Is 4b Hair Simply Dry Unmoisturized 4a Hair?

Monique Coleman 4b Yaya Dacosta 4a

We don’t get too caught up in the number and letter hair typing system here, we prefer simply to dispense advice based on the texture of the hair (fine, coarse etc). But did you know that 4B hair is actually naturally dryer than any other hair type? The reason for this is because of the unique structure of the hair strand it just does not allow for moisture to be held or distributed throughout the hair as it would be in comparison to ‘S’ curls or loose curls, but more about that later.

Lately the chatter in the forums and around the blogosphere have produced insinuations that the 4B category of hair is actually 4A hair when it is dry, un-moisturized and overall not healthy. A shockingly inaccurate and offensive statement if there ever was one.

There are distinct differences between the 4A and the 4B curl pattern which can lead to all sorts of confusion, so lets set the record straight once and for all about what is means exactly to have dry hair, what it means when you fall into the 4 category of hair curl patterns, and the differences between 4A and 4B curls.

What exactly is Dry Hair?

Dry hair is hair that lacks enough moisture and oil to maintain its structural integrity despite what hair category you may fall in. You can identify dry hair when it’s texture feels brittle and the hair is fragile. In this state the hair is very prone to breakage and it is very difficult to retain length as it will eventually break if the dryness is not rectified.

The causes of dry hair are varied and range from poor health such as malnutrition and anorexia to excessive heat styling, dry air in the summer, medications or even excessive washing with harsh products that strip the hair of its healthy oils and natural moisturizers. All curl patterns behave in the same manner when dry and the ultimate consequence is hair loss.

The Kinky 4 Curl Pattern Category
The 4 category is known for having very tightly curled structure, this hair type has been described as very wirey and kinky, cottony or fluffy with or without a visible curl pattern. It is also considered coarse and very fragile with tons of strands densely packed together . What makes the four category scientifically unique is that the hair has less cuticle layers in comparison to other hair types.

Originally posted 2013-04-15 15:00:53.

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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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  1. Joules

    I’m not going to lie, I always thought I was 4B. I put too much shea butter in it one night while doing my nightly routine and, in the morning, had 4A.

    1. NubianPrize

      Same thing here. I let my hair dry or use a clarifying shampoo that strips oils & I have 4b; Wet,well conditioned hair, or Kinky Curly with or without Knot Today & I have all these little 4a curls. That’s why hair typing can be picky & crazy ; African Americans have a zillion textures.

  2. Sharon Floyd Wright

    Could you send me all the info on the 3 year plan

  3. Maya Woodall
    Maya Woodall

    This is interesting because i notice my fair cuts all the way up when its dry but oohhhhh baby when its super most and hydrated its like 2c or 3a but wen dry its 3c4a for sure…hire do you determine wat you really have?! How do you ever find out wat your true texture is???!

    1. Joycelyn Lanae
      Joycelyn Lanae

      Your suppose to go by when its dry because that is what your hair want to naturally do. Product it to tame and moisturize hair, so typing hair when it has product in it doesn’t make sense. Typing your hair is how it looks when it grow out of your head and your hair don’t grow out of it head with product on it. My hair looks wavy while wet/moisturized to, but I’m a 3c/4a.

  4. Celeste Jackman
    Celeste Jackman

    Well from that pic then im definitely 4b also. Lisa Muhammad check this pic.oh with some 4a random curls at times

  5. Medina Christian
    Medina Christian

    but not only is it different textures its also different colours. not convinced!! unless the brown is before she washed it…lol.

  6. Tonya Brooks DeBrow
    Tonya Brooks DeBrow

    I’m mixed all up mainly 4B, my nap is 4A which seems to be so backwards from the majority. and my front left going up towards the top and center crown I believe is 4C it stays dry and does not grow with the rest of my hair.

  7. Terrie Mattox Lavender
    Terrie Mattox Lavender

    I’m both I been getting relaxers since I has three and I been natural for a year and my grade has been ruined but I embrace my 4a/4b hair love the twist outs and all just have to find a product that keeps e hydrated for hours..

  8. Jamillah Hall
    Jamillah Hall

    When hair is wet &moisturized it shrinks becomes more compact & therefore looks darker.People don’t be so quick to dispute what somebody post if you havnt researched it yourself.

  9. Aliyah Morrison

    I’m 3c/4a more 3c in my crown and back of my hair 4a in my edges a course 4a in the middle back of my hair and a mix of 3c/4a through out my hair . Even when my hair is dry I have tight curls and coils . I can only achieve a 4b/4c Afro if I blow dry which I don’t do that anymore too much heat damage . I now braid then flat iron only if I want it straight .

  10. Pam A Jankowski

    This is definitely my daughter’s hair. I have done all types of concoctions from oils to grease and NOTHING sticks in her hair. Within minutes, you can see the frizz appear.

    1. Cheryl Williams

      You need to use something with a thicker consistency. My daughter hair does well with Eco styling gel with olive oil or Shea Moisturizer curl smoothie.

    2. Ashley Elam Attenborough Rothenberg

      She’s low porosity, that’s why nothing sticks. Look into cherry lola treatment and porosity correctors. Once you fix the porosity issue a good conditioner for her hair and leave in moisturizer (oil based is heavier) sealed with essential oils. Just be careful with over moisturization

  11. Ashley Elam Attenborough Rothenberg

    No 4b is it’s own hair type. 4a corkscrew curls, 4b is s shaped, 4c is zig zag. Most consider themselves 4b because of dryness and frizz with actually looking at an individual hair strain’s shape.

  12. Anna Ogonji Smith

    I don’t care anymore. I just moisturize and style. I have several different hair types and they look strange together. Believe it or not my husband was looking through my hair and found a few sections that had straight hair. I’ve been natural for a long while now. All of my hairs are thick and coarse if that’s the word, but each section has its on pattern. What can I do?

  13. Tonya Jones

    I have 4a/4b hair… The 4a is always curly, the 4b is always bent, whether dry or just moisturized.

  14. Sherree G

    this was great. Thank you. Ive been searching for answers on me and my daughters hair type. I was getting frustrated because Im like this is my daughter so we should have the same hair type. But her hair is much dryer than mine no matter what I seem to put in it. Reading your article helped me realize thatI have 4a hair and she has 4 b hair. I kept thinking she has 4a hair, I just have to moisturize it more and then her curls will pop like mine more. But the never happens. Anyway thank you! This was great

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