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Coarse Hair: Care Tips and Treatment

Constantly contending with flyaways and split ends?


Does it feel like you’re constantly dealing with flyaways and split ends? Or is your hair rough to the touch, no matter how much you condition it? If so, you might have coarse hair. Though a completely normal hair type and nothing to be alarmed by, coarse hair requires a bit more care and treatment. Below are maintenance and styling tips for coarse hair, from styling experts. 

What is coarse hair?

It’s a common misconception that coarse hair is “normal” hair that’s dry or damaged, making it more difficult to manage. In fact, coarse hair is its own hair type, characterized by thick strands that are denser and slightly rougher than other hair types. One of the primary reasons for this misconception is the fact that coarse hair can be more resistant to styling and may require specialized hair products to manage and maintain. With the right care, though, coarse hair can yield healthy, bouncy tresses. Read on for a hair care routine that keeps coarse hair looking and feeling fabulous. 

What causes coarse hair?

There are several reasons you might have coarse hair, including genetics, age, and hair care habits. Hair texture is largely determined by the shape and size of the hair shaft, which is itself influenced by genetics. This means that any hair type can be coarse, although people with curly and kinky hair tend to have coarse hair more often. As with anything, coarse hair has its blessings and challenges. Among the latter is the fact that it typically has more volume and dimension than fine hair. If you struggle to manage your coarse hair, it could have more to do with the styling tools you use than the hair itself. 

Age also plays a role in hair texture. As we age, our hair becomes more brittle and tends to lose its natural oils, which makes it feel rougher. Damage from chemical treatments and heat styling can speed this up. Finally, in rarer circumstances, coarse hair may be a side effect of a thyroid condition, hormone imbalance, or certain prescription drugs. 

How do you care for coarse hair?

Thanks to raised cuticles that tend to latch onto the surrounding environment, many people with coarse hair struggle with frizz and flyaways. Fixing this typically requires enhanced hydration. So, let’s dive i to all the ways you can care for your coarse hair.

Use the right hair care products.

The first step to managing coarse hair is ensuring that you’re using the right products. Conditioning serums and creams should be your best friend. These products help the hair shaft lay flat, which can cut down on frizz. Plus, many conditioning products contain proteins and hydrating oils that add shine and help prevent breakage

You’ll want to avoid hair products that contain alcohol, which is a staple in styling products like hair spray. It’s intensely drying, and since coarse hair tends to need MORE hydration, not less, using an alcohol-based product will dry it out further and exacerbate its rough texture and frizziness. Luckily, more and more brands are opting for alcohol-free formulations of late. Look for products rich in natural butters and oils, like avocado oil and jojoba oil. These ingredients are naturally hydrating and will help your thirsty hair retain moisture. Leave-in conditioner, heat protectant, and products with natural ingredients are also your friends. These days, combating dryness has never been easier.

Use a silk pillowcase.

Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helps to protect sensitive hairstyles and prevent overnight frizz – and for good reason. Silk creates substantially less friction than fabrics like cotton and jersey, thus helping to prevent tangles and knots. It’s also less moisture-absorbing and, therefore, more antimicrobial. You can also invest in a silk headwrap for drying your curls after you shower or protecting your natural hair. The same benefits apply. Just be sure your silk headwrap or pillowcase is made with real silk (versus being “silk-like”)  – this often means the product is made of inferior materials that don’t offer the same benefits. Making your hair look gorgeous is achieved more easily with a silk pillowcase, which protects each hair strand while you sleep.

Avoid heat.

The most effective way to protect your hair and keep it healthy and hydrated is by avoiding heat tools as much as possible. That’s because heat tools suck the moisture out of hair, which (especially for coarse hair) can make it frizzier and harder to manage. As any hairstylist will tell you, ditching the blow dryer in favor of air-drying your hair is preferable. (This is solid advice for all coarse hair types, whether you have thick hair, fine hair, or something in the middle.) 

Of course, that’s not possible for most of us, who need blowouts and curling irons to style our manes. The trick is to use these sparingly, versus daily; to use a protectant spray; and to avoid focusing the tool on one spot for too long. Treating your hair with deep conditioning masks after using heat tools is also a good idea – hair masks that contain coconut oil, honey, jojoba oil, olive oil, and aloe vera can be super hydrating and nourishing, especially if you leave them in overnight. A deep conditioning mask can help to reverse the damage done from using a heat too, and restore dry hair to a more moisturized state.

Maintain a healthy diet.

Your diet also plays a role in the texture of your hair, particularly your consumption of protein, which is an essential nutrient for hair health. Hair follicles are made of protein, and a lack of it can cause hair to become weak and brittle, leading to coarse hair. Foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, eggs, and dairy products, help to strengthen hair follicles and prevent breakage, which can improve the overall appearance and health of your hair over time.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also lead to coarse hair. Vitamin C, biotin, iron, and zinc, for example, are vital to hair health. Conversely, an excess of certain nutrients can also lead to coarse hair. Too much vitamin A, for instance, can cause hair to become brittle and break easily, leading to a coarse texture.

The best way to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins you need is to adhere to a healthy and balanced diet. Eat lots of dark, leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. If you’re concerned that you might be vitamin deficient or that your diet is the reason for your coarse hair texture, seek advice from your doctor or nutritionist. 

Practice good hair hygiene.

Another key to maintaining healthy locks when you have thick, coarse strands is to practice good hair hygiene. This means getting frequent trims and being mindful of how often you wash your hair

Getting a trim every two to three months will help reduce split ends and the appearance of frizz and flyaways. Shampooing less frequently will ensure your hair retains its natural oils and stays sufficiently hydrated. While shampooing is important for eliminating dirt, sweat, and grime, it strips the hair of these natural oils. It might take some experimenting to find the right routine, but experts generally recommend shampooing once every three to seven days if you have coarse hair. Any more than that and your hair might start overproducing oil to keep itself hydrated.

Spread those oils.

When it comes to hydration, there are a few tricks for maximizing the benefits of your hair’s natural oil production. Often, when we talk about oil on our skin, we refer to it as a bad thing. But oil actually helps lock in moisture that’s critical to healthy hair – particularly coarse hair – and skin.

Massaging your scalp at night, even just for a few minutes, can help stimulate oil production and evenly distribute it about your scalp (and it feels pretty good, too). Using a special type of brush called a boar bristle brush will evenly distribute your hair’s natural oil from your scalp to the ends of your hair while also effectively removing excess oil. It’s a hair care practice that doubles as self-care. Before you know it, your hair will be long and shiny, and you’ll be hooked on your newfound nighttime routine. 

Coarse Hair Champion

Many people view coarse hair as unruly or unmanageable thin hair, but that isn’t the case. It’s a completely different hair type that requires specific products and care. Embracing and maintaining your coarse hair will allow you to wear new hairstyles and carry yourself with confidence. Coarse hair is beautiful, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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