Coily Hair: Ultimate Guide & Care Tips

by GAIA TONANZI 4 MINUTE READ
how to care for coily hair type

Coily hair is the most delicate textured hair type. Not all curls are the same, and understanding what your hair needs is key to healthy, gorgeous results. Our expert guide walks you through what coily hair is and how to recognize it. As well as the best products to make the most of your natural texture.

Table of Contents:

Characteristics of Coily Hair

Coily hair is the most voluminous of the curl types. It has a tight curl structure, which are described as very tight coils that begin at the scalp, or ‘Z’ shaped angles. Coils differ from other curl types because of its tiger coil pattern. Whilst curly hair has looser corkscrew-coil shaped curls, and wavy hair has loose ‘S’ shapes.

3 Types of Coily Hair 

Coily hair is also known as type 4 hair. The hair types are denoted by numbers in this way. With the higher the number, the togher the curls. This can then be divided into three subcategories: 4A, 4B, and 4C. The characteristics of each type are:

4A Hair Type

The curl pattern of type 4A hair is usually visible. Made of tight coils, roughly the size of a crochet needle. This coily hair type is very fragile and can be easily damaged so it’s important to look after it carefully. Keep your tresses hydrated at all times with rich hair treatments, hair butters, and leave-in conditioners.

type 4a hair has a crochet needle size tight coils and is very fragile

4B Hair Type

4B hair is the first coily hair type that has a ‘Z’ curl pattern. The strands tend to be very fine and delicate, so it’s important not to manipulate them too often. Reducing the frequency of hair washing is key to prevent the coils from being stripped of their natural oils, causing dry hair.
type 4b hair has a z shaped pattern and can be very dry

4C Hair Type

4C hair has a very tight zigzag pattern and is quite fragile. This coily hair type experiences the most shrinkage, so it may seem to grow more slowly when in fact the length is just concealed in the tight pattern. This hair type is very dry as well. When it comes to caring for type 4C hair, we recommend washing it less frequently. This can help to keep it moisturized and improve your hair hydration.

type 4c hair has a zigzag curl pattern and can appear to grow slowly

Coily Hair & Porosity

Your hair type isn’t the only thing that affects how you take care of your hair. Your locks will also have their own hair porosity. How porous your hair is depends on how open or closed the cuticles on your hair strands are. This affects how much moisture can enter or leave your locks. 

Coily hair often has a higher porosity than straight hair, but it can be any of the three types:

  • High Porosity: This hair type has cuticles that are very open. This means moisture can easily enter and leave the hair, meaning high porosity hair is prone to dryness.
  • Medium Porosity: The cuticles in medium porosity are less open and let hydration is relatively easy, whilst also not losing this moisture too quickly.
  • Low Porosity: The cuticles in low porosity hair are very tightly packed. This makes it difficult for moisture to enter, but once it’s in the hair shaft it retains it very well.

Identifying your hair’s porosity is important to know how to care for it. Whilst taking a curl quiz can help you determine exactly what your locks need. From choosing the right hair routine, to what products to use. 

How to Wash Coily Hair 

Coily hair is the driest curl type, so you need to protect the natural oils in the scalp. You may be asking, how often should you wash your hair? Here are our top tips:

Don’t Wash Too Often

You don’t want to wash the hair too often or you may end up stripping its natural moisture. Coily hair also tends to be quite fragile, so frequent washes are discouraged to avoid too much manipulation. We recommend washing coily hair only 1-2 times per week.

Don’t Wash Too Little

Not washing your hair often enough can leave you with scalp problems. Washing too little may cause a flaky scalp, or dry scalp. This can end up leaving you with an itchy scalp. Which is why we recommend washing coily hair 1-2 times per week.

we recommend washing coily hair less often to retain moisture

Co-Washes & Shampoo 

You can use either a moisturizing co-wash like our Curl Quenching Conditioning Wash. Or if you like foamy cleansers, use a gentle shampoo like our Shine Shampoo.

Even if you wash your coily hair less often, you should introduce a clarifying shampoo. Our Wash & Scrub Detox Pro-Biotic can be used every 4-5 washes, to help purify the scalp and remove product build-up

Conditioner

You may also want to use a deep conditioner every wash day rather than a traditional rinse-out. Our Double Cream Deep Quencher is a great option to really supply moisture.

Following these steps to washing your coily hair can help you love your locks. Encouraging to transform your natural coils and keep them feeling healthy and looking beautiful. 

How to Protect Coily Hair in Between Washes

Coily hair tends to suffer a lot from shrinkage, so you need to protect your curls at night. Make sure you are not scrunching your hair further. Rather than using a tight bonnet or scarf, we recommend sleeping on a simple satin or silk pillowcase. This will prevent frizz by preventing the hair from scratching on harsh cotton fibers. If your coily hair is longer, you may want to tie it in a pineapple style with a loose satin scrunchie before going to sleep.

Best Products for Styling Coily Hair

moisturizing styling products help to keep coily hair looking stunning

By styling your coily hair, you can really bring out its full potential. Using the right techniques and the best styling products will make sure your locks always look their best. 

These coily hair products can help you achieve effortless style:

  • Apply both leave-in conditioners and styling products on soaking wet hair. This will allow you to detangle more easily and comb the product through your coily hair thoroughly
  • Coily hair tends to need more moisture. Make sure you go in with moisturizing hair products, such as a cream, before your stylers. Something rich like our Oil-in-Cream is great to really quench your coils
  • Strong hold gels like our In-Shower Style Fixer are the best products to define coils and hold the style until the next wash day
  • If you're going for a twist-out or braid-out, you can try a more flexible hold product, like our Shape Up Aqua Gel
  • Use a pick brush at your roots to encourage hair volume and fluff out the roots
  • If you want your style to last longer before refreshing, don’t fully break the gel cast on day one. Leave a bit of hold on the coils to ensure they continue to thrive for the coming days
  • If you want to style your coily hair’s edges, use a little bit more of our Fixer to smooth them back or create unique designs
  • When applying all products, tip your head upright. Dividing your hair into sections makes sure you are covering every single coil

Styling coily hair is easier when it’s in the best condition it can be. Maintaining the right protein moisture balance is key to ensure optimal results.

How to Care for Coily Hair

refreshing your coily hair between washes can keep it feeling healthy

Since coily hair is washed less often, you might want to consider refreshing it in between washes, in order for your style to last longer. The best products for coily hair include:

  • If your scalp is feeling itchy or dry, use a soothing scalp treatment. Our Scalp Stimulating Booster massages into your roots to promote healthy tresses 
  • Use a moisturizing spray to keep your coily hair hydrated. You can use our Moisture Memory Reactivator. Or, if you feel that’s too light for you, you may want to mix a dollop of our Oil-in-Cream with water in a spray bottle and use that instead. Don’t be shy while you are spritzing, you want to make sure you’re using enough product to reach all hair sections!
  • Glaze your ends with hair oils or a rich butter like our Intense Treatment Serum to seal all the moisture into your strands
  • If you feel you need a little bit more hold, smooth some gel over your hair in sections. Don’t try to rake it in or it may cause more frizz.

Caring for coily hair is simple once you know your hair’s texture and hair type. Find the perfect products to transform your locks from hair you like, to hair you love.

Why Choose Curlsmith?

We specialize in hair care for curly, coily, and wavy hair. From conditioners, to frizz control products, designed with trichologists, made from natural ingredients. No matter your hair type, take proper care of it with Curlsmith.

Gaia Tonanzi
Product Development & Textured Hair Expert

Product development expert on a mission to shine the spotlight on textured hair, bringing awareness of the category to the whole haircare industry. She is passionate about debunking false myths and bringing science-backed facts to the community, creating easy-to-follow guides to simplify curly haircare.

Gaia Tonanzi
Product Development & Textured Hair Expert

Product development expert on a mission to shine the spotlight on textured hair, bringing awareness of the category to the whole haircare industry. She is passionate about debunking false myths and bringing science-backed facts to the community, creating easy-to-follow guides to simplify curly haircare.