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.


Regards,

Tshenelle aka Nelly B.

16 comments

  1. Very informative! Being natural for over six years, I never hair typed, but I also don't EVER wear it out. I am going to start in the next few months so that chart should be helpful.

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    1. It is helpful yes, BUT do not let it be the end all when it comes to your care. Look at things like porosity, density etc, these things to me are more crucial..i just thingk that typing is handy when it comes to styling. thanks for reading.

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  2. Yesssssss chica! Very well written and great research and survey. I enjoyed this. Welcome back with a hugeee round of applause. I was sooooooo going to blog about this. Lolol the 4c claimers.

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    1. thanks for reading!!! it bugs me that persons were claiming 4C not for lack of knowledge in terms of curl pattern, but rather their preconceived notions about the manageability of their hair and more so 4C hair.

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  3. On the claimers I think some who are maybe 4a or 4b genuinely don't know but then you have some who are 3b and I have to wonder if they know full well and are just exploiting a type stereotype for entertainment or shock value, like when a white person with straight hair says look at my Afro. Bottom line is all hair is beautiful and manageable (and curl size doesn't tell you what products to use and most times people ask non experts about their curl type then pick the "best" answer which is wrong 9 times out of 10)

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    1. Yes all hair is beautiful, I can understand ppl who honestly don't know, which is why you research before making assumptions. Shock value? then that person is idle..lol

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  4. The other thing that's annoying is when people tell others they're not 4c because they have defined wash and goes. I think if you must type then do it on dry hair with no product, at least then you can best see how your hair acts in that environment which gives a bigger clue to the products you need than typing on wet hair

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    1. 4c hair can have a defined wash and go...i have seen it. the anthony dickey wash and go method works well on 4c hair...it just uses up a lot of product.

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  5. i woke up like this...flawlessly4C

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  6. Love this post! All hair types and patterns are beautiful. There seems to be more emphasis on hair types when most have a combination of curl patterns on their head. It is much more important to know and understand how to care for your hair. For me, once I knew my hair porosity it became easy for me to care for my hair. I no longer had issues with dryness while growth and length retention became effortless.

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    1. agreed!!! porosity to me is far more important..and yes many of us have mixed textures..but in the end..it is all beautiful..thank u for commenting.

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    2. How do you find your hair porosity? It is do hard for me to find products that keep my hair moisturizer. Nothing stays in my hair shaft for long and it won't absorb most stuff or if its wet it definitely doesn't absorb product. It breaks so much please share info!

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    3. Fill a glass with room temperature water.
      Take a couple strands of your clean hair and put them in the water. To make sure the test is accurate, ur hair should be freshly washed.
      Watch it for 2-4 minutes. If your hair sinks immediately, it has high porosity, meaning that the cuticles on the hair shaft are open allowing for water to get in. It it floats, then u have low porosity and ur cuticles are closed down...if it sinks midway...then ur porosity is pretty normal...regarding ur moisture issue, do u seal your hair after u put in ur leave in? leave in conditioners and moisturisers are water based. if u arent sealing ur hair with a butter/oil based product after that, ur hair will dry out. So any butter based product works well to seal. I hope all this helps, feel to ask anything and i will try my best to answer. thanks for reading!!!

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  7. I've seen a couple of claims too and it gets me scratching my head. I,sometimes, feel some people do it for attention too. Type 4c is the most talked about so some may just want to be a part of the hype.

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    1. Yeah, there are those who just wanna join the hype..and others who really just don't know sadly...either way i can understand why it would be a bit annoying to actual 4c hair types. thanks for sharing!!!

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