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Hair Thickness: How to test and care for Thick Hair

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Heeey there 🤗 welcome to another post in the hair type series, I’m glad you have taken the time to join me once again. Today we focus on hair thickness.

Hair Thickness

Thickness in this case should not be confused with volume(which is really density). Mostly people refer to voluminous hair/dense hair as thick hair.( I won’t say it’s wrong, but just know that’s not what we are referring to here)

So what is hair thickness?

Hair Thickness is the size or width(the measurement or extend of something from side to side) of a single hair strand.

hair thickness

Our focus is individual hair strands and not how the hair looks collectively. The focus in on aspects like diameter and circumference of individual hair strands.

An individual hair strand can either be thin/fine , of medium thickness or thick.

Most people are considered to have individual hair strands of medium thickness.

African hair is considered to be more on the thick side since our hairs possess all three hair layers (cuticle,cortex, medulla)
( I do however think that thickness is not a one fits all kind of thing,so it’s okay if you are medium or fine – there’s really no right or wrong thickness)

How to test for hair thickness

To identify where your hair lies there are two tests you can carry out ;

  • Thread test
  • Feel test

Thread test

Take your regular sewing thread ,cut a reasonable length (you have the option of using it as it is or split the individual thread into two).
Take individual hair strands from different sections (front ,back ,side ,crown ) and compare them to the thread.

  • If the hair is of a similar size to the thread ,it is more on the thick side.
  • If the hair strand is about half the size of the thread , it’s of medium thickness.
  • If the hair strand is less than half or less visible in comparison to the thread ,it’s on the fine side.

Thread test with full thread
My strand in comparison to a full thread.
Thread test with half a thread
Splitting the thread in half was not an easy task but my strands still don’t come close
Thread test
The third one is my beard hair🙄,clearly my scalp hair did not get the memo 😅

Feel Test

For this test – slide your fingertips on a single hair strand from roots to ends, do this for individual hair strands in different sections of the head.

You can also pluck hair strands from different sections and rub individual hair strands between your fingers.

  • If it’s hard to feel an individual hair strand with your finger tips your hair strands are fine.
  • If it’s easy to feel the hair strand as you slide your fingertips your hair is more on the thick side.
  • If it’s neither hard nor easy to feel that you are sliding on something your hair strands are of medium thickness.

( It’s okay if different sections of your scalp have different thicknesses)

Let’s look into the different categories;

Thick Hair

Thick hair is also referred to as coarse hair(this has nothing to do with feel ,but it can feel coarse). Coarse simply means hair possess all three layers.

Thick hair has the widest diameter and hence the longest circumference. It’s large structure gives it a low surface area to volume ratio meaning substances have a hard time being absorbed deep into the hair strands.

Thick hair will therefore have a hard time uptalking water/moisture especially when low porosity.

Sebum or even product will have a hard time coating the strands fully especially with dense curly/coily hair, this gives hair a dull look ,contributes to dryness and also contributes to frizz.
The ends that are the furthest from the scalp may suffer the most and may be extra dry and more susceptible to damage.

(Sebum – natural sealant produced by the scalp to coat strands to help the cuticles lay flat to prevent moisture loss and also to give hair a natural shine)

Thick hair may be resistant/ resilient but it’s also susceptible to damage. Without sebum coverage and an inability to properly uptake water comes dryness ,raised cuticles which can contribute to tangles, matted hair and frizzy hair.

( frizz- hair that does not align with the surrounding hairs but stand up or curls independently creating a fuzzy or irregular texture)

Caring for Thick Hair

Replenishing and protecting moisture content of hair will go along way in ensuring flexibility and elasticity that makes hair easier to handle.

The best time to introduce moisture into your hair is during washday.


*Ensure you deep condition your hair during washday, make use of some form of heat to ensure penetration of moisture deep into your hair strands. ( if you can deep condition weekly the better )

*End your washday by moisturizing your hair.
Start with a damp base then make use of one of the product layering techniques- LOC ,LCO ,LC .
L- leave in/liquid/water
O – Oil
C – cream /butter

Ensure you work in sections make use of a proper product application method. You want to ensure proper product distribution throughout the hair.

product application methods
Some Product application methods.

The layering techniques will help you actually lock in moisture since without proper sealing hair will lose its moisture.
The best sealants are either heavy oils or butters, (They will act like sebum helping cuticles lay flat and protecting moisture content)

*You can also combine moisturizing and styling. It is said that thick hair holds styles the best so you can use this to your advantage to help your hair stay moisturized longer.

Proper washday practices

  • Ensure you prep your hair by detangling to avoid tangles.
  • Prepoo with a penetrative oil(this helps further protect moisture content and limits lipids loss ).
  • Avoid harsh cleansers that strip hair of its moisture content and lipids content.
  • Don’t rough handle your hair as you shampoo or as you dry your hair. Avoid drying your hair with a towel instead make use of an old t-shirt.
  • Work in sections as you detangle ,Prepoo,shampoo ,deep condition and moisturize your hair. This will make wash day more of a walk in the park.
  • Don’t run your fingers through your hair once your done with product application(especially for wash and gos),let it dry up before you start running your fingers through it to avoid frizz.

Read more in the WASHDAY category.

Protecting moisture content

  • Avoid extended exposure to the sun
  • Sleep in a satin bonnet or sleep on a satin pillow case
  • Avoid heat styling And when you do make use of heat protectants
  • Avoid alcohol based products
  • Protective styling

More on protective styling

Let’s meet in the next post to discuss fine hair more in-depth. Thaaaaaaank you for joining me🤗, remember to subscribe and share this post with friends and family

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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