Type 4 hair don’t know how to manage the dryness and frizz in our hair and don’t do anything to manage this condition because we simply accept this is how our hair is supposed to be.
Because we are misinformed so to speak, we don’t take advantage of an important aspect to our hair care that needs to be managed because we don’t understand what our hair needs, wants or how to get in enough moisture into our hair shaft.
So the first step is in understanding that Nappy hair is essentially frizzy, dry hair that can be managed and overcome by simply building moisture retention levels into the hair shaft over time until you reach Maximum Curl Hydration.
In this case Nappy Hair or Dry, Frizzy Hair affects any hair type, curl size or pattern. Even hair that has a looser pattern you know what we call your typical type 1 to 3 can get nappy aka dry and frizzy, IF it’s chronically dry. But Type 4 Hair is more likely to be Nappy because out of all the hair types it has a harder time retaining and absorbing moisture. Hence tends to look Nappy 90% of the time.
What determines the level of frizziness is actually the curl tightness and porosity of the hair, the ingredients within your products and the way they affect moisture absorption and retention and what practices are introduced into our regimen in order to get the moisture into the hair shaft.
So when we say Wash and Gos “don’t work” on Nappy hair or our type of hair or when we say we have a hard time keeping styles beyond day 1 hair or day 2 hair. Its not that our hair CANT do this, but because our hair is not moisturized enough, it is unable to keep set styles and our hair frizzes up way to quickly. Because our hair has not reached optimum hydration levels to allow our style to set and hold the pattern formed when wet.
So actually what we are saying in essence is true, in the sense that dry, frizzy hair will not get the defined “look” so to speak that is associated with Wash and Gos. However any type of hair that is properly moisturized can achieve a Wash n Go even your type 4 hair.
That being said, any type of hair, no matter the size, curl pattern or porosity can get to maximum hydration using the right practices even tightly coiled type 4 a, b and c hair. The benefits of reaching optimum hydration levels with type 4 hair include elimination of knots and tangles due to the clumping together of hair which allows for easy styling and manageability of hair and of course healthy hair because it is sufficiently hydrated.
One of the things that was a big revelation to me is the fact that she said that most ladies with Type 4 hair usually have low porosity hair as well. If you know what low porosity is…it is when the hair has a hard time absorbing/receiving moisture. So it makes sense that if your hair has problems letting in moisture then your hair will look frizzy 90% of the time. Therefore you will need to work harder as compared to other naturalistas with other hair types, to make sure that you consistently on a regular basis introduce techniques into your hair regimen which allow for better absorption of moisture into the hair shaft. This includes methods to lift up your hair cuticles to allow them to receive the moisture.
Infact our hair type (Type 4 hair) is the one that craves moisture the most! What is ironic about our misconception is we all know that our hair needs water because of its inability to hold on to moisture due to our coily texture yet we don’t think rehydrating our hair on a regular basis (by incorporating regular washing) works for our hair. While infact the technique and products we are using during the washing process or wash and go regimen is what does not work for our hair type.
Once our hair reaches maximum hydration only then can we actually see our tightly coiled or zig zag pattern “pop” get defined what is also known as “hydrated curls”, our hair will clump together more easily which will eliminate single strand knots and tangling and this will help in manageability and successful styling of the hair.
Links to the Forum Posts mentioned on this subject below:
Special thanks to:
Pinkecube for being so generous and forth coming with information. For your in depth research into this method and for always helping everyone with troubleshooting.
Youtubers who have successfully reached Maximum Hydration Levels with their hair:
Aketafitgirl for sharing awesome tips on your journey to Maximum Hydration and experiences with the Curly Girl Method.
Danabnatural for sharing your journey and experiences from a chronically dry big chop with Low Porosity hair to Maximum Hydration using the Curly Girl Method and Hair Care Rehab.
Rachelcpr who is a Professional Cosmetologist who shares very wise advice and tips on how to Successfully care for Natural Hair using the Curly Girl Method.
All are very humble, giving and generous in sharing what has worked successfully on their hair with others.
In the next post I’ll discuss “What is the Maximum Hydration Method“
I will have a list of all relevant information concerning this method on my The Maximum Hydration Method Page
Thanx so much for stopping by ♥,
Much Love & Blessings,