How To Get Curl Definition On Type 4 Hair

Group of black women with different hair textures - hair typing
Plume Creative/DigitalVision/Getty Images

"Type 4" hair is not a scientific notation, but anyone who's even begun reading about and researching natural hair knows the numbers. The vast majority of people with what's considered black textured hair probably fall into the 3-4 range, from wavy to kinky. Although some people don't care about these numbers at all, for illustration purposes, let's just say type 3 may be jumbo marker size to pencil size curls, while type 4 may be pen spring-size to tight coils.

Curl Definition and Type 4 Hair

Curl definition. This is one phrase that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to curly/kinky hair. For some women, whether they transition to natural hair or go the quick route with a big chop, seeing their texture, which they may not have seen since childhood, can be a big surprise. Some are pleased by it, others not so much.

Typically, kinky and very kinky hair, the texture that lends itself so readily and beautifully to full Afros, doesn't maintain "good" curl definition without a lot of manipulation. Some people are up for manipulating, some aren't, so keep that in mind when trying to create S-shaped curls where hair naturally falls into a Z-shaped pattern.

The products and setting methods you use can make a difference in the definition you get.

Setting Methods to Get Better Curl Definition

These include:

  • Two-strand twists
  • Flat Twists
  • Bantu Knots
  • Braid-outs
  • Finger Coils

    All of these hairstyles can be worn for a period of time and then released; for the best results, use a good holding product. The longer you wear the style, the more defined your hair will be once you take it down.

    Products to Try for Definition

    Look for strong hold products, but avoid ones with a high alcohol content.

    Kinky-Curly Curling Custard, ORS Lock & Twist Gel or Oyin Shine & Define are all good options. Once set, let your hair completely dry before releasing. Fortunately, all of these setting styles are also great stand-alone protective styles, so it's like getting two styles in one.

    Keep in mind your climate when trying to get definition, too. Sometimes, even the best products won't hold up well to a rainy or humid day. Any black hair texture may fall victim to frizz if it's that time of year.

    Wash n' Gos

    Can you get a well-defined wash n' go on type 4 hair? With the right products, you definitely can. However, to avoid any frustration, be aware that wash n' gos look different from person to person. Accept that your wash n' go may not look anything like your favorite YouTube guru's and you might have more shrinkage. These products are made for defining tightly curled tresses (all available on Amazon):

    Ultimately, whether or not your hair holds a curly shape easily should come second to your hair's health. Drowning it in high-alcohol gels or poor-quality products, all for the sake of making curls where none exist is a recipe for frustration.

    Curl definition really isn't the be-all and end-all of natural hair. If you have it, fine; if not, that's okay, too, because there are still plenty of styles that work well on Afro-textured locks.