Before I started my hair journey, all I knew was either your hair was thick or light. Although my hair has grown longer than shoulder length several times in my life, I kept cutting it because I considered my hair to be feather light. I’ve now discovered that fine hair is not the same thing as thin hair.
It is important to know your hair texture because this can help you know what things you need to consider adding to or dropping from your regimen & what products to use or avoid.
You can classify your hair’s texture in 2 ways:
- by the thickness of the hair strand; and
- by how many strands you have on your head.
Thickness: classifying hair texture by the diameter of the hair strand
The diameter of your hair strand is what determines how thick your hair is. The diameter of human hair varies from 0.0017 to 0.0180 cm (0.00067 to 0.0071 inches)1 with an average diameter of about 0.001 inches (0.00254 cm). This size is dictated by the diameter of the hair follicle and thick hair is a product of large follicles, while fine hair comes out from small follicles Factors that can determine the thickness of a hair strand include:
- Genetic makeup
- Hair color. Black hair is thicker than is red hair.
- Age: Babies have finer hair than adults.
- Proximity to the root: Hair that is closer to the root of the hair is thicker in diameter to the ends.
- Damage: Your hair strand can reduce in thickness from damage from relaxers, flat irons, etc
A quick way of determining the thickness of your hair strand is by doing a sewing thread comparison. Take a string of sewing thread and unravel this. Compare this unravelled piece with one strand of your hair. Your hair strand can either be:
- Fine: if your hair strand is thinner than the unravelled thread, then it is fine. If your hair is relaxed, it might be finer than your true natural hair. If you can compare your new growth, this might give you a more accurate idea of your hair strand diameter.
- Normal: if your hair strand is the same size as the unravelled thread, then you have medium thickness hair.
- Thick/ coarse: if your hair strand is wider than the unravelled thread, then you have coarse/thick hair.
Many people have different hair strand thickness in different areas of their head. For example, my hair at the back has a wider diameter than the hairs in the front.
Density: classifying hair by the number of strands on your hair
We are all born with a particular number of hair strands. To get a rough estimate of how many strands you have on your hair, you can do a ponytail test: simply put all your hair into a pony tail as best as you can. The number of strands on your hair determine whether your hair is:
- Low density or thin: your ponytail is less than 2 inches (5 cm)
- Medium density: your ponytail diameter is between 2-4 inches
- High density: your ponytail diameter is > 4 inches
The appearance of your hair is a combination of these 2 classifications: DIAMETER & DENSITY:
- Fine hair/ Low density (or thin hair): your hair always look so feather weight and scanty. It takes relaxer and hair colour very easily.
- Fine hair/ Medium density
- Fine hair/ High density
- Medium thickness hair/ Low density (or thin hair)
- Medium thickness hair/ Medium density
- Medium thickness hair/ High density
- Coarse thickness hair/ Low density (or thin hair): When you have this type of your hair, it looks scanty but never straightens completely when you relax it.
- Coarse thickness hair/ Medium density
- Coarse thickness hair/ High density
I’ve discovered that my hair is fine but with medium density.
I’ve also discovered that fine hair easily gets weighed down by products, doesn’t hold curls easily and the strands tend to clump together making my hair look stringy sometimes. That’s why I love to co-wash during the week because it helps to remove excess product and make my hair look better. That is also why I have renewed my love for combing my hair because it helps to reduce the stringy appearance of my fine hair strands.
What is your hair texture? I’ll talk more soon, as best as I can, on how to manage the different hair textures.
- Ley, Brian (1999). “Diameter of a Human Hair”