In a major hair-styling rut right now? You’re not alone — it feels like the entirety of last year has been a rut itself, so it’s only natural your hair routine might feel a little blah too. But DW, you’ve officially come to the right place, because we found the prettiest damn 4a hairstyles that are basically guaranteed to breathe some life back into your routine. Whether you’re into cute and easy top knots, ultra-defined finger coils, or side-parted looks with tons of hair accessories, you can’t really go wrong when you try any of these excellent hairstyles.
Oh, and the best part? These looks are great for all type-4 hair textures, whether you’re working with pure 4a hair, a 3c / 4a combo, or a mix of 4a / b / and c. Basically, the definition of ~ versatile ~. Keep scrolling for the ultimate inspiration, along with a few expert-approved styling tricks.
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How do you style 4a hair?
According to natural hair expert Jasmine “Jazzee” Santiago, 4a hair types do best with a combo of hydrating and defining products, like creams, gels, and oils. “The objective of any curly-hair routine is to prevent your hair from drying out, otherwise you risk damage, tangling, and shrinking,” Santiago has told Cosmo. So, how does one do that? Santiago suggests keeping the following in mind when styling your hair:
Your hair should be soaking wet when applying products. This is the easiest way to get super-defined curls. Santiago recommends styling your hair directly in the shower to maintain your curl pattern and avoid any tangles. You want your hair to be wet wet, so no blotting with microfiber towels or t-shirts, k?Pay careful attention to your drying routine. If you’re diffusing your hair before trying one of these styles, make sure you stay super still and avoid any scrunching during the process. “You want to hover the diffuser around your head, instead of scrunching it up and into your hair,” Santiago has said. “Scrunching is going to leave you with shrinkage and potential fairy knots.”
Got it? Cool. Now, keep reading for 30 of the prettiest 4a hairstyles. Promise you’re going to love them.
1 These Finger Coils for 4a Hair
If you’re going for next-level definition with your 4a hairstyle, try recreating this stretched finger coil tutorial from YouTuber Chev B. All you’ll need is a curl-defining gel (she uses Aunt Jackie’s Curl Boss), a non-sticky shine mist, a blow dryer, and a little patience to nail this look at home. Trust: The payoff is worth it.
2 This Top Knot for 4a Hair
Looking for a classic hairstyle that’s super easy to execute? Play up your hair’s natural shine with a lightweight oil and twist your coils into a half-up bun at the top of your head. This one’s the definition of cute and simple.
3 These Red Highlights on 4a Hair
Sorry, but how effing pretty are these red highlights? If you aren’t ready to dye your type 4 hair permanently, try a temporary hair-color wax instead (like Hair Paint Wax or Mysteek Naturals Color Pop). “Hair color wax is great for people who want to color their hair but are concerned about damage, “Jasmine Pierce, hairstylist at Yeluchi in Los Angeles, has told Cosmo.
4 This Hydrated Hairstyle for 4a Hair
The key to recreating this hairstyle on 4a hair? Moisture, moisture, and more moisture. Peep this tutorial from YouTuber Modelesque Nic to watch how she puts together this cute style with a hydrating cleanser, conditioner, and leave-in. Like, how shiny and defined does the final result look?
5 This Shaved Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Haircuts are always a fun way to get out of a styling rut. This cute cut for 4a hair features a longer length on top with closely shaved sides. The result? A look that’s both low-maintenance and ridiculously pretty.
6 This Sleek Ponytail for 4a Hair
To recreate this sleek-AF hairstyle, smooth a dollop of styling gel or mousse through your 4a hair, stopping just before the base of your ponytail to maintain your natural volume and definition. Pro tip: Your favorite edge tool (and a non-flaky edge control!) will make this look 100 times easier.
7 This Headband Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Sometimes all you need is a cute accessory to take your 4a hairstyle to new heights. Before you reach for your favorite headband though, start by finger-coiling a dollop of gel through your wet hair to define and hold your curl pattern. “Gels are great for holding the curl for a longer period of time, especially in humidity,” Santiago has said.
8 This Bun and Bangs for 4a Hair
This hairstyle is a classic for a reason: It’s super easy to execute (all you need to do is gather your coils at the top of your head, leaving out a few pieces in the front to shape your bangs) and it looks excellent year-round.
9 These Double Buns for 4a Hair
What’s cuter than a pair of mini buns on either side of your part? Nothing, that’s what. Coat your 4a hair in a hydrating cream or gel to really define your curl pattern and enhance your nice.
10 This High Ponytail for 4a Hair
Down to put favorite scrunchie or hair tie on full display? Go for this bouncy high ponytail — it’s perfect for styling your 4a hair in-between wash days. Bonus points if you leave out a few curls around your hairline for a faux-bangs look.
11 These Pigtails for 4a Hair
TBH, pigtails are never not relevant — especially when they’re as cute and modern as these. Part your 4a hair right down the middle and secure your ponytails a few inches above your ears to recreate this look.
12 This Bun Hairstyle for 4a Hair
If you’re down to play around with your hairstyle, you can’t go wrong with this triple-bun look for 4a hair. Make sure you’ve got a rat-tail comb (for getting super precise parts) and a styling gel (for minimizing flyaways) before you get started.
13 This Scarf Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Looking for an easy way to show off your wash-and-go style? Slip on a printed silk scarf (like the leopard one pictured here) and let your hydrated hair do all the talking. PS Sitting under a hooded dryer is a smart way to dry your evenly hair without any unwanted flyaways.
14 This Short Hairstyle for 4a Hair
PSA: This style is great for type 4 hair that’s on the shorter side. Load up on your favorite shine-enhancing gels or creams and finish off the look by laying your edges with a lightweight edge control. So pretty, right?
15 This Bobby-Pin Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Never underestimate the power of a few strategically placed bobby pins. Part your 4a hair right down the middle, and slide a few pins on either side for a look that’s equal parts quick and pretty.
16 This Pineapple Hairstyle for 4a Hair
When in doubt? Gather your type 4 hair at the top of your head to show off your volume and definition. Hot tip: This one’s a great option for humid summer days when getting your hair off your neck is nonnegotiable.
17 This Curly Top Knot for 4a Hair
Just because you want to wear your hair in a top knot doesn’t mean you need to go the sleek route. After defining your coils with a heap of gel and locking it all in with a hair serum or oil, loosely tie up your hair without smoothing or stretching your curl pattern.
18 These Finger Waves for 4a Hair
You know those days when you want something a bit more special than your favorite ponytail or top knot? Yeah these finger waves for 4a hair are prepared to take you there. FYI: If you haven’t nailed the perfect waves just yet, peep our finger-wave guide for the easiest tutorials.
19 This Frohawk for 4a Hair
I mean, how cool is this frohawk hairstyle for 4a hair? Try recreating this style on day-two hair that’s already been moisturized and defined.
20 This Low Ponytail for 4a Hair
The perfect combination of sleek and curly, this low ponytail is excellent for type 4 hair. Smooth a dollop of your favorite hold gel through the front of your hair and play up the definition and bounce on your mid-lengths to ends with a curl-defining cream.
21 This Defined Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Moisture and definition are the name of the game when it comes to recreating this type 4 hairstyle. BTW: Santiago says it’s key to tune into your hair’s specific needs when trying to perfect your styling routine (ie, there’s no need to follow any hard or fast rules, just listen to your hair). “When it feels or looks dry, that’s when it’s time to rinse and condition,” Santiago has said.
22 This High Bun for 4a Hair
This high bun is basically the perfect 4a hairstyle for spring and summer. Es una great way to keep your hair hydrated and protected and it looks excellent on any length.
23 This Brushed-Out Style for 4a Hair
Whether you’ve got type-4 or type-3 hair, you’ll love the ease of this cute hairstyle. The brushed-out texture is a genius way to level-up a traditional half-up bun (and it looks great with a hair clip, obvs).
24 This Blonde Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Consider this your sign to finally try those blonde highlights you’ve been debating all year. Book an appointment with a pro or grab an at-home highlight kit to make this 4a hairstyle your own.
25 This Beanie Hairstyle for 4a Hair
If you’re looking for a cute way to rock day three (… or six) hair, grab your favorite beanie and leave out a few pieces for a pretty faux-bang style. Psst: When the weather warms up, you can swap out the beanie for a silk headband or scarf.
26 This Side-Parted Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Forget the middle part — this side-parted hairstyle for 4a hair is proof that you should definitely switch up your look from time to time. Heads up that you’ll want to use a moisturizing cream to help soften and define your type-4 hair to keep it from drying out.
27 This Threaded Hairstyle for 4a Hair
The best thing about hair accessories is that you don’t necessarily have to wear ’em in the most obvious ways. For a cooler, more unique approach, recreate this threaded hairstyle (it’ll basically turn your type-4 hair into a work of art).
28 This Updo for 4a Hair
Take a page out of Lupita Nyong’o’s book and slick your type 4 hair into this gorgeous updo. Do yourself a favor and screenshot this style for the next time you want to take your hairstyle to the next level.
29 This Hair Clip Hairstyle for Type 4 Hair
PSA: Hair clips and accessories are a genius way to style your type 4 hair with little effort. After defining your coils with a hydrating cream, part your hair to the side and gently push a small section just past your ear with a glitzy or pearl-adorned clip.
30 This Adorned Hairstyle for 4a Hair
Traditional beaded hairstyles are having a moment right now, so why not go ahead and try out this stunning, wire-wrapped look for 4a hair? Don’t forget to leave out two face-framing pieces and slide on a few metallic beads to your ends.
Ruby Buddemeyer Beauty Editor Ruby is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers beauty across print and digital.
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