You’ve probably heard your own or another person’s natural hair referred to as “coarse”.
Girl my hair is so coarse I can’t comb through it!
Honey, her hair is so coarse and knotted it looks crazy.
Because I have coarse hair, it takes so long to style.
These statements all have different implications about coarse hair. The first use of coarse makes it seem like a texture that is difficult to comb, the second use implies coarse hair is unbecoming, and the third conveys that coarse hair is thick and dense, creating longer styling times. So does the term coarse, when used to refer to natural hair, mean one’s hair is thick, dense, kinky, dry, or something else?
What coarse DOES NOT mean
Coarse doesn’t mean your hair is dense. You can have a whole lot of hair, or not that much hair, and still have coarse hair.
Coarse doesn’t mean your hair is thick. You can have thin hair strands that are coarse, as well as thick hair strands that are coarse.
Coarse doesn’t mean your hair is kinky. You can have curly coarse hair, coily coarse hair, and kinky coarse hair.
Coarse doesn’t mean your hair is dry. You can have adequately moisturized hair that is still coarse.
What exactly does ‘coarse hair’ mean?
Let’s start with some fundamental background info: Green Beauty’s Complete Hair Typing System
For anyone who isn’t familiar with this hair typing system, Green Beauty takes into consideration curl pattern, texture, hair density, thickness, and porosity.
Curl pattern refers to the shape of your curl.
Texture refers to the looseness or tightness of the curl.
Density is the volume (high or low) of hair strands you have.
Thickness is the size of the hair strand.
And porosity is how well your strands hold onto water.
In Green Beauty’s system, coarseness is hair that feels dry and rough when you run your finger down the shaft. It is the opposite of strands that are smooth and soft. It should go without saying that tightly textured strands can feel smooth and soft and is not coarse by default.
Naturally coarse or just dry?
If you think your hair is naturally coarse, first make sure that it is actually not dry, and has a proper protein-moisture balance. Once that’s settled, recognize that there is nothing wrong with your coarse hair! Just make sure you keep a healthy scalp to allow an environment where your natural sebum can travel down your hair strands to provide natural moisture.
What do you define as coarse hair? Is your hair naturally coarse?