how to make 4c hair curly

Here at, we’ve looked into how to make 4c hair curly. It’s trial and error though, so what works for others might not work for you and vice versa. Give each method a few weeks to see if it works before moving on.

4c hair can be tricky to work with. It has less definition and notoriously low porosity meaning that products tend to sit on top of the strands rather than be absorbed into the hair. This makes it difficult to add moisture into the hair, and we all know the best way to create curls is to add moisture. Herein lies the problem. Thankfully, though, it’s not all bad news. While creating natural curls in 4c hair can be a difficult and lengthy process, it’s not impossible. If you can add moisture, you can create curls, so the focus here is moisture. There are various ways to add moisture and make your 4c hair curly.

The techniques below will teach you how to make short 4c hair curly, as well as long 4c hair. But remember, you will need to stick with each method for several weeks before you start seeing progress and definition.

How to make 4c hair curly

The Curly Girl Method

The curly girl method was created by Lorraine Massey (Get her book here, it’s a must-read for curlies) It centres around the belief that conventional shampoos are damaging to our curls. More specifically the sulfates found in most shampoos. Sulfates are what actually clean the hair, but at the same time, they strip the hair of all of its natural oils, causing your hair to become dry and damaged. Every curlies worst nightmare.

By removing silicones, sulfates and other nasties from your hair care routine, you are essentially removing the products that coat your hair and prevent it from absorbing moisture. The idea is to get as much moisture into your hair as possible.

The first thing you’ll need to do for this method is to stop using shampoo. I know that might sound like a terrifying prospect for a lot of us, but don’t worry, you’ll still be clean. Instead of a shampoo, you use a cleansing conditioner. This is called co-washing.

For 4c hair, we’d recommend you use a deep conditioner first. We love Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque. The directions recommend keeping this on your hair for at least five minutes, but honestly, we’d recommend keeping it on for an hour if you can. It hydrates the scalp while locking in moisture, and we’re all about the moisture here. If you can sit underneath a hooded dryer for a while, even better.

After you’ve rinsed out your deep conditioner, you’re going to need to cleanse your hair. There are two cleansers that we recommend for 4c hair, so you can choose between As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleanser or LuxeOrganics Cleansing Cowash. Both are sulfate-free and will add moisture to your hair.

The next step is to leave your hair and let it dry naturally. Heat can be very damaging to curly hair, especially 4c hair as it is already very dry. Also, you’ve just spent time nourishing your hair and adding moisture, using heat at this stage will undo all of your hard work.

To make life easier for all the 4c curlies out there, here is a video of someone with short 4c hair co-washing her hair.

Tightly Curly Method

The tightly curly method was created by Teri LaFlesh (whose book ‘Curly like me’ can be bought here) and centres around seven basic yet effective steps; Cleanse, Condition, Comb, Define, Dry, Protect and Refresh.

The first two steps, cleansing and conditioning, can be merged if you want to combine this method with the curly girl method I talked about above. As I said already, it’s all about trial and error, and some curlies find that a combination of two or more methods is what works best for them. That’s totally fine, you do you.

If you do decide to shampoo your hair, we like Baebody Moroccan Argan Oil Sulfate Free Shampoo. During this step, ignore your ends and focus entirely on your scalp. This is all about cleansing your scalp, your ends will be cleaned while the shampoo runs down your hair.

After you’ve rinsed the shampoo out, part your hair into two sections and apply a very, very generous amount of conditioner to each part. The conditioner should be squelching out and completely coating the ends of your hair. You can apply it to the scalp if you want, but it’s not necessary. We like CurlFriends Rinse Out Conditioner because it detangles easily and is gentle on your hair.

Don’t rinse yet. The next step is to brush your hair while it’s still soaking wet and absolutely dripping with conditioner. The Denman brush does the best job for this. The nylon pins are gentle and don’t cause static on your hair so that’s a big win. Start brushing your hair from the bottom up, and section it off if it makes it easier.

Again, the next step is about your own personal hair journey and may require some trial and error. You can either run your fingers through your hair, section it and let it do its thing, or twist small sections around your fingers to make them more defined. It’s totally up to you depending on what you want your end goal to be.

Now you need to let your hair dry. DO NOT TOUCH IT WHILE IT’S DRYING. Did I make that point clear enough? It is absolutely imperative that you leave your hair alone and let it do its thing. Do not ever brush your hair while it’s dry or drying or you’ll undo all of your hard work and you’ll end up walking around with a head full of frizz.

The protect and refresh steps are for bed and second/third/ fourth-day hair. Protect your curls while you sleep by putting your hair in a bun or under a silk bonnet, and refresh in the mornings with a spritz of water mixed with conditioner to give it some oomph.

Here is a handy youtube video of someone trying out the tightly curly method.

Maximum Hydration Method

The maximum hydration method was created by Pink Cube of and has gained plenty of traction over recent years. As many 4c hair types have low porosity, the maximum hydration method aims to fully nourish and quench your hair by adding plenty of moisture.

Start by clarifying your hair with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/3 cup of conditioner and water in a spray bottle. Absolutely drench your hair with this mixture, then let it sit for 10 minutes or so and then rinse out. Ideally, do this the night before you start this method, and don’t do it too often. A few times a year will suffice.

Next, co-wash your hair, then cover it with a shower cap.

For the next step, you’re going to need;

  • 1 cup of bentonite clay
  • 1 tbsp of raw honey
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1.5 cup of warm water
  • 1.5 cup of apple cider vinegar (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then apply to your hair in sections and cover it with a shower cap. Let the mixture sit on your hair for 15 minutes before you rinse it out.

After rinsing, take a botanical leave-in conditioner and apply to your hair in sections using either your fingers or a rake. Then coat your hair in a botanical gel using the same method.

This can be a really lengthy process so you need to stay committed before you see results, but a lot of 4c curlies that have stuck it out are glad they did.

Here is a video review of someone who used the Maximum Hydration Method.

Curl Activator for 4c Natural Hair

This keracare curling wax seals in moisture and adds shine to your hair while giving you a firm hold. It can be used with any of the techniques outlined above.