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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
My favorite 4b vloggers
Kinky Curly Coily Me
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: