2nd Helping: Not Every Natural is Coarse of Course

This was the first installment of my So Fine series written for CurlyNikki that talked all about having fine hair.  I’m a firm believe that in addition to knowing your curl pattern, you must know your strand thickness if you are to properly care for your curls.  Here’s step one in figuring out where YOUR hair lies on the spectrum.  If you’re interested in reading the full series where I discuss styling, products, and regimen for fine hair you can find all other posts here.


SO FINE: Not Every Natural is Coarse, Of Course!  – January 2011

For the longest time, I thought that if you had thick hair, your hair was coarse and if you had thin hair then your hair was fine.  Until about a year ago, I lived my entire life under the assumption that because my hair was extremely thick that it was coarse.  However, after going natural I discovered that beneath my straightened hair, there were follicles waiting to release zillions of little slinkies from my scalp.  One day my friend was inspecting my teeny weeny coils when she said “your coils are so dense, but your hairs themselves are so so fine.”

Up close and personal shot of my texture

“Fine hair??  On this head??  Not a chance”, I said laughing it off.

“No really,” she insisted.  And with that, she plucked a hair from her scalp held it up to one of my own.

To my surprise her hair was double the thickness mine! After a few more comparisons with other heads, I discovered that without a doubt, I fall into category of having fine hair.

I shared with you my discovery of fine hair because many of us assume that because we have kinky coils or a thick head of hair that our hair is COARSE, when in reality you could be like me and have a thick head of fine hair.

Let’s break it down to see where you fall.

First, there are really two spectrums of hair that we’re talking about here:

  • the thickness of a strand of hair (fine-medium-coarse)
  • the density of follicles on the head (thin-medium-thick)

If you’re like me, you could go around plucking hairs from other people’s heads and comparing them to your own, but there actually is an, erm, place below the waist where everyone grows coarse hair.  That’s right- pubic hair is coarse hair!  (You knew getting to know your hair was intimate, but betcha didn’t know HOW intimate).  If your hair is as thick as this hair from your nether regions, it’s coarse and if its thinner, but only slightly so, it’s medium, and if its noticeably more faint, then you have fine hair.

Fine hair can be placed into two camps.  First, there are those (like me) who have lots fine hair whose follicles are placed very close together (thick) and those whose fine hair follicles are placed further apart and the hair is thin.

Showing my densely packed fine strands

Here are a few pictures I took comparing my fine hair and a friend’s coarser hair (thanks La Shon!)

Fine on the left. Coarse on the Right.

A fine strand. A coarse strand. A piece of thread.

As you can see, fine hair is much thinner than coarse hair and as a result is much more fragile and special attention must be given to make sure you’re giving your fine strands the TLC it needs to thrive.  This series, SO FINE, will discuss, explore, and explain all things that every fine natural must know to be at her FINEst.

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  1. Good post! You explained it very well. I think my hair is similar to yours for the fact that my actual hairs are quite fine but I have a lot of hair!

  2. Is it possible to have both fine and coarse strands on one head of hair? Sometimes, when looking at shed hair, I will see mostly dine strands, and some coarse strands!

    • Yes! Totally possible! I write from the perspective of having majority fine hair, but many people— including both you and me— might have both!

    • Yeah! i seem to have a decent mix of both…i can pull two hairs out of my head and give an excellent example of the difference between coarse and fine hair….i also have both dense and thin areas AND i have a mix of all type 4 types….I love how unique and diverse black hair can be <3

  3. I love this!! May I re-post it on BGLH with links back to Natural Selection?

  4. My hair is apparently just like yours. Imagine my surprise finding out that my hair is not thick by strand, but thick just for the sheer number of hairs on my head and fine to boot. Thank you for writing this…you say this was the first in a series…can you please tell me where I can find the rest of what you’ve written? Thanks so much! Great blog.

  5. Pingback: Not Every Natural is Coarse, of Course | Black Girl with Long Hair

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