I had a conversation along time ago with one of my bestfriends about hair. Her hair was always so thick and long and mine seemed like it would not grow. Like all high school girls, I had to keep up with the trend of box braids and flat twists in the front (held still by elastic bands) and hair out in the back. All the girls were wearing these styles but compared to theirs, there was something different about my hair and I could not figure it out. One day I asked my friend, "How do you grow your hair so long?" and she said to me, "If you treat your hair like a million bucks it would grow long too."
This statement of "treating your hair like a million bucks" really resonated with me and to this day I try to abide by this rule. At the time, I did not recognize that when comparing my hair to my friend's hair and trying to keep up with hair trends, that my hair was different. I understood that some people had wavy hair, soft hair or kinky hair depending on genetics but I did not understand the difference between fine, medium and coarse hair. For along time, I believed that all black people had coarse hair because to me by definition, coarse hair was hard or rough hair (I was so wrong with this assumption). Still I did not understand that there was a difference between thin and thick hair- a person could have fine-thick hair, fine-thin hair, coarse-thick hair, etc.
Here are some up close and personal photos of my fine hair:
In this particular instance, I had fine-thick hair and my friend had coarse-thick hair. Being born with the predisposition of fine-thick hair, my hair was easily damaged by using hair styling techniques that are used on medium or coarse hair. Below is a pictorial of the difference in thickness of a fine strand, coarse strand and a strand of thread.
Looking at the above photograph with the naked eye, it is apparent that fine hair is thinner than coarse hair and coarse hair is thinner than a thread. So with this logic, it is obvious that the same hair care techniques should not be used across hair types. (Hint: This is one of the reasons why hair care products work best for some people and do not work at all for others.)
How to tell if you have fine or coarse hair?
- Consult a professional stylist. Stylists are trained to properly manage hair and they can quickly identify whether your strands are fine, medium or coarse.
- Home test: After washing your hair let it air dry. If your hair air dries quickly (an hour or less) then you have fine hair. If you wait longer than an hour then your hair is coarse.
- The White paper test: Pull a strand of hair from your head and place on top of a white paper. If your hair is difficult to see against the white background and not easily felt between your fingertips then you have fine hair.
- You have to re-twist your hair nightly to keep defined curls. Curls just do not hold well with this type of hair.
- Breaks easily even when you keep it moisturized.
- Prone to fly aways.
- Hair looks dull, dry and flat.
- Protein Treatments will help give weight to fine hair and strengthen the strands. To identity protein treatments look at the ingredient list for the following: silk amino acids, collagen, keratin, wheat and soy (to name a few).
- Do a pre-wash oil treatment before you wash your hair. Over cleansed fine hair will break easily.
- Use a clarifying shampoo whenever your hair looks dull or falls flat. Fine hair can be easily weighed down by product build up. A clarifying shampoo strips away dirt and product build up from the hair. This should be used no more than once a month.
- For regular shampooing, use a gently conditioning shampoo like Kurlee Belle's Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo. High quality moisturizing shampoos protect the hair during the wash process.
- When choosing a leave-in conditioner, look for the words "Dry and Damaged Hair" like Kurlee Belle's Thirsty Kurls Leave-In conditioner. Always use a rinse off conditioner and then a leave-in conditioner.
- Detangle hair in sections. Never BRUSH dry fine hair or wet fine hair. Use your fingertips to detangle or a wide tooth comb. Detangle from the tip of the hair moving closer to the scalp. Remember: Your hair is delicate and will break easily.
- Comb hair as little as possible. Stay away from hairstyles that require constant manipulation. Micro braids and heavy extensions are not your friend. Try low maintenance protective styles like braids and two strand twists.
- Always wear a satin covering at night. Never sleep without your hair protected.
- When straightening fine hair always use a heat protectant. Use very low heat. The temperature should be no higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fine hair straightens easily.
- Trim hair every 6 to 8 weeks to avoid spilt ends.
- A great sealant for fine hair is coconut oil. It is not heavy and provides shines and manageability.
- Always air dry. The less heat used on fine hair the better. Fine hair dries fast so blow dryers can be avoided.
- Avoid color or highlights like the plague. Bleaching the hair lifts the cuticle so that the color appears. If you are not a professional stylists that knows how to properly care for hair then I say leave the color alone. I found out the hard way...so learn from my mistakes.