Type 4 a type 4 b… What on earth are you on about ... I have afro hair!

by Lian OkolieFeb 8th, 2020

Type 4a, type 4b, what the ...? "I have Afro hair!

Today I felt like reading the article to you as I thought it would translate better. This is a spoken article Not a podcast.

You can find connections between this track and the article, but to be honest, I picked it because I just like this song.


Once upon a time

Once upon a time, a month ago to be precise, I did not know that there were different types of afro hair. I knew afro hair, I had seen it many times, I grew up with it but I didn’t really understand it. I knew there were different textures, but why, I also knew afro hair required a lot of moisture but , again, why? What made afro hair so unique? I definitely had no idea about ‘hair types’ so I know how confusing it can be. Hopefully this post will break it all down for you so you can get a bit more of an understanding.

Through my research, thank God for the internet, I’ve come to understand our various types of hair using the Andre Walkers system.

andre walker oprah

Andre Walker is Oprah Winfrey’s long time hair stylist. He created the Andre Walker system in the 90’s to enable him to sell hair products. The idea was you would check the chart to figure out your hair type which would enable you to know which of his products you would need to buy. The ‘Andre Walker hair classification system’ is widely used among people with afro hair. It is a good way to get an understanding of the different types of hair from straight to coily. In this post I will be focussing on coily/Type 4 hair.

Hair chart

At the beginning of the spectrum you have:

Type 1

Which is Straight hair, followed by

Type 2

Wavy hair, then

Type 3

Curly hair Type 3 hair Characteristics include being prone to frizz; it Straightens when it’s wet and curls when it’s dry.

Type 4

Coily hair Type 3 hair Commonly referred to as Afro-textured or kinky hair. This type of hair requires a lot of moisture as it is naturally very dry and spongy in texture. Type 4 hair ranges from soft/ fine to coarse/wiry and is prone to varying degrees of shrinkage when dry.

Type 4 hair is broken down into 3 categories namely 4a, 4b and 4c.

Type 4a Type 3 hair

Characteristics of this hair type are: Strands have a Spiral ‘S’ shape; Curls are defined and springy. This hair type has looser coils and retains more moisture than type 4b and 4c.

Type 4b Type 3 hair

Characteristics of this hair type are: Strands have a zig-zag “z” shape The curls are not defined. Textures range from fine and sparce to coarse and thick.
4b is the most fragile and the driest of hair types. It’s Prone to upto 70% shrinkage when dry, so hair seems shorter that it actually is. Requires regular moisture and conditioning.

Type 4c Type 3 hair

Characteristics of this hair type are: Strands are tightly coiled with no defined pattern. Textures range from soft, fine and sparse to coarse and thick. 4c hair is more tightly coiled than 4b, It is also fuller with less definition, Prone to over 70% shrinkage when dry so hair seems A LOT shorter that it actually is. This hair type breaks very easily and requires Protective styles. Ie braids cornrows etc

Please bear in mind that you could have a variety of the different categories on your head eg. You don’t necessarily have to be type 4 a or type 4 b you could be type 4 a and b or type 4 b and c maybe even all 3.

If that all seems a bit too confusing, here’s a breakdown:

You have 4A hair if your strands form S-shape coils that are super small, dense, and springy.

You have 4B hair if…your strands are in a “Z” shape, bending at sharp angles. Your hair will be very fragile and dry.

You have 4C hair if…your hair has a similar texture to type 4B and is densely packed with no definition. You have to braid or twist your hair to get any type of definition.

Figuring out your hair type can be confusing but very necessary especially if like me you have several different textures that have to look cohesive when you style your hair. So I hope this helps.

Tip: If you’re having trouble figuring out your hair type, try checking when your strands are wet.

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