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Sporting the voluminous, kinky-curls of type 4A hair looks easier than it is. Deceptively carefree and low-maintenance looking, this hair type requires the perfect balance of moisture and protein to keep it healthy. When that combination gets out of balance, you could begin to experience major breakage and dryness. Sometimes a protein-free moisturizer is just the fix for unbalanced 4A hair.
What is 4A Hair?
Hair types fall into four numerical categories which can be further broken down into alphabetical subcategories: type 1, straight; type 2, wavy: type 3, loose-to-medium curls; type 4, tight curls to kinky. The 4A subcategory consists of very tightly curled, s-shaped strands that are about the size of a drinking straw. The texture can range from fine to coarse and appears much shorter in its curly state than when it's straightened. Though it often looks thicker and stronger than straighter hair types, 4A hair is quite fragile and often dry, so it requires much moisture and gentle handling. It's important not to overload this hair type with protein, because protein can make it drier.
Why Be Protein-Free?
Your hair is naturally made up of a protein called keratin. It's what gives your hair its strength. And while it's a good idea to occasionally fortify your hair with protein-containing products, too much protein can steal your swagger by making your hair stiff, dry and breakage-prone. Moisturizing 4A hair is critical part of keeping it soft, flexible and shiny.
The Truest Moisturizing Ingredient
When choosing among protein-free moisturizers, pick a product that moisturizes in the truest sense. With so many products to chose from, even the most hair-obsessed curl queen can get confused. The trick is to know that water is the best moisturizer for your hair. Water-based, protein-free moisturizers penetrate the hair shaft, quenching dry hair. Choose a product with water as one of its top ingredients for maximum hydration.
Seal the Moisture In
The best protein-free moisturizer for 4A hair will not only contain water, but it will also contain a sealant -- something to keep the water from escaping the hair shaft. Natural oils and butters keep your tresses super-silky, hydrated and shiny. Check product labels for ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil. These natural ingredients also rinse away easily, making undesirable product-buildup less likely.
Shy Away from Silicones
Being a curly girl, you may have heard of the dangers of using too many silicone-based products. While tales of dry, damaged hair from using silicone-based products permeate the internet like urban legends, there is a danger in using this synthetic, suffocating ingredient. Like oils and butters, silicones seal in moisture. Unlike their natural counterparts, they also lock water out and are difficult to rinse clean, causing product build-up. For the long-term health of your hair, choose a protein-free moisturizer that excludes silicones.