Best Gel on 4C Hair: Styling Tips for Perfectly Defined Curls

Gel is a popular styling product for those with natural hair, including 4C hair. However, using gel on 4C hair can be tricky as it tends to be dry, fragile, and prone to breakage. In this ultimate guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about using gel on 4C hair – from the different types of gel to use, the best techniques for applying it, and alternative products that you can use instead.

What Is Gel and How Does It Work on 4C Hair?

Gel is a styling product that provides hold and definition to hair. It comes in different types, including light-hold, medium-hold, and strong-hold. Gel is made up of a combination of water, polymers, and other ingredients that work together to provide hold.

On 4C hair, gel works by defining curls and coils, reducing frizz, and creating a sleek, polished look. However, if not used correctly, gel can also dry out 4C hair, leading to breakage and damage.

Anyone with 4C hair can use gel as a styling product. But, if you have extremely dry or fragile hair, you must use gel sparingly and ensure that you use a high-quality product that does not contain harsh chemicals. In case you have sensitive skin or scalp, you should avoid gels that contain alcohol or fragrances that may irritate your skin.

Why Use An Edge Control Gel for 4C Hair?

Taming Unruly Edges: 4C hair is known for its tightly coiled texture, which can lead to unruly edges that are difficult to manage. Edge control gels provide a firm hold, taming flyaways and baby hairs, creating a polished and neat look.

Long-lasting Hold: Edge control gels are designed to provide long-lasting hold, keeping your edges sleek and in place throughout the day. This is especially important for styles like sleek buns, ponytails, and updos.

Minimizes Frizz: 4C hair is prone to frizz due to its natural texture and high porosity. Edge control gels contain ingredients that combat frizz, helping your edges stay smooth and well-defined.

Adds Shine: Many edge control gels come with ingredients that add shine to the hair, enhancing the overall look of your hairstyle.

Versatile Styling: Edge control gels offer versatility in styling. Whether you prefer a sleek and polished look or a more textured and laid-back style, these gels can help achieve the desired look with ease.

Protects Hairline: 4C hair, especially at the hairline, can be fragile and prone to breakage. Edge control gels provide a protective barrier, helping to safeguard your delicate hairline during styling.

Easy Application: Most edge control gels come in easy-to-use packaging, making application simple and convenient. A little product goes a long way, so a single jar can last for a considerable period.

No Residue: High-quality edge control gels do not leave behind a sticky or greasy residue, keeping your hairline clean and residue-free.

Suitable for Various Hairstyles: Edge control gels work well with a wide range of hairstyles, from sleek updos to braid styles, making them a versatile addition to your hair care arsenal.

Boosts Confidence: Neat and well-defined edges can significantly boost your overall confidence, allowing you to showcase your natural beauty and express your unique style.

How to Use Gel on 4C Hair: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Wash and condition your hair

Start by washing and conditioning your hair with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Rinse your hair thoroughly and remove any excess water.

Step 2: Apply a leave-in conditioner

Apply a leave-in conditioner to your damp hair to add moisture and prepare it for styling. Smooth the product evenly over each section of hair.

Step 3: Apply the gel

Take a small amount of gel in your palm, about the size of a quarter, and rub your hands together to distribute it evenly. Smooth the gel over each section of hair, starting from the roots and working your way down to the ends.

Step 4: Define your curls

Use your fingers or a comb to define your curls and create your desired style. You can twist or braid your hair to create protective styles or leave it loose for a more natural look.

Step 5: Allow your hair to dry

Allow your hair to air-dry or use a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer to speed up the drying process. Avoid touching your hair while it dries to prevent creating a hard texture.

Step 6: Scrunch out the crunch

Once your hair is completely dry, scrunch out the crunch to loosen the gel and create a more natural look. Use a lightweight oil or serum to add shine and moisture.

Comparing Different Types of Gel for 4C Hair

There are several different types of gel that you can use on 4C hair. Here’s a comparison of some of the most popular types:

Light-hold gel:

  • Ideal for defining curls and coils without creating a hard, crunchy texture.
  • Best used on fine or thin hair that does not need a lot ofhold.

Medium-hold gel:

  • Provides more hold and definition than light-hold gel, but still maintains a natural look.
  • Suitable for most hair types and textures.

Strong-hold gel:

  • Perfect for creating more intricate or elaborate styles that require a lot of hold.
  • May create a hard texture to hair if not used correctly.

5 Best Gels for 4C Hair

ECO Styler Olive Oil Gel: This gel is a popular choice for 4C hair due to its strong hold and ability to tame frizz. Enriched with olive oil, it also adds shine and helps retain moisture.

Cantu Shea Butter Maximum Hold Styling Gel: Formulated with shea butter and other natural ingredients, this gel provides maximum hold without causing stiffness. It’s perfect for sleek styles and well-defined curls.

As I Am Smoothing Gel: This gel is specifically designed for type 4 hair, offering a smooth hold and minimizing frizz. It contains aloe vera and other nourishing ingredients to keep your hair hydrated.

ORS Olive Oil Edge Control Hair Gel: While marketed as an edge control gel, this product is also excellent for overall styling on 4C hair. It provides a firm hold and helps protect your hairline from breakage.

Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel: Ideal for defining curls and elongating the hair, this gel contains flaxseed and other natural ingredients to nourish and promote healthy hair growth.


Using gel on 4C hair can be a great way to achieve defined curls and coils, reduce frizz, and create a polished, sleek look. However, it’s important to use the right type of gel and follow the correct techniques to avoid dryness, breakage, and other issues. If you prefer not to use gel, there are plenty of alternative products available that can provide hold and definition without damaging your hair.


  1. How often should I use gel on my 4C hair? You should use gel on your 4C hair as needed to achieve your desired style. Avoid using it every day to prevent dryness and damage to your hair.
  2. Can I use gel on wet or dry hair?  It’s best to use gel on damp hair to seal in moisture. However, you can also use it on dry hair if needed.
  3. How do I apply gel to my 4C hair without creating a hard texture?  Use a small amount of gel and smooth it evenly over each section of hair. Avoid using too much and avoid touching your hair while it dries.
  4. Can I use gel as a protective style? Yes, you can use gel to create protective styles such as twists or braids. Just be sure to apply it sparingly and use a high-quality product.
  5. How can I remove gel from my 4C hair?  You can remove gel from your 4C hair by washing it with a clarifying shampoo or co-washing it with a cleansing conditioner.