Updated: May 17, 2021
You probably found this post because you’re curious about Ayurveda and how it can be applied to 4c hair care. You might also be frustrated with your current routine and are looking for new ways to care for 4c hair. In either case, you’re in luck! This is a complete 14-step guide to holistic or Ayurvedic 4c natural hair growth. And probably the last one you ever need to read.
It is lengthy so you will need to reference it more than once. Bookmark it and come back to read it as you continue your hair journey. Grab your coffee or tea and settle in. This is a long one!
14 Step Ultimate Guide to Ayurvedic 4C Natural Hair Growth
1. Set out your hair goals
Before you start out on any kind of journey, you need to have a good idea of where you’re headed. Or at least where you want to end up. For a lot of us, that goal has been long, healthy, draping hair. For some of us, that’s regrowing our edges. And for the lucky rest, that’s just maintaining the healthy hair we’ve got.
This is already a great start. Pinpointing your hair goals will keep you from spinning in every direction when it comes to 4c hair care. Pick one goal, stick with it for a few months, then adapt as you see fit. Most of your hair goals will end up working together, so just stay optimistic.
Even if your hair goals right now are length, volume, thickness, density, curl definition, and regrowing bald spots. Don’t feel like picking just one means you will be losing out on the others. Picking just one means you will ultimately achieve all of them in time. Most of your hair goals, when pursued holistically often have side-effects that lead to an overall improvement in hair health anyway!
2. Know your natural hair profile
The next step in caring for 4c hair is to know and understand your full hair profile. By your this, we don’t just mean your hair type i.e. whether you’re 4b or 4c. That is important, but it is also good to know your hair’s porosity, density, scalp condition, as well as your current length.
This is important to know because it will help you a lot in making decisions about your hair care. Decisions like what kind of inspiration to follow, what kind of recipes and remedies to try without hesitation, and even what to expect from your hair’s progress! This can save you a lot of money, time, and frustration.
If for example, you have naturally fine strands and low-density hair, you know that no amount of money you spend on a product will change that. You can instead, tailor your 4c hair care routine to one that reinforces fine strands without causing breakage, and improves the overall appearance of your hair.
However, if you profile your hair one way and learn that it has improved, or changed along the way, this will be a pleasant surprise! It will also serve as motivation to continue on your newfound Ayurvedic hair journey.
3. Monitor your natural hair and track your progress
Leading in from the previous point, we can’t stress the importance of tracking progress enough. It is a great way to view how your hair is advancing! Especially because our 4c hair doesn’t exactly clearly let us know when it’s growing or even when it’s happy.
We’re not just talking about taking pictures either. We mean using what we call a state of the union list. Here you can clearly write down what your hair loves and what it doesn’t. This is especially valuable when you’re making changes to your regimen.
Even slight ones!
Write down an ingredient once you notice it in a few products your hair doesn’t respond to. You can also write down a technique like LOC or LCO as soon as you notice which your hair prefers.
Trust me when I say how valuable this is for getting in tune with your hair. You will find yourself paying extra attention when you apply a product or start a treatment. This is because you know you have to write down how your hair responded to it afterward.
You’ll never have the experience of realizing months or years after using a product that it irreversibly damaged your hair. (we’re looking at you DevaCurl)
We also recommend taking pictures of your hair. This is great motivation to not give up your hair or have negative feelings about 4C hair. Our hair is beautiful, and it speaks to us – telling us exactly what it likes and doesn’t like. You just have to be listening.
You can download a free Hair Care journal with 5 state of the union lists included here
4. Understand what balance means for your natural hair
When we talk about Ayurveda here at HR, we’re simply referring to balance. Taking all the care necessary to ensure balance in our lives, but particularly our hair. This also means taking care of your 4c hair from the inside out. There is so much immediate value from consuming a healthy, nutrient-dense diet and drinking plenty of water.
It always sounds like a lie when people attribute drastic improvements to their hair, skin, and nails to drinking water. However, depending on your current water intake this could be drastic for you as well! If you’re already eating a healthy diet and drinking tons of water, you know you’ve already got a solid foundation. You have no idea how many people are simply not doing this!
If you can afford it, we also suggest taking vitamins or dietary supplements to promote hair growth. These can either accelerate your 4C natural hair growth rate or create a healthy enough environment in your body for natural hair growth. e.g. Biotin, MSM powder, SugarBearHair vitamins, and many more like these. This is because your body is a priority-based machine. Unfortunately, yet fortunately, this means hair growth is often treated as a low priority function.
If your body has just enough protein, fats, and vitamins for a few vital organs in your body, circulating them to your scalp for the purpose of hair growth will simply not be one of them.
Another point of balance to note is your moisture-protein balance. 4C natural hair can only thrive when it has adequate levels of both moisture and protein. This ratio will be determined largely by your hair profile (e.g. high porosity hair needs more protein than low porosity hair, etc.) Paying attention to how much moisture and protein your hair lacks and then feeding it accordingly will be crucial to your hair’s health. You can read more about this in this post.
The final point of balance is your hair’s pH. This is something that may be a little harder to detect if you don’t have random litmus tests lying around your house. However, you will notice when your hair becomes extremely frizzy, dull, or unmanageable. These are all characteristics we might attribute to unbalanced pH, and an ACV rinse is what you might need to correct this.
Related Post: Natural Hair Care: The Simplest Beginner’s Guide
5. Cleanse your 4C natural hair often enough
Like all of our tips here you will find that there is no magic number to the “how often should I wash my 4c hair” question. This is highly subjective, and you will eventually come to your own number after going through the previous three steps.
You will know your hair is dirty and needs to be washed when:
- No matter how much you try to moisturize your hair, it doesn’t stay hydrated.
- Your scalp is itchy or inflamed.
- Your hair feels oily, and somehow still dry.
If your hair doesn’t meet all these conditions after one week, you don’t need to wash it. If it still doesn’t after two weeks, you still don’t need to wash it!
When you are ready to wash your natural hair, we always recommend doing a pre-poo treatment beforehand. Yes, before every single wash day. With a pre-poo treatment, you can apply an oil or gloss of whatever herbs you need (consult this guide) and be sure that your 4C hair is reinforced before the stripping force of shampoo.
You can also choose to detangle your hair during this process and put your hair in medium-chunky twists for washing. Washing your 4C hair in twists is the safest way we’ve found to wash natural hair and encourage natural hair growth and haven’t looked back since. You lose the least amount of hair in the shower, and it keeps your hair from getting detangled and matted along the way!
Here’s a video detailing how to wash type 4 natural hair in twists:
Here at Hibiscus Roots, we are all about intuition and intuitive 4c hair care, and hair growth remedies. That’s what Ayurveda is all about after all – finding your own unique balance. That’s why we don’t recommend routines with strict schedules or things you must do. We give examples, and offer tools you can add to your figurative haircare toolbox, for you to use when your curls ask for them.
6. Deep condition your natural hair every time you cleanse
Deep conditioning is the simple act of applying a deep conditioning product to your hair, leaving it on for an extended period of time, and then rinsing it off.
Hair masks, moisturizing deep conditioners, protein deep conditioners, treatments, and glosses can all be used to deep condition hair!
You would just need to pick the appropriate product to meet your hair’s needs and deep condition with it.
Deep conditioning is the one thing we do say is absolutely necessary for healthy and lengthy hair. There is no way you can achieve the benefits of the herbs, ingredients, and treatments we recommend without prolonged exposure to your hair.
Whether this is done with heat (you can use this portable heating cap from Amazon if you don’t want the hassle of owning a hooded drier) or without heat, you need to be coating your strands with a deep conditioner after every wash – then letting it work its magic for a while.
There’s no skipping this process, ladies! It’s a staple in every single 4c natural hair care recommendation for a reason.
A couple of years ago I thought I would be the one to debunk the myth of deep conditioning 4c hair. This is a clear example of how I’ve done the work so you don’t have to! 😉
I thought to myself –
4c hair doesn’t have to be hard work.
Washdays don’t have to be as long as everyone says.
I can just co-wash my hair every time I wash it and I won’t need deep conditioning at all.
I thought I had cheated the system, but boy was I wrong.
This was “working” for me because my hair was getting wet every week, getting a bit hydrated and I was saving tons of time! But because I didn’t have the State of the Union list I talked about in Step 3, I didn’t notice how badly my strands were actually suffering from this.
As a result, I noticed about a year later that my hair had thinned out. My nape (aka kitchen), which I was struggling to grow out, was still struggling, and my hair had all the clear characteristics of moisture-overload. (This is when the hair has way more moisture than protein and becomes unbalanced).
This is why we suggest paying close attention to your hair. You need to be able to realize your hair is off-balance and pick the herb, oil, or clay you need to correct it, by deep conditioning – before it’s too late. You can read our full article about how to deep condition your hair correctly here.
7. Protective style your natural hair
Protective styling is something that’s also really important for 4c hair growth and protection. Unless your hair is already very resistant to breakage and damage, you cannot make any progress without protective styling. This is also something I thought I could skip out on at the beginning of my 4c natural hair journey after I had transitioned and just started to see natural hair growth.
By protective styling, we don’t just mean putting your hair in braids and forgetting it. If this is what you do, I understand completely why you don’t think protective styling works. That was me until I truly understood the purpose of protective styling.
The purpose of protective styling is to protect your ends. Period. They’re the oldest and most fragile part of our hair. They’re what you have to keep from breaking off if you want to see your hair growth.
This is because when we talk about 4C natural hair growth, we’re NOT so focused on trying to get hair to grow out of your roots. Trust us, this is never the problem when your hair is at a plateau. Our primary goal when trying to grow long 4c hair is to keep our ends healthy for as long as we can.
To do this, we recommend mini-twists with no added hair and we can’t praise this hairstyle enough. Here are a few reasons why:
- It offers the perfect blend of protection and accessibility for the hair. When we moisturize and seal our hair in mini-twists, we cover more surface area with product when our hair is in mini-twists than when it is in cornrows or any other style.
- Think about the expression “United we stand.” I know – corny. But think about how hard it is to break a bunch of pasta sticks, compared to snapping a single one. When your hair is twisted, it becomes more resistant to breakage and damage.
- There is also no other time you will get up close and personal with individual strands of your hair than then you’re installing your own twists. You get to learn every single section and strand of your hair, and you will physically feel the difference if anything changes between installs.
- Mini-twists can be kept in for up to 3 weeks without too much matting. You can also wash, deep condition, and moisturize your hair in this state. This prevents over-manipulation and unnecessary breakage.
- Mini-twists are also really versatile to style. You can put them in buns, space buns, crown braids, and style them any way you wish!
If you do want braids or twists installed with extensions, you just have to prep your natural hair properly beforehand. Give it the treatments it would need to withstand the detangle and blow-dry processes that your hair will need to withstand for this installation.
I personally prefer to do the heavy-lifting myself, before I entrust someone else with it. After many hairstylists pulling, tugging, and damaging my hair, I no longer trust anyone else with the blow-dry process. I also do everything I can to find the right stylists to install my braids. People who understand that pretty hair doesn’t have to be pulled tight.
Once your braids are in, you can’t ignore your natural hair underneath. You still have to take care to spritz it with water, squeeze in a leave-in conditioner, and seal it with oil when you feel your strands getting dry. You also still have to cover your braids in a satin scarf when you go to bed and cleanse your scalp when it gets dirty. Your hair in braids is still your hair.
8. Protect your 4C natural hair at all costs
This is in the same light as the point above. Your goal during this new journey is to keep the natural hair we’re working so hard to grow protected. You want to keep your ends always tucked away – either in protective styles or in low-manipulation styles. Keep your hair off your shoulders, or any material that might pull and tug at it.
Mind your edges! This doesn’t mean you can never wear a super tight bun, or lay your edges to the gods again. You can choose to do these styles once in a while, or take precautions with them.
For example, applying castor oil as a barrier on your edges before putting any harsh or drying gels and edge control on them. This could also be laying them with a fine-tooth comb instead of a toothbrush. We like this one (the teeth are fine enough to get the job done. And you have a brush on there in case you need it.)
Detangling your hair properly is also a good point to emphasize here. This is a crucial step to a successful wash day but this depends heavily on how you do it. If your hair is in mini-twists, this is a step you can happily skip on wash day.
However, if this is not the case you want to use your fingers primarily. Here at HR, we recommend finger detangling over anything because it forces you to be patient with your hair. Feeling out the knots, what part of the hair is most difficult or easy to detangle, figuring out the cause, and treating the problem in a timely manner.
Detangling your hair with tools makes it easy to not be mindful during the process. We do recommend tools once in a while for a thorough detangling session every once in a while. For this, we recommend specialized tools for 4c hair like the Tangle Teezer Wet Detangler, Felicia Leatherwood Brush, and the EZ Detangling Brush.
In either case, you never want to detangle your 4c hair when it’s dry. Do it when it’s soaked in product like a conditioner with slip, a detangler, or while water is being run through it under the shower.
I like to put my satin scarf on right when I walk into the house, for example. Not just before I go to bed. This is because I don’t want to accidentally fall asleep on the couch without a scarf on, or have my head against any surface around the house without it being protected. Even when my hair is in braids, I never wear cotton beanies or let my hair rub against my turtlenecks.
Be extra protective of your hair and it will respond positively in turn.
9. Sleep with a satin / silk scarves and pillowcases
Based on the previous step, this part should really go without saying. A satin pillowcase is your backup plan for when your satin scarf inevitably slips off your head at night. This is because you should never tie your headscarf so tightly that it cuts off circulation to your head, gives you headaches, or pulls at your edges.
I once noticed that I had developed a bald spot in the front of my head from tying my scarf on too tight, and making a knot in the same place every night. Now, knowing my satin pillowcase is on is reassuring enough to let me tie my scarf on a little looser.
You should also do your best to make sure your scarf is tied on your forehead rather than directly on your edges. Tying the scarf directly on your edges does ultimately more harm than good to your 4c natural hair growth.
We also suggest satin or silk over cotton because cotton is naturally hydrophilic. Simply put, it sucks out moisture from your hair and causes friction between your hair and its fibers.
As you can see sleeping on satin is not only great for the hair, but for the skin as well!
Here’s a satin pillowcase we love from Amazon!
10. Do Ayurvedic scalp massages aka. Marma Massages
Scalp massages are important to any Ayurvedic hair care regimen for 4c natural hair growth. If you were ever a believer in the inversion method (to read more about the inversion method, see our post here), this is an easier way to apply that.
The principle is to stimulate maximum blood flow to the scalp by massaging a series of pressure points on the head in order. This promotes overall well-being and most importantly stimulates hair growth.
We go into detail about the benefits of ayurvedic oils and how to infuse your own herbs and oils for maximum results here.
Use an oil that also has stimulating properties (see herbs and oils glossary) and massage your scalp every other day for about 10 minutes. You can either use the pads of your fingers or a vibrating scalp brush. We love this one from Vitagoods! I’ve had it for years and simply change the batteries every year when it loses juice.
It works both on dry and on wet hair, so you can use it either while you’re washing your hair or on the couch while watching Netflix! I bought cheaper ones in the past that just ended up dying on me – so I’d say invest wisely the first time!
Here are a few videos detailing how to do a full Ayurvedic pressure point massage:
11. Do tea rinses when necessary
We’ve already talked about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar rinses in this post here. This, as well as a good green tea or black tea hair rinse, is all the care your 4c hair needs for a quick dose of strengthening and reinforcement.
Some teas even have hair growth stimulating properties for 4c natural hair, while some offer follicle rejuvenation to prevent excess hair shedding.
Follow these simple steps to add a tea rinse into your natural hair regimen:
- Steep the tea of your choice
- Pour it into a spray bottle
- Wash your hair as you would on a normal wash day
- Spray the tea on your scalp and the roots of your hair
- Apply a shower cap and cover for 5-10 minutes
- Rinse the tea out of your hair
- Follow up with a deep conditioner
Here’s a detailed post about the benefits of a good tea rinse, how you can make one at home. Another important thing to note is that its benefits are often noticeable immediately!
12. Do herbal glosses when necessary
We also can’t stress enough how beneficial using herbal glosses are for 4c natural hair growth either.
A gloss is simply a milder form of an ayurvedic treatment mask. If you’ve ever heard of a henna gloss, this is the concept behind it. To make a gloss, you really just need any herb of your choice, some oils, and/or conditioner.
It is the easiest way to treat your hair with herbs without the commitment of a full-blown herb mask. It is also a timesaver if you want to reap the benefits of herbs often, but don’t want to overprocess your 4c hair. Running the risk of throwing it off balance.
In this post, we talk about henna glosses and all the other ways you can use this powerful herb in your ayurvedic hair regimen.
Be sure to consult our herbs and oils glossary often to figure out what exactly your hair needs, depending on its current state.
13. Trim your 4c hair as needed
As you might have come to understand, here at Hibiscus Roots, we’re not going to give you a clear-cut schedule to trim your hair on. But this isn’t a step you can skip altogether. Again, personal experience taught me this the hard way!
During the process of your finger detangling, installing your mini-twists, and creating your State of the Union lists, you will come to understand how your hair changes over time.
This is the result of being more mindful overall of each and every hair strand on your head. You will know its time to trim when:
- you have more single strand knots
- small pieces of your hair break everywhere
- when you can visibly see splits at the ends of your hair
Don’t trim your hair if you don’t have to because you’re on an “every 6 weeks” schedule. But don’t ignore these strong signals from your hair either, and it will thank you!
When you do trim, you should be using super sharp shears that you use ONLY for your hair! We like these shears from Amazon!
Never use blunt craft scissors on your hair – that can actually cause you more split ends!
Find the balance that works for your own hair. Here’s a detailed post on how to trim your natural hair the RIGHT way!
14. Stay Positive, Consistent and Ready to Adapt
You have to be positive about your natural hair.
Thinking about your 4c hair positively means that you will be subconsciously more patient with it, and more mindful when caring for it.
It also means that you won’t be in such a hurry to throw it under a wig and neglect it for months. You also won’t be pressed to use heat, harsh chemicals, and products on it in hopes of changing or “enhancing” your curl pattern.
Leave your curls, coils, or definition-free strands as they are! 4c hair is beautiful and once you accept that internally, you will see it thrive.
Striving for 4c natural hair growth is a journey and should be treated as such! You can’t make it through any journey without being consistent.
Stick with these Ayurvedic practices and they will pay off in the long run. However, you will notice that some results are more visible in the short term than others.
You also need to be ready to adapt to your hair as it changes over time. Because with these practices your hair will change slightly or dramatically over time. Don’t get fixated on your current hair porosity or profile, because all that could change eventually!
If a product or oil that used to work for you when you just started your Ayurvedic hair journey stops working for your hair, stop using it immediately. As soon as you notice from your state of the union list that your hair loves something, keep doing it.
Incorporating all these practices will lead your hair to be the most communicative and healthy its ever been!
We will be writing about more of the practices we mention in the post soon. So be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a hair gloss recipe or tea rinse ever!