As a coily, Type 4 naturalista, I always thought that I automatically had coarse hair. Many times, the words kinky, coarse, and coily are used synonymously to mean “tough” or “bushy” hair, but this a huge misconception. Let’s clear the air shall we?
What is coarse hair?
Two type 4 naturalistas might have the exact same curl pattern, but very different hair widths or textures. One head of hair might hold a twist out for days, while the other falls limp within a few hours. Oftentimes, we are quick to think that we are simply using the “wrong product” or that our hair is “dry and unruly”, but it might all boil down to a difference in hair widths.
Hair strands can differ by the tightness of our curls and the widths of our strands. There are generally three types of hair widths: fine, medium, and coarse. Each is determined by the average circumference of one’s strands. Coarse hair is generally described as hair with the largest circumference. It has three distinct layers known as the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. All curl types can have coarse strands. Hair texture is determined by genetics just like your curl pattern is.
Is coarse hair the same as coily hair?
Based on our definitions above, no. Coily hair, as in Type 4 and afro-textured hair, can be coarse. This simply means that strands with a tight curl pattern can also have a wide circumference. Alternatively, wavy, Type 2 hair can be coarse, meaning that strands with a loose curl pattern can have a wide circumference.
Is coarse hair the same as thick hair?
No, the term “thick” is often used to refer to the density of one’s strands, meaning the number of hair follicles on one’s head. If you have lots of hair follicles, you might have a full head of hair with very fine strands. Alternatively, you might have very few follicles, but strands with a wide circumference, meaning that your scalp is not clearly visible. Coarse means a wider hair strand and fine means a smaller hair strand.
Phew! Now that all that jargon is out the way, why don’t we dive right into what oils work best for coarse hair.
What oils work best for coarse hair?
Coarse hair is lauded in the hair care community. Every product out there seems to claim to “add thickness” and “revive limp hair”. Healthy coarse hair is the strongest of all hair types. It can withstand a lot more heat, hold a style for longer, and can withstand a variety of chemical processes. Additionally, coarse hair is not as easily weighed down from products like fine hair, and so it can withstand slightly heavier oils. Owing to the sheer width of each strand, coarse hair tends to feel a lot drier, a lot quicker. Oils that penetrate the strand work to preserve the moisture within the hair shaft, and in so doing prevent breakage from dryness. Within the natural hair community, two oils are best known to be easily absorbed into the hair shaft: coconut oil and avocado oil.
This oil needs no introduction. Many naturalistas claim that it is the answer to all their hair problems! If you don’t believe me, check out all the hilarious memes on Instagram. In all seriousness though, coconut oil is high in vitamin E, vitamin K, and iron, which effectively eliminate dandruff while boosting hair growth. Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black hair, writes comprehensively on the benefits of coconut oil. “Coconut oil has a strong affinity for hair proteins not found [unlike] other hair oils and is able to penetrate wet hair fibers.” This in turn protects the hair from mechanical damage during washing.
Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, and D. An article by scientists at the Textile Research showed that avocado oil penetrates the hair shaft due to its straight chain glycerides. Science jargon aside, avocado oil is the bee's knees when it comes to coarse hair, as it effectively protects against moisture loss.
Read more: The Truth About Avocado and Wheat Germ Oil
- Heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
- Apply sparingly to the length of your dry hair and focus on the ends as these are the most delicate.
- Massage gently into your scalp for several minutes until fully absorbed. All curly hair types with fine hair can benefit from this method.
- Wear your plastic cap and leave on overnight.
Coarse hair is prone to dryness owing to the sheer width of the hair strands. That simply means that whenever you’re done with wash day, you must seal in the moisture with an oil.
- Use 2 teaspoons of avocado oil.
- Rub it in your palms to heat it up.
- Dab it along the length of your hair, focusing on the ends as these are the most delicate.
There’s no need to be heavy handed. This will leave you with a greasy mess! Of all hair types, type 4 naturalistas with coarse hair will benefit most from this technique, as their curl pattern is the most delicate and therefore prone to damage and breakage from excessive handling.
Do you have coarse hair? Have you used oils in your hair regimen? What’s your experience been?