Tips for Managing Coarse Hair

Let me make this clear:


Despite what you might have heard, coarse hair doesn’t mean that your hair is hard to manage.

In fact, “coarse hair” is really just a way of describing hair strands that are thicker and wider than most other hair types.

These thicker strands when managed properly can hold a curl or style well, and look healthy, thick, and strong.

The key, as with most types of hair, is knowing:

  • How to care for your hair
  • What types of products to use?
  • What to avoid

In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into some of the hair care tricks that work especially well for helping your coarse hair look its very best.

How do you know if you have coarse hair?
Many people are genetically predisposed to have coarse hair. Coarse hair is simply a natural texture that many ethnicities share, and lots of people love having it. When it comes to hair, stylists and dermatologists typically define coarse hair as having a thicker circumference than other hair types. It doesn’t mean that your hair is rough textured or hard to manage. When you take a strand of coarse hair and roll it between your fingers, you can feel its thickness. It typically feels and looks wider than a piece of sewing thread. With fine hair, the strand is much thinner and harder to feel between your fingers.

If your hair wasn’t always naturally coarse, there are some factors that can cause the texture of your hair to become coarser.

Coarse hair can be a side effect of:
  • Prescription drugs, such as steroids and hair growth medications like Minoxidil.
  • A hormone imbalance.
  • Some thyroid conditions.
How is coarse hair different than thick hair?

There’s often a lot of confusion around what’s considered to be “coarse” hair and what’s considered to be “thick” hair.

Hair that’s thick refers to the density of hair follicles on your scalp. In other words, if you have thick hair, you have more hair follicles on your scalp, which means you have more hair on your head than some other people.

Coarse hair, on the other hand, means that the individual hair shaft has a wider and larger circumference and feels more substantial between your fingers.

The texture and density of your hair are two different things. Everyone has some combination of the two. Understanding what type of hair texture and density you have can help you determine the best way to manage and care for your hair.

Hair care tips for coarse hair.
Knowing how to care for your coarse hair may make it easier to manage and style. The right types of treatments may also help add body and shine to your thick strands. Here, according to hair care experts, are eight ways to boost the health and manageability of your coarse hair

  1. Use conditioning creams
    Conditioning creams and serums can help your hair shaft lay flat, restoring its natural shape. In addition, many frizz-taming conditioning creams can protect coarse hair from showing signs of damage by infusing the hair with silicone and proteins. Serums can add gloss and weight to unruly coarse hair that doesn’t want to stay put. Try serums that contain lightweight silicones that may help smooth, condition, and add shine to coarse hair. Or a leave-in serum that helps control frizz and enhance shine with a variety of plant oils and vitamins.
  2. Avoid alcohol-based hair products
    Alcohol is a core ingredient in many hair products, especially hair sprays and gels. Although these products can temporarily tame your mane, they can also strip your hair of moisture. Coarse hair can dry out easily, making it prone to damage. Try to opt for alcohol-free or low-alcohol formulas for your styling products when possible.
Two alcohol-free options that may work well, include:
Try a lightweight, alcohol-free hairspray that locks out humidity to fight frizz.
  • Try an alcohol-free spray with botanical extracts that may be worth the higher price point if you’re looking for a styling product that also adds shine to your coarse hair
3. Sleep on a silk pillowcase

Although there isn’t any research to support the claim, many beauty experts recommend sleeping on a silk pillowcase to protect your hair from:

  • snarls
  • tangles
  • damage

Silk pillowcases provide a frictionless surface that tends to be gentler on both your hair and skin than cotton varieties.

They also absorb less moisture, which means they may help your hair to retain its natural oil and shine.

If you decide to buy a silk pillowcase, be sure to get one that’s pure silk and not advertised as “silk-like,” which means it could be made of inferior materials.

4. Limit heat styling

Overusing heat styling tools can rob your hair of moisture, making it:

  • drier
  • frizzier
  • less manageable

Keep your heat styling routine to a minimum if you have coarse hair. If you blow dry your hair, one study suggests that keeping the blow dryer about 6 inches away from your hair may help prevent damage.

It’s also important to keep the dyer moving and not focused on one spot.

5. Try deep conditioning masks

Deep conditioning hair masks are a great way to nourish, moisturize, and soften coarse hair. You can try making your own DIY hair masks using natural ingredients like:

If you’ve tried a hair mask that’s especially helpful for your hair, you can maximize the benefits by using it overnight.

You may also want to try Essence of Nature "Hot Oil Treatment" that contain:

  • avocado oil
  • jojoba oil
  • coconut oil

These plant oils can help protect and moisturize your hair, while reducing frizz and dryness. You can use a hair mask or hot oil treatment on your hair once a week. If your hair is very dry, you may want to use the treatment twice a week.

6. Take your vitamins

While the right products and treatments can help your hair on the outside, what you put into your body can affect the health and vitality of your hair from the inside.

The vitamins and minerals that are especially important for healthy hair include:

The best way to increase your intake of these vitamins is to get them from the foods that you eat. If you’re finding it difficult to get enough of these nutrients through your food, you may want to consider adding them as supplements. Supplements can help to make up for any deficiencies in your diet.

However, talk to a healthcare provider first before taking any supplements

7. Get regular trims

Trimming your hair every 8-10 weeks is a good rule of thumb for every hair type. Regular trims help get rid of split ends and hair that’s been damaged from:

  • blow drying
  • heat styling tools
  • coloring
  • other treatments

Scheduling a hair appointment every couple of months may help. Working with a hair stylist can help ensure your hair maintains its shape and style without being weighed down by damaged ends and prone to snarls.

  1. Choose the right brush
    Use a flat or round brush that has ample space between the bristles. If you have coarse hair, brush it when it’s wet. This may help minimize frizz, flyaways, and tangles as your hair dries. Also, avoid over-brushing your hair. A brush that may work well is the Bsisme Hair Boar Bristle Brush. It helps to spread your hair’s natural oil from the scalp to the ends of your hair, while also removing excess oil.

Bottom line:
Naturally coarse hair has strands that are thicker and wider in circumference than other hair types. It’s often confused with thick hair, which refers to the density of hair follicles you have on your head. If treated and managed properly, coarse hair can hold a style well. It can also appear to have a lot of body and volume. But, as with other hair types, if it’s exposed to too much heat and styling, as well as too many harsh treatments, it can become dry, brittle, frizzy, and prone to breakage. As with other hair types, it’s important to use products and ingredients that are well suited to helping course hair stay nourished and well-conditioned.

Lee Y, et al. (2011). Hair shaft damage from heat and drying time of hair dryer. DOI:
Taking care of your hair. (n.d.).
Tips for healthy hair. (n.d.).
Dias MFRG. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. DOI:  
Hessefort Y, et al. (2008). True porosity measurement of hair: A new way to study hair damage mechanisms.
Sinclair RD. (2007). Healthy hair: What is it? DOI:
Written by Kathryn Watsonon October 30, 2019
Photo Credit: Smart Araromi

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