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Coily Hair: How to Maintain & Style this Hair Type

If your hair is naturally curly, you may be wondering if it’s actually curly or coily hair. With the many hair terms today, knowing which name best describes your hair texture can be difficult. In fact, some natural hair enthusiast still can’t tell every hair type by their name.

a lady with coily hair

But that’s not a problem for you as this piece is here to guide you. So, if you suspect your hair is coily, this article will confirm or debunk your suspicions. Read on to see what exactly is coily hair, how to maintain it, and the best hairstyles for the hair type.

What is Coily Hair?

a black girl rocking type 4 hair

This hair type has tight, spiral-shaped curls that form a ‘Z’ pattern from the roots. It is otherwise known as type 4 hair, afro-textured, or kinky hair. It has a natural bounce, and its tight curls make it shrink or appear shorter than its actual length.

Furthermore, coily hair is dry, springy, and fragile. It has fewer cuticle layers than other hair textures. Also, the difference between this hair type and other curl types is that its ringlets are tighter than wavy hair with loose ‘S’ shapes and curly hair with looser corkscrew-shaped curls.

Types of Coily Hair

a chart showing the types of coily hair

Kinky hair is subdivided into 4a, 4b, and 4c.

4A Hair

a lady with type 4a hair

The strands of 4A hair type form tightly curled and springy S-shape coils roughly the size of a crochet needle. This coily hair type is fragile and can get damaged easily. Hence, you should always hydrate it and care for it.

4B Hair

a lady with type 4b hair

The 4B hair has Z-shaped strands that bend at sharp angles. This hair type tends to be fine and delicate, with a less defined pattern of curls. To protect them, try not to manipulate this hair texture too often and reduce how frequently you wash it so you don’t strip it of its natural oils.

4C Hair

a lady with type 4c hair

4C hair has a similar texture to 4B hair. But the difference is it has a tighter and zigzag curl pattern. This texture is also fragile and experiences the most shrinkage. Because of this, it may look like it isn’t growing, whereas the length is hidden in its tight pattern.

Furthermore, type 4c hair is very dry as the natural sebum your scalp produces hardly travels down to the hair shaft. To handle this, wash it less often so your strands stay moisturized.

ALSO READ: Types of Hair Porosity and their Characteristics

Coily Hair Porosity 

a lady with voluminous coily hair

The ability of afro-textured hair to absorb and retain moisture falls under three levels:

High Porosity

Textures with high porosity have open cuticles. This means moisture can easily enter and leave the hair anytime. Hence, it is prone to dryness.

Medium Porosity

The cuticles in medium porosity are less open. Hydration is relatively easy, and it doesn’t lose moisture fast.

Low Porosity

Low porosity hair, have tightly packed cuticle. Hence, it’s difficult for moisture to penetrate, but once moisture enters, low porosity retains it better.

How to Maintain Coily Hair

pretty girl with afro-textured hair

Wash Less Frequently

Coily hair is the driest and most fragile curl type. Any little mistake and your natural oils will leave your scalp. To avoid this, don’t wash your hair too often so you don’t strip it of its moisture. Aim to clean it once a week or bi-weekly. Furthermore, frequent washing leads to too much manipulation. So, avoid this so it doesn’t result in hair breakage.

Get Regular Trims

Type 4 hair may be strong but can break easily if you use the wrong tools or forget to trim it. So, aim to trim your hair every four to eight weeks. Regular trims keep your hair looking fresh and easy to style.

Use Moisture-Based Products

Coily hair can’t survive without moisture; therefore, use hydration-focused products to wash and style your type 4 hair. For example, use a clarifying shampoo on your wash days to cleanse your scalp from product buildups. In addition, apply a moisture-rich deep conditioner. Deep conditioning helps with detangling and weightless moisture. It also penetrates your cuticles to nourish your strands and add more life to your coils.

Steam Your Hair

steaming helps your hair grow fast and healthily. It also stimulates your shaft, unclogs your pores, and allows products to easily penetrate.

Wear a Satin Bonnet to Bed

If you don’t have a satin bonnet, tie a silk scarf or sleep on a satin/silk pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases absorb moisture from your hair, and when this happens, it causes friction, which results in frizz or tangles.

What Is the Difference Between Curly and Coily Hair?

a black girl rocking kinky hair

Coily hair isn’t curly hair. Instead, it’s a type of curly hair. Though curly hair’s sub-categories are 3a, 3b, and 3c, type 2 hair (wavy) and type 4 hair still fits into it. Therefore, while curly hair is the umbrella term, coily hair is a type of it.

How to Style Coily Hair

a Hollywood actress with coily hair

The styling options for this hair type are limitless. From rocking natural hairstyles to using hair extensions, you have no reason to look unfresh with your type 4 hair. 


wash-and-go kinky hair

This style is as simple as its name— wash your hair and get going. But apply hair products and natural oils to lock in moisture and define your coils. Use the LOC method for this. It works by applying a leave-in product, an oil, and a cream to moisturize your hair properly.


black girl rocking twist cornrows

Your type 4 hair will look great in box braids, cornrows, knotless braids, Senegalese twists, and even faux locs hairstyles. These attachment hairstyles protect your hair from environmental elements and constant manipulation.

Heat Styles for Coily Hair

stretched out and curled type 4 hair

Consider blow drying, straightening, or curling your coils. But while at it, don’t use too much heat lest it should compromise your curl pattern and hair texture. Instead, keep it at low heat and use a heat protectant on your hair to preserve its health.

ALSO READ: How to Keep Your Hair Moisturized

Wigs for Coily Hair

lady rocking wig

Wear your type 4 hair into cornrows and tuck them under a nice wig. From braided wigs to classy weaves, your options are endless.

Twist-Outs and Braid-Outs

Twist-Outs and Braid-Outs for coily hair

This style involves twisting or braiding your hair and then loosening the braids. It can be done while wet and worn as it is or taken out and rocked as a fluffy afro style. This style places no tension on your scalp and can be styled with various products. Also, twist-outs and braid-outs help to retain your hair length.

Other Natural Hairstyles for Coily Hair

a girl rocking natural hairstyles

Besides twists and braid-outs, other natural hairstyles also work for this hair type. So, explore finger coils, buns, cornrows, high puffs, two-strand twists, three-strand twists, etc. They express the uniqueness of your kinky hair.

Be Proud of Your Coily Hair

wash-and-go type 4 hairdo

The afro-textured hair texture is unique. Even when it shrinks, it’s still so beautiful to behold. But when exploring styles for this hair type, be careful, as some may create scalp tension and lead to breakage. So, if you’ll be using hair extensions, ensure your hairstylist doesn’t install them too tightly.

Imagine having hair that you can rock as short hairstyles this minute and long when stretched out. Your creator sure did wonders when He made you. So, go ahead and flaunt your hair in its full flory. But if you need more hairdos that gas you up, here you go:

ALSO READ: How to Figure out Your Hair Type with the Hair Texture Chart

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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