It's a familiar 4C rite of passage: you spend hundreds of hours in your bathroom, struggling to implement the often well-intended, but ultimately time and money-wasting instructions you picked up on YouTube, until something finally clicks. It's not working and it's probably never going to.
Instead of pushing valiantly on, trying to make this useless advice perform somehow on 4C hair, we've decided to give up and call BS on some of the most ridiculous and misleading - however well-meaning -Type 3-centric curly advice for 4C hair.
4C Hair Myth 1: "It's not the product, it's the method."
This has to be one of the most cringeworthy pieces of advice ever offered when it comes to 4C hair. Of course people with type 3 hair can afford not to differentiate between products; most curly hair products are designed for type 3 hair. Many 4As can also get away with this approach though, so it's little wonder it became so entrenched.
But for 4C it is the product. Why? 4C hair typically has a much less absorbent surface than your average, say, 3C, hair. It's very picky and choosy about what it will absorb, so not all products can get in. Most products for curly hair are designed with the highly absorbent textures common on Type 3 hair in mind, which means that what looks like a slight difference in performance between products on 3C hair can show up as complete non-performance on 4C hair.
In fact, the wrong product can change everything on 4C hair, from giving you stiff strands that won't respond, to inflicting buildup for days and even breaking off the ends of your hair.
This doesn't mean that method doesn't matter on 4C: the right techniques, done consistently, are essential to successful 4C haircare. But without the right products, you're fighting a losing battle.
4C Hair Myth 2: "4C hair needs oil."
Most 4C hair hates most oils.* For some reason, that hasn't stopped hair bloggers (Type 3 and 4 alike), traditional hair media, and well-meaning aunties pushing the virtues of oils on 4C hair. But despite the near-sacred belief in oils as a universal good for all hair, most 4C hair still can't stand most oils.
Why? 4C hair usually has super low porosity. Not just low, but super low. Not only does your average 4C strand refuse entry to oils, it often bristles when the oil hits it, too. Seal your hair with oil? It's probably just going to roll off. Even if it doesn't, it'll likely sit in globs on your hair shaft, ruffle up your cuticle scales and leave grease stains all over your house, your car and your job.
So if you've tried straight oils on your 4C hair and the reaction was a snap, crackle and pop, plus the odd oil patch on your brand new shirt, just know that they're not for your hair type. And that is just fine.
4C Hair Myth 3: "Apply your products on wet hair."
Type 3-centered curly hair advice always has you applying product on wet hair to 'lock in the curl'. On 4C hair, there is no special wet hair curl effect to lock in. 4C's super low porosity means it doesn't take in enough water to create major definition the way other hair types do when wet. So applying your product on wet 4C hair won't give you the same results your Type 3 counterpart gets.
On top of that, you also run the risk of seriously annoying your hair. Wet 4C strands barely have any space for water, so if your hair is full to capacity with all the moisture it can take, best believe there is no room in the inn for some product.
And if your wet 4C hair tends to go brittle or squeaky as soon as you apply product to it, this is a sign your strands are oversaturated, which can be extremely damaging. That's without even mentioning the weird shrinkage and awkward drying patterns that applying product on wet 4C hair can bring.
4C Hair Myth 4: "A little goes a long way."
A teaspoonful/50p/quarter-sized/[insert other ridiculously small amount] of product might go a long way on some Type 3 curls but it won't go very far at all on most 4C hair. All things being equal (that is, on hair with similar length, density and strand diameter), 4C will typically require more product input than 3A, B or C, and 4A, too. Shrinkage is one cause: the spring factor that comes with having more curls per inch means a greater weight capacity, so you can apply quite a bit before product feels "detectable" in the hair. And since many 4Cs try to limit shrinkage, trading some volume to get it might not even be an issue.
But the biggest reason is porosity. While low porosity occurs on all hair types (it's actually very common on Type 1 straight hair), the super low porosity that often comes with 4C hair is another thing altogether. It means this hair type is several times less absorbent than most other curl types, and that has a huge impact on how much product you'll need to use.
Since it's taking in less product, you need to apply more to get the same effect - whether that's moisture, smoothness, curl definition, hold, slip, shine, or pretty much any other factor. So don't let people who think they know better, but don't, make you feel like you're being wasteful when you need to apply more than they do. But if you see your money going down the drain in gobs of styler, you might want to think about how to apply product to get it to absorb on your 4C hair more efficiently.
There's even more shaky advice out there...
With so many Type 3-centric tips scattered all over the web that are totally non-productive on your 4C curls, we had to create part 2 of this, with 3 more tips you might want to avoid like the plague.
DHA Hair Care Experts