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You ever wonder how often should 4C natural hair be washed?
And then get confused-as-crap because all of these long-haired natural type 4C hair beauties all say something different?
It’s confusing, right?
One long-haired 4C says wash natural hair once a month...
Another says that her 4C natural hair regimen calls for washing twice a week, and that it's one of the best ways to soften coarse type 4 hair.
Another says it’s all about how often to co-wash 4C hair and even worse, another is talking about the benefits of not washing your hair AT ALL! Ughhh…
At the end of the day, you're STILL left with the same question:
So umm…. “How often should I wash my natural 4C hair?”
First, if you’re asking “how often should I wash my 4C hair”, I NEED YOU TO KNOW THIS:
And besides that, in regard to how often should 4C hair be washed….
I’LL ANSWER ALL YOUR QUESTIONS TODAY…
And even better, I’ll do 3 unique things in this "how often should 4C hair be washed" tutorial that you won’t find anywhere else.
When taking advice on how often should natural 4C hair be washed...you gotta dodge the bull-jive.
Anyone saying that there is only ONE ANSWER to how often to wash 4C hair is simply misinformed, or bold-faced lying for views as an “influencer” looking for clout or product sponsor paychecks, etc.
Let me touch on this point though, because it’s important….
Although you’ll soon see that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how often to wash natural 4C hair because we all have differing situations....
...you'll quickly learn that THERE ARE SOME GENERAL RULES that are backed by science, that perfectly fit the majority of type 4C natural's washing needs.
I will teach you how to figure out how much you should be washing and how to wash 4C hair properly. Because you need to know and understand this….
Fact is, cleansing and washing your scalp (and hair) is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your hair health, retention and hair growth journey:
Because the most important thing for maintaining a head full of healthy hair is a healthy scalp. If your scalp is sick, all the MSM for 4C hair growth in the world won't do much good.
When determining how often should 4C hair be washed, scalp cleaniness and health should be regarded above all other aspects.
Keeping your scalp clear and clean of dirt and buildup should be of utmost importance, clinical studies prove that scalp conditions impact hair growth and retention.
Because water is the supreme source of moisture for natural hair. It’s a myth that cleansing your hair often dries your hair out. That’s all the way wrong.
Water does not dry out hair; harsh shampoos do. In fact, many highly-trained, advanced naturals get great hair growth boosting benefit from wetting 4C hair daily.
And speaking of myths...
… Let’s bust some myths first and shame the devil for all the hair-harming lies being parroted all across Al Gore’s interwebs...
Join NHP-HIVE and get sent our info-packed, down-to-earth & sometimes funny NHP hair tutorials by email. SIGN UP HERE...
As mentioned earlier, when surveying women about how often should 4C hair be washed, we often find that there are naturals who believe in not washing hair for 2 weeks or even a month or more.
Following this advice has led to some wicked scalp problems and now some of these women desperately wanna now how to regrow hairline edges and fix their damaged follicles.
There are also women who teach co-washing as a rule, I like to call co-washing “how to not wash your hair and quickly create a toxic scalp”. And those are a couple of the things we’ll be bumping our gums about today sis…
You will save your hair after you realize:
Strictly co-washing is the cause of a TON of hair problems because it leaves your scalp without a true cleanse and with an unhealthy environment that is perfect for product buildup, bacteria and fungus growth and all the scalp problems and breakage that come along with it.
And while many want to grow natural hair faster, trying to use hair growth oils as a remedy without washing your 4C hair enough will only add to the product buildup.
Sound like fun? I don’t think so…. In fact, Imma go out on a limb and say “heck-to-the-naw”...
Also when deciding how often should 4C hair be washed, you should steer clear of advice that claims type 4C hair should be washed only once a month because washing often makes natural hair dry.
That is false.
Here’s the deal about many people who say this:
They often mean well, but they are simply giving incomplete information:
Some give this bad advice while ACTUALLY cleansing and wetting their hair more than once a month. This confuses you because they only talk about shampooing once a month but they still are using alternative cleansers and wetting their hair on a nearly weekly basis.
I’ll give more details about this later down in this article...
It seems that some people believe shampoo means clarifying all the time. NOT AT ALL! There are amazing moisturizing shampoos. There’s no reason type 4 hair shouldn’t be cleansed more often than a month.
And I'll soon show you how you can add some special all-natural hair-health cleansers to substitute for regular shampoos as well. So keep reading this how often should 4C hair be washed tutorial…
Your scalp is the soil and your hair strands are the flowers. If your soil is diseased and suffocating for oxygen, your flowers will be just as bad.
And once the inflamation, irritation and breakage starts, turning to products like bamboo extract for hair growth or various African herbs for hair growth might be like putting high-grade fuel into a bad engine.
Any certified trichologist (scalp and hair doctor) will tell you that your scalp needs FAR more cleansing than once-a-month, unless you simply don’t use hair products in your hair that buildup over time.
In figuring out how often should natural 4C hair be washed, remember this...
Your scalp is THE KEY, the epicenter, the place where it goes down. And to only wash natural hair once a month is begging for problems sooner or later, even if certain hair products are masking the damage being done in the short-term.
We’re in this for the long-haul. We’re playing chess, not checkers and you need a more advanced strategy than only cleansing once every 30 days or so. The benefits of not washing your hair often are far outweighed by the trouble that’s coming down the road.
Ok so, you have 4C hair. And honeeeeey, I sho’ll nuff have 4C coily hair goodness and I love it, and hey, and look!
Sis over there has 4C hair too! COOL!
How often should natural 4C hair be washed?
How often you should wash your 4C hair can differ from my answer and that cute sistah over there. So....
I want you to really think about this:
I hope you feel what I’m trying to tell you.
You need to know YOUR UNIQUE VARIABLES to find out how often should you wash natural 4C hair, even if we both have type 4C hair, the perfect answer for you and I can EASILY differ. And that’s what I’m gonna teach you figure out today.
You see...it's true:
Similarly textured type 4 hair that has the same physical characteristics DOES share many similar qualities, still though, this is often not enough to determine how often 4C hair should be washed across-the-board in a one-size-fits-all manner.
Besides that, you probably have noticed that sometimes on one head of hair you can have several different hair types and let’s keep it real, absolutely nobody has time to be using several different shampoos and schedules for each area of hair.
In figuring out how often should natural 4C hair be washed, more factors need to be considered...
More important than hair type, are the other descriptors, as these will help in selecting the most appropriate products and guide your 4C natural hair care practices for best results.
To determine how often should your natural 4C hair be washed, consider whether your hair is dry, colored, fine or dense.
You want to address the needs of your hair first rather than focusing on your type 4 curl/kink patterns. For example, if you have a dry scalp and colored hair, you may want to use an anti-dandruff on your scalp or color-specific shampoo products on your hair.
Natural hair health is also a great indicator of internal health and how often should 4C hair be washed, while some ladies drink celery juice for good health and hair others having very damaging diets.
These are all MAJOR factors to consider when deciding how often 4C natural hair should be washed.
When deciding how often should 4C hair be washed, keep in mind that...
...bringing that water to your scalp gives you the maximum source of moisture for natural 4C hair.
And using the right cleansers and health-boosting shampoos clears the way for your scalp to create an extremely healthy environment for your hair to grow and flourish.
Water does not dry out hair and cleansing with the right products will actually promote moisture, a healthy growth environment and length retention.
Wet hair is more elastic than dry hair and can therefore be styled and manipulated more easily than dry hair.
And please believe, a clean scalp is the birthplace of new growth and feeling good, healthy with no irritation, burning, redness, dandruff flaking or other damage-cause complications.
You are the master of your hair:
And, to learn how often should 4C hair be washed, you should test...
So start off with a weekly wash and adjust that if you think it's not enough washing.
Speaking of a weekly wash (notice, I didn’t say shampoo, but wash), that is the starting point for evaluating your personal situation so that you can figure out the perfect wash schedule for your 4C hair.
So let’s talk about some proper guidelines for evaluating your "how often to wash 4C" situation.
[SEE Article About The Best Curl Activator for 4C Natural Hair]
When I find “best practices” for 4C hair regimens, I like to turn to dedicated professionals. And that’s why I look for the advice of trichologists. who can tell us how often should 4C hair be washed.
These are certified hair and scalp specialists. Although I'll admit that they are expensive to hire for a consultation but I find interviews with them to help you learn the Science of Black hair, not just hearsay, old wive’s tales and speculation that gets thrown at you like a big bag of trash almost everywhere you go for 4C hair care advice.
And when asked “how often should you wash 4c hair?”, most trichologists are quick to tell you to wash your scalp and 4C hair often and they warn that what happens when you don’t wash enough is you create a growth-killing living environment for your natural hair.
Typically, hair & scalp professionals recommend CORRECT CLEANSING TECHNIQUES be performed ATLEAST on a weekly basis, more if you can, and more is better than less.
Now, keep this in mind:
Cleansing doesn’t always mean shampooing (I’ll explain) and especially not with clarifying shampoo which is not usually needed more than once every month or two to kind of “reset” your scalp for a healthy launchpad for new hair to shoot out from.
So, you can be sure that science says you need to wash your type 4 hair atleast once a week for optimum health.
Now, who are the outliers when considering how often should 4C hair be washed? Those who can go longer without washing?
They are usually the “minimalists” among us, the women who barely add ANY products (natural or unnatural) to their hair.
Because these women don’t put much of any products in their hair, they don’t need to “mop up the mess” that the rest of us do. And their situation will often skew the TRUE answer to how often should you wash 4C hair.
And on the flip side:
Some women who are heavy product users have found that washing their type 4C hair up to 2 or 3 times per week keeps their scalp existing as a non-toxic, health-promoting environment. So, how often should 4C hair be washed is subjective...
As someone who tries my darndest to practice this and who studies the science of natural hair, I recommend that you should wash your 4C hair at least once-a-week.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule to how often should you wash 4C hair, of course.
But this weekly schedule is more based on logic.
I mean, would you skip cleaning any other body part for longer than a week? Ugh, of course not.
And here's the thing:
We tend to use alot of products on our natural hair which can build up and prevent nutrients from penetrating it.
In fact “protective styles”, like braids for Black women and twist styles, quickly become damaging when they are not taken care of, this includes regular cleansing.
This natural hair damage from cleansing too infrequently happens because there is a build-up of dead skin, sebum and anything else put in your hair which can irritate your scalp, plus if your hairstyle is too tight or heavy, your follicles will just throw in the white towel and release your hair prematurely.
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In figuring out how often should natural 4C hair be washed, some say "the less the better"...
It’s not true that type 4 hair should be washed only once a month. This is not a long-term regimen solution.
Deciding how often to wash natural hair is a hot topic these days, and let’s be honest…
Choosing to wash your hair once a month or opting to shampoo less frequently was once taboo, but now is more common.
What you’ll often see from naturals who choose to wash natural hair only once a month is that they are still continuing to cleanse their scalp through other methods and these women are consistently wetting their 4C hair weekly (sometimes daily) through spritzing at a bare minimum.
And this missing piece of info confuses alot of sistas trying to figure out how often you should wash 4C hair.
So even if they are only using shampoo monthly… These two things: cleansing the scalp and wetting 4C hair weekly or daily are the most critical parts to you having a regimen that make type 4C hair thrive and look amazing.
Like everyone else blessed with hair, we need to get 4C natural hair wet for injecting hydration, moisture and optimum health.
“It is imperative that the scalp is cleaned on a regular basis. Infrequent hair washing leads to an accumulation of dirt, fungus and bacteria on your scalp. This build-up can cause scalp discomfort in the form of dandruff, severe itching, or a fungal/bacterial infection that could require oral medication.
Most importantly, hair will not grow when the scalp is inflamed. The result is fragile hair strands, broken hair strands caused by excessive scratching, or patchy hair loss. Therefore I highly recommend a consistent shampoo regimen using a shampoo, not just a conditioner. You want to use a product that will remove build up from the scalp and hair.”
You notice she said “not just a conditioner”?
This is the reason co-washing is NEVER promoted at NHP because we are a science-based natural hair blog and the science and scientists simply don't jive with co-washes. Frequent co-washing is stunting hair growth among naturals all across the globe.
We need to STEP AWAY FROM THE COWASHES.
Brainwashed & Bamboozled into Hair Breakage for Bob’s Bucks
They gave us a faulty set of rules to follow, that benefitted the purchases of their relaxers, perms and hair loss products. But was NEVER INTENDED to benefit our health, enjoyment of normal life and mental well-being.
Who else is terrified of getting their hair wet at a pool party or the beach besides us?
That’s not God’s design sis, that’s the design of “Bob” from the boardroom whose job is to PUSH PRODUCT at the expense of our pockets, health and well-being. He doesn't give 2 craps.
You should care though, and I sure as heck do….
Not washing your hair more than once-a-month (if you aren’t a product minimalist) can lead you to serious scalp issues and diseases and major hair loss.
Heavy product users might even be tricked into thinking that washing every 3 or 4 weeks is working well IN THE SHORT TERM because products can often help your hair mimic health until the rug is pulled from under you.
If you're wondering "how often should 4C hair be washed?", you obviously have luscious 4C hair... Take our FREE 4C hair newsletter, it's fun and informative!
So let’s explain WHY women that have kinky coily 4C textured hair don't need to cleanse their tresses as often as women with straight, wavy & curly hair textures.
You need to understand the in-built differences:
You see, naturally straight hair gets super oily very fast because the oil from the scalp travels down the hair shaft fast since it has a straight line to travel.
This means that by day two, especially with products in straight hair, straight hair will get extremely dull and usually admit an odor in a short amount of time.
So, how often you should wash oily hair will differ greatly from non-oily 4C.
With wavy to curlier hair, so say a 2B up to some 3C hair types will have similar issues to naturally straight hair but because of the wave pattern, the oil travels a tad slower down the strands.
So, how often should you wash 3A hair will often be more frequently than 3C and less frequent than 1B for example.
Still, their hair will require cleaning more frequently than kinky type 4 hair but not as much as someone with type 1 texture.
Usually,, the closer a person’s texture is to 3C the more they will require more moisture in comparison to straight-haired women.
Then we get to 4A to 4C natural hair textures. As your curl pattern tightens and zig-zags, the longer it takes your natural sebum oil to travel to the tips of your hair.
This is also why many times 4C texture naturals experience breakage far more consistently, because not only is this texture typically not being moisturized enough, the oil from the scalp is not getting to the ends making it difficult to keep moisturized 4C hair daily.
Also, many coily 4C naturals use shampoo that isn't really meant for our texture.
Natural 4C hair types can cleanse as little as once every 7 days or so and it’s often best to use a shampoo alternative (like a Bentonite clay wash) at least twice a month instead of a bottle shampoo. So 2 or 3 washes per month can completely substitute your moisturizing shampoo of choice.
Moisturizing sulfate-free shampoos and mud washes (Bentonite, Kaolin and Rhassoul clay) are the ideal way to go for the 4s and some of the late 3s.
And only use a clarifying shampoo as needed, maybe once or twice per month. You should never use a clarifying shampoo as your regular poo, it is harsh for a reason.
You should use a high-quality clarifying shampoo in the intended and proper manner in order to remove gunk and product build-up on your scalp and it will be one of your most valuable tools for ultimate hair health.
For shampoo washing, one of the most highly-rated moisturizing shampoos is the Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo for Natural Hair (color-safe). It deeply cleanses natural hair, and it’s sulfate-free making it one of the best shampoos for type 4 hair.
This shampoo is good because customer reviews say that it doesn't dry out your naturally curly hair or leave it smelling perfume-y. Gets a pretty good lather even though it's sulfate-free, and cleans well without over-cleaning.
For a premium conditioner choice, you know I’m always a fan of how good TGIN products are for 4C natural hair, and if you have the money to step up another level of hydration a great complement to a proper hydrating shampoo is the best-selling Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Deep Conditioning Mask.
This is a 5-minute, deep conditioning mask that revives medium to thick dry hair. It’s infused with cell-protecting antioxidants, rich argan oil and nourishing ingredients, it improves hair's texture, elasticity and manageability like a champ.
The Shampoo Switch Out:
Alternative Natural Hair Cleansers for Black Hair
Alright ladies! Fortunately, when worrying about how often should you wash 4C hair, I’ll show you that there are some excellent alternative natural hair cleansers for type 4 Black hair that can replace shampoo on half or more of your wash days AND GIVE YOU BETTER SCALP & HAIR HEALTH FOR IT!
You won’t worry as much about how often should 4C hair be washed when you can easily wash more often without stripping your hair and drying it out!
And, hear me good when I say:
These alternative cleansers work as an amazing scalp detox and they can also cut down the time it takes for your wash day!
These super-effective shampoo replacement alternative natural hair cleansers are 3 specific types of clay.
Benefits of Bentonite Clay for Hair:
If I had to choose JUST ONE CLAY it would be Bentonite clay for natural hair because it is the run-away-winner as far as the absorption rate of toxins, 2nd place would be Rhassoul and last-place would be Kaolin clay.
Fortunately for you and me, you don’t have to choose JUST ONE! Each clay brings something different to the table and provides your hair and scalp with a healthy cleansing and growth environment. When you mix these 3 clays together you have a very balanced 4c hair and scalp cleanser on your hands.
You sweet 4C hair will BLESS YOU in a short amount of time because clays do not strip your hair of its natural oils and sebum as much as shampooing your hair does, especially clarifying shampoos.
Benefits of Rhassoul Clay for Hair:
Rhassoul Clay is a cosmetic clay that is mined in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, this alternative 4C hair cleanser is negatively charged and has the highest amount of hair-saving minerals when you compare it to Bentonite and Kaolin Clay.
Rhassoul Clay for hair has medium absorption which means the number of toxins it absorbs it's not as high as what bentonite clay absorbs.
Yet still, Rhassoul clay has the ability to absorb oil and impurities from both the skin and the hair and contains a wider spectrum of minerals than the other clays as well as higher percentages of silica and magnesium along with potassium and calcium.
Benefits of Kaolin Clay for Hair:
Kaolin clay is a cosmetic clay mined in the hills of China Kaolin clay has a neutral charge so it has a negative and positive charge, however, its leans more to the positive side it has very low absorption when it comes to removing toxins from your hair and it has the lowest amount of minerals in it in comparison to the other two cleansing clays.
Because of its neutral charge, this is a good option for women looking to use a bentonite clay hair mask without apple cider vinegar.
You would not want to use bentonite clay without adding something acidic to it because the acidic base balances the high pH of the clay. But you wouldn’t need to add ACV to kaolin powder.
You need to shampoo, that's common knowledge and common sense. But not every time you cleanse your scalp and hair.
When you use bentonite clay for cleansing your hair or when these three clays are mixed together you have a pretty balanced hair and scalp cleanser that is far more effective than any co-wash and still more gentle than a bottle shampoo.
These alternative wash recipes will give your hair life!
Clay cleansers and masks do not strip your hair of its natural oils and sebum and strip your hair as much as shampoo, even the gentler highly-rated moisturizing shampoos because the job of a good quality shampoo is to come in and sweeps everything out, especially the clarifiers which are even harsher because that what’s needed for the job of clarifying and cleaning out the product gunk and trash on your scalp.
These clays are not harsh like that but you'll still get a good, healthy cleansing. Especially when you combine the 3 and join their superpowers together!
Clays ALWAYS wash better than co-washing could ever do but not as much as a shampoo and because it doesn't make your hair feel stripped, you can actually use a simple rinse out conditioner instead of doing a long deep conditioning session, which will make your alternative cleansing wash day fly by much faster than your regular shampoo wash day.
Most don’t realize the science behind the need for conditioning and deep conditioning. How often you should condition your hair depends on how many nutrients have been stripped after washing. These clay washes save you tons of time because they leave your hair with nutrients.
Check out the video below about how clay works to cleanse your scalp and hair so effectively... It will help you understand your options when deciding how often should 4c hair be washed.
Science of How CLAY Cleans Natural Hair
Bentonite Clay for 4C Hair [RESULTS VIDEO]
When trying to get a feel for how often should you wash 4C hair a good rule of thumb is to wash your hair when it is one of the 3D's:
Doing this and using alternative washes like clay atleast 50% of the time will push you into finding the perfect wash schedule and routing for your type 4C natural hair.
The key is to use the alternative washes though. If you use a regular shampoo every time, you will be fighting an uphill battle.
Here’s the problem with shampooing 4C hair everyday. Washing your hair with shampoo everyday is often overkill. As I teach you in this "how often should 4C hair be washed" tutorial, there are many alternative cleansers you can use for daily cleansing which won’t strip your natural hair of all its nutrients and natural oils – The things that keep your hair healthy and strong.
So, is it bad to wash curly hair everyday? Or kinky 4C hair? If you are using harsh cleansers the answer is yes, it will be bad for your hair even with the best shampoo for type 4 hair.
If you shampoo 4C hair daily you may start to notice split ends, excess dryness and tons of ugly breakage. This is the opposite result of what most sane folks want. Ha!
Washing 4C hair too little could leave it too dirty and blocking out hydration and moisture because of too much hair product buildup. Your product use factors heavily into how often should 4C hair be washed.
Product buildup is a serious hair-damaging side effect of not cleansing your 4C hair enough and can cause your scalp a lot of disease and discomfort. Also, your hair could start to produce a bad smell. At the end of the day you’ll have some jacked-up unhealthy hair that will be in need of serious repair.
If you use the information I gave you above you’ll be able to find a balance between washing your type 4C hair too much and washing too little. You’ll have the information and tools to create and adjust a washing schedule that maintains ideal health for your hair.
Besides being asked how often should 4C hair be washed, I’m often asked how often to co-wash 4C hair.
Here’s the deal:
Consistent co-washing (without any other real cleansing) can really jack your scalp health up. So listen, it’s fine for you to use a co-wash as a supplementary refresher cleanser, for example, a co-wash is fine for freshening sweaty hair and scalp after exercising frequently.
You see... You can make a place for co-washing in your regimen if you insist, it's ok, but co-washing SHOULD NOT BE YOUR ONLY REGULAR CLEANSING METHOD. It will damage your scalp all-to-be-danged.
It should go without saying, you should not try to replace your regular shampoos and alternative cleansers (like bentonite clay) with co-wash products exclusively.
For a real cleansing, you need to have shampoo or proper alternative cleansers to TRULY cleanse your scalp and hair.
Applying conditioners and co-washes instead of actual shampoo is like reapplying deodorant to dirty underarms.
Your hair and scalp will never truly get cleansed with cowashing and this will lead to scalp issues and hair breakage in due time.
Check out this video tutorial answering the question "Is co-washing good or bad for natural hair and scalp health?"
When learning "how often should 4C hair be washed", it's important to eliminate harmful practices...
Co-washing is often claimed to be the answer for Black folks who wonder how often should you wash transitioning hair.
But co-washes really shouldn't be your main option when deciding how often should 4c hair be washed. Not at all...
Check out this brilliant video about the pros and con of co-washing and learn how often should 4C hair be co-washed...
Join NHP-HIVE and get sent our info-packed, down-to-earth & sometimes funny NHP hair tutorials by email. SIGN UP HERE...
After digesting this "how often should 4C hair be washed" MEGA-DANG-Tutorial:
You should be well-equipped with science and facts in order to put together a proper wash schedule that should boost your scalp and hair health and help you understand how to care for natural hair daily and AVOID the common mistakes and traps.
4C natural hair is fragile because of the kinks and zig-zags that slow the spread of healthy sebum down your strands. Using alternative clay wash powder mixes will help you clean your scalp and still allow your natural hair oils to do what God designed it to do. Protect and guard moisture!
How often to wash 4C natural hair boils down to how much product buildup, dryness and damage you have. Everyone is different, but science says that we ALL need frequent washing for ultimate hair health and growth potential.
Please avoid the folks who try to say “dirty hair grows faster” or those who promote the benefits of not washing your hair.
That type of talk is just bull-jive advice anecdotal advice AT BEST and always leaving out pertinent information.
So…. How often should 4C hair be washed? If you still have that question after all of this in-depth, science-backed 4C natural hair training. Go ahead and jump back up to the top of this "How often should 4C hair be washed" tutorial and learn.
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.