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From gorgeous kinks and coils to afro puffs, 4C hair is versatile and can be shapeshifted into practically any style. Of course, every single hair type has its own unique set of needs, but 4C hair is particularly picky, requiring lots of moisture and gentle detangling.
While personal habits play a significant role in the quality of your tresses, the right products can make a huge difference in both curl definition and the softness of your hair. Kinky coils definitely need some extra TLC, and not all products deliver. We decided to go straight to the source and ask real women what they love to use on their textured hair. Ahead, you'll find their choices for everything from conditioning caps to edge controllers.
To ensure that the products you choose improve your hair's health, you'll want to look for some of the many beneficial naturally moisturizing ingredients on the market and steer clear of sulfates. Read on for the best products for 4C hair.
Best Shampoo: Camille Rose Naturals Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse
For kinky hair types, sudsy shampoos and over-washing can do more harm than good, so it’s important to find a cleanser that doesn’t strip your hair of its necessary oils. That’s why this sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo has become a fan favorite. The formula nourishes your hair with an invigorating blend of ginger and essential oils—users report that it has a deeply conditioning effect.
Best Conditioner: Endless Allure Moisturizing Conditioner
This pH-balanced conditioner is prime for sensitive scalps and has the essential nutrients needed to rebuild dry or damaged hair, according to the brand. Take it from Mariah Smith, an educator who is finally starting to experiment with her hair texture. “After using this conditioner, my hair is super soft and so easy to manage." She adds, "I also just purchased the Curl Defining Gel and my curls popped as soon as I put it on.”
Best Leave-In Conditioner: Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In
This cream-based conditioner seals in moisture to leave your hair feeling softer and more manageable. Tierra Camille says, “The entire line is good but I love, love, love the leave-in conditioner! You don’t need too much, you can use it with literally any product, and your curls get really defined and moisturized." The best part? There's no greasy residue left behind.
Best Scalp Pomade: Confidence by Gabby Goodwin Scalp Pomade
This product is made by a mother-daughter duo who both have 4C hair. The plant-based formula is a great alternative to traditional grease products which may contain harmful chemicals. Although it was designed with little ones in mind, this pomade is great for all ages to moisturize the scalp, seal the hair, and add shine.
Best Deep Conditioner: NaturAll Club Ice Cream Treatment Deep Conditioner
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your time spent deep conditioning is actually worth it, but this treatment is so moisturizing and soothing that you’ll definitely notice the difference. The raw avocado is a hero to dry, thirsty hair, and the ingredients are so fresh that it has to be kept in the freezer (simply thaw for about 30 minutes before using).
Best Deep Conditioning Cap: Glow By Daye “The Safari” Conditioning Cap
Moisture retention is usually the biggest concern for 4C hair, so deep conditioning with heat should definitely be a regular part of your regimen. This innovative cap is filled with flaxseeds meant to help provide even heat across the scalp. Just pop it in the microwave for about 90 seconds—it will keep your deep conditioning treatment warm for 20-30 minutes.
Best Hair Mask: Carol’s Daughter Coco Crème Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Mask
This mask is a savior to dry and thirsty curls. It claims to leave your hair stronger, shinier, and softer—and users agree. Jacqueline Tayler is a Brooklyn-based program manager who cites this mask as one of her all-time favorites. “I love how it deeply penetrates my roots and smells like mango coconut heaven," says Taylor. "My braid outs last for days!”
Best Detangler: Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Knot On My Watch Instant Detangling Therapy
Detangling can be a chore, but it doesn’t have to lead to breakage and split ends. Jessica Tee, educator and owner of Slight Jewelry, swears by this slippery detangling product claiming, “This detangler became a staple for me early in my natural hair journey," Tee reflects. "My hair is super thick and this product does wonders—it also helps combs to glide through my hair." Tee even takes the detangler along with her to hair and braid appointments, adding that "the stylist always falls in love with it".
Best Detangling Brush: Messen EZ Detangling Brush
When detangling kinks and coils, it’s always important to be patient and to use a quality brush that won’t snag at your textured hair. This brush has become super popular on social media and it’s easy to see why. It has flexible moving arms that act more like your own fingers to bend as it detangles your tresses, and it also has a comfortable and sturdy grip, making it great for smoothing curls when you're doing a wash and go.
Bets Curl Cream: Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Defining Cream
This curl cream is packed with a blend of rice, keratin, amino acids, and enzymes meant to hydrate and condition your curls. Mimi McDavid-Williams recommends this product for it’s softening and moisturizing abilities. She says, “My hair typically doesn't retain moisture, but this product actually locks it in and makes my curls feel soft."
Best Hair Oil: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
While you’re spending time caring for your hair, don’t forget to pay some necessary attention to your scalp. This nutrient-rich formula has a handy dropper applicator that makes application super easy. It also contains 30 essential oils (including rosemary and mint) and is infused with biotin meant to promote growth, according to the brand.
Best Styling Cream: Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Twisting Souffle
As a busy law student, Cherice McGlone knows all about managing 4c hair on the go. She recommends this twisting souffle for its long-lasting results. She says, “My braid outs and twist outs are more defined and last longer. Even if I do twists on hair that isn't freshly washed or is in between styles, this souffle always gives my hair some definition when I take them down.”
Best Heat Protectant: Rucker Roots Leave In Heat Protectant
This heat protectant gets major points for also working as a detangler. Whether you’re going to blow-dry and straighten your hair or get your curls to pop with a diffuser, this lightweight water-based spray promises to protect from damaging UV rays and hot styling tools. Users report silkier blowouts and less frizzy curls.
Best Co-Wash: As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
Lactation coach Candace Dru swears by this conditioner. “It's the all-in-one aspect for me," she says. "It doesn’t require a large amount of product to do a good job and it’s gentle enough to use on my young toddler who is sensitive to many things." Plus, Dru raved about how the product both smells and feels good when she applies it.
Best Edge Control: Design Essentials Honey & Shea Edge Tamer
When you’re rocking a slicked-back look, the last thing you want is for your edges to misbehave as soon as you walk out of the door. This product does exactly what it claims to do, and that's tame unruly edges. The unique, non-greasy formula is infused with honey and shea butter meant to nourish your hair. It also delivers shine without build-up, so you can reapply day after day for a long-lasting hold.
What to Look For in Products For 4C Hair
You may have heard that it's important to occasionally use a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup from your hair, and those often contain drying sulfates. Luckily, there are plenty of ingredients that can perform deep cleansing without stripping the hair and scalp of its much-needed natural oils. Hairstylist, master cosmetologist, and product educator for The Mane Choice Ebony Bomani suggests shampoos that contain aloe vera, Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract, and rosemary leaf for this purpose.
From shea butter to avocado oil to amino acids, plant-based and whole-food ingredients can provide excellent benefits for 4C hair. That doesn't mean you need to give up your favorite products if they aren't all-natural, though; plenty of commercial products that have chemical ingredients you might find helpful are also infused with hair health-boosting natural ingredients, too.
For those with 4C hair, hydration can be particularly challenging: When hair is kinky-coily, curly, or wavy, it's a whole lot harder for the natural oils to travel down the shaft. Because of this, you'll want to look for products that offer moisturizing in a manner that can penetrate. Whether that's a conditioning cap or a leave-in conditioner made for 4C hair, your hair will look its best with additional moisture.
What should you put in 4C hair?
Whether you're transitioning to natural hair or you've been natural for ages, it's helpful to have a solid routine down. The biggest factors are generally avoiding sulfates and being sure to moisturize sufficiently and often. Black hair experts recommend caution with bleaching and heat styling, and steering clear of tight buns and ponies, as well.
How do you keep your 4C hair moisturized?
There are numerous ways to keep 4C hair moisturized and well-hydrated. Among them, experts recommend protection from the elements with a scarf or hat in winter, deep conditioning treatments, protective styles such as braids, and cream-based products during cold months.
What products will make 4C hair curly?
All of the products included here should assist in making your tresses as bouncy as can be. Curl enhancers such as curl creams are also a good choice. Celebrity hairstylist and owner of Deeper Than Hair in Philadelphia Annagjid “Kee” Taylor says that "a curl cream is a styling cream that helps to define your natural curls... not only will it give curls definition, but it will provide them with moisture you need to eliminate frizz.”
How often should 4C hair be washed?
4C hair experts recommend washing less often than co-washing, which is when you use a single product to wash and condition. By only washing and conditioning separately on occasion—such as once a month—you'll help your hair and scalp keep its needed oils, and mitigate dryness in between washes.