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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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102 Comments on "5 Ways Thick and Fine Natural Hair Should be Treated Differently"

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lisa

i agree with the com­ments above and i think some things could have been explained bet­ter. i have fine strands but thick (more dense) hair. Im learn­ing that my hair is pro­tein sen­si­tive and i NEED super thick and creamy con­di­tion­er that gives me a lot of slip. But i guess it just real­ly takes time to learn ur own hair and what it needs.

Jesse

There is a dif­fer­ence between hair den­si­ty and thick­ness of indi­vid­u­al hair strands. This post doesn’t real­ly make that dis­tinc­tion clear.

The Natural Haven

I could not have been more explic­it that I was talk­ing about indi­vid­u­al strand thick­ness. Please read the cru­cial first sen­tence refer­ring to thick­ness.

‘The sec­ond is an assess­ment of whether your indi­vid­u­al strands are fine or thick’

Hair den­si­ty is not hair strand thick­ness.

sherrybaby

I want get some clar­i­ty on the ter­mi­nol­o­gy.

I’ve always under­stood “thick­ness” and “thin­ness” to sep­a­rate issues from “course” and “fine”. My under­stand­ing was that “thickness/thinness” had to do with the total amount of actu­al strands on your head. And “course/fine” had to do with the size or width of the indi­vid­u­al strands. There­fore, a per­son could have thick but fine hair. But I’m not sure we’re all on sub­scrib­ing to that def­i­n­i­tion.

Thoughts? Com­ments?

Mimi

Den­si­ty= Thick/Thin
Indi­vid­u­al Strands= Coarse/Fine

Lisa

Hi, so fine, medi­um, or course refers to the indi­vid­u­al hair strands while thin­ness or thick­ness of your hair refers to the over­all den­si­ty of the hair. So you can have fine hair(individual strand is thin) but have thick hair if the num­ber of hair folicules on your scalp is large in num­ber. If you have fine hair but the num­ber of hair folicules on the scalp is small­er in num­ber then the over­all appear­ance of the hair will be thin.

the_lovely_one

@Ugonna Wosu is cor­rect. Thick­ness refers to the diam­e­ter of a sin­gle hair strand where­as den­si­ty refers to the num­ber of hairs grow­ing on the scalp per square inch. One can have low den­si­ty, medi­um den­si­ty, or high den­si­ty

Ugonna Wosu

den­si­ty has to do with the num­ber of strands, thick(course) vs fine has to do with the diam­e­ter of each strand.

DeeJ

I agree with you, that coarse and fine have to do with the size of the indi­vid­u­al strands and thick­ness has to do with how much hair you have or the den­si­ty. My sister’s hair is very, very thick and dense, but her strands are very fine

Tracy

Exact­ly! I have fine hair strands but VERY many strands or I usu­al­ly say my hair is fine but very dense.…

biancarichards
i’m a fine curly 3C-4A, i must say sin­gle strand knots have been teas­ing me late­ly, i definit­ly incor­po­rat­ed oil rins­ing to reduce break­age, seal­ing the ends with coconut oil or Oyin hand­made burnt sug­ar. I will try hot oil treat­ments for more ben­e­fits, but using Oyin hand­made hair dew has real­ly make my hair incred­i­bly soft and man­age­able ! A cau­casian friend of mine told me that hen­na was real­ly good to do once in a year for super soft hair  organ­ic coconut oil is my favorite oil (also for cook­ing it’s deli­cious) for seal­ing, it works bet­ter than jojoba,… Read more »
JENNID
Great post. Yes fine vs thick is more impor­tant than being a 3b or 4c in most instances. To be clear when arti­cles like the­se are post­ed peo­ple want to call them “rules”. The­se are mere­ly obser­va­tions and some tips to some com­mon hair care issues. The only rules to nat­u­ral hair are the ones you cre­ate for your­self. For my fine hair all the obser­va­tions men­tioned in the arti­cle are pret­ty much true for me. The only one I’m indif­fer­ent to is the one about light oils vs heavy oils and butter’s. Despite my hair being fine it has… Read more »
TS

I cant tell if the actu­al strands of my hair are fine or thick

Ayane

take a thread and com­pare the sizes, if your hair strand is almost the same width as the thread, then its thick, if it’s bare­ly seen when next to the thread, then it’s thin.

D.D
My hair is just a rule break­er I have fine/dense hair but it does not like alot or more then a slight amount of pro­tein espe­cial­ly in con­di­tion­er( It hate pro­tein in con­di­tion­er peri­od). It hates most con­di­tion­ers peri­od due to the pro­tein con­tent after only one use. It also hates most prod­ucts all togeth­er. My hair hat­ed shea mois­ture I even just tried to use the the whole jar it act­ed like a hard core pro­tein treat­ment in my hair. It stopped the lit­tle break­age I had but make my hair hard and crisp. Aubrey Organ­ics Hon­ey­suck­le Rose is… Read more »
Ashley

Sounds like you could also pos­si­bly be low-poros­i­ty, despite your fine strands. Have you ever test­ed that?

D.D
Yes,I test­ed that a few time and I think I am low poros­i­ty. My hair also has a high nat­u­ral sheen with­out any pro­duct which is sup­pose to be anoth­er sign of low poros­i­ty. That is when I real­ized to stop with the pro­tein unless is was a once in awhile strength­en­ing treat­ment and it has been work­ing for me. My hair still hates being detan­gle wet or if I start at the ends. I have to start at the root and move the shed hair down and THEN move to the ends and work my way up. The oth­er… Read more »
Leighton

I detan­gle my hair the same way. I tried wet detan­gling and i don’t like it. It works for the back of my hair only.

folamix

As most of the prod­ucts that I use con­tain pro­tein and my pre­poo con­tains avo­cado oil which is high­er in pro­tein than coconut oil, I sel­dom, if ever, give myself a “pro­tein treat­ment”. My hair appears thick but I believe the indi­vid­u­al strands are fine to nor­mal. I am in my 60s so I feel that the loss in thickness/density is pri­mar­i­ly due to age. I feel that my hair is con­fused and does not fol­low the­se rules so much.

Cardenie
I think out of all of the­se, #4 is the most impor­tant. When you have fine hair, you nat­u­ral­ly have less pro­tein in the strands. Mak­ing sure you get enough pro­tein is the foun­da­tion for keep­ing your hair mois­tur­ized. I’ve had the expe­ri­ence of adding and adding mois­tur­iz­ing prod­ucts, but because I was neglect­ing pro­tein, my hair didn’t respond. I don’t do the major treat­ments; just every pro­duct I use has lit­tle bits of pro­tein in them: I use Tre­sem­me Split Rem­e­dy to detan­gle (lots of slip, it’s great), Pan­tene Fine Hair solu­tions shampoo/conditioner, and SheaMois­ture Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie to… Read more »
An Afrikan Butterfly

my hair is fine, but it’s also low-poros­i­ty, so I’ve found that I don’t require a lot of pro­tein treat­ments.

Norrell

I have been try­ing to fig­ure out for a while now whether I have fine hair or thick hair. Over­all has a mas­sive enti­ty my hair is def­i­nite­ly thick, but how do I know that I don’t just have a hell of alot of fine hairs? My indi­vid­u­al strands mesh alll the time, but I also think my hair has a high tol­er­ance for heat. How can I tell what my indi­vid­u­al strands are?

Kira
I fall right in between with medi­um coarse strands (I also have some fine and coarse strands as well). I find myself falling direct­ly in-between when it comes to prod­ucts usage. I like my rin­se out con­di­tion­ers lighter but I love shea but­ter and JBCO. My hair loves pro­tein (espe­cial­ly when it needs it) but hates it if it too con­cen­trat­ed (i.e.: Curl Junkie Curl Rehab). Keep­ing pro­tein and mois­ture bal­ance is so hard for me! I think my poor hair is just con­fused! LOL may­be some­one should do an arti­cle for the medi­um coarse wom­en out there with low… Read more »
SJ
Good advice. I agree with most guide­li­nes except the trim­ming. Regard­less of hair type, don’t trim unless you are expe­ri­enc­ing break­age, exces­sive split ends/ knot­ting, etc. I have fine hair and I was dust­ing on a time­line sim­i­lar to the one list­ed in the arti­cle to “pre­vent damage”.……I end­ed up slow­ly dust­ing away per­fect healthy hair. Now I just do reg­u­lar protein/ hen­na treat­ments and have mas­tered the art of pre­serv­ing my ends/preventing knot­ting to begin with; only after the­se things are done will I ask whether a trim/ dust is nec­es­sary. Enter­ing a too-often dusting/trimming sched­ule some­times does more… Read more »
Leighton

How do you pre­serve your ends and pre­vent knots?

happythoughts
wow! this was a great read! i absolute­ly agree 100% with this, i have very fine hair and until my hhj i had no idea about pro­tein or moi­eture, i was always told about how my hair was tough, and hair­dressers and my moth­er would grease it up for mois­ture, smh…lol we did­nt know bet­ter. my hair neeeeds pro­tein reg­u­lar­ly, and light oils defi­nate­ly are eas­ier to use than but­ters for me. i use cas­tor oil at the very ends, im cur­rent­ly con­sid­er­ing tran­si­tion­ing and this is some great advice on how to care for the nat­u­ral hair dur­ing that process.… Read more »
Shamelle Belcher

My hair is thick and I have used all the meth­ods you have men­tioned. I am glad that you men­tioned cas­tor oil-I have want­ed to try this. I have a heavy hand so I have to make sure not to use too much. Thank for the tips.
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JustSayin

Heres the thing I don’t under­stand with the­se do’s and don’t: Is my hair some spe­cial type of nat­u­ral 4b/c hair? — Because it loves thick but­ters and creams and con­di­tion­ers and is extreme­ly pro­tein sen­si­tive. lol

My “light” cream for the sum­mer is Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie. For the cold­er months — raw whipped shea but­ter.

I am still on the search for a good con­di­tion­er with slip though, so if there are any rec­om­men­da­tions, I am open!

Dotty

Mine too and my strands are not coarse at all, they are fine. My hair likes the oppo­site of a lot of the­se recs. it likes cas­tor and dis­likes coconut. Also it’s pro­tein sen­si­tive. There is no one size fits all diag­no­sis.

niksmit

You sound like you have thick (coarse, not fine) strands. Re-read the post and you’ll see every­thing you just said in there under thick strands. It’s not spe­cial. It’s that the num­ber-let­ter sys­tem is essen­tial­ly mean­ing­less for hair care pur­pos­es.

Flynfab
My hair is dense and kinky but I have no idea if I have fine or thick strands — how can you even tell?? Lol, I don’t even think about that when I choose prod­ucts or style my hair, I hon­est­ly don’t think it mat­ters so much to know. Just exper­i­ment until you find the right styles and prod­ucts and go with those. I guess since most of the things that I do fall into your label of thick, may­be that’s what it is.  I can say that I do use Aphro­gee 2 min­ute con­di­tion on my hair every week because… Read more »
Sinovuyo

How does one tell if they have fine or thick hair? As Mojo said above: ‘I have recent­ly dis­cov­ered that though my hair appears to be thick the strands are fine.’ I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to my BC in a few days, and to work on a reg­i­men suit­able for my hair.

sherrybaby

Anoth­er option is to com­pare a sin­gle strand of your hair to a piece of thread. If your hair is vis­i­bly thin­ner than the thread, you can pret­ty safe­ly say you have fine hair. 

Also, the arti­cle uses the terms “thick” and “fine”, which, for me is a bit con­fus­ing. I’ve always under­stood it to be a com­par­ison of “coarse” vs “fine”. A per­son can have thick hair, mean­ing a lot of indi­vid­u­al strands of hair, but fine hair-mean­ing the actu­al strands are thin. Hope that was help­ful.

niksmit

http://www.iamnaturallycurious.com/2012/06/texture-talk-my-mostly-fine-strands.html

There was a very old post by the cre­ator of the Curl Junkie line on her blog that’s more illus­tra­tive, but I don’t have time to dig that up right now if it’s still avail­able online.

Mojo

I have recent­ly dis­cov­ered that though my hair appears to be thick the strands are fine. I am cur­rent­ly on a goal for myself to do more pro­tec­tive styling. I cur­rent­ly have mini twist and plan on hav­ing them in for a mon­th (fin­gers crossed) I don’t plan on wash­ing my hair but I will incor­po­rate my ACV rins­es (to avoid pro­duct buildup) and to still mois­tur­ize my hair pri­or to sleep­ing. I think low manip­u­la­tion works won­ders on fine strands since it is prone to break­age, less is more!

Cami
My hair is fine and I’m very much of a min­i­mal­ist when it comes to dai­ly hair care — most­ly because my hair is very long (stretched mid-back) and at times I’m just down­right lazy. I co-wash twice a mon­th, clar­i­fy with ACV when need­ed, fin­ger-comb with my stash of good­ies, and then it’s back in twists dur­ing the week (for a full twist-out on the week­ends). Since I also have major shrink­age, I rock a big curly fro (think Yaya) for 3-day hair. Oth­er than that, I dust for knots, avoid any heat, and stick with Shea Mois­ture, Nat­u­ral­ly… Read more »
Crist
I’m clos­ing in on 3 years nat­u­ral and I am now start­ing to adopt the min­i­mal­ist way of hair care…and its been going so well! I’m already lazy with my hair plus busy with work and school and grad apps and my boyfriend likes it when I wear my hair up ;) so I do bunned twists pret­ty much con­stant­ly *with no twistout at the end of the week* at this point (its been about 2 weeks). I do a mid-week wash in my medi­um twists, oil it then bun it. Tonight I’ll be fin­ger detan­gling each twist, mois­tur­iz­ing then… Read more »
Kita
My hair is extreme­ly thick. Low heat is a no no for me. Even for flat iron­ing (twice a year) I have to use 475 degrees because the rec­om­mend­ed 400 does noth­ing for my strands. Also, heav­ier oils and con­di­tion­ers are spot on in the write up. My hair has been the same my whole life so I pret­ty much learned what my hair can take from my mom and step­mom. When I took over I stopped using hair grease, gel, and hard bristle brush­es for the­se rea­sons: (1) hair grease on my scalp caus­es build up for me so… Read more »
Cece Danielle

Wow my strands are kinky and thick and I’ve nev­er gone past 350 degrees for my flat iron. I’ve only flat ironed once in two years and there was a lot of humid­i­ty, which is prob­a­bly why it wasn’t that straight. I’ll try to heat it a lit­tle high­er now. Thanks.

la*belle
Great arti­cle. My strands are fine. Heat pret­ty much destroys my hair, so I stay far away from it. I get sin­gle strand knots with min­i­mal effort on my part. I coun­ter­act this with hot oil treat­ments and oil rins­ing. I have also start­ed spray­ing my hair with a very dilut­ed acv and water spritz, after which I apply my leave in. Greek yoghurt treat­ments are an absolute must on my strands. I wear my hair in a wash n go twa, bc’d to no hair in jan­u­ary this year. Please, ladies, if any of you have addi­tion­al tips, do… Read more »
DeeDee
Re: 5 Ways… For the last 6 years I have been wear­ing wigs as a pro­tec­tive style but now I want to wear my own nat­u­ral hair long (use to wear very short fros and braids. So I need to learn how to han­dle it again. It’s 5 to 11 inch­es in length and fineeee and very pore­ous. I mean I got a perm 6 years ago and kissed most of my hair good­bye like the days lat­er. So I’m free­ing myself from my beloved safe­ty blan­ket (wigs) and want to achieve my hair goals sans the wigs.  So back to basics… Read more »
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