5 Ways Thick and Fine Natural Hair Should be Treated Differently

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I have found that the classic 3a to 4b hair typing can be very misleading in regards to choosing routines and products although many naturals do still make such inferences. In my experience there are two properties of hair that are more important. First is an assessment of whether your hair is kinky, curly or both. This will determine the strength of your hair and how best to handle it. The second is an assessment of whether your individual strands are fine or thick. This will determine the type of products that will be better for your hair and will also be a guide on how best to trim and style your hair. Today I will discuss individual strand thickness. This is a general guide based on observation, some people with fine or thick hair may indeed buck the trend. Equally if your hair is somewhere between fine and thick, you may find yourself switching between the two trends.

1. More dusting for fine hair, more trimmed cuts for thick hair
If your natural hair is fine, there is a stronger tendency for the ends to tangle as the individual strands seem to really like meshing. As a result, these ends will experience more wear as they are regularly separated for styling and detangling. Choosing a dusting routine where an eighth of an inch is cut every month or so is a good choice to prevent and get rid of damage. If your strands are thicker, you will probably find that knots are rare although tangles may still occur. Therefore, you may find a set trimming routine of, for example, half an inch every 4-6 months is more appropriate to get rid of damage

2. Lighter conditioners for fine hair, heavier ones for thick hair
The issue of tangling and meshing for fine hair once more lends it to finding lighter conditioners that are packed with slip to be more beneficial especially if choosing to conditioner detangle. Lighter conditioners are more able to coat the strands even when the hair has a tendency to mesh. You may therefore find that regular store bought conditioners such as Herbal Essences, Tresemme, Aussie and VO5 are praised highly by people with fine hair. Meanwhile if you have thick strands, you may find that lighter conditioners simply do not help you as they are unable to weigh your hair down properly for ease of management when detangling. Many naturals with thicker strands may still use lighter store bought conditioners but will tend to add in olive oil or shea butter to help make the product more substantive. Hair masks and thicker products such as Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, Jessicurl Too Shea may also be equally preferred for thicker strands.

3. Lighter oils for fine hair, butters and thicker oils for thick hair
Many naturals tend to pick oils based on their preference for scent and texture. In general , most oils are perfectly fine to use on any hair strand thickness. However, people with fine hair may find that heavier butters and oil (e.g castor oil, shea butter, coffee butter, cocoa butter) are more difficult to spread and weigh hair down excessively. These oils, however, may be beneficial to fine hair if used on just the last 1-2 inches of hair as a thicker coating for moisture retention and breakage prevention. Over the rest of the strand, lighter oils and butters (e.g coconut, jojoba, avocado butter) may be better for finer strands. People with thicker strands will generally find that pretty much any oil can work for them but a preference for castor oil and shea butter is really prevalent. This is likely to be because thicker hair can easily withstand the thick oil coating.

4. More protein for fine hair, less or none for thick hair
Finer hair tends to be prone to damage compared to thicker strands which may have both more cuticle layers and a thicker cortex. For this reason, protein is almost always a must for fine hair. This does not mean using a specific protein treatment e.g Komaza or Aphogee. This could just mean using a hair conditioner with some protein or amino acids contained within or indeed adding a few drops of the protein treatment to a regular conditioner. People with thicker strands may find that protein treatments do not add to the strength of the hair and may even make hair less flexible. They should therefore be used sparingly.

5. Less heat for fine hair
There are a few rare creatures who will tell you how they can bleach and straighten their hair one day and then dye it all to a different colour a week later without any ill effects. There are some too who will tell you how they experience no damage or breakage even after using a flat iron on high heat with several passes each time. The likely fact is that all these people have thick strands. Fine hair is just not able to do this and even low direct contact heat can easily set off breakage. If you are in this group, restrict yourself to contactless heat (hair dryer held away from hair), reduce the temperature and/or number of times you flat iron or indeed completely avoid heat.

Ladies, is your hair thick or fine? How do you manage it?

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The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

 

91 thoughts on “5 Ways Thick and Fine Natural Hair Should be Treated Differently

  1. The article talks of think vs fine, but I am a medium strand girl. I like Suave and Vo5 for conditioners better then anythings with oils, but I do want oil for my after wash care. I can use Shea Butter but only ONCE right after washing, then I have to use something light (Coconut Oil, Olive Oil) until I have to wash again.

    Also of note for styling that the article didn’t mention…when your hair is fine it will less likely hold a definition from a twist/braid out, where thick strand hair will better hold a twist out braid out ect…So consider that when making your styling choice and choose products that will help (fine hair may need gel for twist/braid out). HTH

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      • I thought you meant thick hair strands vs. Thin hair strands. I didn’t think you made a mistake.
        Great article btw i’m in the: thick hair/ thin strand category and the conditioner tips were on point!

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  2. I’m of the mindset that you have to put categories aside and do what is best for your hair. My hair is thick and coarse. Before I went natural, I was responsible for a few broken combs and more than one stylist complained about burning their fingers on my hair. I know my hair is in it’s optimum condition when I pull down a fresh twist and once released, it springs back into place. What works for my hair kinda contradicts this article. I cleanse my scalp with diluted vinegar. I then cleanse the strands with a conditioner like VO5 or Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (I don’t add anything). I detangle and twist into smaller sections using shea butter. Sometimes I’ll added a bit of coconut oil to the mix but not much. End of story. No special protein treatments, muds, powders, ointments or cremes. No deep conditioners.

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    • your hair burns others’ fingers too,lol break combs and barrettes, so you have to buy 2 to contain it all; i now use mostly those flexi8 clips. i love it when the new stylist does not believe you.
      its great hair, can do most anything we want it to, but needs time to get through. i usually wear mine up or in a ponytail when i wear it straight. gets too hot her in so cal.
      i love my thick coarse super kinky big ha;r.

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  3. my hair strands are fine yet super dense (giving the appearance of thick hair). I found most of the information in this article to be true for my hair. But I mostly do the best I can for my hair (after 6 years I am still learning)

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  4. This is one of the most helpful articles I’ve read on BGLH. Thank you for posting it. (Fine hairs, but a lot of them.)

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    • Very nice article, useful and helpful!
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/image-31.jpg[/img]
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/image-31.jpg[/img]
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/image-31.jpg[/img]

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  6. according to this article i guess i’m…like none of these lol i can flat iron my hair on high heat, several passes of the iron, on a regular basis as well, and on hair bleached several times, and not completely lose curl pattern (hair will still curl and will spring back up when tugged downward). I don’t use oils in my hair, not directly, because oils dry my hair out. if oil is in a product already, then that’s fine, but direct oil is a no. for this reason, i must be the only natural out there that does not “seal” in the strictest sense. My hair doesn’t break as a result of dryness; it will break with manipulation, but only with a great deal of it. it’s pretty strong and naturally elastic, and durable. I can stave off trimming for long periods (a year or more) if i avoid heat and dye, but my hair doesn’t keel over if i do either outside of moderation.
    i think my strands are medium thickness, although some are finer, some are thicker, depending on where they are. the edges are fine, but the crown is coarse. i can get by without protein or deep conditioning when my hair hasn’t been altered at all by heat or chemicals, so i guess based off this assessment my hair would fall somewhere between medium and thick.

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  7. I never took into account that my hair is fine until reading this and seeing my hair’s behavior spelled out. As I read, I was reminded of how my hair does mesh together when it’s twisted. I have to gently pull them apart as they appear to be borderline dreaded. This article helped me realize why my hair acts the way it does. I used to be frustrated until now. I have my hair pictures here if anyone would like to see them: http://knotsoknappy.weebly.com

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  8. My hair is like a half eaten donut: on the sides and the nape, my hair is thick and coily. But in the front, its fine, frizzy and impossible to style.

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  9. This article is on point, your hair type really does matter because speaking as a fine haired natural chica, I have come to realize I can’t use thick heavy oils and butters on my hair. The lighter the better, and they have to pack plenty moisture as the article says.

    When it comes to butters and heavy oils, I love how these products make my hair feel and they do help my hair hold moisture better, but they do weigh my strands down which can cause unneccesary shedding. I compensate by melting sheabutter and letting it cool down then adding some castor oil and coconut oil and whip it until it becomes a light creamy texture.. Now I have the best of both worlds, thick hair products used on fine hair.. Now my hair is soft, moisturized, shiny and has out of this world definition.

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  10. For some reason I assumed this was going to help gauge the type of strands and basically help me to figure out if my strands are fine, thick, or in between. The most part of my life natural, and I still have no idea -. – …. *sigh* I’m frustrated

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  11. My hair is thick and fine! So I have to mix the products depending in what I am trying to accomplish. I like thick conditioners and styling products because they bring out more of a curl pattern. But I like light oils because the heavier oils run straight down my head and do not penetrate.
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/image-58.jpg[/img]

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  12. This article is so important-thank you!I’ve only discovered recently, after a year and a half going natural, that my hair is fine.Trials with different treatments, after MUCH research, has led me to weekly oil treatments(A MUST I believe!!); alternating weekly between heavy and light protein shots(on my ends); and sealing with avocado oil(shea butter on my ends).
    I also need to clarify/wash almost every week due to a sensitive scalp(Argan oil shampoo or Bicarbonate of soda or ACV).Protective and low-manipulation styling has helped me retain length, at the same time.
    I’ve realised today-“beating my body and making it my slave”-that my ends has become less tangly(even during washing it).I think that keeping it stretched and oil treatments has a lot to do with it.
    My napes want the LEAST tension, otherwise the hairs leave my scalp.After at least 15years of relaxing, I have to deal with the consequences of the lack of knowledge.
    I really thank God for sights like BGLH.Going Natural has literally changed my way of walking through life:)!!

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  13. I have both thick and fine hair. My strands are fine but I have an excessive amount of them on my head, what should I do?
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/image-20.jpg[/img]

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  14. Very informative article. However, I don’t think trimming often is necessary for ANY hair type…My hair is curly & fine, and I only trim when necessary which is usually once or twice a year & my almost waist length hair is both healthy & happy. Lol

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