The Ultimate Coily Hair Guide

The Ultimate Coily Hair Guide

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. That’s why we’ve put together our ultimate guide to coily hair: learn what it is, how to recognize it and what are the best products to make the most of your natural texture.

Characteristics Of Coily Hair

Coily hair is the most voluminous of the hair types. It is often referred to as type 4 hair, and can be divided into three subcategories: 4A, 4B, and 4C. It has either very tight coils that begin at the scalp, or ‘Z’ shaped angles. The difference between coily hair and the other curl types is that wavy hair has loose ‘S’ shapes, and curly hair has looser corkscrew-coil shaped curls.

 4A Hair Type

what is coily hair

The curl pattern of 4A hair is usually visible, and is 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 and keep it hydrated at all times with rich hair treatments, leave-ins and butters.

4B Hair Type

how to care for coily hair

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.

4C Hair Type

how to style coily hair

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, so we recommend washing it less often to keep the strands moisturized.

Coily Hair and Porosity

Your hair type isn’t the only thing that should affect how you take care of your hair. Your locks will also have their own hair porosity. Coily hair is often 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.

How Should You Wash Coily Hair?


Coily hair is the driest curl type, so you need to protect the natural oils in the scalp. 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. At the same time though, you want to make sure you're not washing it too little, or that may cause issues like flaking, itching or dry scalp. We recommend washing coily hair only 1-2 times per week. You can use either a moisturizing co-wash like our Curl Quenching Conditioning Wash, or if you like foamy cleansers you can use a gentle shampoo like our Shine Shampoo.

Even if you wash your coily hair less often, you should introduce a clarifying shampoo like our Wash & Scrub Detox Pro-Biotic in your routine every 4-5 washes, to really purify the scalp from build-up. 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 quench coils with moisture.

Top Tips for Styling Coily Hair


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

  • Apply all products with your head upright, dividing your hair into sections to make sure you are covering every single coil.
  • 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, so make sure you go in with 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 want to style your coily hair’s edges, use a little bit more of our Fixer to smooth them back or create unique designs
  • 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
  • If you want your style to last longer before refreshing, don’t fully break the cast on day one. Leave a bit of hold on the coils to ensure they continue to thrive for the coming days
  • Use a pick brush at your roots to encourage hair volume and fluff out the roots

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 Protect Coily Hair in Between Washes

Coily hair tends to suffer a lot from shrinkage, so during the night you want to 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.

How to Refresh Coily Hair


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.

  • If your scalp is feeling itchy or dry, use a soothing scalp treatment like our Scalp Stimulating Booster and massage it at your roots
  • 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 mix a dollop of 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!
  • 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.
  • Glaze your ends with an oil or a rich butter like our Intense Treatment Serum to seal all the moisture into your strands

Find the products for your coily hair

Curl type is important, but it doesn't really influence which products you should pick. Your hair's thickness, porosity and density are more important in defining the perfect routine for your need. And if you're not sure exactly what your needs are, check out our curl quiz!

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.