Recently, I sat in a hair salon and listened as an unhappy customer berated a bemused stylist. The stylist’s offence? She’d been assessing the customer’s hair before working on it and had described it as ‘coarse’. The customer took this as an insult.
Her reaction was sparked by a negative perception of coarse hair, and she’s not alone in holding this perception. For many people, coarse hair is associated with rough, brittle, unattractive tresses.
This article will consider what coarse hair means and examine ways to care for it.
What is Coarse Hair?
For starters, coarse hair is not the same as thick hair. Thick hair refers to the density of your hair. That, in simple terms, comes down to the number of hairs on your head. Coarse hair, on the other hand, describes the width or diameter of those hairs. The fact that coarse hair is defined by width means that it is not really a hair texture; you can have coarse hair that is curly, coiled, straight or wavy.
What Causes Coarse Hair?
Like most other hair types, coarse hair is largely a product of your genes. That’s not to say that you can’t acquire coarse hair. Hormonal changes, environmental factors (too much time in the sun, for example), some medications, and getting older can all be responsible for making hair coarser.
The perception of coarse hair is that it is characterised by rough, brittle strands. While that is certainly not always the case, it does highlight the fact that this is a hair type that requires extra moisture. Think about it: if your strands are wider than the norm, they are going to need more oil than your scalp produces naturally to keep them in good condition. Thick strands also mean that it takes the hair shaft longer to absorb the oil. This makes coarse hair more prone to dry or split ends and feeling slightly rough around the edges.
So, what do you need to do to look after coarse hair properly?
Select Products Formulated for Coarse Hair
You need to select your haircare products carefully. Coarse hair needs hydration, so choose shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks that are thick and emollient. Look for products containing oils, creams, and balms. Go for hydrating leave-ins, and seal in moisture with natural oils. Your choice should be guided by your hair type; someone with straight coarse hair will need something different than the individual with curly coarse strands. Try choosing products that won’t dry your hair out even more; avoid ones containing parabens, sulphates, and alcohol.
The dry and brittle characteristics of coarse hair can be exacerbated by nutritional deficiency. It’s therefore vital that your diet is rich in key nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as iron, niacin, and biotin. You’ll find most of those in seeds and whole grains, lemons, walnuts, spinach, green tea, tomatoes, soy, and coconut oil.
Use a Silk Pillowcase
Silk pillowcases are better for coarse hair in lots of ways. Their smooth surface reduces the friction between your hair and the pillow, for one thing. That stops your tresses from getting damaged and tangled as your head moves about at night. Additionally, silk pillowcases do not drain the moisture from your hair in the way that cotton covers do.
The overuse of heat styling tools can strip your hair of moisture and lead to dry, brittle hair. If you can’t do without them completely, at least cut down on how often you use them. Switch to a lower heat setting, and make sure you use a heat protectant. Bleaching and dyeing your hair can also be damaging. These processes rely on strong chemicals that can, if used too often, leave your hair dry and lifeless.
Use the Right Comb or Brush
Combing can help distribute the hair’s natural oils around your tresses, ensuring that they reach the tips of your hair and keep it moisturised. However, you must use the right tools at the right time.
Wide-toothed combs or brushes with rounded tips are a better choice for people with strong, coarse hair. Thick strands slide through the bigger gaps of these combs more easily, meaning your hair is not constantly being tugged and torn. Likewise, nylon bristle brushes are much better for detangling coarse hair.
Wait until your hair is dry before you start combing it. A recent review noted that ‘ Wet combing applies force on the hair close to the scalp, making it more damaging than dry combing in which the force is placed on the end of the hair shaft.’
With any luck, this article has dispelled some of the negative perceptions you may have had about coarse hair. Having strands that are thicker than average throws up a few extra challenges when it comes to haircare, but these can be easily met by taking some of the steps we’ve outlined above.
If you are concerned about hair loss or thinning, Vinci Hair Clinic is here to help. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. Get in touch and book your appointment today!