Texture Talk: My (Mostly) Fine Strands

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Someone recently asked me whether I considered my hair to be fine or coarse and how I determined the difference between the two. So what separates fine strands from coarse strands? The quick answer is the circumference of the individual hair shaft - Fine hair shafts have a smaller circumference than coarse hair strands. And I happen to have both kinds on my head. However, I do consider most of the hairs on my head to be fine - although there are a few areas at the crown as well the areas closest to both my ears that have more coarse strands. To illustrate the difference, I took a photo of a few of my shed hairs from different zones on my head (click pic to enlarge). My finer strands are in the middle (C & D), and my thicker, more coarse strands are the two at the top (A & B) and the two at the bottom (E & F). Strands C & D came from the front and back of my head, A & B came from the crown, and E & F came from the side areas by my ear. I'm not sure if the photo depicts this to the full extent, but in person my more coarse strands appear "darker" when compared to my more fine strands. But really, its just that the circumference of the shaft is bigger on the coarse strands than it is on the strands that are fine. In the shower, its often more difficult for me to even see my finer shed strands than it is for me to spot the coarser strands when they shed. (As an unrelated aside, this picture also illustrates the multiple curl/coil patterns on my head)

Individual strands clumped together may appear thicker/more coarse than they really are.

Individual Strand Thickness Versus Density: The "thickness" of individual strands is also not to be confused with the overall density of all the hair on your head. Density is the amount of hairs per square inch on your hair and it can be low density (thin), medium density, or high density (thick). So you can have individual strands that are either fine or coarse, which grow out of your scalp at different levels of density. Though I have (mostly) fine strands, I consider my hair overall to have somewhere between medium and high density. Because of this, my hair appears thicker and "bigger" sometimes than it really is on a strand-by-strand basis (see pic above).

Why does this even matter? For me, knowing whether or not my individual strands were fine or coarse is important because it definitely impacts the thickness and the heaviness of the products I can use. Because my strands are (mostly) fine, I tend to gravitate toward lighter oils and stay away from heavier butters because they tend to easily weigh down my hair. I also stay away from globbing on heavier stylers for that same reason. And even for the products my hair loves - in the sections where my strands are more fine, I find that I don't need to use as much product on that section as I may have to use on sections where the hairs are more coarse.

Its because of its possible impact on product selection and product use why I feel it's important for naturals to figure out whether their individual strands are mostly fine or mostly coarse (or some combination of the two). Keep in mind that the thickness of your individual strands is only one dimension of your hair's texture among many others. But its a step in the direction of really getting to know your own head of hair beyond just its curl pattern.

Related Post: Naturally Curious About Hair Typing

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  1. You are sooooooo inspirational!!! Like,you really went in on this!!! I love that you took the time to share this!!! Let alone do this!!! You are more awesome than you know! Like seriously! LOL! Thanx for sharing Beautiful!!! It's crazy how I been thinking like this lately too because my 12 year old asked me if I considered my strands fine!!! We must be sistas from anotha mista! Thanx for sharing Beautiful!!!

    1. Heehee thanks chica! LOL @ sistas from another mista....that had me rolling!!! Your 12 year old is asking the right questions...yay!!! :) I definitely think fine versus coarse is one aspect of our hair texture that can help with product selection for sure!

  2. Another excellent post! And that is why I love this blog!

    More please.

    1. Heehee, thanks so much JazzWife!! There's definitely more to come :) At the moment I'm sitting here trying to talk myself out of doing mini twists this coming weekend (pray for me, lol). But no matter what I end up doing with my hair I'll be sure to blog about it! LOL :)

  3. I have the same thing with my hair. Various types of curls and texture. I actually pulled a very course hair out of my brush and it was with a bunch of very fine hairs. I think this variety makes our hair very unique.


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