Since the early 2000s, there's been an
increase in the number of natural hair products available on the market, according to a 2017 report by the L.A. Times. But that doesn't necessarily mean every product line works well with 4C hair.
However, there is one universal factor about this hair type that can help consumers pick the best product: 4C hair is believed to be one of the most fragile hair textures, making it more prone to damage and breakage. That means people with this hair type should look for products that deliver hydration and moisture and won't strip strands of their natural oils.
In general, products that list ingredients like olive and coconut oil are all
great to use in 4C hair. Creator of natural hair care platform Craving Yellow Tabitha Tongoi mentioned in a 2016 post for Naturally Curly that these sealants all help to lock in moisture. But aside from just oils, other 4C experts say heavy curl creams and leave-in conditioners can help quench strands as well.
And while trying to decide what works for your hair may be tricky, the right products aren't hard to access — especially since the vast majority of items can now be purchased online. To help you figure out some of the best products to use, Bustle surveyed 49
women with 4C hair to find out what some of their favorite products are, and what time of year they use them, to give you the most helpful recommendations. From beauty supply store classics to indie e-commerce gems, read on for our readers' picks in 4C hair care. We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. General Tools Best Heating Cap Deep conditioning is vital for those with 4C hair, as this texture is more likely to experience dryness than others. This innovative, flaxseed-filled Hot Head deep conditioning cap will give you a salon-quality moisture treatment year-round, without you ever having to leave the house or sit under the dryer. And while you could use just a shower cap to deep condition, adding heat is said to help the product better penetrate the hair strands, leaving your hair feeling extra moisturized. All you have to do to use this heat cap is apply a deep conditioner of your choice to your hair, pop your Hot Head into the microwave, put on a shower cap, then place the Hot Head on top and let it get to work. The best part? It stays hot enough to last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes at a time, and requires zero cords. Best Detangling Comb
Best used while the hair is still wet, this versatile wide-tooth comb can easily and
gently detangle tight, 4C coils without causing any tension that could cause hair breakage. What’s more, the special curved handle is designed to conveniently hook onto your shower head, making it perfect for wash day. Best Detangling Brush
Chic, compact, and affordable, this brush uses two-tiered bristles to glide through even the thickest of 4C hair with minimum breakage and damage, all while fitting right in the palm of your hand. Even 4C hair guru and
vlogger Chizi Duru, who tests hundreds of products made for kinky hair, was amazed by the effectiveness of the tool after the first time she used it. Cleansers Apple cider vinegar has long been praised by natural hair bloggers: Many swear by it as an alternative to traditional shampoos to cleanse the scalp without stripping the hair of natural oils, making it ideal for 4C naturals to use. While some may think the price tag is a bit steep, this rinse features more than just ACV and water — it also contains other nourishing ingredients like aloe vera juice and macadamia oil. This product is especially great for those with thick hair, since the applicator's spout tip allows the formula to get right to the scalp, helping to wash away any flakes caused by dryness.
While some prefer to buy apple cider vinegar-based cleansers, others choose to make their
own rinse at home by combining the vinegar with water. Much like the cleansing product from dpHUE, this option will still work to clean the hair and scalp without stripping it of its natural oils — the only difference is this two ingredient version will save you a good chunk of change.
Formulated with tangerine, coconut, and castor oil, this creamy co-wash will leave your hair feeling super hydrated after just cleansing alone. It also spreads easily through the hair, working to detangle and
cleanse your coils at the same time. Deep Conditioners
This hair mask is perfect for 4C naturals to use all year round, but especially during the dry winter months. The formula boasts an all-star lineup of almond oil, aloe butter, shea oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil, which all work together to seal in hydration. The combination of these ingredients will leave your hair stronger and healthier during the time of year it needs it the most.
This creamy blend of coconut oil, honey, and shea butter melts right into dry hair for an immediate dose of moisture, helping to smooth out frizz. And it's perfect to have on hands during season that come with unpredictable weather (like spring), since it can either be applied as a leave-in treatment for drier days, or a rinse out conditioner when it's more humid outside.
This amazing deep conditioner contains lightweight ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil that will lock in moisture, while also smoothing out the hair cuticles — essential for anyone with 4C hair who wants to control frizz.
This hair mayonnaise is yet another beauty supply store classic — and it gets the job done. This super-thick deep conditioner, packed with olive oil and egg protein, is a great way to seal in moisture and strengthen the hair strands.
Not only does this product smell incredible, but its nourishing ingredients like coconut and shea butter will give you tons of slip while detangling. It helps to lock in moisture, leaving your hair feeling smooth and soft, even during the coldest months of the year when
4C hair can start to feel brittle.
The Great Detangler from Taliah Waajid can be used on either wet or dry hair, and softens the hair on contact. With the formula boasting vitamin E, olive oil, and shea butter, this leave-in product is ideal to give you an extra boost of moisture on wash days when your hair feels dry.
Aussie has been an affordable favorite for naturals for quite some time, but it's not just the price that makes it ideal. Ingredients found in the conditioner, like Australian aloe and jojoba oil, are great for sealing in moisture to keep the hair hydrated, all while giving you great slip to make detangling easy. The sea kelp in the formula also helps to strengthen your coils and protect your strands from sun exposure.
If your 4C hair starts to get dry and brittle as soon as the temperature starts to drop, this weightless leave-in, formulated with a nourishing blend of wheat protein and pro-vitamin B5, will help to strength the hair, so you can avoid breakage while detangling.
This beauty store classic is lightweight, but still packs a punch when it comes to moisture, since the water-based formula contains olive oil, mango seed butter, argan oil, and more. It's a great leave-in to use after taking out a productive style, since olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which both penetrate the hair shaft to help the
hair maintain moisture.
Miss Jessie's is a pioneering natural hair care brand, there's no question that their products work great with all curly hair textures — 4C included. This water-based leave-in conditioner is great for summer because it's so lightweight; it will keep your coils moisturized without weighing them down.
This leave-in treatment is a great way to prevent 4C hair from experiencing dryness. Boasting a formula comprised of coconut water, flaxseed oil, and shea butter, using this product on wet hair can help you to lock in hydration, leaving your coils feeling soft.
This leave-in relies on
Jamaican black castor oil and organic shea butter to nourish and moisturize strands, support hair elasticity, and relieve itchy winter scalp. Sealants Jamaican black castor oil is a popular sealant among naturals, but it works especially well for those with 4C hair because of its dense texture. Ideally best used while the hair is still wet, like all sealants, the thickness of this product insures that your hair is locking in moisture and staying well-hydrated. And while there's no scientific proof just yet, some say rubbing it into the scalp could help to promote hair growth. Shea butter has long been a staple for naturals with kinky hair. While there are many products that contain this ingredient, some people have found the product in its raw form to be most effective. For the best — and most hydrating — results, apply to the hair from root to tip while the hair is still wet to lock in moisture. This will keep your 4C coils feeling soft even in the driest and coldest climates.
Jojoba oil is another great sealant to use if you prefer something more lightweight. Spread on the hair shaft as soon as you come out the shower, and it will get the job done when it comes to locking in hydration — all without leaving the hair feeling oily.
Olive oil is the perfect sealant to keep the hair hydrated throughout hot summers, because it won't leave behind a greasy residue that can drip down the face when you sweat and clog pores. This version from Hollywood Beauty can also be used as a heat protectant for those who like to do blowouts and other similar styles.
Moisturizing Products For In-Between Wash Days
This styling cream contains shea butter, cocoa butter, and vitamin E oil, which is exactly the nourishment 4C hair needs during the winter. The formula is ultra-moisturizing, lightweight, and offers a decent amount of hold, making it perfect for days when you want to manipulate your texture by doing a twist- or braid-out.
Another great product to use after wearing protective styles during winter is the Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer from beauty supply store staple ApHogee. This product helps to moisturize and it strengthens hair by using keratin protein, helping make breakage a thing of the past.
Much like Hollywood Beauty's olive oil product, this lotion protects against heat styling and restores moisture to the hair without leaving any sticky-feeling build-up.
Using thicker, heavier styling creams when temperatures become frigid is ideal for ensuring 4C hair stays well-moisturized throughout the day. This product is the perfect way to give your coils an extra boost of moisture between wash days.
While finding products for your specific hair type isn't always easy, these products that work with 4C hair are a sure way to keep your mane healthy, hydrated, and looking its best year-round.