Your hair ain't 4C hunni!!!

So I'm in quite a few natural hair groups and for those of you who may not know what we do in there, basically it's like this:
You have a good hair day (or a not so good hair day): you post it. You need a hairstyle, product advice, any kind of advice, you ask (some random non hair related or NHR stuff happens from time to time, but this can pretty much sum up everything).
A trend that I've been noticing recently in a few of these groups is that quite a few persons have been coming forth venting their frustrations about managing their 4C hair. Thing is, most of them complaining don't have 4C hair. 

What in the flying curry duck is 4C hair?

Not to sound like I am nitpicking, but why is a black girl with relaxed hair being shown as type 1 hair? I'm sure that's not how her hair grows out her scalp, but oh well...
To explain that, let's take a look at the hair typing system, more specifically the one developed by Andre Walker. 

His typing chart essentially breaks down all hair into 4 categories:
1-straight 2-wavy 3-curly 4-kinky

Within these categories are sub categories (a/b/c) hence where you get 4C. Makes sense? How about I let this explain. 

So what's the deal with 4C hair?

4c hair is the kinkiest, with curls soooooooo small that unlike other hair textures, 4C strands don't clump together, almost giving the hair the appearance that it doesn't have a curl pattern at all (it actually does, but another day for that discussion). Persons with 4c hair also experience a higher percentage of shrinkage from my observations. These factors, from what I have seen do play a part in why persons think that 4C hair is hard to manage. Maybe?

So why are non 4C naturalistas assuming they have 4C hair?

I have a two plausible explanations for this:
-In the natural hair circles that I am a part of, when it comes to hair types, 4C hair is the most talked about. It is also what people perceive as true "African" hair. So in that respect, if they consider themselves of african decent then they must have 4C hair. RIght? No not quite, but another blog for that.
-Many naturals associate 4C hair with being hard to comb, unmanageable. It is often defined by words such as nappy in american terms, or in trini speech: hard head, late for school, tac tac head, picky head...I can go on and on. So, one can deduce, that if a person finds their hair had to manage, they must have 4c hair, right?

In either scenario, I have realised that many persons don't know their hair type. I'm not saying that they have to know, it is not mandatory as a natural to know, but in many cases those who aren't that knowledgeable in hair typing often misclassify their hair. And for some reason, many naturals who assume 4C hair status do so only in relaying how difficult it is to handle their hair. 

So what do actual 4C naturals have to say about this? 

I can't speak personally on it because I'm not 4c (my hair is mostly 4a) so I did next best thing. I reached out to my local, regional and international 4C sisters to hear their thoughts on the matter.  

These lovely 4C ladies were gracious enough to share their thoughts on my topic.

How did you react when you realised your hair was 4C (this will apply to those who have big chopped)?
Natalie: I love what God gave me! Even though I have a TWA I love it. I have new lease on my hair life.
Tanya: I transitioned for a few months from a pixie cut; I remembered that my hair was thick but when I 
learnt the classification, I just kept it moving. What was I to do? It was growing out of my scalp!
Simone: Well I didn't BIG chop but I finally saw my hair in its real state when I stopped braiding.  It's soft but it's a little disappointing when you realise you have the hair that's on the OTHER end of "society's" hair scale.

Have you observed persons with other hair types referring to their hair as 4C when in fact they are not. In most cases, they consider their hair 4C because it's dry, unkempt or simply because they can't manage it. If have seen this, what are your thoughts on this?

Rhonique: Yes!! It is so annoying, everyone has 4C hair because it's the most unmanageable hair ever. I think people have a skewed perception of their own hair especially because so much of women's self esteem and self worth is tied up with hair. I've given up on this ever ending though.
Yolanda: I have seen this on Youtube but I don't judge people and feel if a person believes their hair to be a certain hair type who am I to say different? Now I have seen some pictures of people who actually have a much looser curl who claim 4C and have thought "um no honey that's not 4C hair" LOL.
Keneal: Yes i have observed this, and this is why we need the group [sic] so that people would not be misled.

Do you think your hair is difficult to manage?

Lisa: I taught myself how to do and care for my own hair so no, i don't think it is difficult or hard to manage.  now, i had people telling me all my life that my hair was hard to manage though, that it was too thick, too dense, too hard to comb, too hard to deal with...just put a perm in it and go.  but really once i got into the science of my hair, learned what it likes what it doesn't like.  what will work and what wont work.  what affects my hair; hot cold humid dry temps or what weather works with what styles. do i comb or finger detangle, do i use a deniman brush or no brushing at all. that all went a long way to me working my hair ya know?   BUT i gotta say once i learned my hair's porosity its like the world opened up for me and my hair. i can go forth knowing that its not my hair but the products i use on it that makes a difference.  i don't think anyone's hair is "difficult to manage" i think its means you haven't taken the time to learn how to properly handle it and what it likes and will respond to.  i also think that you have to be patient and loving to your hair. it is after all part of us.
Jael: No, but it was difficult learning how to manage it. I have had to learn what my hair needs to reach its happy place. There are styles that I will never be able to rock comfortably, either because of my personal preferences or because of the lack of return on the time investment. I am ok with that.
Karen: I used to.  I'm learning what works for me. 

What do you love most about your hair?

Natalie: I can manipulate my hair to do what I want it to at this stage which gives me the confidence to pay around with its length for future styles.
Lisa:  I love my hair's versatility.  I love its softness.  I love it's resilience, its ability to forgive me when I neglect it for a few days, I love how just a little TLC can made it happy again.  I love how it can be so cloud-like and fluffy one minute and tightly packed the next.  I love its color, its feel.  I love the coils, the kinks, the random z that will spring up and refuse to conform to what the rest of the strands are doing.  I love my hair
Jael: Consistency. One thing I hate is when a style runs its course and it's time to wash, twist, relax, etc. My kids tell me my hair always looks the same. They don't realize it, but that is a huge compliment to me.

What do you like least?
Rhonique: That's difficult because I know how to remedy the negative things. For example, it tangles a lot, but I have been able to minimise the tangling. I suppose I don't like that afros are difficult for me.
Natalie: The slow rate at which it seems to grow.
Karen: No curl pattern.

What advice do you have for other 4C naturals who are having a hard time handling their hair?
Yolanda: My advice is don't give up and learn to love the hair on your head.  It might be perceived as being difficult to manage or hard to comb but it's a lot more versatile than people think so just play with it.  Adopt a regimen and keep it moisturized and eventually you'll learn the secrets to maintaining your beautiful tresses.  All hair is good hair including 4C hair, it just performs differently than looser curls. Don't go broke trying every product that you see on Youtube or Facebook because everything won't work on your hair and you'll only end up frustrated and annoyed. 
Tanya: Deep condition often. Find a good moisturizing product. Listen to your hair and follow what it tells you to do and it will reward you with growth. STOP>>>OMG>>>> Hair envy! And embrace what yah mama gave yah!
Jael: Moisture and patience is everything. Don't discount another natural's video or advice because their hair category is different than yours. Some of the best ideas I've gotten were from those in the 2 or 3 categories.

What do you have to say to those who automatically assume they have 4C hair because they are having difficulty managing their hair?
Lisa: Don't get so caught up in the hair typing thing.  it is just ONE aspect of hair, and one that isn't all that accurate.  i've got several hair types on my head...most of us do.  learn to work with your hair and not against it.  embrace your hair, love it.  don't let others define your hair.
Simone: For me, while hair typing is good so that you can better understand your hair, characterizing it based on that number scale has helped to demotivate some because of the stereotyping associated with it. And while girls and women are happy to go natural, you tend to wish you had "better hair" when you are at the point of a shrunken mess.
Keneal: Be careful because you might waste money buying products that people tell you are for 4c hair when you don't have 4c hair

Bottom line
At the end of the day, all hair types have their positives and negatives. We all have our struggles no matter what our texture is. If you don't subscribe to hair typing, that is quite fine. To me hair typing isn't the end all of haircare so although I know my type, I also know that there other factors for e.g. porosity that play a part in how I treat my hair. If you choose to determine your hair type however, please be as accurate as you can, and base it on what your curl pattern actually looks like, instead of how unmanageable you think your hair is. Do you think hair typing is important? What do you think about persons who think their hair is 4C because they find it hard to handle? I look forward to your feedback.


Tshenelle aka Nelly B.