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What Is Hair Density and How Can You Measure It?

With curly, natural hair, even the most moisturized, protective techniques can lead to dull and frizzy curls. Unfortunately, that is the nature of curly hair. When developing your natural hair routine, there can be a lot of trial and error in perfecting what products work best for you.
For many naturals, familiarizing yourself with your hair thickness, texture, porosity, and curl pattern can be a great foundation. But there is one metric we find constantly being overlooked: hair density. When you include hair density in your equation, you’ll really set your hair up for success. Read on to discover what hair density is, how to identify whether you have dense hair, and product recommendations for each type of hair density.

What Is Hair Density?

Unlike hair thickness (which measures individual strands of your hair), hair density looks at strands collectively as a group. It is based on the amount of strands per square inch on your scalp, or the measurement of how densely packed your hair follicles are. It’s important to know how dense your hair is, it’s porosity, and your curl pattern in order to determine what products will work best with your hair. Hair density impacts the volume and shape of your hair as well. It varies from person to person and can be quite different on natural, textured hair versus straight hair.

What Are The Types Of Hair Density?

There are three main types of hair density: low, medium, and high. Quite simply, low-density hair has fewer strands per square inch, high-density hair has a lot of strands per square inch, and medium-density hair is somewhere in between.

If you’re curious to see a visual, there are many hair density charts online that show imagery of what density looks like per hair type.

How Do You Know If Your Hair Is Dense?

It can be easy to confuse thick hair for high-density hair, but the two don’t always go hand in hand. Because density is determined by how close your hair strands are to each other, someone could have very fine, thin strands, but have high-density hair—meaning they have a lot of fine hair per square inch. Likewise, someone could have extremely thick hair, but low-density, with very few thick strands per square inch.

So even though your hair might appear thin or thick, it doesn’t always match up to the hair’s density level. Which begs the question: How do I figure out my hair density?

How Is Hair Density Measured?

There are a few at-home measuring methods to figure out your hair density. The first, and the easiest, is to measure the circumference of your ponytail. In order to do this, tie your hair back and measure the width of the tail. If your measurement is less than two inches, you have low-density hair. If it is between two to three inches, you have medium-density. And if it is more than four inches, you have high-density.

If you don’t want to tie your hair back or your hair is too short to do so, another way to check your density is to stare at your hair in the mirror. With your hair down, if you can easily see your scalp, you fall into the low-density category. If it’s harder to see your scalp, without touching your hair, you have either medium- or high-density hair.

If you have access to a hair stylist, they can also check your hair density for you.

How To Care For Your Hair Based On Its Density

Similar to curly hair textures and types, it’s important to note that hair density can differ throughout the scalp. One spot could have a higher hair density than another. If you’ve found this to be true after measuring your density, keep in mind that it’s totally normal. Just base your natural hair care products based on the majority of what you’re seeing—whether low, medium, or high.

How To Care For Low-Density Hair

For low-density hair, you will want to avoid heavy products that weigh your hair down. Heavy hair oils, creams, butters, and thick conditioners should be on your no-go list. Stay away from layering products as well, as this will decrease the appearance of your hair’s density. Instead, opt for lightweight, volumizing products, like Cactus Rose Water Lightweight Conditioner, that will create body and movement in your hair while boosting volume.

Additionally, you can also expand the look of your strands by picking or fluffing them out to enlarge their appearance.

How To Care For Medium-Density Hair

If you have medium-density hair, you can choose whether you’d like to add volume or decrease it. When adding, we recommend mousses, whereas to decrease, we suggest hair butters and masks. Try using the Monoi Repairing Leave-In Conditioner, an ultra lightweight conditioner to soften and fortify curls. Repairing hair masks like Monoi Repairing Travel-Size Hair Mask will replenish moisture and maintain natural curl and coil definition.

How To Care For High-Density Hair

Those with high-density hair looking to reduce the volume of their hair should focus on products with heavier holds—think gels, creams, and styling butters. These products are especially good for curly hair as they will help minimize puffiness and frizz. Personally, we love Hair Milk Curl Defining Butter, as the mask does wonders for restoring moisture, fighting frizz, and defining curls.

For those wanting to embrace the volume, we suggest Monoi Ora Flexible Volume Spray, as it creates lasting volume and body to curls. Given that hair breaks the most when wet, invest in a good anti-breakage spray to protect strands from breaking—keeping more strands on your head per square inch.

It’s good to keep in mind that curls are more densely packed in higher density scalps, making detangling sometimes a challenge. Investing in a good conditioner and styling agent, like Coco Creme Curl Shaping Cream Gel With Coconut Oil, can help manage your volume when carefully working through tangles. It’s formulated with coconut oil, coconut milk, mango butter, and Murumuru butter to hydrate curls.

Can You Increase Hair Density?

To be clear, there isn’t an ideal density type; it is more so an indication of how your hair will behave in response to certain products. Density in general is purely genetics, but there are a couple of ways to increase how dense your hair is. You can try scalp and hair treatments, scalp massages to encourage follicle growth, and a well-balanced diet filled with green vegetables and vitamins.

Now that you know how to measure hair density and your density type, read on to figure out The Best Curl-Defining Products for Natural Hair

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