How to get the most out of your type 4A natural hair

Jul. 22, 2020
To find the best treatment for different hair types, celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker devised the Hair Typing System, categorizing hair from 1 (straight, curl resistant), through to 4 (coiled, kinky hair). If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for us!
Type 4 hair get progressively curlier, from 4A (very curly) to 4C (the very tightest coils). Here we focus on the characteristics of type 4A natural hair, and how to treat it to get the absolute best from those gorgeous curls.
What is type 4A natural hair?
Type 4A hair has a well-defined curl structure, with an S-shaped pattern.  Its cylindrical coils are usually the width of a pencil, and many women, primarily black women, have this type of hair.
4A hair has a corkscrew texture that tends to retain moisture well and it’s therefore less prone to shrinkage than the curlier type 4 categories. It does tend to be prone to dryness and can easily become dehydrated, tangled, or damaged. However, when it is properly cared for with the right products, type 4A looks stunning, with beautiful soft, shiny and well-defined curls.
Treatment tips for 4a natural hair
  • Shampoo – do not, I repeat do not, wash type 4A hair every day! Try not to wash it more than twice a week, using a shampoo for damaged hair, ideally one that is sulfate-free, to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils. For best results, run your fingers through your curls before washing to loosen and separate.
  • Conditioner – type 4A hair can be prone to dryness, so needs plenty of moisture, otherwise it is likely to get damaged and break. Due the shape of the hair strands, the natural oil from your scalp cannot coat the entire length of your hair, so it helps to focus on the ends. Natural leave-in conditioners are particularly good for your curls.
  • Protect from heat – if you do use heated styling aids and hair dryers, make sure you use a heat protectant product to minimize damage. Better still, let your hair dry naturally from time to time, and dry on a low setting using a hood dryer or diffuser. Pat your hair first to remove excess moisture, using a t-shirt rather than a towel to avoid frizz.
  • Gently separate your curls – avoid brushing, as it can damage and break the hair, leading to hair loss. Instead, separate your wet curls gently using your fingers, or carefully section using a wide-toothed comb.
  • Use a cream plus oil – rub a dollop of curl cream through your wet hair, to add another layer of moisture. Seal it in with a layer of oil – try caster oil, coconut, jojoba, olive or avocado, as they are packed full of vital nutrients. Keep reapplying oil as required, particularly to the ends.
  • Define your curls – gels or serums can be used to separate and define your curls. Apply with your fingers taking care not to 
  • Protein masks – use every 2-4 weeks, to strengthen and protect your curls. But be careful to condition sufficiently as protein treatments can be drying.
  • Night-time care – to protect your curls while you sleep, consider using a silk or satin pillowcase, or wrapping your hair in a silk scarf. Cotton pillowcases can be abrasive to your curls, causing them to become frizzy. You can also sleep with your hair in a pineapple up-do to protect it from tugs and tangles.
Give your type 4A some loving care by following these tips, and your hair is sure to love you back and repay you by looking its best!
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