Have you ever caught yourself wondering, “What hair type do I have?”, and having no idea. You may guess, or you might rely on what a stylist has told you in the past, but don’t you want to know for sure? Although everyone’s hair is unique, there are a few key identifying factors that differentiate the hair types.
Keep reading to learn a little bit more about hair, so when you ask yourself, “What is my hair type?”, you finally have an answer.
Thick Hair vs A LOT of Hair
You may think that having thick hair simply means you have a lot of it. That’s what I thought until I started doing some research, but come to find out, that isn’t exactly true. Let me break it down.
Two components play a huge role in determining your hair type: diameter and density.
The diameter of each hair strand is key to figuring out the thickness of your hair. The density of your hair is the amount of hair on your head.
Here’s an example… while you may have tons of hair, each strand might be fine. On the contrary, you can a little bit of thick hair.
So, why does this matter? Once you know your hair type, you can develop a hair care routine that is right for you, making everything from maintenance to styling a little bit easier. Lucky for you, hair professionals have come up with a few tests to help you figure this all out.
2 Easy Tests To Determine Hair Type
First, determine the thickness of each strand. Here are two easy ways.
The Touch Test
Pinch a single strand of hair, and rub it between your fingers. Can you feel it? If not, it’s fine. If you can, it’s thick. Pretty simple, right?
If you fall into the category of “kinda feel it, kinda don’t”, that’s totally okay! Your hair thickness may be somewhere in the middle. Just to be sure, take it a step further, and do a visual test.
Thick as Thread
Pull the same single strand from your head, and lay it next to a piece of sewing thread. If it’s thinner than the thread, you have fine hair. If it’s wider, you have thick hair.
The results from these assessments should be the main indicator of your hair type. However, the amount of hair on your head is good to know, too.
There’s a major difference in the hair types’ compositions.
Fine hair is made up of two parts: the cuticle and the cortex. Coarse hair has an extra component called the medulla.
The medulla, also known as the core, is the center of coarse hair strands. All fine hair and some hair of medium thickness lack the medulla.
Fun fact: if you’re naturally blonde, your hair also is missing a medulla.
Another fun fact: No one really knows why the medulla is there or what it does. We just know some hair has it, and some hair does not.
Hair professionals, however, do have an understanding of the functions of the cuticle and the cortex.
The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair and has two functions. The first is to protect the inner layers, and the second is to control the amount of water or product that seeps into the cortex. We appreciate the cuticle for acting as a guard because the cortex is what we care about most (or maybe I just care about it most…read on and decide for yourself).
The cortex serves the most purpose. It makes up the majority of the hair strand. It’s not only responsible for your hair’s natural color but also for its strength and elasticity. So, if you love the way your hair looks, thank the cortex.
The relationship between the cuticle and the cortex is super important, especially when it comes to the overall appearance of your hair.
Public Service Announcement: heat and chemicals are bad for your hair. If you didn’t already know that, you’re welcome.
Although you may look gorgeous in the moment, using harsh treatments can cause severe damage to the cuticle. This has a ripple effect. Once the cuticle is damaged, the cortex is also at risk. Remember, having a healthy cortex is essential to having healthy hair. So if you love the fried-and-dyed look, just know your hair will eventually pay for it.
Let's Talk About Density
Hair density can contribute to the appearance of having thick or fine hair. Density also correlates to hair volume, and I think I speak for most girls when I say we all love a little volume. But, if your hair has too much or not enough, determining your hair density will help you find the right products to tame your locks or tease your tresses.
Part your hair down the center, and make sure you can clearly see the scalp beneath. Grab two chunks of hair on opposite sides of your head and gently pull them. Examine the space between each hair follicle. If the follicles are far apart, your hair isn’t super dense. If they are close together, you have dense hair.
Explaining Fine Hair vs. Thin Hair
Many girls think these terms are synonymous. Well, it turns out they are quite different. To recap, fine hair is determined by the diameter of each hair strand. Thin hair, on the other hand, is the term to define a head of hair that has low-density. Referring to my earlier example, you can have a head full of fine hair. But, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have thin hair. Get it?
What is Coarse Hair?
This is where things get tricky. If the term “thin” correlates to hair density, shouldn’t the term “thick” do the same? Technically, yes. Having thick hair can suggest that your hair follicles are positioned close together. However, most people still use it to describe a strand’s diameter, too. A more accurate term for hair that is thick in diameter is “coarse”, although the verbage seems to be somewhat interchangeable.
You can now stop asking yourself, “What kind of hair do I have?”, because you know how to determine your hair type! With this information, you can choose the right product, styling techniques and hair accessories for your hair.
One hair accessory that we recommend that works for ALL hair types is the PRO Hair Tie.
The PRO Hair Tie is made of a silicone material and sprayed with a non-stick coating to prevent it from “sticking” to hair. It features an easy-release clasp that eliminates the tangling and pulling that traditional hair ties cause. The clasp was designed to release only when lifted at an angle. Otherwise, it will stay fastened. The round-to-flat beaded design ensures a secure hold on all hair types and in all hair styles.
Do you have another way of determining hair type? Let us know if the comments below!