You are the proud owner of 4C hair. But there are days when you think you should just straighten them permanently, shorten them, or simply go bald. Frustration is inevitable if you don’t value your unique hair and don’t care for it the way it needs to be cared for. Also, the brittle nature and hard-to-maintain quality of this type of hair can make caring for it quite a stressful and impossible task for many.
We are here to make you love your hair as they are and learn some tips about how often you should wash 4C hair and the right way to care for them so you can enjoy beautiful, healthy locks minus the stress of how to manage them.
What is 4C Hair?
4C hair has the tightest curls than other forms of curly hair, like 4A and 4B. The strands of 4C hair form tight ringlets in the shape of s’s, z’s, or coils. This type of hair is easily breakable, dries out quickly, gets tangled easily, and is prone to extreme shrinkage that makes it difficult to know the actual length and growth of the hair.
How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair?
Very less often! That is because this type of hair has thick curls with a prominent shape of Z at the ends. This curl pattern is more prone to breakage and suffers up to 75% shrinkage. It also gets dry quickly as its ability to hold moisture is reduced owing to its shrinkable nature and tight curl pattern that stops or slows down the passage of sebum from the roots to the tips.
Taking all this into consideration, experts have come out with a special wash routine for 4C hair. They suggest once or twice shampooing the hair to maintain its health and not cause too much damage. If you shampoo 4C hair too much, it will strip the hair of moisture further, thus making it more prone to breakage.
Co-Washing 4C Hair
Going weeks without washing your hair is a long time and may not be a comfortable feeling because your hair will get dirty within a few days of shampooing. So, for this, experts suggest co-washing. This is the process that involves washing your hair using a conditioner between shampoo washes. Yes, even conditioner helps you clean your hair. In the co-washing process, you wash your hair using a conditioner, minus the shampoo. It gently cleanses your hair without ripping off the layer of natural oil. You can keep co-washing your hair between shampoo washes whenever your hair has dirt buildup.
How to Wash 4C Hair?
Follow this step-by-step guide to the right way of shampooing your 4C hair.
1. Pre Shampooing
Shampooing your 4C hair directly leads to too dry and frizzy results as shampoo completely strips your hair of moisture. Pre-shampooing saves your hair from these and ensures shampooing is an enjoyable cleansing process for your hair. So this is a non-skippable step that you need to do to have perfectly washed hair minus the negative results. To pre-poo or pre-shampoo your hair, apply oil or a conditioner or both. This will ensure your hair has a protective layer of moisture and too much of it does not get washed away while shampooing. This process also makes washing your hair with the shampoo and detangling it later easy as your hair becomes more manageable owing to the extra moisture.
There is a proper way to shampoo your hair before washing it.
- Create sections in your hair to make sure each part of your hair gets applied with the oil, conditioner, and products you use and can reach the roots easily.
- Apply the products on the sections and scalp. You can use any oil or pre-shampoo conditioner for this. Or you can go for a pre-shampoo like this one, which is an all-in-one product especially made for 4C hair.
- Secure the sections by loosely twisting or braiding them.
- Cover the hair with a bonnet or scarf and leave it overnight or for 1 hour for best results.
- Wash your hair with a shampoo. Make sure to clean the applied oil and conditioner well so as to not let it accumulate on your hair follicles.
2. Detangle Using Your Fingers
Right before shampooing your hair, it is a good thing to detangle your strands. Detangling your 4C hair can be quite frustrating because it tends to tie itself together easily, owing to its unique structure. So before shampooing, you must detangle your hair using your fingers to sort them and reduce breakage during comb detangling later.
- Dampen your oiled and conditioned hair. You can also apply water or a liquid moisturizer on your fingers. This will smoothen out your hair and allow you to detangle it using your fingers easily. It will also ensure the hair doesn’t break easily.
- Create sections in your thick mane to make sure each strand is detangled. Gently work through each strand calmly and patiently. Pulling at them roughly will only tangle up the strands more, and they might break, too.
- Start from the tips and move towards the roots. If you come across any knots, try to detangle them slowly and gently. If a smaller knot is still left and it won’t get detangled, take scissors and chop off that small knot.
3. Choose a Mild Sulfate Free Shampoo
It is very important to choose a sulfate-free shampoo for your 4C hair. Shampoos with this chemical can remove the natural oils from your scalp that are essential for maintaining the overall health of your hair. Since 4C hair is already the most brittle hair type, a sulfate shampoo will make it weaker and damaged. We recommend Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo.
4. Section and Wash
There is a good chance that washing all your hair at once can leave some parts unwashed and filled with the oil and products that you applied during the shampooing stage. So, the smart thing to do would be to section your hair in equal parts. This should be easy once you dampen your entire hair. Take each section and wash it thoroughly till all the dirt and applied oil gets washed off. Sectioning also gives you more access to the scalp, which is the source of dirt that gets trapped in your hair and causes damage. Washing your hair in sections also makes you use less shampoo than you would use when washing the entire hair at once.
5. Don’t Forget to Condition after Wash
After shampooing, condition your hair as this protects and nourishes it. Again, section your hair and apply the conditioner generously. Apply it in more amounts at the end of the hair as they don’t receive the natural oils from the roots as much as they should. While applying the conditioner, make sure to detangle your hair using your fingers to further smoothen the strands and make the product easier to reach every part. Place a shower cap on your hair and leave the conditioner for some minutes. This will ensure your hair can absorb the conditioner and become softer. Wash with cold water. It is important to wash with cold water as it helps to close the cuticles so that your hair can retain all the hydration and nourishment from the conditioner.
When to Know It’s Time to Wash 4C Hair?
Since the answer to how often you should wash 4C hair is less frequently, it is easy to forget about washing your hair on time and go without washes for more weeks than needed because it can get difficult to know when your 4C hair needs shampooing and co-washing. So when do you know your 4C hair needs a wash? Here’s when-
- You have an itchy scalp: An itchy scalp is a clear indication that your hair needs washing immediately. If suddenly you feel your scalp is itching and you get oil and dirt while scratching the itchy part in your fingers, it means your hair is asking for shampooing.
- You are sweating excessively: Hot weather conditions, strenuous work routines, etc., will cause you to sweat more. If you are sweating more, your hair will get dirty quickly because of the sweat residue. If you have washed your hair recently and feel it is getting dirty again, you can go for gentle exfoliation or rinsing instead of repeating the entire washing process because that will lead to damage and loss of natural oil.
- You have removed a protective style after a long time: If you have had a protective style on your 4C hair to guard it against weather conditions and have removed it after a long time, you must wash your hair because protective styles can clog up the pores and cause dirt buildup on the scalp.
To Wrap it Up!
We also hope this article has made you feel differently about your hair if you have been looking at its unique structure in a negative way. Embrace your lovely 4C hair because they are unique and beautiful. Learn to love them and note all their features to know what works for them and what doesn’t.
We hope this guide on how often you should wash 4C hair helped you in taking care of your locks and keeping them clean and healthy.