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Hair Density: What it is and how to test for it

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Photos Courtesy of comfygirlwithcurls

Welcome to another post in the hair type series. In today’s post we will focus on Hair Density ,which some also define as Volume.

What is Hair Density?

Hair Density is the the extent to which the scalp is filled/covered with hair. It relates to the amount of hair on ones head and can be described as either dense or sparse(also thin).

dense vs sparse hair

Your hair density is something you are born with(determined by genetics and ethnicity) and you may not necessarily have the ability to change it, however it is possible that once dense hair becomes sparse(thinning hair)

It is also important to note that hair strand thickness(width) is not related to density. Someone with dense hair can have fine hair strands and someone with thick hair strands can have sparse hair.

Density unlike other hair characteristics will be easy to determine ,dense hair strands will result in what is referred to as volume.

How to determine your hair density

  • Observation
  • Ponytail test


Here you simply observe or inspect your hair while you are rocking twists or braids.

  • With dense hair type you expect little to no scalp to be visible.
  • Medium density hair will be scalpy but not as much as sparse hair.
  • With sparse hair types you expect a very scalpy outcome.
Dense Hair @comfygirlwithcurls

* When using extensions -The amount of extension you need to braid or twist your hair can also give you a rough idea of where your hair lies.

You can also inspect your hair when you are wearing it out.

  • If you can see your scalp without moving your hair you are more on the sparse side.
  • If you need to move your hair slightly to see your scalp you have medium density.
  • If it is difficult to see your scalp your hair is dense.

Ponytail Test

This test will work best on longer/stretched hair that can be held back in a ponytail.

First tie your hair in a ponytail using a hair band ,then compare your ponytail thickness or circumference to that of a coin. (Thickness or circumference of your ponytail at the point you’ve held it with a band)

how to test for hair density

I’d recommend a 20 bob coin for my local readers. The coin is about 3inches in circumference, this is the same circumference medium density hair would have.

  • If your pony tail has a similar size compared to the coin ,your hair is of medium density
  • if it’s less than the coin your hair is sparse in density
  • if it’s larger than the coin your hair is dense

Identifying your density helps you choose the right products and right styles for your hair . It helps you have a realistic expectation when it comes to the outcomes of your styles and will also guide you on the influencers you seek styling inspiration from.

Hair Care

When it comes to caring for your unique density ,you will still need to factor in your other hair characteristics.

Dense Hair

Go for heavier/creamier products to help in styling and proper product saturation( Creamy leave ins, creamy stylers and butters).

To ease styling and handing you can choose to strech your hair. If you are afraid of heat then try heatless streching methods like banding and threading.

To avoid frustration work in sections in all your hair relations be it detangling, shampooing, prepooing or moisturizing.

Protective styles like cornrows ,braids and twists can be great but may take forever to install and undo so you can instead alternate between low manipulation styles(buns, puffs)and wearing your hair out.

Sparse Hair

Go for lightweight products to avoid weighing your hair down, the last thing you want is limp, lifeless hair.

Invest in moisturizing and oiling of your scalp especially if you have a dry scalp, since the scalp is more visible moisture loss may be greater for sparse hair.

When it comes to styling choose between definition and volume.
If you want twist outs with volume and lift: go in with a fro comb, clip your roots or really fluff out your outs.

Definition vs volume

To achieve such a style, which had some good definition(forgive the quality )- I had to do extra tiny twist, which I began twisting a little further from the roots to avoid a scalpy situation and to give an illusion of a dense base.
I allowed them to dry and shrink before undoing ( I find that when they shrink they give a slight illusion of volume)


In this picture I didn’t intentionally chase definition instead I wanted an almost fro look so, I went for larger twists and ensured I really fluffed out the outs( I may also have lifted the hair with a comb)

Factors that will contribute to decrease in hair density

  • Tension from heavy and tight hairstyles ,which leads to Traction Alopecia
  • Improper detangling and combing
  • Illness and medication – It is said that skin and hair are mirrors of the internal body. Serious shedding could be an indication of some underling condition or the effect of some form of medication or treatment.
  • Chemical treatments, improper application could permanently kill off your hair follicles.
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Heat styling has the potential of weakening your hair and damaging your follicles.
  • Hormonal changes

If you are struggling with a receding hairline, thinning hair and you want to increase your density then consider this two resources;
How to stimulate hair growth
Proper protective styling series

Kindly share this post with your friends and family and don’t forget to subscribe. Thaaaaaaank you!!!!!

Mwangi Kanyua

Mwangi Kanyua

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About Me

I am Mwangi Kanyuah a beauty enthusiast and natural hair blogger based in Nairobi ,Kenya. I  believe in safe beauty practices that seek to embrace ,celebrate and enhance who we are .

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