There are many different hair types out there, but it can be hard to mistake one for coarse hair, which can occur in all densities of hair, curly, wavy, or straight. Coarse hair tends to be much thicker than other hair types and can be a bit more challenging to style and manage.
Meet the Experts
Samantha Denis, licensed hairstylist and founder of Allyoos hair-care
Penny James, New York City trichologist and hairstylist
Teresa Romero, Sam Villa Artistic Director and Artistic and Education Director for Jose Luis Salon
There are plenty of reasons why someone might have coarse hair, and the main one has to do with genetics. “A lot of us are genetically predisposed to our hair texture, so if your mom and the majority of the people in your family have coarse hair, it is likely that you will have coarse hair, too,” explains Samantha Denis, licensed hairstylist and founder of Allyoos hair-care. “If you didn’t always have coarse hair and do now, it could be due to an underlying thyroid condition, other hormonal imbalances, or pregnancy.”
Benefits of having coarse hair
While coarse hair might sound like a negative, there are actually tons of benefits that come along with having it. Here’s a look at some of the perks of coarse hair.
One of the most common complaints about hair is that it’s too thin or too fine. But a benefit of having coarse hair is that people with this hair texture usually seem to have a lot of hair, notes Denis. “Unlike silky fine hair, coarser hair types will hold a style way better and for way longer,” she says. “For example, a roller or curling iron set on someone with fine hair will last a few hours. For coarser hair, this shape will hold for a few days.”
Less prone to breakage
Coarse hair is super resilient and not as prone to breakage as finer hair textures, according to Denis. “When it comes to styling, coarse hair is pretty epic too—it stands up to heat-styling, soaks up product without getting weighed down, and holds a style and shape for longer.”
Fewer wash days
Not washing your hair daily actually helps bolster its health because it allows the scalp’s natural oils to coat the hair and keep it protected. Washing too often strips the hair of these natural oils. “People with coarser hair textures usually don’t have to wash their hair as often as those with finer textures, which can mean a more balanced scalp and healthier hair strands since there is less stripping with fewer wash days,” says Denis.
Great for updos
One of the positive sides to having coarse hair is that it is wonderfully full, notes New York City trichologist and hairstylist Penny James. “I love to create up-dos with a coarse texture; creating shapes within the hair is stunning,” she says.
Drawbacks to coarse hair
Of course, there are negatives to every hair type, and coarse hair is no exception. According to Denis, it can be more time-consuming to wash and style coarse hair. “Wash day may be a bit more of a project for people with coarse hair than with finer, thinner hair types because it takes coarse hair longer to heat-style and longer to air-dry,” she says. “Since coarse hair can be really good at soaking it all in, it takes more shampoo, more conditioner, and more styling products to do the trick.”
Tips for managing, styling, and caring for coarse hair
If you have coarse hair, chances are, you’re probably on the hunt for styling and managing tips. We reached out to hairstylists to share their expert tricks of the trade for styling coarse hair.
Use a hair mask once a week.
Hair masks can be useful for many hair types, especially for hair that is dry or damaged. Coarse hair is especially prone to damage, so Denis recommends hair-masking once a week with a product that contains clean ingredients and zero silicones.
“The reason is that this hair type needs a pretty generous product application. But if you’re slathering on harsh chemicals and silicones, you’re only going to weigh it down and coat the hair shaft,” she explains. “This will block moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and eventually lead to dry hair.”
Once a week, condition your hair with an intensive mask. Use natural ingredients like olive oil or coconut oil. Apply to wet hair and allow it to soak in for 20 minutes before washing with a mild shampoo.
Don’t fight the texture—embrace it.
Denis recommends that individuals with coarser hair types should try to wear their hair on the longer side. “If you have fine hair and try to wear it long, it’s stringy. But if you have coarse hair and try to wear it short, it’s puffy,” she says. “Keeping coarse hair on the long side (at least longer than your shoulders) will help give it a bit more weight and look less puffy and unruly.”
And with longer hair, you can experiment with braids and ponytails and other fun updos.
Apply hairstyling products with clean ingredients.
When it comes to choosing hair care products, Denis suggests always opting for clean ingredients. “Shampoos for coarse hair should not have sulfates, conditioners for coarse hair should not have silicones, and hair oils and styling creams should not have silicones or other harsh chemicals,” she says. “This hair type calls for a heavy product application, so you want to make sure you’re really using the right products—ones that nourish, treat, soak, and douse strands in clean, highly plant-packed, real ingredients.”
Just make sure to rinse thoroughly after shampooing and conditioning. Residue left behind can lead to an itchy, flaky scalp. Keep water warm, but not hot, to avoid dry, frizzy hair.
Always apply heat protectant.
One of the simplest ways to keep your hair healthy, no matter your hair type, is to apply a heat protectant product before using a hot tool to style your hair, suggests Teresa Romero, Sam Villa Artistic Director and Artistic and Education Director for Jose Luis Salon. She also recommends only using heat-styling tools that offer temperature-setting control features so that you can make sure you’re not using anything too hot on your strands.