Hi, hello, hey—do you know what your curl type is? Oh wait, I’m sorry—did you think that you could put just any random curl product on your hair? I’ve had to learn the hard way that, yes, curl type absolutely matters when figuring out the best styling products for your hair. Basically, your curl type and texture is the guiding light when it comes to styling your hair and making it look happy, bouncy, and healthy. And considering you clicked on this story, I’m guessing you probably think you have type 4b hair.
So whether you need a refresher on all things 4b, or you’re a complete newb to the world of curls types, I’ve got you covered. Keep scrolling for the answers to all your burning questions, plus the very best 4b hair products that’ll help your curls live their best life.
What does it mean to have 4b hair?
If you’ve got 4b hair (here’s a chart in case you need to double check), your curls are densely packed and bend at sharp zig-zag angles, kind of like the letter Z. 4b hair is a little less defined than type 3 hair, and the texture is hella varied—it can range from super-fine spirals to tight, coarse curls.
What are the best products for 4b hair?
4b hair is drier than other curl types. Translation: Your hair is extra prone to shrinkage and breakage. (Trust me, I feel your pain.) But, TBH, all that really means is that you want to load your hair up with products that’ll hydrate, define, and stretch your curls without weighing them down (think: leave-in masks, cleansing conditioners, and lightweight oils). It’s also important to consider your hair porosity before you start adding any curl products to your cart.
Porosity is your hair’s capacity to get—and stay—hydrated. High-porosity hair soaks up moisture like a sponge, but the hydration doesn’t last for long, so you’ll need richer products to keep your hair bouncy and healthy. On the flip side, low-porosity hair has a tough time soaking anything up, so a lot of times, products will just coat your curls rather than being absorbed. This means that you’ll need lightweight and hydrating curl products to keep your hair perky and moisturized. (Still have no idea WTF I’m talking about? You can take a quiz here.)
There’s no manual for figuring out your hair’s unique product cocktail—it takes a ton of patience, trial, and error. I know, that sucks to hear, but I swear it’s so worth it once you finally nail down a routine. And don’t stress out, because there are a ton of good recs for you below.
How do you apply products to 4b hair?
TBH, there’s no set rules when it comes to apply products to 4b hair, but if you’re looking for a starting point, the LOC method (aka when you apply a leave-in, an oil, and then a cream) is an excellent first step. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Split your hair into two sections when shampooing, and then use your fingers to rake the shampoo through your curls. Once you rinse out all of your shampoo, separate the sections of hair in half (you’ll have four sections total) and smooth a palmful of conditioner through each quadrant.
- Divide your curls into sections and rake a golf-ball sized amount of your leave-in conditioner through each section. P.S. Only detangle your 4b hair while it’s wet—trying to brush out knots and tangles on dry hair is a recipe for breakage.
- Smooth a thin layer of oil through each section of hair. This helps to lock in all that moisture from your leave-in conditioner.
- Work a curl cream through your hair. Yes, more moisture, but your hair is drier than most, remember? Make sure you pick a curl cream that fits best with the hairstyle you’re going for. Think: If you’re doing a wash and go, pick a cream that’ll give you definition. Opting for flat twists or a slicked-back bun? You’ll want a more lightweight cream that won’t add too much hold.
Are these 4b hair products Curly Girl Method approved?
If you’re a Curly Girl Method devotee (the styling approach that replaces harsh ingredients with gentle products and techniques), you’ll definitely find a few safe products on this list. But don’t forget to double check the ingredients before you slap any of these bbs on your curls, alright?
Now, let’s get to what you really came here for. Keep reading for the 10 best 4b hair products to add to your routine.
Best Detangling Cream for 4b Hair
Soultanicals Knot Sauce Coil Detangler
Cut down on your detangling time with this hydrating cream. Packed with ingredients like broccoli seed oil and coconut nectar, it’ll help moisturize your 4b hair like no other, while also smoothing out knots and tangles. Oh, and it smells like cake. I mean, what’s not to love?
Best Oil for 4b Hair
SheaMoisture Daily Hydration Finishing Oil Serum
This oil doesn’t just sit on your curls—it injects them with much-needed moisture that actually lasts. Another bonus? It’s rich—not greasy—thanks to the hydrating yet lightweight combo of coconut oil and coconut milk.
Best Curl Cream for 4b Hair
Taliah Waajid Protective Styles Bamboo Biotin & Basil Curl Activator & Defining Cream 8oz
There’s nothing worse than working a curl cream through your hair and feeling “the crunch.” Thankfully, the three B’s in this lightweight formula—bamboo, biotin, and basil—link up to define your hair without leaving it stiff. Your 4b hair will be so soft, you won’t be able to stop twirling your curls.
Best Microfiber Towel for 4b Hair
Aquis Rapid Dry Lisse Hair Turban
It’s 2020—we’re not using regular towels anymore. This hands-free turban is made of teeny micro-fibers that dry your hair with less friction than your bath towel. You’ll be left with fewer flyaways and less damage overall.
Best Deep-Conditioning Mask for 4b Hair
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
This deep-conditioning mask speaks your hair’s love language. Use the rosehip oil and vitamin B-infused formula once a week and it’ll moisturize and repair your curls, whipping weak and damaged 4b hair into shape in no time.
Best Detangling Brush for 4b Hair
Denman Tangle Tamer Hair Detangling Brush
I know this detangling brush is kinda pricey, but I promise you it’s worth it (if you’ve literally cried while trying to comb out a massive knot—you know that a good brush is everything). This one has nylon bristles that gently slips through thick, curly hair without any pulling, tugging, or tears.
Best Co-Wash for 4b Hair
Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado Nourishing Co-Wash
If you don’t use a co-wash, WYD? For those who aren’t up to date, co-washing is when you wash your hair with a creamy, hydrating cleanser. By cutting down on your shampoo use, dry 4b hair is able to actually retain moisture. This pick is one of the best in the game, thanks to the sweet almond and avocado oil, which help get rid of build up without stripping your hair dry.
Best Edge Control for 4b Hair
Shine N Jam Magic Fingers For Braiders
Even though the label says “for braiders,” this edge control gel is for everyone—and your 4b hair will love it. Created by our very own Braid Up queen Stasha Harris, this product will slick down the thickest of curls without flaking or drying out your hair. I don’t swoop my baby hairs with any other gel.
Best Hydrating Shampoo for 4b Hair
Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost Shampoo
Infused with argan oil, this shampoo is lightweight enough that your hair doesn’t feel heavy post-cleanse, but it’s still able to give your 4b hair extra moisture. After you rinse it out, your curls will be clean (not stripped), soft, and shiny.
Best Moisturizing Leave-In Cream for 4b Hair
Salwa Petersen Hair Cream
Ever heard of chébé powder? IMO, it’s the next big thing in hair care. The ingredient is the main attraction in this leave-in cream, and it helps to protect against damage (aka breakage from things like heat damage) and basically strengthens your 4b hair from the inside out.
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