The Difference Between Fine & Coarse Curly Hair—Because It Matters!

If you know your curl pattern, but you’re still missing the mark when it comes to taking care of and styling your curls, you may not understand a crucial component of your hair texture: your hair type.
The truth is, understanding your hair type goes far beyond just the shape of your curls. The disconnect may lie in the fact that you’re treating your fine hair like it’s coarse—or, on the flip side, your coarse hair like it’s fine.

If you understand what type of hair you have, it can help guide you to discover the most effective hair products and styling habits to achieve your best curls yet. Ahead, learn more about how to know if your hair is fine or coarse, as well as which products work best for your hair type.

Why is it important to know your hair type?

In case you weren’t aware, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for taking care of curly hair. The truth is, all curly hair textures are different, and even if you have the same shaped curls as someone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same hair type.

Before we dive into the textures of hair, let us brief you on the hair types. Curly hair is typically divided into three categories: type 2, type 3, and type 4. Type 2 strands are considered wavy and have an S-shape to the curl. Type 3 curls range from loose to tight springy curls that are shaped like corkscrews. And finally, type 4 coils are very tight and zig-zag shaped.

In addition to knowing your hair type, understanding if your hair is fine or coarse can completely change the way you style your hair. A thick, rich cream, like the Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Styling Pudding, that’s good for a coarse curly girl can actually cause damage if you have fine strands and vice versa.

One way to discover your hair texture is to take a single strand of hair and rub it between your fingers. If you can barely feel the strand between your fingers, you have fine hair. If you can feel the strand of hair between your fingers and it feels thick like a string of thread, you’re dealing with coarse hair. Discovering your own hair type will not only help you to pick the best products to use, but it will also help you to properly care for and style your hair as well. Below we dive deeper into the two hair types and which methods and techniques are best for each.

What is fine, curly hair?

Fine hair texture is the most delicate and fragile hair type. Typically, type 2 waves and type 3 curls fall into this category. However, you can find fine hair across a wide variety of curl types. If you find that your hair is both fine and curly, it can be quite the challenge to perfect your curls. Each strand of fine hair is very thin, and the strand’s circumference is small and narrow.

Other characteristics of fine curly hair are that it dries quickly, is prone to getting oily, and doesn’t hold styles for long periods of time. When choosing products for fine hair, it’s important to look for ingredients and formulas that are lightweight and won’t weigh the hair down. Using products that are too heavy can make it difficult for your curls to be springy and bouncy once styled.

It is also important to understand the difference between fine and thin hair. No, the two are not synonymous. Fineness refers to the strand’s width, whereas thinness speaks to the hair density, or lack thereof. So yes, it is possible to have both fine and thick hair.

When it comes to fine curly hair, you may find that it’s a challenge to get your curls to pop. Fine hair tends to be limp and lifeless if not styled properly. Once you’ve nailed down your lightweight and volume-boosting products, try adding styling techniques like plopping your curls or diffusing your hair to give your curls extra oomph. These two techniques lift strands at the root and help to define and shape curls before they fall flat.

What are the best products for fine curly hair?

In short, fine hair works best with products that are lightweight and offer a bit of hold. Leave the heavy creams for your coarse-haired friends. Here are a few of our top picks for styling fine curly hair.

Cactus Rose Water Lightweight Conditioner: Yes, your fine hair still needs conditioner. But instead of loading on a rich cream, opt for this lightweight formula, infused with cactus rose water, that helps to boost volume and body. Say bye-bye to those limp curls.

Pracaxi Nectar Style & Hold Foam: Set any style with this lightweight foam to keep frizz at bay and add softness and shine to your strands. Thanks to the blend of pracaxi oil, acai extract, and shea butter, your hair will stay hydrated and nourished without being weighed down.

Monoi Intense Repair Inner Strength System: Although this strengthening system works great on all hair types, we especially recommend it for fine hair. Apply this coconut and monoi oil treatment once a week, and you’ll notice stronger, more resilient curls in no time.

Monoi Ora Flexible Volume Spray: If limp hair is the bane of your existence, try spritzing on this volumizer. The blend of monoi oil and coconut water also helps to protect your strands against heat damage.

Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum: This silicone-free serum is another lightweight, strength-building product that won’t weigh down your fine curls. Apply a quarter-sized amount to your strands to help prevent damage and add sheen to your locks.

What is coarse curly hair?

Unlike fine hair, coarse hair texture is strong and wide in width. When comparing coarse and fine hair, coarse hair is the largest in circumference. In general, coarse hair tends to be very dry and prone to frizz. It also takes longer to dry than fine hair.

Typically, type 4 curls fall into the coarse category. The hair appears full and voluminous, and it’s easier to keep styles in place throughout the day. Coarse hair is also more tolerant of heat styling and dye jobs. When it comes to styling products, moisture is key. Because coarse hair is dry, it needs all the moisture it can get. (Think rich, buttery creams, oils, and serums.)

Women with coarse hair may feel like their wash days are like a part-time job, and that’s because this hair type can get easily tangled and knotty if not moisturized properly. Thankfully, we’ve got a few products that can make styling your curls and coils a whole lot easier.

What are the best products for coarse curly hair?

When it comes to coarse hair, moisture is the name of the game. It’s essential to incorporate hydrating products in every step of your routine. Here, we are sharing some of our best moisture-rich picks.

Wash Day Delight: While it is tempting to skip shampooing, cleansing your hair and scalp is an important part of a well-balanced hair care routine. This micellar shampoo is infused with aloe and quickly cleanses hair without stripping it of its natural oils. Plus, the pointed tip applicator makes it easy to reach the scalp to make product buildup a thing of the past.

Coco Crème Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Mask: Did we mention how important moisture is for coarse hair? This deep treatment mask locks moisture into your strands while softening them. It also works wonders in cold weather months.

Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil: The combination of castor oil and black seed oil not only hydrate parched strands, but also help to strengthen them, too.

Hair Milk Refresher Spray: If you’re limiting your wash days to avoid dry coils, spritz on this hair milk each morning and evening to give hair a healthy dose of moisture. The blend of sweet almond oil, apricot oil, agave, and pro-vitamin B5 helps keep hair soft and hydrated.

Mimosa Hair Honey: Slick down edges or apply all-over for a glistening twist-out that’s soft to the touch. This deliciously-scented shine pomade moisturizes, softens, and smooths curls.

Now that you know all about your hair texture, learn about wash and go tips for all curl types.

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