Hair density and hair thickness are never the same things. They are two terms very often confused and misused. A lot of people would look and see curlies with big hair and automatically think that all curly curls have lots of hair. That’s the good thing about being curly or having a fro. Your hair looks a lot bigger due to your curl pattern and coarseness of your strands. However, just because most naturals have big hair doesn’t mean they have high density hair. The thickness of your strands and the density of your hair is what really determines how big and voluminous your hair will look without any finessing.
What is Hair Density?
Hair density refers to the amount of hair strands one has on his or head per square inch. Just in case you were wondering, the average person has approximately 2200 hair strands per square inch on their head. Hair density may be classified into 3 groups. Sparse or low density, medium density and high density.
How to test Hair Density
It is very simple. You can tell your density by simply looking or feeling for your strands. Do not start counting your strands to see if you have more than the average strands per square inch. Trust me you will be counting for a long time.
One common way to check your density is by doing the ponytail test. For this test you will need to put your hair in a ponytail and then measure the circumference of your ponytail. If the circumference of your ponytail is less than two inches then you have low density hair. It is medium density if you measure 2-3 inches and high density if the circumference measures 4 or more inches.
The scalp test is a visual test. This means it is based on observation.
- Get a camera or stand in front of a mirror without parting your hair
- Look at the hair and scalp, if you can see through your hair to the scalp without even parting it, you have low density.
- If only a few parts of your scalp are visible then you have the medium-density and if you can’t see the scalp, you have high-density hair.
For most curlies this is not really effective. However, when you style your hair you might be able to tell if your hair is low density, medium or high density. For example braids or twists on a low density hair looks very sparse exposing more scalp and vice versa for high density hair.
What is Hair Thickness
Hair thickness refers to the width of individual strands on your head. You can have either fine strands, medium strands or thick strands. It is also very common to have a mixture like myself.
One way to test the thickness of your hair strands is by feeling. Take a strand of hair and rob it between your fingers. If you feel almost nothing between your fingers, your hair may be on the fine side. If you strongly feel the presence of something robbing against your fingers then you wide and thick strands. Medium thickness will be be a mixture of both.
A second test for testing hair thickness is the thread strand. Take a piece of thread and tape it to a white sheet of paper. This is where you will be doing your comparisons. Put the thread on the paper and tape it into place. After you have done this, place a single strand of your hair next to the thread and compare their widths. If your hair is thinner than the thread, then you have fine hair. If they are almost the same, you possibly have medium hair and if it is wider than the thread, you have thick strands.
Fine hair strands are very vulnerable and prone to ripping and breaking easily. Be gentle with your hair if you have fine strands to avoid snapping and ripping. Do not over-manipulate your hair because your strands wouldn’t be able to take it and avoid or reduce using detangling tools. Finger detangling works just fine if you have fine strands. Also, avoid putting too much weight on your strands. Protective styles are good, but don’t pack heavy hair on your strands.
In short less is more. Do less to your hair and it will thrive.
Medium density strands fall just in between. It is neither too fine and thin, neither is it thick. Therefore, reduce over-manipulation as well. This hair type is stronger than thin hair however, if constantly mishandled, it will break apart.
Thick hair strands are stronger and more resilient than the other types of hair mentioned above. In any case, thick hair is not immune to damage or breakage. It can take detangling and coloring and manipulation more than the other strands but do not exaggerate.
I hope this post was helpful in understanding the difference between hair density and hair thickness.