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All You Need To Know About Coily Hair

by Shilpi Tomar {{"2015-04-07T08:00:28-07:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Image by Madison Reed

Fun, free and filled with volume, coily hair can add style and definition for women who love to try out new things–or to go au naturale. And you can ditch the hair spray, because the natural shape will give a ton of volume, without a ton of effort. Want to learn more about this crowd favorite? We’ve put together an all-you-can-read guide to coily hair.

Scientific structure of coily hair (Type 4)

Coily hair, also known as Type 4, develops its structure from the shape of the cortex. The fibers of the hair are flat, and the flatter the hair shaft gets, the more disulfide bonds occur between hair proteins, making it squiggle in “s” and “z” shapes on the sides of the scalp. Coily hair has strong hooks at the end of the follicle (bulb), which keeps it from growing at an angle. In some cases, hormones and certain medications can change the texture of the hair, making it grow in a different way than originally formed.

Coily hair also changes based on the variance of its s-shaped and/or z-shaped patterns. Here are the three types:

Type 4A Coily: This type has tightly coiled s-curls, and it can range from wiry to finely-textured. The strands are densely packed together, giving it an appearance of thickness.

How to wear it: au naturale. This hair has strong curl definition, so with simple upkeep, it’s easy to let the curls go wild. You can cut it short, keep it long, or style it in any shape you think will naturally flatter your face. These curls were made to be worn just how they came.

coily hair

Tracee Ellis Ross image via Bigstock

Type 4b Coily: This type of hair has a prominent z-shaped pattern and can range in thickness as well. Several have described it as having a “cotton-like” feel, soft to the touch (but very fragile). This type of hair has up to 75% shrinkage.

How to wear it: short dreads. Did you know that dreads are back in style? Keeping dreads short and stylish is a great way to get a fun look with little maintenance. The matted coils need to be maintained once or twice a week for clean edges. Other than that, dreads can be worn loosely or tied back, with a few strands hanging out for a soft and sophisticated look.

coily hair with dreadlocks

Image via Bigstock

Type 4c Coily: This type of hair is similar to Type 4b, in that it has a z-shaped pattern. Since there are so many zig-zags in the hair, it appears to have one shape.

How to wear it: as big as it gets. This type of hair is meant to be embraced. Since it mostly stands on its own, it’s the perfect candidate for a full-blown afro. This classic hairstyle is a powerful symbol of self-expression, and has been worn by many trendy icons.

type 4c coily hair

Image via Bigstock

Things we love about coily hair:

It’s voluminous. With coily hair, volume is rarely an issue. Most coily hair types stand on their own, and can be styled to perfection–with the right hair products. Coily hair rarely ever needs hairspray at the roots, because the s-shaped and z-shaped patterns do all the work.

It’s stylish. There are so many beautiful styles that can be created with coily hair. Whether it’s mini braids, big braids, dreads, au naturale, or a fro, there are infinite ways to style coily hair (and it looks amazing with all of them).

It keeps things cool. Coily hair is built to naturally block the sun’s rays from the scalp. This way, the scalp doesn’t overheat during the summer. It also protects the scalp from harmful rays and elements like a natural barrier.

Strategies for coily hair:

It’s all about the products. Coily hair is typically more fragile than curly, wavy, and straight hair, because it has fewer cuticle layers. So, straightening it is not usually the best way to go. But he right hair care products will do wonders. When deep-conditioned, hydrated, and gently treated to perfection, coily hair looks its best.

Style it up. Coily hair may be prone to shrinkage, but there are several styles which can lengthen the look of the hair. Small braids, dreads, and even a smoothing treatment can combat shrinkage and give the hair length.

Just know the routine. At the end of the day, coily hair just needs to be hydrated and kept well. Keep shea butter, thick oils like almond, argan, and olive oil on hand for deep treatments, and sleep with a silk pillow or scarf (this will keep the hair from getting tangled) to keep coily hair naturally gorgeous.

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