Coarse hair definitely has its advantages like natural strength and body, but it’s rough and vulnerable texture creates the need for a specialized hair care routine.
In the stylist world we often compare textures to fabrics - fine hair to silk, medium hair to denim, and coarse hair to corduroy. Much like the fabric, when you feel a coarse hair strand one way (down the shaft) it feels smooth, but change direction and there is a noticeable roughness.
Structure of coarse hair: Looking at it structurally and learning about coarse hair’s makeup is helpful when working with its unique characteristics.
- The cuticle layer of coarse hair is often larger, disc shaped, and has a slightly curved edge. The roughness is directly related to the fact that the cuticle scales don’t lay flat, they are slightly open. This doesn’t allow light to reflect nor does it make it easy for natural oils to travel down the shaft. This is why even healthy coarse hair lacks shine and is more susceptible to damage from brushing and styling.
- The cortex is what makes up the bulk in diameter of this hair type. It often has a defined medulla which adds structural strength and contributes to the curve and body in coarse hair as well as a slightly faster growth rate. The solid structure of the cortex makes coarse hair easily texturized, colored, and bleached.
- The cuticle protects the cortex and because coarse hair is porous, natural oils, chemicals, etc. can easily escape and absorb into the strand.
- There are fewer layers of the cuticle in coarse hair, 5-7 layers as compared to 14 with finer hair types. It is easily damaged by styling and chemical treatments to the point that the cortical fibers are exposed resulting in split ends.
- Appearing thick because of the larger diameter of the strands, coarser hair often has less density having approximately 80 to 100,000 hairs on the average scalp, under the 150,000 that finer hair can have. This means fewer oil glands to produce natural oils. It can often be very dehydrated and also result in dry scalp conditions.
Tips for keeping coarse hair healthy
- Over cleansing is the biggest offense of this strong but vulnerable hair type. It is beneficial to use a sulfate free shampoo once or twice weekly, concentrating on the scalp and refreshing in between cleansing with a crème rinse. This will allow the natural oils to build up to enhance shine and manageability while maintaining and protecting the very important cuticle layer.
- The increased porosity requires a regular routine of reconditioning especially if it is chemically treated. A balance of moisture and protein will help with pliability and strengthen hair strand inside and out.
- A good hair cut is essential in managing coarse hair. Twist techniques and texturizing help to manage density, however razor cuts are not recommended as they can tear away the cuticle and leave the style looking dry and frizzy.
- Using cream styling aids like hair masks and deep conditioners instead of gels can help with pliability, control and shine of this naturally unruly hair type.
- Applying a thermal protectant is advised when working with heat styling and blow drying.
- This is one hair type that often finishes out better when not completely dried. Leaving some dampness in the hair will decrease frizz and keep it from fluffing out.
The end of summer is the perfect time to encourage clients to rehydrate and protect with the Ovation product line. Sharing the information above with clients with coarse hair will help them stay informed and encourage to create and/or maintain healthy hair.
Do you think your clients can benefit from this info?
- Brenda, Lead Educator