A Beginner's Guide to Type 4 Hair Care

Advice for a healthier hair care journey—especially in cold, dry climates.


Type four hair is delicate and needs loving and nurturing care. It is a brilliant canvas that, for many centuries, has been used to tell a beautiful story. It is, however, no secret that type four hair becomes extremely fragile during the colder and drier seasons. Putting in the time to add more love and care only means more hours focusing on hair, leaving less time for school. This unfortunately leads most of us down the shameful path of rule breaking, and I have found comfort in keeping things simple. I am here to pave the way for a healthier hair care journey for all of us, especially in the winter. 

Figure out your hair porosity

This is all about your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Low porosity hair is very difficult to hydrate but once hydrated can retain moisture for longer (requires less frequent moisturisation), and high porosity hair is extremely accepting of moisture but dries out very easily (requires more frequent moisturisation). Your porosity might not fall into the strict low, medium, or high category; it could be anywhere in between and can even vary in certain parts of your head. Your porosity helps you select products and methods that would really work to your advantage. This could save you time and money buying products that are not necessarily suitable for your hair type. 

Finding out my hair is low porosity has helped me shift my focus to what my hair personally needs. My low porosity hair was almost hydrophobic, and it was so difficult to gain the full benefits of the products I used. By incorporating mild heat in my routine, my hair finally started accepting moisture. There are so many different guides to at-home tests that can help you determine your porosity. 

Basic hair products

This is the foundation of your hair care routine! If what you are putting in your hair does not agree with you, it has the potential to set your journey a million steps back. Your products should be selected based on your hair porosity and how your hair reacts to the products. I recommend starting slow by adding one product at a time. This way you can monitor the effect each product has on your hair and really break down what works for you. 

I came to Canada from Zimbabwe, where I could pick some of my products from my mother’s garden such as aloe vera leaves and avocados, I had to work out which products were best suited for me all over again. I became obsessed with reading the ingredients in the products I wanted to buy, especially when it came to creams, shampoos and conditioners just to avoid putting harmful ingredients into my hair whilst also taking care to not go over my student budget. I also take into account the fact that some things might work for other people but might not necessarily work for me. 

I buy most of my hair products on Amazon and I usually stick to the basics which include:

Shampoo, conditioner and deep conditioner


When looking for products like these I usually look for products that contain humectants such as aloe vera and honey. Shea Moisture has been my go to brand since 2017. My loyalty to the brand lies solely on the results I have seen. The products usually last me from six to eight months.

Creams, oils and butters 


These are always changing for me because there is such a wide variety of them to choose from. I usually use about three oils at a time and sometimes mix them and use them together (I have a hair oil problem). I use shea butter (just any raw shea butter off of Amazon) which contains vitamins A and E and have antioxidant properties and help keep your scalp healthy. When it comes to creams, I am no expert at all, and I usually just pick the first one I see as long as it contains beneficial ingredients. Last but not least, use a spray-bottle of any kind. This way you can easily provide your hair with the water that it needs.

Wash day

Wash day used to be the bane of many existence. Not only is it such a long process, but it is secretly an arm workout plus a battle between my eyes and the shampoo that feels compelled to consistently attack them. Wash day is however extremely necessary, and how frequently you wash your hair depends on what your hair is telling you.

To make the process more bearable you should find a balance that works for you. I started doing a thorough wash once a month on Sundays, and something minor every two weeks. 

The key is to have the three essential steps in your routine:



The main focus of this step should be to get buildup off of your scalp . I use warm water for my low porosity hair and do at least two washes just to make sure I get everything out. You do however need to tread lightly with shampoo as it has a really drying effect if overdone. For me, using products with humectants such as honey helped counter that drying effect. The shrinkage and shedding in this step is completely normal so don't panic! 

Conditioning/deep conditioning 


Never miss the conditioning step! Getting your hair nice and soft before you manipulate it in any way prevents breakage. Deep conditioning provides hydration and makes your hair a lot more manageable but the products are not made for your scalp so make sure to only apply them to your hair. I usually cover my head with a shower cap, a head scarf and a towel (in that order) just to make sure I am sufficiently trapping as much natural heat as possible for maximum hydration. This step is also a wonderful way to get a break. I use this time to sneak in a one hour nap before rinsing the conditioner out. 

Moisturising and detangling!!!!!!!! 


This step is sacred. For me, skipping this step means reversing all my hard work in the wash day process.To moisturise you will need any hair cream and oil or butter of your choice (I love shea butter, sweet almond oil, Jamaican Black castor oil, and jojoba oil) and water.The creams and oil products you use will seal the moisture in while the water provides a source of hydration. The order in which you add these to your hair could either be using the LCO (liquid then cream then oil) or the LOC (liquid then oil then cream) method taking into account your porosity plus the response your hair has to either method. Creams such as leave-in conditioners and curling creams then allow you to go in and GENTLY detangle your hair in fairly medium sections. Please, I am begging you with everything I have to be gentle! It changed the entire game for me! I use a wide toothed comb or a tangle teezer on occasions. I then braid or twist my hair to prevent it from knotting up again and snip a tiny bit of hair off (if your goal is growth I would recommend snipping to a minimum). I also add a little bit of extra butter or cream to my ends just to protect them from getting too dry.

That’s it! There are so many different and extra steps you could add to your wash day to spruce it up, but as Sweet Brown once said “ain’t nobody got time for that” (just kidding, if you do have time you should go for it!). 

Protective styling 

Protective styling is my favourite activity in my routine. The options are endless! You could go from bantu knots to box braids to mini twists and look perfect doing it. The bottom line is that your hair is stronger when it is put together. The harsh winters cannot, and will not, have much of an effect on your hair if you just keep your hair done, your ends tucked away and moisturise regularly. The most rewarding thing about protective styles is that you can really lock in moisture with little to no effort.

Protective styles fall into two main categories:

Low manipulation


These styles include twist outs and braid outs which allows you to wear your hair out for two or three days at a time (if you are doing more you are definitely breaking the rules). These types of styles require a little bit of work and dedication, so I usually steer far away from these. When I do do them I love to do loose twist out or I tie my hair up in a pineapple. 

No manipulation 


These require much less time. Keeping my hair in mini twists has saved me so much time because all I have to do is sacrifice two hours (or less) once a month to do them. If you have braids, even better! You could keep your braids in for two months and no one will even question it plus your ends will be kept safely tucked away from the dry weather. An added bonus to these styles for me is that I can wash, condition and moisturise my hair without having to worry about detangling or styling afterwards!

There is, however, a catch. If low manipulation styles are kept in for too long they can do more damage than good through breakage and knotting. I wouldn't recommend keeping them in for longer than eight weeks. 

To finish off the protecting process, always tuck your ends away as much as possible and get yourself a silk or satin bonnet/scarf to sleep in. This minimises the friction between your hair and your pillowcase that will dry out or even break off parts of your strands. 


With all that I’ve said, loving your hair is the greatest thing you could ever do for yourself in your journey. It does require a lot of patience like everything else in this crazy world but it’s 100% worth it. Share your journey, take pictures to track your progress and ask questions. This is my journey, what’s yours?



About Tendai

Tendai is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.