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Styling Guide for Natural Hair

Melanin hair care and styling tips for keeping type 4 hair healthy

Written by: 100% PURE ®
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When it comes to hair, there’s one thing that’s almost as important as health: style. A hairstyle is so important to shaping our mood and attitude; it can turn a decent outfit into a showstopper, and an average day into one to remember.

But too often, we get caught up in complicated ways of styling hair that might involve heat and damage, that natural hair types – especially in the type 4 range – can be overlooked. Let’s review some simple, cute go-to styles and melanin hair care products that can make styling stunning type 4 hair a breeze.

Type 4 Hair: 101

This is probably obvious, but not all hair types are made alike. There are subtle to dramatic differences among hair types, and we love to look at hair as a spectrum. With that said, textures and patterns are broken up into 4 categories to make it easier for each of us to style, treat, and address all the different needs of the diverse hair types out there.

Type 4 hair is classified as coily, with the tightest of curls and the bounciest volume. Think natural hair queens like Solange Knowles, Issa Rae, and Lupita Nyong’o. Within the category of type 4 hair are subcategories, labeled A, B, and C.

Type 4A is the loosest of the three; imagine curled loops with lots of bounce and volume, while type 4B moves in more of a zig-zag type of curl. The tightest would then be 4C, forming a dense C-shape from root to tip.

Each of these three hair types look quite different from each other.

Type 4C is typically quite tight, and most commonly associated with gorgeous afros of all shapes and sizes.

Type 4B hair, while it can be styled into a puff or ‘fro, can also be worn loose and coily and can sometimes be springier or have more defined curls.

Finally, type 4A hair will often have quite defined, tight and bouncy curls that come in fine or wiry textures.

It’s important to find melanin hair care that can support and nourish each variation of type 4 hair – and to understand what each hair type needs most (and least).

The Hair Wants What It Wants

A good rule of thumb is that the more shape or texture there is to the hair, the more moisture and hydration we want to provide to it as part of our hair care routine. Natural hair will typically focus on clean ingredients that feed the hair nutrients to keep it soft, shiny, curly, and bouncy!

Here’s a list of a few key don’ts to ensure we’re all treating our curls like queens.

DON’T use unclean ingredients
As with any other hair types, parabens and sulfates just don’t cut it around these parts; these parts being the natural beauty community. When it comes to curly, coily, and kinky hair types specifically, these hair types crave moisture and oils, whereas parabens and sulfates only dry out the hair and scalp. This leaves the hair fragile and brittle, prone to split ends and breakage.

DON’T use a lot of heat
Everyone loves to switch up their ‘do once in a while, but heat and type 4 hair is a recipe for damage. Heat treatments and frequent use of a curling iron or straightener bully the hair into unnatural shapes and prevent it from getting the quality care it needs to stay healthy. We should prioritize styles that maintain the moisture of this hair type rather than any types of styles or treatments that cause dehydration and fallout.

DON’T shampoo too often
Like we mentioned, curls love moisture and hydration. While a regular schedule of shampooing is important for maintaining a healthy scalp environment, frequent washing can cause the scalp to dry out.

Since our scalp health is super important in maintaining our hair health, keeping the scalp clean but hydrated is crucial. Washing just the scalp, and only as much as the hair needs it (typically no more than once a week) is a great frequency for cleaning natural hair and maintaining health. We also want to avoid washing our hair in too hot of water, or aggressively brushing and styling when wet.

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Melanin Hair Care Tips

Now that we know what to avoid, let’s talk about natural hair tips that will treat our type 4 hair right!

Detangle first
All our curly girls know, there’s no way around this. No one likes a painful tangle to deal with later, so with type 4 hair especially, we want to detangle before we style. Using a lubricating detangling cream works wonders, or just a natural oil and gentle detangling comb can make a big job a quick task.

Deep condition often
Like we mentioned before, curls love hydration and moisture. They’re basically the mermaids of the hair type world. Because of that, a regular cycle of deep conditioning, either with a formal deep conditioner or natural products DIY will help to seal the hair’s cuticle, keep curls luscious, and prevent dry and itchy scalps. Use heat (sparingly) as an ally to help oils and butters penetrate further into the hair shaft.

Try scalp wash
Because the hair’s hydration needs are different from the scalp, we can’t always tell right away when our hair needs moisture just based on how our scalp is behaving. Plus, the scalp can collect oil and build-up that’s not getting to the length of the hair. Going for a clarifying shampoo like our Burdock & Neem shampoo will help keep the scalp free of debris, so our natural oils can slide down from scalp to tip much easier.

Gently wash the hair
When it is time to give our manes a full shampoo and conditioning, they’ll need melanin hair care products that are gentle and not too stripping. We love the deeply hydrating feeling of our Moisture Drench shampoo on the hair. Naturally antibacterial coconut oil hydrates and cleanses while rose and argan leave a fragrant, soft finish.

Never skip conditioner
That may be relatively common with straight hair that gets oily much faster, but curls and conditioner go together like PB&J. Something lightweight, deeply penetrating, and not filled with synthetics or fragrances works best on natural hair.

We go for the Honey Virgin Coconut conditioner, as honey really seals the hair and promotes healthy scalp skin. Vitamins, avocado, and rich butters come together to give the hair extra support for lots of shine and bounce that lasts between washes.

Trim regularly
Since the hair on the ends are oldest, they’ll show signs of dryness and weakness first. Add a bit of oil treatment to the palms, warm it up, and press into the ends every few days to help retain moisture, shine and strength.

Styling Tips for Natural Hair

We all have a rolodex of a few fast, stylish hair-do’s when we’re low on time or just trying to turn around a bad hair day. For type 4 natural hair, the built-in volume makes it great for these hairstyles

The Natural
Basically, this is when hair is worn full and down. Add some hair oil for hydration and shine, and edge control for a crisp hairline.

Faux Bangs
Think of that early 2000’s bun we were all obsessed with but worn a little closer to the forehead. Leave the tails of the hair out to create a faux bangs look.

The Puff
The puff being the type 4 version of the pony, this is the hair pulled all the way back into a high, low, or mid-level ponytail.

Two Puffs
We love a bun, messy or not, and the puffs are a cute and flirty way to bring style to any outfit. Try adding a slim braid around the base of each puff for a nicely finished look.

Queen’s Halo
Essentially the hair pulled way back, but not back far enough to be in a ponytail. This works especially well with a headband or hair scarf. It gets the hair off the face and allows the hair’s volume to frame everything beautifully.

Type 4 hair looks so amazing with different hair accessories, from pins and barrettes to scarves and clips. Play around with favorite styles and mix different additions for a funky, trendy look.

Wearing bantu knots all over the head, or just in the upper half, is a great way to add extreme chic and build in a protective style that can be refreshed later.

Finally 2 or 3 strand twists creating a braided ponytail, plaited around the hairline, or even for a half up-half down ‘do gives this already voluminous hair type even more body and dimension.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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