If you have natural hair, you more than likely know there are a few hair typing systems out there that groups curls into subcategories by their shape, density, and porosity. The most widely accepted hair typing chart comes from Michelle Breyer, the co-founder of the digital hair platform Naturally Curly. Type 4 hair is the most coil-like and kinky out of the four groups, which means it is most prone to shrinkage and frizz.
Since there are so many similarities between the type 4 subcategories, it can be difficult to tell what makes 4B different from 4A and 4C. To make a long story short, the shape between these three is very much alike, but the density and coarseness are distinct. Type 4B has a Z-shaped pattern rather than a defined curl pattern. These strands have sharp bends and are tightly coiled, and can be wiry to the touch. If you're struggling to identify your exact curl type, try this handy, stylist-approved guide.
Ahead, 15 beautiful 4B hairstyles you’ll want to try ASAP.
When done on 4B hair, a side ponytail features eye-catching volume (thanks to the shrinkage that's a signature characteristic of this hair type). Positioning the ponytail high up can create an almost fauxhawk effect while bringing out your face’s features.
Support the naturally-rounded shape of 4B hair with a bandana or satin hair scarf. We love the way this half-up, half-down style puts your baby hairs on display.
Type 4 hair has a fascinating pattern already, however, you can highlight those soft twists and turns with a pop of color. A dark ruby red looks stunning up against dark roots.
Perm Rod Set
One of the best things about type 4 hair is that is can hold a curl really well, even if that curl is self-made. This includes perm rod sets, which create large, fluffy curls that almost always steal the show.
The Wet Look
Every few award seasons, celebrities like to bring the “wet look” back to the red carpet. You can get the same hydration-focused style with a quick wash-and-go and a handful of gloss-inducing products. In general, 4B hair can be difficult to moisturize due to its zig-zag pattern, but when it can achieve this level of luminosity the results are stunning.
If you prefer to have a wash-and-go that doesn’t look weighed down, then you shouldn’t load up your hair with tons of products. Type 4 hair can be fine and fragile, so it is important that you find the right balance. If you need any help figuring out the perfect wash-and-go routine for 4B, take a look at this step-by-step guide.
Whether you’re capable of achieving a bun of this size on your own or you need assistance from a bun donut, this hairstyle is certainly an attention-grabber. Since your hair is out of the way with this look, you can feel more than free to play around with makeup and accessories.
Hair Paint Wax
If you want to dabble with different hair colors without the commitment or damage that comes with chemical processing, hair paint wax could very well be your best friend. 4B hair is pretty fragile–so this temporary option can be helpful. Even better, you can switch up your colors more often since hair paint wax washes right out.
If you’ve been natural for long enough, you know pineapples are love, pineapples are life. With 4B hair, the high ponytail holds true to its name and looks just like the acidic fruit. If you have bangs cut already or baby hairs you’re really proud of, make sure to finger coil these strands for a messy but very put-together style.
There are so many beautiful examples out there of one-sided buzz cuts, but let’s be real, the grow-out process can be a pain. If this is a look you’re into, you can get a similar look parting and brushing down a section of your hair. Slip in a few statement hairpins (or neutral ones if that’s what you prefer) to hold the section down while the rest of your hair does its thing.
A half-up-half-down hairstyle can be flattering on many faces, but it can be taken to a whole other level if you weave in some African-inspired elements. Instead of brushing the front of your hair back, make it come to life by adding two-strand twists, charms, beads and/or decorative puka shells. The juxtaposition looks beautiful against type 4 hair.
Type 4 hair looks stunning when it is short as well. A purposeful haircut will frame your face and allow your coily locks to fall in an optimum position. If you add in some highlights, you will have an extra level of intrigue.
Rainbow Rubber Band Updo
If color speaks to your soul, you can play this look up with curated accessories. (Rubber bands are a great way to do this if you need to hold down some front-facing flat twists.) Just sweep the rest of your hair back into a playfully messy updo and smooth down those baby hairs for a bold rainbow hairstyle... sans dye.
Although the level of bleaching and dying required to achieve a light shade of blonde can be harsh on type 4 hair, it’s not an impossible thing to achieve. It just needs more TLC if you’re going significantly lighter.
You might think afro puffs are reserved for little kids, but you can give them an edgy grown up revision. Point those puffs high up and make them larger than life. Add a vizor for a finishing touch and pull out a few tendrils if you don’t want to look styled.