The 7 Best Moisturizers for 4c Hair that Stop Shrinkage

Nobody has quite the same struggles as men and women with 4c hair. On the scale of straight, wavy, and curly hair, 4c marks the most twisted and tight. There’s lots to love about this hair type, but without the proper care, 4c hair can be seem like a burden.

Among the problems with 4c hair are that it dries fast post-shower, can shrink up to 75%, and can tangle or break at the root, causing bald spots and uneven length.

While this all sounds like a nightmare, I’ve found that you can resolve most of the above issues with one product: a 4c-formulated moisturizer.

A quality 4c moisturizer not only softens the curls and strengthens the roots, but it can double the sheen and longevity of each strand. Out of the dozens of products I’ve tested on my hair salon clients, I’ve locked down the 7 best moisturizers for 4c hair. Below, we’ll work together to find the moisturizer that’s ideal for your hair type.

Best Moisturizer for 4c Hair – Comparison

Top 7 Moisturizers for 4c Hair Reviews

1. Tgin Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer for Natural Hair

Thank God It’s Natural, or tgin, was founded by Chris-Tia Donaldson. This Fortune 500 mogul with a Harvard Law degree pivoted to the hair industry not long after her fight with cancer in 2015. Today, her products are in big box stores like Walmart and Whole Foods.

Tgin Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer by Thank God It's Natural

As a woman with 4c hair, Chris-Tia honed tgin’s Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer for the unique needs of women struggling to master the effortless curl. The cream targets dryness, the leading cause of breakage and shrinkage in natural hair. To lock the moisture in, tgin focused on two main ingredients: butters and vitamin E.

The product includes both shea butter and cocoa butter to coat the entire length of your hairs without excess oil or residue. Shea butter teems with fatty acids and vitamin A, both of which reduce frizz and keep moisture in the strands for up to two days.

This moisturizer is also rich in vitamin E, which is an ideal ingredient for promoting softness and shine while also boosting the strength of your strands. You can also use this cream for styling right out of the shower or for an afternoon refresher.

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Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

I placed tgin’s Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer for Natural Hair at the top of my list because no other product keeps hair soft and supple for this long. Many consumers say that they only need to apply it once or twice a week to achieve their ideal results.

The secret to tgin’s Daily Moisturizer is in its high-quality shea butter and cocoa butter. They source their butters with care and the limited ingredients enrich your hair from root to stem.

I love the smell of this product, too. It’s a deeply satisfying buttery scent with light floral notes. Although the jar is on the smaller side, because you don’t have to use it more than twice a week, it’ll last longer than products that give you two or three times as much.

What Could Be Better

There are no added proteins. So if your hair suffers from serious breakage, look for another product. Alternatively, you could buy this and a protein serum for maximum results.

2. Curly Hair Moisturizer by Carol’s Daughter

Carol’s Daughter began in a kitchen on the west side of Brooklyn, New York in 1993. Lisa, the founder, crafted a line of hair products specifically formulated for women with 4a to 4c hair.

Curly Hair Moisturizer by Carol's Daughter

Fast forward to 2003, and Carol’s Daughter is featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, catapulting this small online-based business into the bathrooms of women from South Carolina to Oregon.

Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk and Leave In Moisturizer was one of the first products they released, way back in 1999. It focuses on agave and shea butter to strengthen individual hairs and soften the brittle roots that plague women with 4c hair.

You’ll also find soybean oil to coat your hairs and protect them from excess exposure to heat and cold, or just the everyday environments of city living. The added agave nectar infuses your scalp and 4c hair with moisture, which reduces shrinkage and boosts your natural shine.

This Hair Milk by Carol’s Daughter ships in a 8 ounce bottle and is free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and petroleum.

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Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

For those of you out there with serious frizz issues, add this Leave In Moisturizer to your list of maybes. There’s a lot to love here, but it’s most striking benefit is a week’s worth of protection and shine with one application.

You get all the nutrients and help from nature without the chemicals seen in a lot of moisturizers on the market. My favorite ingredients in Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk has to be the agave. This natural extract adds both sheen and bounce to your hair.

You’ll swap out that tired and dry look with rejuvenated roots and strands, all within as little as one treatment. If you struggle to manage your 4c hair, this product can help you reign in the curls and provide a soft and supple style.

What Could Be Better

The consistency of this hair product is more watery than other moisturizers. It reminds me more of a milk, hence the name. Some consumers have complained that it’s hard to apply. But with some practice you should be fine.

3. As I Am Double Butter Rich Daily Moisturizer

Before Dr. Ali N. Syed started As I Am Hair and Beauty products, he created shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers for top brands in the industry. But his shrewd client insights provided him an idea that would change his life: a line of products specific to natural haired women and women with 4c hair.

As I Am Double Butter Rich Daily Moisturizer

Years later, Dr. Syed’s As I Am has changed the 4c hair niche. His products are for women that struggle to maintain healthy sheen and moisture in their curly dry hair. The Double Butter Rish Daily Moisturizer stands as a testament to As I Am’s devotion to difficult to moisturize hair types.

With both cocoa butter and shea butter your natural moisture is sealed in and your strands softened to an irresistible finish. As a daily product, you can use it after a shower or mix some into your hands and run it through your hair before work.

For women that suffer hair breakage and split ends, the pro-vitamin B5 is for you. It soaks into your hairs and replenishes the nutrients, leaving your hair healthy and full of life for days and days.

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Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

When you spend a premium on a moisturizer for your hair, you expect premium ingredients. That’s why I added As I Am’s Doubt Butter Rich Daily Moisturizer. It’s packed with butters and oils that are well worth the purchase price.

Aside from the obvious benefits of shea butter and cocoa butter, the jojoba oil was a standout addition. This healthful oil not only coats your hairs but locks in the moisture. That means you get fast results that last.

I find As I Am’s moisturizer works best on hair that’s still a little damp. So either try it after a shower or dampen your hair prior to use. And since there’s such a wealth of good stuff in here, you’ll need a lot less than you think.

What Could Be Better

Some consumers complain that you don’t get a lot of cream for the price. But if you use just a dime-sized amount, it should last you a month or more.

4. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Style Milk

Shea Moisture boasts an incredible pedigree. The company began back in 1912 when Grandmother Sofi Tucker sold shea butter and soaps at open-air markets in Sierra Leone. Fast forward to 2023, and Shea Moisture celebrates four generations of family-run success. They are truly one of the masters of shea butter products.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk

So it’s almost a given that their Coconut and Hibiscus Style Milk would find its way onto this list. This is a non-rinse mixture, just massage it into your scalp and hair and head out the door.

This style milk contains a healthy dose of organic shea butter that can rebalance overly treated hair and scalps that itch and flake from dryness.

Every bottle of Shea Moisture’s product ships with a spate of oils, including coconut oil and neem oil. These oils protect your hair from the chemical compounds in other hair products, as well as smooth your flyaways so you can control your look.

Shea Moisture doesn’t test their products on animals, nor do they use parabens. That’s because they rely on formulas used by their family for over one hundred years.

Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

The first thing I noticed with Shae Moisturizer’s Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk was the luscious scent. I couldn’t believe how refreshing it was and how much the hibiscus added to the experience.

Beyond the delicious scent, I think this product is best for those with frizzy and damaged hair. The shea butter has a soft, silky texture and that feeling transfers directly to your hair.

Many women with 4c hair struggle to stave off brittleness and the sensation that your hair could split or snap at any moment. I found this styling milk to relieve that awful feeling almost right away.

Within one or two days you’ll notice a big difference. Prolonged use of Shae Moisture’s Styling Milk only increases the benefits seen in the first few treatments.

What Could Be Better

I would avoid this product if your hair isn’t a bone fide 4c. Anyone with category 1 or 2 hair will notice it flatten and dull because the shea butter is so rich in this formula.

5. The Roots Naturelle Curly Hair Moisturizing

The Roots Naturelle line of hair care products began in Los Angeles, California in 1998. Since the beginning, they’ve won over consumers with their dedication to sourcing their key ingredients naturally. That means without the reliance on synthetic alternatives to cut costs.

The Roots Naturelle Curly Hair Moisturizing

They formulated their Bouncy Curls moisturizer to reduce flyaways and reveal the springy curls locked away in your dry strands. This is a daily styling cream that you can use in place of a hair straightener, curling iron, or other hair tool that damages your hair with excess heat.

The key ingredients in Roots Naturelle’s anti-frizz formula include olive oil and grapeseed oil. These oils restore the natural sheen in your hair. Grapeseed oil contains proteins that boost the curl and kink in 4c hair without resorting to chemicals that cause shrinkage.

Bouncy Curls can be used by women, men, and children with 3c to 4c hair. It doesn’t fade hair coloring, and it’s a great option for moisturizing natural hair pieces, too. Expect this daily moisturizer to last you at least eight hours per application.

Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

I was hesitant to try Roots Naturelle’s Bouncy Curls based on the product label and packaging. It seemed so old school that it wouldn’t be worth trying on my clients. But after using it for a few weeks I found it to be useful moisturizer for consumers with 4c hair. Let that be a lesson to never judge a book, or hair cream, by its cover!

This product emanates a rich coconut smell, likely from the included coconut oil. It also boasts pro-vitamin B5, a prime ingredient for hair prone to split ends.

I like that the company uses aloe vera extract. In tandem with shea butter, you have a worthwhile product for scalp irritation. That’s why I recommend this product for natural-haired women that suffer from the side effects of dry hair, like breakage and itchy scalp.

What Could Be Better

Some consumers complain that the coconut smell is overdone. Personally, I find the smell fades after a few hours. But if you dislike coconut scents, check out another product on my list.

6. Alikay Naturals Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer

Alikay Naturals hails from Fort Myers, Florida. They’re an American-made brand with a decade’s worth of experience and a host of return customers. Men and women buy Alikay because they aim their natural products at the unique struggles of African-American hair.

Alikay Naturals - Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer

The Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer by Alikay Naturals contains whipped shea butter that’s light and easy to massage into your curls without flaking or clumping at the roots. It smells great too, with rosemary and coconut being the dominant notes.

Also in this product you’ll find argan oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil. These three oils combine to protect your hair for upwards of a week. They’re also brimming with the nutrients your dry and frazzled hair needs to return to its natural sheen.

You can apply this moisturizer to your hair wet or dry. Don’t forget to de-tangle your hair prior to application. After applying, your hair may feel oily. But after your curls soak in the product, you’ll see and feel the Alikay Natural’s Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer difference.

Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

Alikay Natural’s Shea Yogurt has some unique features that other products on my list lack. For one, the fluffy texture of the product feels great in your hands and even better in your hair. The vivid yellow color is so appealing and fresh seeming that it seemed food worthy.

And what this product does for your hair is even better. The company’s strong list of natural and organic ingredients help you contain the moisture you lose throughout the day and increase the shine and bounce of your curls.

I find this product is best suited for the truly 4c hair types. You can also use to much of this product, so don’t apply too much. Highly recommended for dry and brittle curls.

What Could Be Better

Some consumers dislike how greasy or oily their hair feels when first applying this product. You must let it soak in completely before putting on a hat or it’ll flatten your hair.

7. ORIBE Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque

Oribe Hair Care sprung from the minds of creative duo and hair specialists Daniel Kaner and Tevya Finger in 2008. Since then, they’ve shocked the hair care industry with their unique products that fuse French tradition with modern innovation.

ORIBE Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque

Their Moisture and Control Deep Treatment Masque is for men and women with 4c hair that feel they’ve tried everything on the market with little to no success. This product contains a high dose of coconut and almond oil that saturate your hairs with fatty acids, vitamins, and proteins without slicking your hair.

With this product by Oribe, you can repair damaged hairs and split ends with no daily treatments. As a leave-in moisturizer, it seals your cuticles and coats them in a proprietary list of butters including shea butter, cupuacu butter, and illipe nut butter.

Also, this product contains Oribe’s Signature Complex. A combination of watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss extracts protect your hair from drying out while also boosting the amount of keratin in your strands. The complex also protects your hairs natural colors from harsh UV rays.

Why I Love This Moisturizer for 4c Hair

For my last product I included a brand that grabbed my attention recently with their innovative ingredient list and bold advertising campaigns. Odibe clearly knows who they are and how to attract the attention of consumers.

I’m not sure what ingredients do the heavy lifting in this moisturizer, but it works. For 4c hair types that struggle to keep moisture in their strands or suffer from split ends, give this product a try.

Aside from the floral scent, what impressed me the most was the quick reaction time. Within an hour of applying this product your hair will feel better. You’ll notice more life and bounce. I recommend ORIBE’s Moisture and Control Deep Treatment Masque for those with stubborn natural curls that desire softer locks.

What Could Be Better

Consumers with straight hair find that this product doesn’t add any bounce. That’s why I recommend it for curly hair types, as the formula wasn’t designed for straight hair.

What to Remember When Buying the Best Moisturizer for 4c Hair

Having a list of the 7 best moisturizers for 4c hair only gets you halfway there. You also need to know which you to buy. That’s why I made this list of the key factors to keep in mind as you decide on a product.

  • The Magic of Shea Butter

Shea butter comes from the West African shea nut. It’s been a key ingredient for curly and nappy hair for centuries. Out of all the keywords you’ll find on a can of moisturizer, you want this one more than the rest. Shea butter doesn’t just moisturize.

Hair stylists recommend it because it prevents breakage, reduces scalp irritation, and regenerates hair cells. This healthful butter also soaks deep into your strands and won’t cause residue build up around your follicles.

  • Trust in Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

We all know that Nonasand chefs have cooked with olive oil and coconut oil since before humans invented the wheel. But what’s less known is that we’ve probably been using them for skin and hair care for even longer.

These oils coat your hairs, which adds luster. They also protect your hair from environmental conditions, like extreme cold and heat. If your hair is prone to breakage and dries out within thirty minutes of a shower, then consider a moisturizer with olive oil or coconut oil.

  • Don’t Forget Vitamin E or Biotin

One reason your hair shrinks or your scalp feels itchy and raw is because it lacks nutrients. Not unlike how your stomach growls when you’re hungry, your hair shows signs of depletion, too.

Vitamin E has a long history in the hair care world, especially with 4c hair. It absorbs fast into strands and supports the fibers so they’re less prone to breaking.

  • Judge Dryness by Feel not Look

Because 4c hair can look dry long before it’s actually dry, never go by how your hair looks. It’s entirely possible you’ve been adding too much moisturizer to your hair based on its chalky appearance.

When 4c hair is dry, it’ll feel rough, kind of like sandpaper. Some men and women think the dry look of their hair means it needs more moisturizer. But that’s the way 4c hair can look when it’s completely healthy and moisturized.

  • Daily vs Weekly Moisturizers

Some moisturizers on my list recommend daily use and others recommend weekly application. This mostly has to do with their formula and not with your 4c hair type. I’d try a daily moisturizer first, and if that doesn’t work, try a weekly product.

But most of the choice comes down to your preference, and how often you want to moisturize. There’s no one ideal way to keep your hair soft and healthy, just the way that works for you!

  • Remember Your Porosity

Many hair types don’t have to worry about porosity as much as 4c types. Remember that there are three types of porosity: low, medium, and high. Low porosity doesn’t require as much protein supplements as high porosity.

They also don’t need as much leave in moisturizer because they absorb better. If you have medium porosity, you must tinker when the amount of moisturizer you use, as they can be a little trickier to nail down.

My Verdict

No other hair type is quite like 4c. And while you can straighten it to look like 3b or 2a, no one can match your curlsor natural bounce, so don’t hide from your natural look!

With that uniqueness comes the challenge of keeping your hair moisturizes and healthy. There’s no doubt that a curative hair cream or butter can restore your strands and heal your scalp.

I think there’s a perfect consumer for each of the products on my list. But if you want my personal pick for the best moisturizer for 4c hair, I recommend tgin’s Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer for Natural Hair. No other product that I’ve tried worked on more 4c hair types than that product. Plus, it smells incredible!

Read Also: Best Hair Moisturizer For Black Men: Top 6 Products For Black Natural Hair

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