How to Take Care of & Style Your 4A Hair

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

What is 4A Hair?

4A hair has S-shaped, tight and well-defined cylindrical coils. It is also stretchy, has a cork-screw texture that retains moisture well, and yet is prone to dryness. Caring for 4A hair takes time and is best done in defined routines and regimens.  To help you care for your straight hair, we have put together a few tips to help you get the best out of your gorgeous locks.  

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Keep your hair moisturized always 

Moisturization is a priority for type 4A hair which is very prone to dryness. To avoid hair breakage and damage, complement the natural oil produced the sebaceous glands on your scalp using essential oils and/or shea butter. Coconut, jojoba, Jamaican black castor, avocado, and almond oils are great for type 4A hair because they contain tons of nutrients that are good for kinky hair. Massage a generous portion of either of or a mixture of these oils, or a moisturizing cream into your scalp for best results.

On how to wash your hair 4A hair

  • Always use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioners made from purely natural or organic products. 
  • Cleansing shampoos are great because they clean your hair without stripping it of moisture. Use shampoos that are specially made for damaged hair as curly hair dries out fast. 
  • Make sure you use cold or lukewarm water as high temperatures strip your hair of its moisture. 
  • Deep condition your hair because your hair’s health depends on it. Do this regularly to take out too much scalp build-up. 
  • Use natural leave-in conditioners to keep your hair moisturized and fresh until the next time you wash your hair.

On how often to wash your 4A hair

  • Wash 4A hair once to twice a month with a co-wash or hydrating shampoo. As this type of hair is prone to moisture loss, washing it less frequently allows the natural oils & sebum to stick around for longer.
  • Because this hair gets washed less frequently, always pay attention to your scalp health, you may need to wash more frequently with a gentle shampoo, or clarify your hair to remove build up on your scalp and hair.


Limit the use of hot tools and chemicals

Heat and chemicals are bad for your hair. They damage your hair faster than you can imagine. 

If you must use heat to straighten your hair, ensure that you apply an organic heat protectant after you must have properly air-dried your hair. Ensure that your hot tools have adjustable temperature controls so that you can regulate the amount of heat that your hair is exposed to.  

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Handle your hair gently 

Your type 4A hair is actually very delicate and prone to tangling. Ensure that you detangle your hair gently by running your fingers through your hair or using a detangling comb. Moisturize as you go for optimal results. This way, you can avoid hair breakage and loss of strands. 

When combing, do so in sections. Do not comb or brush wet hair. 

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Avoid high manipulation hairstyles 

The hair around your hairline and edges are delicate and can easily break if pulled too tightly. Avoid hairstyles such as tight high ponytails and tight high buns that add tension to the roots and scalp.  

Embrace protective hairstyles like braids instead, but do not wear them too long if you do not want your hair falling out. Twist-outs are awesome for your 4A curls and leave them looking their best when you unravel the twists. 


Protect your scalp while using extensions and clip-ins 

Dip all extensions in a mixture of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water to remove lye. Lye causes scalp itching. You can also use the mixture to remove a build-up of hair products from your hair after shampooing and conditioning. The acetic acid in ACV helps your hair glow and fights infections and dandruff. Thanks to its antifungal and antibacterial properties. 

Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.