Coarse Hair: The Ultimate Guide To Softening, Styling & Maintaining

Time to master the art of managing and maintaining your unique mane!
Fact-Checker: Samantha Ward
This article was last updated on: April 10, 2023
Coarse hair, with its unique texture and gorgeous volume, can be both a blessing and a challenge. You might find yourself asking how to manage your locks and keep them looking fabulous all the time. In this article, we're diving into all the haircare tips, tricks, and secrets you need to transform your tresses!
Table of Contents

What Causes Coarse Hair?

Before diving into the care routine, let’s unravel the mystery behind what causes coarse hair. Coarse hair is determined by the thickness of each individual hair strand. It’s often attributed to genetics, which means you can thank (or blame) your family tree for your hair type.

Each hair strand is made up of three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. Coarse hair has a thicker cortex, which gives it its distinctive texture and strength. Additionally, the cuticle layer of coarse hair is more raised than that of fine hair, making it more prone to frizz and dryness.

Several factors can contribute to hair coarseness, including ethnicity, hormonal changes, and hair care habits. For instance, people of African, Asian, and Latin American descent tend to have naturally thicker hair strands. Moreover, your hair may become coarser due to aging, as hormonal changes can alter the structure of your hair over time.

How Does Coarse Hair Compare To Other Hair Types?

Coarse hair stands out from other hair types in a few key ways. Understanding these differences can help you better appreciate and care for your unique tresses. Let’s take a closer look at the four main ways coarse hair stacks up against fine and medium hair types:

  1. Thickness: The most noticeable difference is the thickness of the individual hair strands. Coarse hair has the widest diameter, making it stronger and more resistant to breakage compared to fine hair, which is delicate and prone to damage. Medium hair falls somewhere in between, with a moderate thickness.
  2. Texture: Coarse hair often has a rougher texture due to its raised cuticle layer. This can make it more susceptible to frizz, tangling, and dryness. Fine hair, on the other hand, typically has a smoother texture, while medium hair can vary in texture depending on genetics and hair care practices.
  3. Volume: Coarse hair is known for its natural volume and body. It can hold styles well, but may require more effort and products to tame and shape compared to fine or medium hair. Fine hair tends to be limp and may struggle to hold styles, whereas medium hair strikes a balance between the two.
  4. Oil distribution: Coarse hair can struggle with even distribution of natural oils produced by the scalp, leading to dryness and lack of shine. Fine hair, conversely, can easily become weighed down or greasy due to its thinner strands and more efficient oil distribution. Medium hair may experience a mix of these challenges, depending on individual factors.

How To Make Coarse Hair Soft & Smooth

Transforming your coarse hair into a soft and smooth masterpiece may seem like a tall order, but with the right techniques and products, it’s totally achievable. Here’s the lowdown on how to show your coarse hair some tender loving care and achieve that silky-smooth finish:

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Ample moisture is crucial for softening coarse hair. Hydrating shampoos and conditioners are specifically formulated to deliver intense hydration to your strands. Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and argan oil work wonders for providing deep nourishment to your hair. When selecting products, be sure to read the labels and opt for those that explicitly mention hydration benefits for coarse or thick hair. Additionally, consider incorporating a weekly hydrating hair mask to further enhance your hair’s moisture levels.

2. Deep conditioning treatments

Coarse hair benefits greatly from regular deep conditioning treatments. Aim to treat your hair to a luxurious deep conditioning session at least once a week. These treatments help repair damage, minimize frizz, and add extra shine. Choose products containing keratin, proteins, or natural oils, as these ingredients provide essential nourishment and hydration.

3. Limit heat styling

Heat styling tools can cause dryness and damage to your hair, compromising its health and appearance. To maintain your hair’s softness and smoothness, use heat styling tools sparingly. When you do reach for a flat iron, curling wand, or hairdryer, always apply a heat protectant beforehand. This extra step shields your strands from the high temperatures and helps prevent breakage. Additionally, opt for styling tools with adjustable heat settings, allowing you to choose the lowest effective temperature for your hair type.

4. Ditch the sulfates

Sulfates, commonly found in shampoos, can strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and breakage. To preserve your hair’s moisture and promote a healthy scalp, look for sulfate-free shampoos. These gentler formulas cleanse your hair without causing unnecessary damage. As a bonus, sulfate-free shampoos also help maintain your hair’s color, making them an excellent choice for those with color-treated hair.

5. Be gentle while detangling

Coarse hair is prone to tangling, making it essential to detangle gently to avoid breakage. Using a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush specifically designed for coarse hair can make all the difference. When detangling, always start from the ends of your hair and work your way up to the roots. This method helps minimize damage and makes the process more manageable.

6. Seal in moisture with hair oils and serums

Locking in moisture after washing and conditioning is key for maintaining soft and smooth hair. Apply a hair oil or serum to your damp hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends. Look for lightweight formulas that won’t weigh your hair down, as heavy products can lead to greasiness at the roots. Ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, and grapeseed oil are excellent choices for hydrating and sealing in moisture without leaving your hair feeling oily.

7. Embrace the power of satin

Your choice of pillowcase can impact your hair’s softness and smoothness. Swapping your cotton pillowcase for a satin or silk one helps reduce friction and frizz while you sleep. Satin and silk create a smoother surface for your hair, minimizing tangles and breakage. This small change in your bedtime routine can yield significant improvements in the overall health and appearance of your hair.

How To Style Coarse Hair

While coarse hair can be a bit of a handful at times, it also offers endless styling possibilities. With the right techniques and products, you can rock a variety of gorgeous hairstyles that showcase your hair’s natural volume and texture. Here are some tips and tricks for styling coarse hair like a pro:

1. Prep your hair

Start by washing and conditioning your hair with moisturizing products to create a smooth and manageable canvas. After washing, gently towel-dry your hair and apply a leave-in conditioner or styling cream to help with detangling and control frizz.

2. Choose the right styling tools

When it comes to styling coarse hair, the tools you use can make a world of difference. A wide-tooth comb or detangling brush will help you smooth out any tangles without causing breakage. For heat styling, invest in a high-quality hairdryer with a diffuser attachment, a ceramic or tourmaline flat iron, and a curling wand with adjustable heat settings.

3. Section your hair

Dividing your hair into smaller sections can make styling much more manageable. Use hair clips to separate your hair into sections, working on one at a time to ensure even results.

4. Protect your hair from heat

Before using any heat styling tools, apply a heat protectant to shield your strands from damage. This will help keep your hair healthy, shiny, and smooth.

5. Go with the grain

Coarse hair often has a mind of its own, so instead of fighting against it, embrace your hair’s natural texture. Try hairstyles that work with your hair type, like braids, buns, or twists. For a more polished look, use a flat iron or curling wand to create sleek straight styles or bouncy curls.

Other Tips For Managing Coarse Hair

In addition to the softening and styling tips we’ve already covered, there are a few more tricks you can use to keep your coarse hair looking and feeling its best. Here are some additional tips to help you manage your locks like a champ:

  • Trim regularly: To maintain healthy ends and prevent split ends, make sure to trim your hair every 6-8 weeks. This will not only keep your hair looking fresh but also promote growth and reduce breakage.
  • Avoid overwashing: Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils, leaving it dry and frizzy. Aim to wash your hair every 2-3 days, depending on your hair’s needs and your lifestyle. If your scalp starts to feel greasy between washes, use a dry shampoo to freshen up and absorb excess oil.
  • Protect your hair from the elements: Sun, wind, and pollution can take a toll on your hair’s health, causing dryness, damage, and fading color. To shield your hair from these environmental stressors, use a leave-in conditioner with UV protection, wear a hat when you’re out in the sun, and cover your hair with a scarf on windy days.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated: Your hair’s health starts from the inside out. Make sure to nourish your body with a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Drinking plenty of water also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy hair, as it helps to hydrate your scalp and promote
  • Seek professional advice: If you’re struggling with your coarse hair, don’t hesitate to consult a professional hairstylist or trichologist for personalized advice and guidance. They can help you identify the best products, techniques, and treatments for your unique hair type and concerns.


Taking care of coarse hair may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge, products, and techniques, you can unleash the full potential of your gorgeous locks. Embrace your hair’s unique texture and volume, and remember that the journey to healthy, beautiful hair is all about patience, consistency, and self-love.

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