The 4c curl pattern is the tightest curl pattern. It has tiny ringlets that can be as small as 1mm in diameter. Some may even describe 4c hair with having a “z” form pattern but this is inaccurate. There is a curl it is just hard to see. 4c hair has a fluffy cotton look when in its natural state due the the hair coiling up on itself.
Due to the curves and bends in the hair strands it is highly susceptible to breakage and dryness. Natural hair sebum (oils have a hard time making their way from the root of the hair to the tips. Because of the extreme tightness of the curls those with this hair texture will experience a large amount of shrinkage. The hair can look anywhere from 60% to 80% shorter than what it actually is. Coils have to be defined by either braiding, shingling, or twisting through the stands.
Natural ladies with this hair texture can benefit from various protective styles to keep their ends from breakage and the hair shaft strong. Such protective styles consist of but are not limited to braids, twists, buns, and wigs. Low manipulation styles are another form of protective styling as well. 4c naturals have to keep their hair hydrated with good products that will absorb into the hair shaft rather than coat it.
4a hair looks more curly than kinky. There are clear visible signs of a curl pattern. The hair does not coil up onto itself as much and tends to drop or hang lower showing off its ringlets. In its naked state (no products and freshly washed) 4a hair will have a clearly visible looser curl pattern. Curl pattern can be defined with hydrating moisturizers, twists and or the shingling method. $a hair is not as dry and will hold moisture longer than 4c. Those with this texture can also benefit greatly from protective styling and is less prone to breakage. shrinkage can be anywhere from 40% to 60%
4b hair is a medium between 4a and 4c. It is looser than the 4c hair texture. meaning the diameter of the curl is wider than that of 4c but not as loose as 4a. The majority of natural ladies will not only have one texture in there hair. You may be 4a in the front, a mix of 4a and 4b in the middle and 4c in the back.