If you are thinking of skipping this article because you think you know what your natural hair texture is, you might be in for a surprise.
Hair texture is about the diameter or thickness of each hair strand and it is not about how the hair feels per se. Irrespective of whether the hair type is straight, wavy, curly or kinky, the texture can be fine, medium or thick. Therefore, don’t get hair texture mixed up with hair type, which is predominantly determined by your racial background and/or curl pattern. Hair texture is classified into three categories; fine, medium and thick (also referred to as coarse).
Fine hair texture is narrow in diameter, lacks volume and it’s almost transparent when held up to a light. It is fragile since it is made up of fewer number of protein fibres. Fine hair is more susceptible to dryness, damage and breakage. Because of this disadvantage, it can be quiet difficult to retain length, although not impossible. It also doesn’t hold rollers/rod set curls well and products, especially heavy ones, can easily weigh it down.
Medium hair, the most common hair texture, is neither thin nor thick. It has adequate amount of protein fibres and it less prone to breakage and damage than fine hair. It is more flexible than thick hair, thus making it easier to work with when it comes to styling.
Thick/coarse hair texture is wide in diameter, but less flexible than medium hair. Due to its high number of protein fibres, it is the strongest out of the 3 hair textures. As a result, it is naturally not vulnerable to damage or breakage and it capacity to retaining length is higher. In addition, it holds set curls well, but it is not that flexible to work with. It also takes longer to air dry.
The hair texture test
To accurately find out your hair texture, you would have to perform a strand test following these steps:
- Wash your hair with clarifying-shampoo to remove product build-up.
- Before you apply a conditioner or a styling product to your hair, pull a strand of hair from four areas of your head: the top (2 inch away from forehead area), back, left and right sides (above the ears).
- Place the strands on a small plate and keep in area where there is no breeze coming through. You don’t want wind blowing away the strands.
- You can now proceed to applying a conditioner or styling products to your full hair.
- After 30-45 minutes have passed, get a rim of regular sewing thread. Cut 3-6 inches of thread.
- Now take the four strands off the plate, tape it to the paper as well and compare each strand against the thread. If you have curly or kinky hair, use adhesive tape to stick both the ends of the strands to slightly straighten it up.
Interpreting the results
If 3 out of the 4 strands are narrower than the thread, you have fine texture. If they are the same width as the thread, then the texture is medium. If they are thicker than the thread, you have thick/coarse texture. Where the strands fall across two textures; from example 2 are fine, and the other 2 are medium, your hair texture can be described as fine-to-medium.
Food for thought
Hair texture differs from one person to the next and can vary in separate sections of the same head. For instance, it is common to have thick texture on the front/top of your head and medium texture at the sides. Contrary to myth, those with fine hair usually have large number of hair strands than those with thick hair.