Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Know you Hair Series - Part 3
Now that you know your curl type and hair porosity, let us delve deeper into hair width and density which contribute to your hair volume and are sometimes referred to as thickness. This is one other thing that differentiates your hair from that of your favourite natural hair YouTuber and will determine how products will work for you. Hair width and density are two different things but both relate to the thickness and volume of your Afro. Let us start off by defining both of them. Hair width refers to the diameter of an individual strand of hair and hair density is determined by the number of hair strands packed on to a particular area of your head. Both these traits like the ones we looked at before are genetically determined but may be affected by certain factors on your natural hair journey.
You could estimate your hair width by holding up a strand of your hair to the light. If it is thick and easily visible then it can be classified as coarse hair due to its relatively greater width. If it is barely visible and thin then it can be classified as fine hair. Coarse hair is stronger and can withstand manipulation better without being prone to breakage. It is therefore easier to maintain length as the thicker strands are harder to break. It would also require increased amounts of products to completely coat it but we will get into product choice in the next article. Fine hair will be more fragile because of how thin the hair strands are. It requires more care in handling as it will be prone to breakage especially when overly manipulated. Color treatments and heat damage can affect hair width making it finer than it was before.
Hair width refers to the thickness of each strand
hair density refers to the number of strands of hair in a given area
Hair density is hard to estimate accurately unless you individually count the number of strands on a square inch patch of your head and compare to the known average of 2 200 hairs per sq inch. An easier way to figure out your density is to check how well your scalp is visible when your hair is dry and laying in its natural state. If it is easily visible then you are probably on the lower spectrum of density and the harder it is to see your scalp, the higher your hair density is. This is what people actually usually refer to as hair thickness. Things such as increased shedding can lead to reduced hair density. Treatments such as relaxers change the texture of your hair so it may seem to have reduced density but really it is just a reduction in volume as your kinks and curls are straightened out. Which is also why hair seems thinner when it is wet than when it is dry.
Both these factors contribute to the overall look of your hair and how it responds to products and treatments. You could have thin hair with high density or thick hair with medium density and still both afros could be defined as thick. They however would react differently to products and manipulation. So I ask again, how thick is your hair?
Join us in the conclusion of the know your hair series Part 4 as we put together all the lessons we have learnt and use them to identify the best product choices based on your unique hair texture.