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The whole doggone 3C vs 4A hair confusion has natural hair honeys wondering what in the world do they REALLY have on their head.
When you find out the distinctions that exist between the two natural hair types you'll be THAT MUCH CLOSER to knowing how to style your hair in the most amazing ways and look your absolute cutest, ever...
What is the difference between 3C hair and 4A hair types?
It's a question that comes up from time to time among naturalistas who frequently debate whether or not the image or images accompanying an article, such as this one below, actually aligns with the type the author insists is staring back at you on your computer or mobile cell screen.
Let's have a real conversation about identifying the distinguishing characteristics of these two hair types.
The truth of the matter is there's not a mind-blowingly significant difference between these two natural hair types. When considering 3C vs 4A hair types, they're actually VERY similar but for a few small detectable elements to the naked eye. And many of the best curly hair products work well on both types...
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3C vs 4A Hair, let's talk differences... Imagine if your best friend with type 3C hair walked up to you, snatched a strand of hair from her head, and gave it to you.
Next, envision your co-worker who also happens to be a naturalista snipping a strand of her 4A hair from her head and handing it to you.
How would you know the difference other than them telling you their hair type?
It might be hard to differentiate between 3C vs 4A Hair at first. Both strands of hair have springy curls that mimic corkscrews or pen spring curls. And many who don't have 4A hair often learn how to thicken 3C hair.
The essential quality that separates one from the other is the size of the curls. 3C hair strands have larger curls than 4A hair, which are a bit more tightly coiled. 3C hair has a reputation for being tightly densely packed, but otherwise soft to touch.
Type 4 hair is kinky and tightly coiled by definition. Naturalistas go as far as to describe this hair as being wiry and coarse. This hair texture is more fragile than type 3 hair because it lacks the number of cuticle layers found in other hair types. Its fragility does not serve as a hindrance to growth.
It grows at the same rate as different hair textures. However, it might be challenging to keep tabs on how fast type 4 hair is growing because it is so prone to shrinkage that is aaaaall too dang real.
Type 4A coils have the circumference point of a crochet needle. They have a distinctive S pattern. Naturalistas with type 4A hair report being able to stretch their curls to the extent that their hair mimics 3C hair, but even with this slight extension of the hair, the hair's diameter does not change.
In regard to 3C vs 4A hair dryness...
Both 3C and 4C hair types can experience similar levels of dryness and dullness and become susceptible to pesky split-ends leading to widespread breakage.
To maintain this hair and support healthy hair growth, you will need to ensure that your natural hair care arsenal is packed with moisturizing goodies. 3C and 4A hair benefit from products that provide adequate hair hydration, minimizes tangles, and creates curl definition.
Both hair types require help with the distribution of these moisturizing products from their roots to the tips. The shape of this hair prevents hair oils, moisturizing, and moisture sealant agents from traveling the length of the hair shaft.
No matter your hair type, whether type 3C or 4A, use products that help to condition these tresses. In addition to selecting ultra-moisturizing deep conditioning hair masks, there are conditioning essential oils that you can apply to your tresses during the week to keep hair healthy.
Avocado, argan, and jojoba oils also act as conditioning oils that soften your hair and protects it from damage regardless of whether it's 3C vs 4A type curly girl hair.
In summary, the difference between type 3C hair and 4A hair is minimal. The shape of the curls is the thing that separates these hair types.
Many of us have multiple hair textures on our head(3C vs 4A Hair and others), and therefore, it is plausible that you may have these two dueling textures on your head. No matter if your curls are 3C vs 4A, or whichever hair texture dominates your hair follicles, you must protect your curly girl goodness from becoming dry, losing vibrance, and friction to reduce exposure to breakage.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is a Contributing Editor to NHP and a former owner of the BlackhairOMG website. She formed 4C Trichology Growth Services, LLC., a US based hair care consultation service. She has also contributed as a writer and consultant for various hair and beauty websites. Melissa can be followed on Twitter here.