Love Your 4b Hair

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I was recently watching a YouTube video by a vlogger who decided to go back to relaxed hair. Her main reason was that it is her hair and therefore her choice. I couldn’t agree more and I am not against women relaxing their hair.   However, one point she made that I didn’t agree with was that she had the ‘real African hair’ and that therefore her hair was somehow harder to manage as a result.  Although she may have meant it as a joke, I do believe there is this misconception within the natural hair community that some hair types are harder to manage. Also, instead of saying good and bad hair we now say 3b or 4b hair.   I get the impression that some see the 4s as inferior to the 3s and out of the 4s, 4b hair is seen as the ‘bad hair’ type, by some people.  I do not necessarily subscribe to hair typing but for the purpose of this article I will say that my hair type is 4b.

Hair-Types-1709658

4b hair is kinky and tightly coiled.  It has a zigzag curl pattern instead of spirals.  Hence, 4b hair types usually have a more fluffy appearance and a less obvious curl pattern.  This is NOT to say that 4b hair doesn’t have a curl pattern.  Afro textured hair is ‘textured’ by nature and therefore has some sort of curl pattern (I’m aware that some black people may have naturally straight hair though).

Styling

I have only tried a wash and go once and I did not get the same results as women with different hair types. My wash and go did not result in loose or tight spiral curls because that isn’t my natural curl pattern. I will try it again using a different technique but I know that no product is going to make my hair do anything it doesn’t already do naturally.   This certainly doesn’t make 4b hair inferior to others.  All hair types have perceived strengths and weaknesses. Even if my hair doesn’t curl up as much as a 4a or type 3, it doesn’t mean that I cannot wear my hair in a super curly style using perm rod sets, bantu knot outs or twist outs.  4b hair is still very versatile and easy to manipulate. It holds styles well and is a lot of fun in my experience.

As for managing my hair, the more I learn, the easier it becomes to manage. As I always say; it is never our hair that is the problem, it is simply our lack of knowledge. Learning more efficient techniques of managing your hair and even learning from your mistakes, is all part of the fun of natural hair.  One of the greatest challenges with my 4b hair was shrinkage. However, after learning different techniques to stretch out my hair (without heat), shrinkage doesn’t even bother me now. In fact, if my hair didn’t shrink, this would indicate that there was something wrong with it.   So in my opinion 4b hair isn’t any harder to manage than other hair types it simply needs to be managed differently. I subscribe to YouTube channels of women with different hair types and I have seen the beauty of them all, but they all have their challenges.  For example very curly hair could be more difficult to manipulate as the natural curl pattern could interfere. If I had 4a hair I would have to learn how to deal with this, it wouldn’t make my hair harder or easier to manage, just different.

Negative comments

I have heard negative comments about natural hair looking ‘more African’ and 4b in particular being referred to in this way.  Black hair reflects African heritage. So to say someone’s hair looks more African (in a negative context) just because it’s natural or 4b, is plain ignorance. Why is something inferior simply because it looks ‘more African’ anyway? That’s implying that hair which reflects European or Asian heritage is more beautiful. That shouldn’t make it more beautiful, it should just make it beautiful in a different way. It’s a shame that these phrases are used and a lot of the negativity is coming from within the black community itself.  African hair is extremely diverse; no two hair textures are the same. Many women find that their hair is made up of more than one hair type anyway. Their hair may be 4a in the front and 3b towards the back for example. Again, this is the beauty of natural hair and these differences should be embraced, not used to create competition within the natural hair community.

Time consuming?

You learn more about your hair as time goes by. It used to take me four hours to detangle my hair, now I have learned to do it in less than one hour. This was simply by trying out different techniques. Saying that you don’t have time to be natural is again something that I do not think is a valid excuse. My profession required me to take a lot of work home with me in the evenings and it was a high pressured work environment. I simply had to learn to adapt my hair care regiment accordingly. I wore my hair in protective styles more often, which allowed me to leave my hair alone and gave me a break from dealing with it. Plus, since going natural I no longer spend my Saturdays travelling to and from the salon and waiting around for hours. I have always styled and managed my own natural hair. So  I may spend more time detangling but I spend less time and money going to the salon to get my hair relaxed, treated or weaved.

So whatever your hair type, embrace it because that’s what your hair is like naturally and no product or styling technique is going to change that. Don’t buy into the ranking of different hair types.  The hair typing system is supposed to be used as a guideline not as a ranking system of ‘good hair’ verses ‘bad hair’. Don’t go back to relaxer just because you have 4b hair, 4b hair is just as beautiful as the other hair types and has its advantages just like the others. Whatever your hair type, you are going to have to learn how to manage it and deal with challenges.   If you love your hair other people will, if you see it as inferior then that is the message you give to others. There’s enough prejudice out there, surely we can do without the kind that comes from within our own community.

.Celebrities with 4b hair?

Jill Scott

Jill Scott

Shingai Shoniwa

Shingai Shoniwa

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu

Janelle-Monae-Guide-006

Janelle Monae

My favorite 4b vloggers

Kinky Curly Coily Me

http://www.youtube.com/user/BlakIzBeautyful

African Export

http://www.youtube.com/user/africanexport

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

Kinksgalore

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kinksgalore/videos?flow=grid&view=0

CharyJay 

https://www.youtube.com/user/160Days2Lose2

Stayed tuned for next week where I explain how I manage my 4b hair.

Do you have 4b hair? What do you think about hair typing? Share your thoughts below:

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13 responses »

  1. So glad you are finding it helpful! Yes, curls are revered in the natural hair community, but kinks are just as beautiful😊. Even after being natural for many years, I am still discovering new techniques and styles. I even learned how to define my curl/ kink pattern, which I didn’t think was possible with 4b hair. Congrats on going natural! Have fun 😊 Thanks for reading.

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  2. Omg! I’m so glad I’ve found this blog. I’m a 4b natural and have transitioned for a year; now I’m fully natural. I’ll be honest, I wanted to have 4a hair so bad, but I’ve recently discovered that I have 4b hair. It’s puffy, and dries easily; but my fros are bananas! 🙂 I’m starting to embrace my hair and discover more and more about it each day. It’s apart of who I am and I love it.

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  3. Consider every aspect of your hair regimen and examine how you can improve it for moisture. Firstly, check that your shampoo, conditioner and styling products don’t’ have any harsh ingredients. These strip the hair of moisture or block moisture, such as; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (and other sulfates), mineral oil or petroleum. Even silcones (dimethicone etc) have been known to cause dryness over time. The best way to retain moisture is to use a water based leave in conditioner or spray your hair lightly with water. I know Cantu Shea Butter is water based. You may also want to consider using a leave-in that contains an humectant such as glycerin. Glycerin draws in moisture from the air so it’s great for maintaining moisture, especially with protective styles (not so great for twist outs though). Protective styles also help the hair to retain moisture, hair loses moisture more quickly when it is worn out. Shea Moisture curl enhancing smoothie is great for moisturizing the hair, as it is very rich.

    Sealing the moisture with oil or butter is the most crucial part of the process, otherwise the water will soon evaporate. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil are great for this. Some oils even penetrate the hair cuticles to provide moisture themselves, avocado oil does this for instance. Lastly, drink plenty of water. When dehydrated you not only feel this in your body but it is reflected in our skin and hair. Afro textured hair is dry by natural, as every coil and kink limits the scalps natural oils from passing down the strands. So part of being natural is accepting this and understanding that even if you do everything right, you will experience dry hair from time to time.

    Let us know how it goes. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  4. I am pretty sure I have 4b hair and the one issue I have is moisture. I can’t find anything that will keep my hair from drying out! 😦 Does anyone have any suggestions? Right now I’m using cantu cheap butter and motions define my curls. I also applied a coconut milk and olive oil mix when I deep condition but moisture escapes really quickly. I have been transitioning for the last 6 months and no heat for a year.

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  7. Yes it can be. Black hair in general is prone to dryness. I try to mist my hair with water in between my regular moisturizing and sealing sessions. I also cover my hair with a plastic cap and wear it overnight to contain all the moisture (after misting it with water). I find that this works well. Thanks for the like :-).

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  8. Congratulations on going natural, and to your husband as well! 🙂 I love how there can be different textures within the same family. Just shows how diverse natural hair is. That’s great that you have embraced your 4b hair. Like you said, there are good days and bad days but it’s worth it. Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for commenting 🙂

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  9. Great article. I have 4b hair, and I’ll be honest. I started my natural hair journey in hopes that I had hair like my children. ( I have 4 children and they have anywhere between 3a and 4a hair). I have been getting my hair relaxed since I was a little girl so I had no clue what type of hair I had. Well it turns out I have 4b, which is hard to manage at times. I am a year into my natural hair journey, I big chopped 3 months ago, and I love my hair. It is more puffy than curly but as you said it holds styles better. My husband was so inspired that I embrace my hair, he stopped texturizing his. And he also has 4b hair in spots but mostly 4a. I’ve learned to embrace MY hair. We have good days together and we have bad days. But I’m SO glad I decided to walk this natural hair path.

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