If you’re like me, you know the importance of moisture for 4C hair. When our hair is dry and brittle, it becomes difficult to manage and style.
It also becomes most prone to breakage, leaving us with hair that won’t retain length. This can be really frustrating when you don’t know why this is happening and what you can do to fix it.
In this blog post, I will discuss 15 tips on improving moisture retention in your 4C hair. I will also talk about ways to get moisture into the hair shaft, and how to help the hair repair from damage due to dryness.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to having healthy, moisturized (and growing) 4C hair!
Tip # 1: To help 4C hair retain moisture, it is important to understand what causes dryness in the first place
The leading cause of dryness is a lack of moisture in the hair shaft. When the hair shaft is not properly hydrated, it becomes dry and brittle.
There are several factors that can contribute to a lack of moisture in the hair shaft, including:
– Use of harsh chemicals
– Use of heat styling tools
– Excessive shampooing
– Exposure to environmental elements like wind and sun.
-Using products that are not pH balanced or contain harsh detergents
There are so many more that also include the use of some medications, health conditions, and even the type of water you wash your hair with (hard water woes, anyone?).
Dryness can also be caused by damage to the hair shaft. This damage can be due to any of the factors mentioned above, or it could be due to physical trauma (like excessive brushing, chemical treatments or tight hairstyles).
Once the damage occurs, it is very difficult to repair. That is why it is so important to take preventive measures and treat your hair with care in order to keep it healthy.
Be gentle with your hair and avoid any hairstyles that pull or tug at the hair. If you use heat styling tools, be sure to use a heat protectant product and use the lowest setting possible.
When it comes to chemicals, always do a patch test first and be sure to follow the instructions carefully. It is also important to note that some 4C hair types are more susceptible to dryness than others.
This is due to the fact that 4C hair has a very tight curl pattern, which makes it difficult for the natural oil produced by the scalp to travel down the hair shaft.
As a result, 4C hair types often have to rely on external sources of moisture to keep hair hydrated. When it comes to coily textured hair, you can never really get enough moisture.
That is why it is so important to take extra care of 4C hair and make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep it hydrated. This leads me to the next tip.
Tip # 2: In order to get moisture into the hair shaft, it is important to use products that contain water-based ingredients
Water-based products are able to deliver the much-needed hydration and moisture your coils crave. Some of my favorite water-based products include:
– Leave-in conditioners
– Deep conditioners
– Moisturizing hair creams
– Hair mists
When shopping for water-based products, check the labels to see if water is listed at the top of the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of volume on product labels, so water should be the first or second ingredient you see.
Also, be sure to look for ones that contain natural ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, and honey. These are humectants and help attract moisture in the environment to your hair.
If your 4C hair is particularly dry, you may want to consider using a water-based product as a leave-in conditioner.
Leave-in conditioners are great for adding moisture and hydration to the hair shaft and can be used on damp or dry hair.
To use, simply apply the product evenly and style as usual. Leave-in conditioners can be used daily, but if your hair is on the drier side, you may want to use them more often.
Tip # 3: In addition to using water-based products, it is also important to seal in moisture with an oil or butter
Sealing in moisture is a crucial step and there has been a lot of debate among naturals as to how this is best accomplished.
The general consensus is that you should use an oil or butter to seal in the moisture after applying a water-based product.
This will help to prevent the moisture from evaporating and will also give your hair a little extra protection against friction from the strands rubbing and coiling around each other.
Some of my favorite oils and butters for sealing in moisture are:
– Coconut oil
-Avocado oil (See why this is actually my favorite oil
-Jojoba oil (the magic serum for coils)
Oils and butters are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients that help thirsty hair thrive.
When using oil or butter to seal in moisture, be sure to apply it while your hair is still damp.
Start with a small amount and add more as needed. You can also apply it to dry hair, but you may find that your hair feels greasy if you use too much.
I wouldn’t recommend using oils or butters on dry hair, but for certain situations.
Since oils and butters have a sealant effect, you don’t want to create a situation where the moisture cannot get into the hair because the layer of oil is blocking it out.
I only apply oil to my dry hair when I’m doing a pre-poo or hot oil treatment. This way, I rinse the oil out with the shampoo and restore the moisture balance to my coils.
(If you want to see my routine for moisturizing my hair, check out this video on my YouTube channel)
Remember that oils do not contain water, so they do not hydrate or moisturize your hair. They are only effective when used in conjunction with a water-based product.
Now that you know how to get moisture into your 4C hair, let’s talk about retaining it.
Tip # 4: Be gentle with your coils to prevent unnecessary tension and breakage
Tension and breakage are two of the main enemies of 4C hair.
To avoid these, be gentle with your coils and handle them with care. When shampooing, use a sulfate-free cleanser and avoid scrubbing too hard. Using the pads of your fingers will keep nails off of the scalp and hair.
Be sure nails are smooth, and without chips or ragged edges, as these can snag hairs causing them to break.
Be patient and take your time to avoid putting unnecessary tension on the hair. When detangling, use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers and start from the bottom working your way up.
Be sure to detangle your hair while it is still wet and use a conditioner with slip to help the process along. 4C hair is delicate and, as we know, can break off very easily
If you find that your hair is prone to tangles, try sleeping with it in loose braids or a satin scarf to prevent knots from forming overnight.
Tip # 5: In addition to being gentle with your 4C hair, you also need to be careful about the products you use
Avoid products that contain alcohol as this can actually dry out your hair.
Look for products that are labeled “alcohol-free” or “low alcohol.” If a product contains alcohol, it will usually be listed as one of the first few ingredients.
In general, you should also avoid products with harsh chemicals and sulfates as these can strip your hair of its natural oils and moisture.
Since our hair is naturally prone to dryness, avoiding drying agents in your products will give your coils extra protection.
To get the most out of your 4C hair, look for products that contain natural ingredients and oils.
Products with glycerin, honey, and aloe are all great choices for 4C hair. As stated previously, these ingredients will help to add moisture and keep your coils hydrated.
Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you decide which products will work best for you.
If you have low porosity hair, look for products that can help to open up the cuticle and allow moisture to enter the hair shaft.
Conversely, if you have high porosity hair, products with protein can be helpful as they can help to temporarily fill in any gaps in the cuticle.
Porosity is a really big one as choosing the wrong product can prevent your hair from getting, or retaining, the moisture and ingredients it needs to flourish.
Tip # 6: Use a deep conditioner at least once a week
This is one of the most important tips for 4C hair care.
Deep conditioning helps to replenish moisture and nutrients in the hair shaft that have been lost due to damage or environmental factors.
It is also important to choose a deep conditioner that is right for your hair type.
If you have high porosity hair, look for a deep conditioner with protein as this can help to temporarily fill in any gaps in the cuticle.
Also, look for a deep conditioner with oils or butters as these can help to seal in moisture.
Conversely, if you have low porosity hair, deep conditioning can still be a benefit.
When warm water is added to our hair, the strands swell and the cuticles lift up a little. This occurs no matter what porosity hair you have.
This cuticle lifting leaves the inner part of the hair exposed and, if left in that state, can result in dryness and, ultimately, breakage.
Deep conditioners help correct this problem by smoothing the cuticles, allowing them to lay flat again and keep in the moisture.
To get the most out of your deep conditioner, apply it to damp, detangled hair and cover with a plastic cap.
Sit under a hooded dryer or use a heated cap for about 20-30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
4C hair loves moisture so the more you can give it, the better!
Tip # 7: In order to properly moisturize 4C hair, it is important to use products that are specifically designed for 4C hair types
There are a few things you should look for when choosing products for your 4C hair:
– Products that are free of harsh chemicals and sulfates.
– Products that contain natural ingredients and oils.
– Products that are specifically designed for 4C hair types.
There are a few lines of products that meet all of these criteria and you can try some out to see which ones you like the most.
Select a line that contains a leave-in conditioner, styling cream, and deep treatment masque that are all great for 4C hair.
Using products in the same line is usually recommended as they are formulated to be pH balanced to work well together.
When you find products that your 4C hair likes, stick with them!
4C hair is dry by nature so it is important to use products that will help to add moisture and keep your coils hydrated.
The right products can make a big difference in the health and appearance of your 4C hair.
Tip # 8: Use a low poo or co-wash instead of shampooing your hair every week
Shampooing strips the hair of its natural oils and can leave 4C hair feeling dry and brittle.
A low poo or co-wash is a great alternative to shampooing as it cleanses the scalp without stripping the hair of its moisture.
To use a low poo or co-wash, simply apply conditioner or moisturizing shampoo to damp, detangled hair and wash your hair as you would if you were using a regular shampoo.
Rinse thoroughly and follow up with your leave-in conditioner, then seal with your oil or butter.
You can use a low poo or co-wash in place of shampoo every other week or as needed.
I low poo every other week with a moisturizing shampoo and do a deep cleanse with a clarifying shampoo on the alternate weeks.
This will help to keep your 4C hair hydrated and looking its best.
Tip # 9: Use a leave-in conditioner
Leave-in conditioners are a great way to add moisture to 4C hair without weighing it down. They are usually lighter in consistency than other conditioners and can be used on damp or dry hair.
When applying a leave-in conditioner, be sure to focus on the ends of your hair as this is where 4C hair is most prone to damage and breakage.
You can also apply it to your scalp if you are experiencing dryness there, but be careful! You don’t want to promote build-up on the scalp that will clog your follicles, preventing hair growth.
Leave-in conditioners should be applied to damp or dry 4C hair and can be used daily.
Again, select a leave-in that has water as its first ingredient and a humectant to help attract moisture to your strands.
I make my own leave-in conditioner with distilled water, or a hydrosol, aloe vera, coconut and other essential oils. I mist my coils whenever they feel dry and this has been a gamechanger.
4C Hair loves water! Water is essential for all hair types, but 4C hair especially needs it to maintain moisture levels. A good leave-in spray can help your hair get exactly what it needs.
Some leave-in formulas also use Aloe Vera as the first ingredient and that would work well also.
Tip # 10: Use low manipulation hairstyles to give your strands a break
One of the best ways to retain moisture in 4C hair is to use a low-manipulation hairstyle.
Low manipulation styles are those that require little to no combing or brushing and can be worn for several days without being redone.
This gives your strands a much-needed break from the daily manipulation that can cause 4C hair to become dry and brittle.
There are many low manipulation styles to choose from, including:
Low manipulation hairstyles are styles that require little handling of the hair and can help 4C hair retain moisture.
A word of caution, however, as not applying these properly can actually damage your hair.
Wearing braids and weave styles that are too tight, for example, can lead to traction alopecia, a condition that results in hair loss.
Be sure to consult with a professional stylist to ensure that your low manipulation style is installed correctly and won’t damage your 4C hair.
Also, neglecting your hair (especially your edges!) while wearing wigs and weaves can also lead to hair loss.
Make sure to cleanse, condition, and moisturize your 4C hair regularly even when wearing low manipulation styles.
Don’t leave braids and weave styles in too long as this can cause matting and locking of your strands. I was guilty of this for years, not realizing that the reason my hair didn’t seem to grow was because I lost so much of it trying to detangle matted hair all the time.
Tip # 11: If you want to retain as much moisture as possible in your 4C hair, avoid heat styling
Heat styling can be very damaging to our delicate strands and should be avoided if possible.
4C hair is especially susceptible to damage from heat styling as the coils are tightly wound, making it difficult for the natural protective oil (sebum) to coat the strands.
If you must heat style, be sure to use a heat protectant product and avoid using high temperatures.
Also, try not to heat style too often as this can further damage your 4C hair. Try different methods of stretching your hair instead of heat styling.
Let your 4C hair air dry whenever possible. Air drying is the best way to dry 4C hair as it causes the least amount of damage.
When 4C hair is exposed to high heat, it can become dry and brittle, leading to breakage. If you must use hot tools, limit the number of times you do so.
Be creative by utilizing twist-outs, braid-outs, and Bantu knots to achieve curls and coils.
Tip # 12: Use heat protectants when styling
If you must heat style, always use a heat protectant.
When 4C hair is exposed to high temperatures, it can become dry, brittle, and break. A heat protectant will help to create a barrier between your 4C hair and the heat source, protecting your strands from damage.
There are many heat protectants on the market, so be sure to read the labels to find one that is right for 4C hair.
Tip # 13: Trim your 4C hair regularly
Regular trims are important for all hair types, but 4C hair especially benefits from trims as it is more prone to damage and breakage from split ends.
Trimming your 4C hair will get rid of any damaged or split ends, preventing them from traveling up the shaft and causing further damage.
Be sure to visit a professional stylist for regular trims every 6 -12 weeks, depending on your 4C hair’s needs.
Contrary to popular belief, once a strand’s end starts to split, there is no way to repair it. The split will continue to travel up the shaft and the hair will eventually break off.
There are some products on the market that advertise that they can “repair split ends” but they really only coat the hair temporarily. The only way to really get rid of split ends is to trim them off.
Tip # 14: Be careful when combing 4C hair
When 4C hair is wet, it is at its most vulnerable state as the strands are weaker and more prone to breakage.
Be sure to use a wide-toothed comb when detangling 4C hair in order to minimize damage. Start from the bottom and work your way up, taking your time to gently detangle each section.
If you find yourself having to tug or pull at the knots, stop and apply more conditioner or detangling product. Never comb 4C hair when it is dry as this will cause even more breakage.
If you must comb 4C hair when it is dry, be sure to use a wide-toothed comb and start from the bottom, working your way up.
Tip # 15: Invest in a good, quality hair steamer
One of the best investments you can make for your 4C hair is a good, quality hair steamer. A hair steamer can help 4C hair to retain moisture by penetrating the strands with steam.
This helps to hydrate and condition 4C hair, making it softer, shinier, and less prone to breakage.
Be sure to use a hair steamer that is specifically designed for 4C hair as some steamers can be too harsh and cause damage.
I use my steamer mid-week, between shampoos. Afterwards, I apply a light oil blend of Jojoba and Avocado oils to help keep all of the moisture magic inside.
Bonus Tip: Drink plenty of water
Water is essential for all aspects of health, including hair health.
Drinking plenty of water helps to keep the scalp and hair hydrated, which can prevent 4C hair from becoming dry and brittle.
Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day for optimal 4C hair health.
I hope you found these tips helpful in your journey to achieve healthy 4C hair! Remember, be patient and consistent with your 4C hair care routine and you will see results.
What other tips do you have for fixing dry, brittle 4C hair? Share them in the comments below!