Taking care of your 4C hair should not be so tasking especially when you have a consistent and effective hair care routine.
If I was to start all over again with my natural hair, I would use this exact guide to get me started. I hope you find this post helpful, it is a compilation of my top 4C Hair Care Tips from several years of being natural and tons and tons of research.
Here is a detailed guide on how to grow long, healthy 4C hair.
Start from the basics
- Understand your hair type, hair porosity and the basic science of hair growth and damage
- Understand what your hair needs to thrive: (i) proper nutrition (ii) adequate moisture (iii) Proper Handling
- Create a simple hair care routine that is within your budget, and fits well with your lifestyle
- Test out the hair care routine and if need be make adjustments, it only gets better with time and practice
- Be consistent with your hair care routine
Establish an effective and consistent 4C hair care routine
Establishing a natural hair care routine is one of the most important things to do if you want to grow long healthy hair.
Similar to many hair care practices, establishing a routine is something that you will need to experiment with over time, tweaking things here and there until you get the ‘magic’ routine.
I recommend establishing a daily, weekly and monthly routine with simple achievable tasks that work.
Daily hair care routine for your 4C hair is mainly just moisturizing, sealing and protecting the hair. This helps in maintaining hydration and keeps your hair soft and easy to manage.
Kinky hair certainly dries up faster than other hair types, because it is tightly coiled hence needs to be moisturized regularly. When your hair has a lot of kinks, it’s harder for your scalp’s natural oils to travel down your strands, leaving your hair prone to dryness.
Weakly hair care routine is just as important as a daily hair routine. Things like shampooing your hair can cause damage to your hair if done daily and therefore should be left to either weekly or twice a month with co-washing in between.
Monthly hair care routine is reserved for those special treatments that are very valuable to the hair and done less frequently.
Proper diet and nutrition
Proper diet and nutrition is very crucial to hair growth however most people ignore this and focus on product application! Your body needs to be healthy in order to grow healthy hair and therefore ensure you take the right vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and other supplements.
Pre-poo natural hair before shampooing
A pre-poo is a treatment for preparing the hair before shampooing. The main purpose of pre-pooing is to ensure your hair is well-prepared for the shampooing process. The pre-poo protects your 4C hair from the harsh and stripping nature of shampoo.
Benefits to pre-pooing your hair include:
- Makes detangling easier: If you are like many 4C naturals, you might be dreading wash days so much because of the dreaded detangling process. Adding a pre-poo treatment gives your hair slip making it easier to remove any tangles and knots before applying shampoo. Not only does this extra step make cleansing process much easier, it also helps minimize hair loss while shampooing.
- Adds moisture: Using a pre-poo treatment moisturizes your hair prior to getting into your wash routine. It prepares the hair and scalp for any moisture you may lose during shampooing.
- Improves Manageability: A pre-poo treatment softens the hair thus making it manageable. When you can manage your hair easily, there is less chance of damage during washing. With less breakage, you will see much more length retention.
Cleanse with a gentle shampoo, alternate with Co-washing
Exposure to shampoo in 4C hair should be kept minimal as most shampoo’s tend to strip the moisture and oils in the hair leaving your hair feeling dry and brittle.
Always check the ingredients on your shampoo to ensure they do not have harmful chemicals. Don’t run for a shampoo that works for a girl with straight or wavy hair, your hair is different.
Finding a good shampoo for your 4C hair should not be too difficult as there are many companies that are now making hair products tailored for kinky hair. Check out the recommended products page to see the shampoos that I love.
One great way to minimize shampoo usage while keeping the scalp clean is to Co-wash between you shampoo washes. Co-washing: is the short form for conditioner-washing. It is an important step towards healthy hair.
Try washing your hair with conditioner only in between your shampoo washes. This will ensure you gently cleanse off product build up while still maintaining moisture.
Use your fingers to detangle
Hair tears out when we ‘brutally’ comb/brush tangled knots. Combing it vigorously (like we used to before the natural hair movement ) will cause more damage than good. This is why finger detangling is recommended.
This does not mean you stop using the comb entirely. If you are wondering why there is a lot of fuss with detangling using a comb/brush, here are reasons why finger detangling is preferred:
- Less breakage: The major benefit of finger detangling natural hair is less breakage. Your fingers easily finds knots and work their way around the knots, whereas a comb dives into a knot before you can feel it, which would make your hair tangle more and eventually break.
- Looser tangles: Your fingers can find knots more easily resulting in fewer tangles. If you use a comb, it will make the tangle messier making the tangle that could have been easily dealt with worse. This might force you to cut off the knot because you cannot untangle it anymore.
- Healthier ends : Finger detangling natural hair is a gentle process as you pull the strands apart you avoid tearing your strands therefore leaving them healthier and thicker.
- Longer hair: At the end of it all we want to have a veautiful long full- head mane and by reducing breakage we reduce hair loss. This only means that our hair stays or becomes longer.
- Less pain: Finger detangling minimises the pain of using a comb.
Condition 4C hair after Shampooing
Conditioning hair after the shampooing process is very important. This should be done every time you shampoo your hair.
You should use a regular conditioner which is also known as a rinse-out or surface conditioner. It works on the outside by softening your hair and minimizing static.
Conditioners improve manageability by reducing friction between the hair strands making the hair smooth and strong. There is a difference between regular conditioning and deep conditioning, both are important but serve a different purpose. Read this article to understand the difference.
Moisturize and seal using LOC/LCO method
Moisture, Moisture, Moisture… 4C hair needs to be moisturized all the times as this type of hair tends to lose moisture very quickly. To prevent hair from losing the moisture that you have worked so hard for, you will need to seal in the moisture properly.
Establish a moisturizing routine to ensure your hair is well-hydrated all the times. During the wash day, you will obviously have well-moisturized hair following a regular or a deep conditioning process, plus your hair is loaded with moisture from water during the wash. It is important to finish off the moisturizing process by sealing in the moisture. There are various effective moisturizing and sealing techniques to use. I will discuss those shortly.
In between your washes you need to ensure your hair is hydrated. Moisturizing your hair can simply be done by spritzing your hair with water or applying a leave-in conditioner then adding an oil and following with a cream. This method of moisturizing your hair is known as the LOC method.
Whether you are wearing a protective style or not, make sure you moisturize your hair daily or every other day.
There are various techniques for moisturizing and sealing. The most common are the LOC (Liquid, Oil, Cream) and the LCO (Liquid, Cream, Oil).
The LOC method consists of hydrating the hair with water or a water-based product which is your liquid, sealing in the moisture with oil and then applying a cream product to close the hair cuticle which preventing your hair from dryness. It’s one of the best ways for moisturizing your hair when done with the right products and in the right order; in 3 simple steps.
There are three reasons the LOC method Works to Moisturize Hair. These include:
- The liquid is moisture: when it comes to moisturizing, water is moisture. It’s obvious that adding water as the liquid to your hair is going to moisturize and hydrate it. The main issue is retaining that moisture. That is where the other 2 components of the L.O.C. method come in.
- Oil helps the hair hold on to water molecules: this is where the method gets confusing for some people because oils technically don’t mix with water. You can use oils that penetrate the hair or use your cream before your oil or LCO Method. Certain natural oils have the ability to penetrate the hair shaft and bind with the hair internal structure or protein. These natural oils are coconut, olive, and avocado oil. They increase the hair’s capability to hold on to water molecules. This keeps the hair strong and prevents breakage or damage.
- Cream locks in moisture: The purpose of the cream component is to seal or lock in moisture introduced from L & O. For the cream, you can choose to use a leave-in conditioner or your styling products. A lot of these products may have ingredients that will act as moisture sealants.It’s very important that your cream is moisturizing. Your cream in this case, should seal the hair cuticle or act as a sealant. I prefer to use my leave-in conditioner as my cream.
Natural products are more likely to seal or retain moisture but still allow the hair to take in additional moisture in the case of rehydration between shampoos or co-washes. If you have extremely dry hair or live in harsh winter climates, you can consider using natural butters like Shea or Mango as your cream for this step.
The best sealants include Castor, Grapeseed, and Jojoba Oil.
Scalp massages increase blood circulation to your follicles. You are also increasing your relaxation and decreasing accumulated stress.
Increased circulation means that the cells of the hair follicles receive more necessary nutrients hence optimizing hair growth. Major benefits of scalp massage include:
- Lubricates and conditions the scalp, preventing flakes and dry scalp.
- Increases blood circulation in the head and the neck area. When the scalp is tight due to stress, circulation and hair growth are blocked.
- Softens and conditions hair making it manageable.
- Relaxes the scalp and increase suppleness.
- When you massage your hair the roots and hair-shafts are strengthened and nourished, promoting new hair growth.
- Protect hair from the damaging environmental factors such as effects of the sun and harsh weather by improving resiliency over time.
- It spreads the natural oil hence softening and conditioning the hair, making it easier to manage and also improves hair luster and vibrancy.
- Replenishes and rejuvenates dry, damaged hair, and helps prevent brittleness and split-ends.
Sleep in a satin bonnet/scarf to protect your hair
Sleeping in a satin bonnet/scarf prevents moisture loss. This also helps to significantly decreases breakage and tangles by reducing the friction between your hair and the sleeping fabric.
Pull your hair into a loose ponytail or pineapple. Then wrap it with a satin bonnet or scarf. Wearing this extra protection will help the hair to retain hair moisture throughout the night. This routine has helped me to achieve moisturized healthy 4C hair.
Wear 4C hair in Protective Styles
Select a protective style that not only looks good, but is protective, luckily enough we have many beautiful protective hairstyles for 4C hair such as braids, twists, and weaved hairstyles.
Always make sure that your hair is clean, moisturized and deep-conditioned before you install the hairstyle. Preparing your hair before installing a protective style is very important.
Never assume that just because your hair is put away, dryness and breakage won’t be an issue. Your hair can become more brittle and fragile than when you began if you don’t prepare it properly.
Leaving protective styles in too long can also cause hair damage because of the lack of moisture. Water is the best product to use for moisturizing and make sure the protective style is simple.
Don’t not follow trends just because they look good, choose hairstyles that will really protect your hair. Personally I prefer twists as my protective hairstyle. They’re gentle and do not take so much time to install. They can also be easily molded into other hairstyles to achieve different looks.
Deep condition 4C hair consistently
The purpose of Deep conditioning your hair is to help improve the look, feel, and make your hair manageable or have a better outcome in the long run. When deep conditioning becomes a routine the hair will be healthy, soft, less damaged.
Deep conditioners come with a different targeted goals. Some are meant for repairing damage, others are for restoration, and some say they make the hair easier to detangle. Most deep conditioners provide the hair with intense moisture.
Since deep conditioning is about bringing back moisture, they usually work best after using a clarifying shampoo.
Hot Oil Treatment
It is essential to keep your natural hair looking and feeling its best, and Hot Oil Treatments is one of the ways to do that. Hot oil treatments are not just for the those leaving in cold areas or colder months; benefits of hot oil treatment are all year round.
Hot oil treatments are great for 4C hair type and are like a spa for your strands. They strengthen and prevent dry, brittle hair. Hot oil treatments stimulate blood flow, helps with hair growth, and provides many benefits to help deal with common hair care and styling issues like dandruff and dry scalp. You can use natural and lightweight oils that to help reduce breakage, excessive shedding, and dry scalp such as Almond oil and Grapeseed oil.
Benefits of hot oil treatments include:
- Helps to Moisturize Dry and Brittle Hair: 4c hair is likely to get dry every now and then, and you wouldn’t want dry and brittle hair. So anything we can do to our hair to moisturize it is a plus. Hot oil treatments will help the oils to be deposited into the hair and prevent dryness that can lead to breakage.
- Helps with Dry Scalp and Dandruff: You may be struggling with dry scalp and dandruff and doing a hot oil treatment before you shampoo your hair can help prevent dandruff. You can use an oil that has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties such as Peppermint oil. This helps to soothe an itchy scalp and also helps to keep dandruff at bay.
- Helps increase blood circulation to your scalp : Hot oil treatments stimulate blood flow to your scalp. Massage the oil into your scalp after applying it to your hair to increase blood circulation and stimulate growth.
- Helps to prevent split ends and frizz: Hot oil treatments prevent frizz without weighing your hair down. They also help to seal the ends of your hair which in turn prevents split ends and helps retain the length of your hair.
- Helps Strengthen and improves shine to your Hair: When you use hot oil treatments over time, you will start seeing changes in your hair. Your hair will look and feel healthier and you will notice more shine.
How to apply a Hot Oil Treatment
Application of hot oil treatments is a personal preference, including how often, but many naturals do them weekly especially during cold months.
- First, you should warm your oil before applying to your hair and scalp. Place your oil in an applicator bottle or in a bowl that is safe for heating.
- Then put your oil in hot water if you are using an applicator bottle. Do not apply the oil to your hair while its hot, make sure you let the oil cool off to prevent burning yourself.
- After cooling apply to the hair and scalp, place a shower cap over your head for twenty minutes and rinse. You can also sit under a hooded dryer or steamer for a few minutes. Heat or steam will help your hair cuticles to open up and allow the oil to penetrate your hair shaft which helps with moisturizing it. Finish off by rinsing your hair.
Inversion method to promote growth
The Inversion Method for natural hair is not something common. The inversion method on 4C hair might be the solution to every curly/coily headed girl’s dreams, especially those who want to achieve length.
Some women claim that the method makes their hair grow an inch per week!
Generally, the inversion method for natural hair consists of inverting or putting the tips of your hair upside down while you are massaging your scalp with oil.
- Benefits : Remember that stimulating the hair follicles can cause for your hair to grow. This is why many naturals with 4C hair make it a habit of massaging their scalps every night before bed. The beauty of the inversion method is that it rouses the hair follicles in two ways. One is the traditional movement that you get from the massage, and the other is from gravity making blood rush to your head.
- Side Effects: Inversion method involves being in an uncomfortable position for a lengthy period of time, there are certain side effects and risks that you should know before attempting the inversion method. Some women experience feelings of dizziness and nausea as a result of holding their head upside down for several minutes at once. If you start feeling dizzy or light headed while the inverting your head, then do not try to tough it out or suck it up. This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to stop and lift your head up.
Special treatment with a DIY Hair Growth Treatment
DIY hair growth treatments can be really helpful, especially when you are using ingredients from your kitchen or herbs from your garden or local store. Some of the treatments you can include in your hair care routine include: Fenugreek, Rice Water, Onion Juice, Herbal Treatments.
You can play around with these until you find the one that works best for your hair. Below are some of the benefits of these special treatments:
- Maintains Scalp Health: Herbs such as Neem and Henna cools the scalp and with the combination of its antimicrobial properties, it helps maintain scalp health. It helps fight off scalp various hair conditions such as dandruff.
- Balances Oil Production and pH Levels: Apart from henna keeping issues like dandruff at bay, it is also an excellent ingredient for balancing oil production and the pH of your scalp. It removes the extra oil from your hair, helping unclog follicles, and also restores normal functioning of the sebaceous glands.
- Repairs and Strengthens Hair: The nutrients in the DIY treatments nourishes your hair while repairing the damage.
- Conditions Hair: Many of these DIY condition the hair, an excellent conditioner is Rice Water and Fenugreek, these are my go-to when I want a load of moisture, and slip for my hair.
Incorporate a Protein Treatment in your 4C hair care routine
Hair is made of proteins along with chains of amino acid, giving hair structure and helping it grow longer and stronger. The main purpose of the hair protein is to coat the capillary structure and contribute to the formation of the hair follicle. If you have a low protein diet it will be reflected in weak hair that is full of split ends.
Types of Proteins you can use as Homemade Protein Treatment for 4c hair
Different proteins also have different effects on the hair therefore you should know the kind of protein you need.
- Keratin Protein: These are the most common proteins and they give the hair strength by mending hair strands which have been broken down by heat and chemicals. This is the strongest of proteins that comes in form of Hydrolyzed Keratin.
- Wheat Proteins: These are moisturizing proteins and are soluble in water. This type of protein strengthens hair and increases the level of moisture received into the hair.
Protein treatments are heavy, therefore you shouldn’t leave them in for several hours and certainly not overnight. The maximum time should be about 30 minutes.
Generally, the masks that we can buy to give shine and hydration to your hair usually have proteins for the most part. However, if you do not want to resort to the commercial option, you can make a homemade protein mask with various ingredients that are likely found in your kitchen.
I hope you found the information in this article helpful. Be sure to regularly check this post for updates as I will be updating with new and fresh tips every so often!
Also, don’t forget to check out the Recommended Products page to find my favorite products to grow long, healthy 4C hair