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Hair Care

Does Kinky Mean Coarse? Understanding Your Natural Hair Texture

August 04, 2017 6:45 PM

Cool Afro Coarse Kinky

All the hair typing and texture analysis in the natural hair community has created huge myths that circulate like wildfire. One of the biggest misconceptions is that afro-textured hair is always coarse. People often see afros, think they are “tough”, and then assume that they are all made up of coarse hair. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

What surprises people the most is when they learn that coarse hair has nothing to do with curl pattern. Using the terms "kinky hair" and "coarse hair" interchangeably is like comparing the color of a couch to the material it is made of.

Knowing the difference between "Kinky" and "coarse"  will help you along your natural hair journey, whether you are styling or detangling. So let us clear things up once and for all! :)


 

"Coarseness" is a measure of the thickness or width of the hair strand.


Hair is usually classified as fine (thin), medium, or coarse (thick). All hair types, whether straight, curly or coily, can fall within these three categories. And surprisingly, natural kinky hair is not any more likely to be coarse than natural straight hair! A woman can be born with course straight strands, and another with a fine, silky afro. Crazy, right?! Below we lay it out for you in more detail: 

 

Coarse 


This hair type has will look the most like thread when held up to the light. It is the strongest of the hair textures, and least susceptible to breakage or heat damage. 


Medium/Normal 


If you have medium hair your strands are of an average circumference--not thick like thread but also not so fine that they are delicate and see-through. Medium strands are relatively strong and elastic, although they require more careful care than their coarse counterpart.

Fine 

If you can barely see a strand of your hair when held up, or can't feel it between your fingers, you have fine hair. Regardless of whether your hair is straight or kinky, your fine strands will be the most delicate and susceptible to both heat and mechanical damage. So treat them with care!

 

"Kinky" describes the hair's coil pattern--not how it feels or behaves!

 

"Kinky" and "Coily" are simply visual adjectives much like "curly", "wavy", or "straight". "Kinky" refers to hair that is extremely tightly coiled, sometimes shrinking up to 80% when wet. Many naturalistas bond over the similar look of their hair and assume that anyone with coily tresses can share the same hair regimens and styling practices. That couldn't be further from the truth!


 

Look to strand thickness, not coil pattern, when determining your hair care

 

Just like women with straight hair, we coily girls need to custom-tailor our haircare to our strand thickness and hair density! If we get past all of the misconceptions, we'll be better off being part of Fine Hair Club or Coarse Hair Club rather than "kinky squad" or "team 4c". 

Whether your hair is coarse, fine, or somewhere in between actually has the highest impact on choosing products. Most products, specifically on the higher end, are custom made to take into a combination of factors including dryness, scalp oil amount, and of course thickness. Regardless of your race, your favorite hair guru's instagram, or whatever you read on a curl typing chart, products are there to treat your individual hair strands, not the way your hair looks from afar.

Stay away from products that advertise solely on the principle that they are designed for "natural hair," "kinky hair", or "4c hair" as that is most likely just marketing jargon. Not all coily heads are created equal!

In addition to choosing products, your hair thickness also plays a huge role in the brush or tool that you should use. If you have fine hair, avoid paddle brushes and round brushes, as they can cause breakage to your delicate strands. Consider finger-combing, wide tooth combs and soft boar bristle brushes to keep your hair healthy and intact. For coarse hair, you may need to up the heat on your blow dryer or curling wand to get the same results as your fine-haired sisters. Of course, always make sure to use heat protectant! In addition, lean towards a firmer brush that allows greater control of the strands, perhaps with nylon bristles to aid detangling.

 

Hopefully this helps clear up confusion about fine vs coarse vs kinky vs straight. Feel free to comment below with any questions or just to share your experiences ❤️

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