A Guide to 4C Hair for the New Natural: Products

Hey everyone!

I’m so excited to finally make this post. People stop me all the time when I’m out and about to ask me what I do with my hair, what products I use, and how I achieve my texture. It’s taken me some time but I think I’ve finally found a regimen that works for me, and now I get to share it with you! Instead of one overwhelming blog post about every single thing I do to my hair, I’m going to break it up in sections starting with this one about hair products.

The key to building the right collection of products is to know what hair you’re working with and what it needs. Here’s a handy chart to see where you fit.
hair typing

A few notes about that chart and the thousands of others like it on the internet: it’s not always straightforward. A lot of people, myself include, can experience different textures on different parts of their heads. The hair on my edges is a lot coarser than the hair in the middle of my head. Just focus on the overall texture and when in doubt, yield to the kinkier texture. You wouldn’t want to neglect some parts of your hair and leave them without sufficient moisture.

I always get nervous when people start ‘typing’ their hair, because it can turn into the good hair vs. bad hair debate. I want to stress that the only qualification for ‘good’ hair is having healthy hair. Whether you’re a 2B or a 4A/3C blend or a 4C-but-almost-D-because-it’s-so-coarse, you can take care of your hair and help it flourish into something amazing. You just have to do your homework and have patience! So just use the hair typing as a guide to figure out your hair’s needs, but feel free to deviate if you think your hair likes something else.

One more thing, before I forget: I didn’t include anything about products that involve heat because I personally don’t use it. Other than the two times I’ve sat under a dryer in a salon since my big chop, I haven’t used heat and have air dried my hair instead. I used to be lazy and not stretch my hair, and while the texture is fabulous this is actually pretty damaging for my texture (but more on that later). For now, just exercise caution if you decide to use heat on your hair and try not to do it too often.

Right, now onto the products.

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My trusted arsenal! I know it looks like a lot, but each one serves its purpose. I’ve also included some tools that will help you achieve fabulous styles. Let’s start from the beginning of the wash routine.

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I used to jump straight into the shower and get to shampooing, but I’ve realized how important it is to pre-poo and detangle first. Pre-pooing just refers to coating your hair in your favorite oil(s) and/or a conditioner with lots of slip (nothing too thick). I swear by coconut oil for 4C hair, but PLEASE do yourself a favor and be sure to get organic coconut oil. I got this brand just to see how the quality would change, and I definitely miss organic coconut oil so I’m using it as fast as I can. Thankfully it works very well as a pre-poo and gets my hair nice and moisturized while I detangle.

If you decide to use a conditioner for this step, don’t get something expensive. A cheap conditioner with lots of slip is ideal, and I love this brand for it’s texture and scent (coconuts are a recurring thing with me, for some reason). It gets my hair wet enough to be manageable without dripping all over me.

I’ll go into how to use these later. Time to wash!

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Regardless of texture, anyone with natural hair can benefit from regular co-washing. It’s gentler and more moisturizing than a normal shampoo, and I’ve found that it leaves my hair softer afterwards. I love the Cantu line, although some of their styling products have really strong smells that I tend to shy away from.

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If you decide to co-wash regularly, don’t forget to shampoo every now and then. This eliminates any buildup and residue and leaves your hair feeling truly fresh. I can’t say enough about the Shea Moisture line; I use it in every aspect of my hair regimen when I can and I’ve started using their skin products as well. They’re on the more expensive side, but CVS and Walgreens will occasionally do BOGO deals and that’s when I tend to stock up. It’s truly worth the investment.

The next, and probably most important step is conditioning.

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Our hair texture is very dry, so it needs constant moisture. I recommend deep conditioning once a week with a thick deep conditioner, as this will best penetrate the hair shaft. I slightly favor the Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque (I know, shocking), but Creme of Nature makes a great deep conditioner too. After I let it sit for a while and rinse, I usually follow up with the light Ogx conditioner from above. I’d also recommend their Argan oil and Shea Butter variety, as these are two things that 4C hair loves.

Once that’s all rinsed out, I can go on to styling.

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I always start with a Leave-in Conditioner as part of my LOC routine. It’s just a good starting point for styling natural hair, in my opinion.

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You guessed it! Back to the coconut oil for sealing in that moisture. If you don’t like the smell of coconut oil, some great alternatives are olive oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil.

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I usually follow all of that up with Anti-Breakage Strengthening Styling Milk by Shea Moisture. Whether you’re experiencing breakage or not, it can’t hurt to fortify your hair a bit more. This product isn’t very heavy, but 4C hair does like pudding-like products the most. I’m just showing what works for me, but feel free to try something thicker if you think this product doesn’t do enough for your hair.

And now, for the Holy Grail…

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I’m going to be bold and say that everyone with natural hair should use this gel. It’s amazing for getting control of your edges and adding definition and shine to styles, and it doesn’t get all crusty when it dries. Actually, you can barely feel it. I’ve heard that all of the strengths feel the same, but I can’t confirm that since I only use max strength. I can’t recommend this enough.

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The peppermint tea tree oil is great for masking the smells that some of these products have, and it’s also pretty good for shine and moisture. I love using it around the holidays because it gets me in the Christmas spirit even as I battle final exams. The Super Shine hair silk is incredible for added shine.

That about does it for the creams and gels. But you’re also going to need a few tools to achieve maximum slayage.

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A spray bottle is great for dampening the hair when you don’t want to soak your head or you just want to refresh your curls. The white clips on the left and the ponytail holders are great for sectioning your hair off, but I trust the clips more to do it without tangles. Rat tailed combs are also great for sectioning and parting, but I don’t ever comb through my hair with them. I’m a finger detangler but you could use a wide-toothed comb as well. I use the brush to smooth down my edges, although many people love to use an old toothbrush. And the pick is the key to volume. I’ll demonstrate that later!

That does it for my product haul! Next time I’ll go through my wash day routine and show exactly how I put all of these products to use. Until then, stay flawless!

-Ash

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2 comments

  1. Kristi Lewis · May 26, 2015

    what do you think of the anti breakage strengthening stuff?? I was considering trying it, but the reviews are split pretty even …and how about that leave-in conditioner?? I’ve been looking for a new one

    • ashg4906 · June 1, 2015

      Hi Kristi! Thanks for checking out this post! I’d give the Anti-Breakage Strengthening Styling Milk a…7/10. I’ve definitely noticed a decrease in breakage, which is great! But it’s not my favorite. I don’t really care for the smell on its own (mixed with my other products it’s not too bad), and it’s not as moisturizing as other SheaMoisture products I’ve tried. I say go for something in the Coconut and Hibiscus line if you’re going to purchase from SheaMoisture, or just any cream that’s slightly thicker and treats your hair better.

      As for the leave-in conditioner, I LOVED it….when I was still in the TWA phase. It was so easy to spray and go! But now that my hair has grown into what I call the Medium Length Afro (MLA) phase, I want something thicker that adds more moisture. The leave-in I used in this post is still a good product, but only if you apply it at least twice a day. It’s great if you have a looser texture (my mom uses it and she’s somewhere in the 3-zone).

      If I find a new, better leave-in, I’ll post an update and let you know!
      xoxo

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