All You Need to Know About Hair Texture

Woman combing her hair

When choosing a hairstyle, there isn’t a single thing more important to consider than your hair texture. Just about everyone has experienced either first hand or knows someone who has hair that is straight, wavy, curly, or frizzy/kinky. While this quad of adjectives does describe hair’s texture, these attributes are more-or-less changeable. On the contrary, understanding the attributes of your hair’s width and pattern, which are (for the most part) unchangeable, can help you truly understand your hair’s texture. No matter what shape hair holds – straight, wavy, curly, or frizzy/kinky – there is the possibility that is one of the three following widths of texture: fine, medium, or thick/coarse.

These width descriptors – fine, medium, thick/coarse – aren’t used to explain how the hair feels in your hands, rather it describes the thinness or thickness of each individual piece of hair. The standard measurement which is used to determine the width of texture is the thickness of a piece of sewing thread. If a single strand of hair is thinner than a piece of thread, then it is labeled as fine; If a strand of hair is the same width of a piece of thread, it is medium; if a strand of hair is thicker than a piece of thread then it thick/coarse.

So, what does this all mean? Well, a few things really; knowing the width of your hair can help you figure out why your hair “acts” a certain way, and knowing these common hair behaviors can help you style your hair so that it’s always looking its best.

Fine Hair
Typical behaviors of fine hair include not holding styles (i.e. curls) for very long, is easily weighed down by heavy product or too much product, often looks thin, and has a tendency to break easily. While it might not always seem like it, individuals who have “fine” hair texture actually have more hair than those with thick hair. Those with fine hair may also notice that their hair gets oilier faster than others. If you find that achieving volume is a struggle, you should try out either a texturizing powder or a dry shampoo. Both products contain ingredients that absorb oils and bond to the cuticle of the hair, giving it a temporary thickness without weighing it down like most products.

Medium Hair
Typical behaviors for medium hair include the ability to maintain style; a tendency to cover the surface area of the scalp; and it’s typically resilient to breakage. Those with medium hair will find that because their hair is less prone to breakage that it can hold just about any style. One thing that individuals with medium hair may struggle with is dehydration or dryness of the strands. To cure and prevent dry hair you should use a leave in conditioner after washing and get into the habit of using a conditioning mask on a semi-regular basis.

Thick or Coarse Hair
Typical behaviors of thick/coarse hair include a dense, full appearance; the ability to maintain styles with little hair spray; a high heat tolerance; and it is often unwilling to take to chemical hair color. Those with thick or coarse hair may never need extra-hold hairspray, but they do need some sturdy hair elastics. Unlike fine and medium hair, thick or coarse hair contains three layers: the cortex, the cuticle, and (the additional layer) the medulla. Although the medulla is filled almost entirely with air, it’s the protein in its composition that gives it the extra strength. If you find that your hair is resilient to hair color, talk to your stylist about a color compositing shampoo which will prevent the color from fading.

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