The Ultimate Guide to Coily Hair

how to care for coily hair type

So you have coily hair but are unsure of how you should be looking after it. With every hair type, knowing how to look after it is essential to have gorgeous locks. That’s why we’ve put together an ultimate guide to coily hair, from exactly what it is, a wash day routine, and what the best products are to make the most of your natural hair.


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- ringlet-shaped curls.

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 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, on the other hand, 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.

4A Hair Type

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 treatments such as our Double Deep Cream Quencher, and leave-ins like our Curl Conditioning Oil in Cream.

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 preventing the coils from being stripped of their natural oils.

4C Hair Type

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 also very dry due to the natural sebum produced at the scalp being unable to travel down the hair shaft, so we recommend washing it less often to keep the strands moisturized.

How Should You Wash Coily Hair?

Coily hair is the driest curl type, so you must 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. We recommend washing coily hair only 1-2 times per week. You can use our Essential Moisture Cleanser or, for frequent washing, an alternative like our Curl Quenching Conditioning Wash.

Even if you wash your coily hair less often, you should introduce a clarifying shampoo like our Wash & Scrub Detox in your routine every 4-5 washes to really purify the scalp from build-up. Since you wash your hair much less often, you may want to use a deep conditioner every wash day rather than a traditional rinse-out. Our Double Cream Deep Quencher is great for really quenching coils with moisture.

Top Tips for Styling Coily Hair

By styling your coily hair, you can really make your curls shine! Using the right styling techniques and products will ensure your crowning glory always looks its best!

  • Coily hair needs more moisture, so make sure you go in with a leave-in conditioner before your stylers. Something rich like our Curl Conditioning Oil-in-Cream is great to really quench your coils.
  • Use the raking method to detangle and ensure even product distribution, and follow with a detangling tool if necessary.
  • Layer a styler such as our In Shower Style Fixer for long-lasting definition and hold
  • Apply all products with your head upright, dividing your coily 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.

Styling coily hair is easier when it is hydrated and moisturized. Also, maintaining the right protein moisture balance is key to ensuring your results are the best they can be.

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 pillowcase. This will prevent frizz by preventing the hair from friction against 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 sleeping.

How to Refresh Coily Hair

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

  • If your scalp is feeling itchy or dry, use a soothing serum 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 ensure 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.

Shop for your coily haircare products to assist with all of your needs!

About Curlsmith

Curlsmith was inspired by the previous generation's home remedies for hair care. From this evolved the gourmet, premium products you know today. We wouldn't be here without the help and collaboration of beauty experts, world-renowned trichologists, bloggers, and most importantly you! We learned what curly hair girls needed most by taking to the streets and asking those important questions. From reinforced hair, provided by our strength range, to intense hydration, provided by our moisture line. We were then able to create formulas for our products to help solve the problems that curly hair faces daily.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.