How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair For Growth?

How often should you wash 4C hair for growth?
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How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair?

Ever wondered how often you should wash your 4C hair for the healthiest and happiest curls? Well, you’re not alone! I did struggle with this question as well until I found a routine that worked best for me and I will be sharing all of it here.

From understanding the basics to easy step-by-step tips, let’s navigate the world of washing 4C hair together. Get ready for a smooth journey to healthier, happier curls!

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I promise this is the only guide you will need to answer your burning question — How often should I wash my 4C hair? so sit back and relax, you’re at the right place.

Understanding 4C Hair

4C hair is really special because it has tight curls that make it look dense and full. These curls are the tightest among different hair types, giving 4C hair a unique and beautiful look.

hair type chart

One thing about 4C hair is that it tends to shrink, so you might not see its full length right away. Because of its tight curls, 4C hair can easily get tangled, and it needs a bit more care.

The coils make it a bit tricky for natural oils to reach all parts of the hair, so 4C hair can sometimes get dry. That’s why it needs extra care. Taking care of 4C hair involves special ways of washing, keeping it moisturized, and using protective styles.

Understanding these things helps keep 4C hair healthy and looking its best!

How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair? Finding The Right Balance

When it comes to how often to wash 4C hair, finding the right balance is key.

Unlike some hair types, 4C hair tends to be on the drier side because its tight curls make it challenging for natural oils to spread evenly. Washing too frequently can strip away these natural oils, leading to dryness and potential damage.

How often should you wash 4C hair for growth?
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On the other side, not washing often enough might result in product buildup, causing your hair to feel heavy and lose its natural luster.

So, how often should you wash 4C hair?

A general rule of thumb is to wash your 4C hair with a traditional shampoo every two weeks and co-wash it the weeks in between.

Another important factor that can determine how often you should wash your 4C hair is if your natural hair is styled in protective braids or twists, you can extend the time between washes.

On the other hand, if your hair is exposed or styled in a shorter 4C hairstyle, it’s advisable to wash it more frequently to maintain a fresh, clean, and well-defined look.

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How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair?

Factors Influencing How Often You Should Wash 4C Hair

Determining how often to wash 4C hair isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. Several factors come into play, influencing the ideal washing routine for your unique locks. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors to consider:

1. Hair Porosity

Understanding how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture is crucial. Low porosity hair may require less frequent washing, as it tends to repel water, while high porosity hair might benefit from more frequent washing to maintain moisture.

2. Lifestyle and Activity Level

Your daily activities and lifestyle play a significant role. If you engage in frequent workouts or live in a humid environment, you might find yourself needing to wash your 4C hair more often to remove sweat and prevent product buildup.

3. Scalp Health

A healthy scalp is the foundation of healthy hair. If you have scalp conditions or issues, such as dandruff or excess oil production, you may need to adjust your washing frequency accordingly.

4. Styling Choices

The products and styling techniques you use can impact how often you should wash. Heavy styling products may necessitate more frequent washing to prevent buildup, while protective styles might influence your overall washing routine.

5. Climate and Seasonal Changes

Environmental factors, such as climate and seasonal changes, can affect your hair’s needs. For instance, in drier seasons, you might need to adjust your washing routine to combat potential dryness.

6. Personal Preference

Ultimately, how often you wash your 4C hair is a personal choice. Some individuals prefer a more frequent washing routine for a fresh feel, while others opt for less frequent washing to retain natural oils.

By considering these factors and experimenting with different routines, you can find the sweet spot that keeps your 4C hair healthy, moisturized, and looking its best.

Why Should 4C Hair Be Washed Less Frequently?

Washing 4C hair less often isn’t just a matter of personal preference; it’s a strategic choice rooted in the unique characteristics of this hair type. Here’s a closer look at why less frequent washing is often recommended for 4C hair:

1. Preserving Natural Oils

The tight coils of 4C hair make it more challenging for natural oils produced by the scalp to travel down the hair shaft. Washing less frequently helps retain these precious oils, providing natural moisture that contributes to the overall health and vibrancy of the hair.

2. Minimizing Dryness

4C hair is prone to dryness, and frequent washing can exacerbate this issue. The natural oils that 4C hair struggles to retain act as a protective barrier, preventing excessive dryness and promoting a healthy balance of moisture.

3. Reducing Breakage and Split Ends

Overwashing, especially with harsh shampoos, can strip the hair of its natural oils and disrupt the protein structure. This may lead to increased breakage and split ends. Less frequent washing allows the hair to maintain its structural integrity, reducing the risk of damage.

4. Preserving Curl Definition

4C hair is known for its beautiful, tight curls. Less frequent washing helps preserve the natural curl pattern and minimizes the manipulation that can occur during washing and detangling. This contributes to the maintenance of well-defined and bouncy curls.

5. Minimizing Product Buildup

Washing less often prevents excessive product buildup on the hair and scalp. This is particularly important for 4C hair, as product residue can weigh down the curls and affect their natural volume and texture.

6. Maintaining Scalp Health

4C hair is closely linked to scalp health. Washing less frequently allows the scalp’s natural balance of oils and microbiome to be maintained, contributing to a healthy environment for hair growth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing 4C Hair Effectively

Here is a step-by-step guide to washing 4C hair effectively:

  1. Section your hair into four manageable parts.
  2. Use a pre-poo treatment, pre-poo is short for pre-shampooing.
  3. Next, gently detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers, I like to use my fingers.
  4. Use a sulfate-free shampoo.
  5. Gently massage your scalp to remove dirt and any product build-up.
  6. Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly with cold water.
  7. Apply a deep conditioner and let it sit on your hair for up to 30 minutes (use a heat treatment if possible).
  8. Rinse out the deep conditioner thoroughly and dry your hair with a t-shirt or microfiber towel.
  9. Apply a leave-in conditioner.
  10. Apply a moisturizing oil or hair butter, optionally you can use the LOC method for maximum hydration and moisture retention that can make you go for days without moisturizing your 4C hair again.

These are the basic steps to washing your 4C hair, check out a more in-depth guide on how to wash 4C hair effectively.

How Do You Know It’s Time for a Wash? Signs Your 4C Hair Needs Cleansing TLC

Recognizing the right moment for a wash is a crucial aspect of 4C hair care. While individual preferences and hair characteristics vary, certain signs indicate that it might be time to give your curls some cleansing TLC:

Itchy Scalp:

  • Persistent itching can be a sign of product buildup, dirt, or sweat on your scalp. If you find yourself scratching frequently, it may be an indicator that your hair needs a thorough wash.

Visible Product Residue:

  • Check your hair for visible product residue or a coating that feels sticky or greasy. If your hair no longer feels light and fluffy, it might be time to cleanse away accumulated products.

Dryness and Frizziness:

  • If your 4C hair feels excessively dry, and your curls lack their usual bounce and definition, it could be a sign that your hair needs a moisture-infusing wash.


  • An unpleasant odor on your hair or scalp is a clear signal that it’s time for a wash. This could be due to the buildup of sweat, product residue, or environmental factors.

Excessive Shedding:

  • While some shedding is normal, an increase in hair shedding may indicate that your hair needs a cleansing to remove any potential blockages from the scalp.

Styling Products Less Effective:

  • If your styling products seem less effective than usual or your hair doesn’t hold styles well, it may be because of a layer of product buildup. Washing can reset your hair and allow styling products to work optimally.

Noticeable Dullness:

  • Dull, lackluster hair can be a result of product residue and environmental impurities. A good wash can revive your curls, leaving them shiny and vibrant.

Texture Changes:

  • Changes in the texture of your hair, such as increased roughness or a loss of softness, can indicate the need for a wash to remove any substances affecting the hair’s feel.

Extended Protective Styling:

  • If you’ve had your hair in a protective style for an extended period, it’s essential to assess its cleanliness when you take down the style. Washing helps refresh your hair and maintain a healthy scalp.

Personal Comfort:

  • Your comfort and personal preference matter. If you simply feel like your hair needs a good wash to refresh and revitalize, trust your instincts.

Observing these signs and paying attention to your hair’s needs will guide you in determining the optimal time for a wash. Remember that finding the right balance between cleanliness and moisture retention is key to maintaining healthy and beautiful 4C hair.

 How Many Times Should You Wash Hair In Protective Hairstyles

The frequency of washing hair in protective hairstyles depends on various factors, including your hair type, the specific protective style, and your scalp’s needs. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often to wash your hair while in protective hairstyles:

Type of Protective Style:

  • Different protective styles have different requirements. For example, if you have braids or twists, you might not need to wash your hair as frequently compared to styles like wigs or weaves. Assess the style’s impact on your scalp and hair.

Scalp Health:

  • Pay attention to your scalp. If you notice itching, dryness, or any signs of discomfort, it might be an indication that your scalp needs cleansing. Washing your hair in protective styles can help maintain a healthy scalp environment.

Sweat and Physical Activity:

  • If you engage in regular physical activity or live in a humid environment, your scalp may accumulate sweat and moisture. Washing your hair more frequently can help remove these impurities and prevent odor.

Product Buildup:

  • The products you use in your protective style can contribute to buildup. If you notice your hair feeling heavy or coated, it’s time for a wash to remove product residue and maintain the health of your hair.

Personal Comfort and Preference:

  • Some individuals prefer to wash their hair more frequently for a fresh feel, while others opt for less frequent washing to preserve the longevity of their protective styles. Consider your comfort and personal preference in your decision.

Hair Type:

  • The natural texture and porosity of your hair can influence how often you need to wash it. If your hair is more prone to dryness, you might choose to wash less frequently to retain natural oils.

Duration of Protective Style:

  • If you plan to keep your protective style in for an extended period, it becomes more crucial to maintain a clean scalp and prevent any potential issues related to long-term styling.

Hydration Needs:

  • Consider the moisture needs of your hair. If your hair tends to be dry, you may want to incorporate a regular washing routine to hydrate your strands and maintain overall hair health.

In general, washing hair in protective styles every 2-4 weeks is a common guideline. However, the key is to listen to your hair and scalp. If you notice any signs of discomfort, odor, or changes in your hair’s health, it’s a signal that it’s time for a wash. Adjust the frequency based on your unique needs and preferences.

Should You Open Braids Or Cornrows Every Time You Wash 4c Hair?

Whether you should open braids or cornrows every time you wash your 4C hair depends on various factors, including your hair care routine, the specific protective style, and your hair’s needs. Here are considerations to help you decide:

Scalp Health:

  • If you notice any signs of buildup, itching, or discomfort on your scalp, it’s advisable to open the braids or cornrows for a thorough wash. Washing your scalp directly can help maintain a healthy environment and prevent issues like dandruff.

Product Residue:

  • Over time, styling products can accumulate on your hair and scalp, particularly in braided or cornrowed styles. Opening the braids or cornrows allows you to reach your scalp and ensure that you can effectively cleanse away any product residue.

Moisture Retention:

  • Washing your hair without opening the braids or cornrows may result in the inability to thoroughly moisturize and cleanse your hair. Opening the style allows you to access each section of your hair, ensuring proper hydration and cleanliness.

Hair and Scalp Examination:

  • Opening your braids or cornrows allows you to examine the condition of your hair and scalp. You can check for any signs of damage, breakage, or changes in your hair’s health that may require attention.

Preventing Odor:

  • If you’ve had your protective style in for an extended period, opening the braids or cornrows for a wash can help prevent any potential odor that may arise from the accumulation of sweat, product, or environmental impurities.

Comfort and Convenience:

  • Some individuals may find it more convenient to wash their hair without opening the braids or cornrows, especially if they are using a nozzle attachment or applicator to direct water and shampoo to the scalp. However, this method may not be as thorough as opening the style.

Protective Style Longevity:

  • Opening and re-braiding or re-cornrowing your hair every time you wash may impact the longevity of your protective style. If maintaining the style for an extended period is a priority, you may choose to wash without fully opening the braids or cornrows.

Ultimately, it’s essential to strike a balance between maintaining the cleanliness of your hair and preserving the integrity of your protective style.

Consider your scalp’s health, your hair’s needs, and your personal preferences when deciding whether to open braids or cornrows every time you wash your 4C hair. Adjust your routine based on how your hair responds and what works best for you.

Should I Wet My 4C Hair Every Day?

Wetting 4C hair every day is not universally recommended, as the optimal frequency of wetting your hair depends on various factors, including your hair’s characteristics, styling preferences, and overall health. Here are some considerations to help you decide whether to wet your 4C hair every day:

Moisture Retention:

  • 4C hair tends to be on the drier side due to its tightly coiled structure, which can make it challenging for natural oils to distribute evenly. Wetting your hair daily can help with moisture retention, especially if you follow up with a leave-in conditioner or a moisturizing product.

Shrinkage Concerns:

  • Wetting your 4C hair frequently may contribute to shrinkage, which is when your hair appears shorter than its actual length when dry. If you’re aiming to maintain a stretched or elongated look, you may choose to wet your hair less frequently.

Detangling Needs:

  • Wetting your hair can make detangling easier, especially if you experience significant tangling. However, daily detangling may not be necessary for everyone, and excessive manipulation can lead to breakage.

Protective Styling:

  • If you often wear protective styles like braids or twists, wetting your hair daily may not be necessary. In such cases, you can focus on moisturizing your hair without saturating it with water regularly.

Product Buildup:

  • Wetting your hair every day without proper cleansing may contribute to product buildup. If you use styling products regularly, consider incorporating a gentle cleansing routine to avoid residue accumulation.

Scalp Health:

  • Overwetting your hair without allowing it to dry completely can potentially lead to scalp issues, including mildew or odor. Ensure that your hair and scalp have sufficient time to dry between wetting sessions.

Personal Preference:

  • Ultimately, the decision to wet your 4C hair every day is a personal one. Some individuals find that frequent wetting works well for their hair’s health and styling needs, while others prefer a less frequent approach.

At the end of the day, the choice to wet your 4C hair every day is yours to make, when you try to wet your hair every day, try to pay attention to how your hair and scalp react.

Some naturalistas swear by wetting their 4C hair every day but I wet my 4C hair every other day with a liquid leave-in conditioner or plain water because I have low porosity hair.

How Often Should You Condition 4C Hair?

As a general rule, aim to condition your 4C hair with every wash. Whether you choose to wash weekly or bi-weekly, consistent conditioning helps keep your hair hydrated, manageable, and less prone to breakage.

How Often Should You Co-Wash 4C Hair?

A common recommendation for 4C hair is to co-wash weekly or bi-weekly. This allows for effective cleansing without overdoing it, promoting moisture retention and curl definition.

How Often Should 4C Hair Be Oiled?

Aim to oil your 4C hair at least once a week. This frequency helps maintain moisture levels, reduce dryness, and enhance the hair’s natural sheen. However, individual preferences and the hair’s response should guide your specific routine.

Seasonal Considerations in Hair Washing Frequency: Adapting to the Elements

Each season brings unique challenges and considerations, impacting how often you may need to wash your hair. Here’s a breakdown of how seasonal variations can affect your hair care routine:


  • Increased Sweating: In the summer, higher temperatures often lead to increased sweating. Sweat can contribute to product buildup and may make your scalp and hair feel greasier. Washing more frequently during the summer can help maintain a clean and fresh feel.
  • Environmental Exposure: Summer activities often involve exposure to elements like sun, wind, and saltwater (for those near the coast). These factors can affect the condition of your hair, and more frequent washing may be necessary to remove impurities.
  • Scalp Health: Frequent washing can be crucial in preventing issues like scalp odor or irritation caused by sweat and excess oil.


  • Transitioning from Summer: As the weather cools down, you may find that you don’t need to wash your hair as frequently as in the summer. However, if you’re still engaging in outdoor activities or sweating, adjustments to your washing routine may be necessary.
  • Hydration Needs: Fall air tends to be drier, which can affect your hair’s moisture levels. Consider incorporating deep conditioning treatments to combat potential dryness.


  • Cold Weather Drying: Indoor heating and cold outdoor temperatures can contribute to dryness. Washing too frequently in winter may strip your hair of natural oils, leading to increased dryness. Adjust your routine to prevent excessive moisture loss.
  • Protective Styling: Winter may be a time when protective styles are favored. If you have braids, twists, or other protective styles, you might not need to wash as often but focus on maintaining a healthy scalp.


  • Transitioning to Warmer Weather: Spring brings a transition to warmer weather, and you might find yourself increasing your washing frequency as the temperature rises. This helps remove any buildup accumulated during the winter.
  • Reviving Your Hair: Spring is a great time for a fresh start. Consider clarifying or deep cleansing to remove any product residue and revive your hair for the new season.

Adapting Your Routine:

  • Listen to Your Hair: Pay attention to how your hair responds to the changing seasons. Adjust your washing frequency based on its needs.
  • Scalp Health: Your scalp’s condition can be a good indicator of when it’s time to wash. If you notice any discomfort, itching, or changes, it may be a signal to adjust your routine.
  • Product Choice: Consider using season-appropriate products. For example, lightweight products in summer and more moisturizing ones in winter.
  • Protective Styling: In extreme weather conditions, protective styles can be a valuable ally. They can reduce the impact of environmental elements on your hair and scalp.

Remember that your hair care routine is personal, and seasonal changes provide an opportunity to reassess and tailor your approach to best meet the needs of your hair in different weather conditions.

What Happens If You Wash 4C Hair Too Often?

Washing 4C hair too frequently can lead to several undesirable outcomes, as this hair type has specific needs and characteristics that make it more prone to certain issues. Here’s what can happen if you wash 4C hair too much:

Stripping of Natural Oils:

  • 4C hair, with its tightly coiled structure, struggles to distribute natural oils from the scalp throughout the length of the hair. Washing too often can strip away these essential oils, leading to dryness and a lack of natural moisture.

Increased Dryness:

  • The natural oils on the scalp play a crucial role in maintaining moisture in the hair. Frequent washing disrupts this balance, making 4C hair more susceptible to dryness. Dry hair is more prone to breakage, split ends, and overall damage.

Loss of Curl Definition:

  • Overwashing can impact the natural curl pattern of 4C hair. Repeated manipulation and exposure to water may cause the curls to lose their definition, leading to a frizzy or undefined appearance.

Protein Loss and Weakness:

  • 4C hair is composed of proteins like keratin, which contribute to its strength. Excessive washing, especially with harsh shampoos, can lead to the loss of these proteins, making the hair more vulnerable to breakage and overall weakness.

Scalp Issues:

  • Washing too frequently can disrupt the natural balance of the scalp, potentially leading to issues like an overproduction of oil or an imbalance in the scalp’s microbiome. This can result in a range of scalp problems, including dandruff or itchiness.

Product Buildup:

  • While it might seem counterintuitive, washing too much can contribute to product buildup. This occurs when styling products and shampoos are not completely rinsed out, leaving residue on the hair. Product buildup can weigh down 4C hair and affect its natural texture.

Increased Tangling:

  • 4C hair is prone to tangling, and excessive washing can contribute to more frequent tangles. This can lead to frustration during detangling and may result in unnecessary hair breakage.

To maintain the health and beauty of 4C hair, it’s essential to find a balanced washing routine that considers the hair’s unique characteristics. Listening to your hair’s needs, adjusting your washing frequency accordingly, and incorporating moisturizing and protective techniques are key to promoting vibrant and healthy 4C curls.


In summary, taking care of your 4C hair involves finding the right balance, considering your hair’s special traits and the seasons. The key question, “How often should you wash 4C hair,” lies at the heart of this discussion.

It’s about understanding what your hair needs, paying attention to its signals, and adjusting your routine based on the time of year. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, it’s about creating a routine that suits your hair and personal choices.

By being mindful of how often you wash your 4C hair, you can keep it healthy and bring out the best in your unique curls.

How Often Should You Wash 4C Hair?

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