Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Maintain Fine Natural Hair

I had a conversation along time ago with one of my bestfriends about hair. Her hair was always so thick and long and mine seemed like it would not grow. Like all High School girls, I had to keep up with the trend of box braids and flat twists in the front (held still by elastic bands) and hair out in the back. All the girls were wearing these styles but there was something different about my hair than theirs and I could not figure it out. One day I asked my friend, "How do you grow your hair so long?" and she said to me, "If you treat your hair like a million bucks it would grow long too." 

This statement of "treating your hair like a million bucks" really resonated with me and to this day I try to abide by this rule. At the time, I did not recognize that when comparing my hair to my friend's hair and trying to keep up with hair trends that my hair was different. I understood that some people had wavy hair, soft hair  or kinky hair depending on genetics but I did not understand the difference between fine, medium and coarse hair. For along time, I believed that all black people had coarse hair because to me by definition, coarse hair was hard or rough hair (I was so wrong with this assumption). Still I did not understand that there was a difference between thin and thick hair- a person could have fine-thick hair, fine-thin hair, coarse-thick hair, etc. 

Here are some up close and personal photos of my fine hair.

In this particular instance, I had fine-thick hair and my friend had coarse-thick hair. Being born with the predisposition of fine-thick hair, my hair was easily damaged by using hair styling techniques that are used on medium or coarse hair. Below is a pictorial of the difference in thickness of a fine strand, coarse strand and a strand of thread. 

Fine strand. Coarse strand. Thread.

Looking at the above photograph with the naked eye, it is apparent that fine hair is thinner than coarse hair and coarse hair is thinner than a thread. So with this logic, it is obvious that the same hair care techniques should not be used across hair types. (Hint: This is one of the reasons why hair care products work best for some people and do not work at all for others.)

How to tell if you have fine or coarse hair? 

  1. Consult a professional stylist. Stylists are trained to properly manage hair and they can quickly identify whether your strands are fine, medium or coarse. 
  2. Home test: After washing your hair let it air dry. If your hair air dries quickly (an hour or less) then you have fine hair. If you wait longer than an hour then your hair is coarse. 
  3. The White paper test: Pull a strand of hair from your head and place on top of a white paper. If your hair is difficult to see against the white background and not easily felt between your fingertips then you have fine hair. 
Characteristics of Natural Fine Hair.
  1. You have to re-twist your hair nightly to keep defined curls. Curls just do not hold well with this type of hair. 
  2. Breaks easily even when you keep it moisturised. 
  3. Prone to fly aways. 
  4. Hair looks dull, dry and flat. 
Tools & Tips for Fine Hair
  1. Protein Treatments will help give weight to fine hair and strengthen the strands. To identity protein treatments look at the ingredient list for the following: silk amino acids, collagen, keratin, wheat and soy (to name a few). 
  2. Do a pre-wash oil treatment before you wash your hair. Over cleansed fine hair will break easily. 
  3. Use a clarifying shampoo whenever your hair looks dull or falls flat. Fine hair can be easily weighed down by product build up. A clarifying shampoo strips away dirt and product build up from the hair. This should be used no more than once a month. 
  4. For regular shampooing, use a gently conditioning shampoo like Kurlee Belle's Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo. High quality moisturizing shampoos protect the hair during the wash process. 
  5. When choosing a leave-in conditioner, look for the words "Dry and Damaged Hair" like Kurlee Belle's Thirsty Kurls Leave-In conditioner. Always use a rinse off conditioner and then a leave-in conditioner. 
  6. Detangle hair in sections. Never BRUSH dry fine hair or wet fine hair. Use your fingertips to detangle or a wide tooth comb. Detangle from the tip of the hair moving closer to the scalp. Remember: Your hair is delicate and will break easily. 
  7. Comb hair as little as possible. Stay away from hairstyles that require constant manipulation.  Micro braids and heavy extensions are not your friend. Try low maintenance protective styles like braids and two strand twists. 
  8. Always wear a satin covering at night. Never sleep without your hair protected. 
  9. When straightening fine hair always use a heat protectant. Use very low heat. The temperature should be no higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fine hair straightens easily. 
  10. Trim hair every 6 to 8 weeks to avoid spilt ends. 
  11. A great sealant for fine hair is coconut oil. It is not heavy and provides shines and manageability. 
  12. Always air dry. The less heat used on fine hair the better. Fine hair dries fast so blow dryers can be avoided. 
  13. Avoid color or highlights like the plague. Bleaching the hair lifts the cuticle so that the color appears. If you are not a professional stylists that knows how to properly care for hair then I say leave the color alone. I found out the hard learn from my mistakes. :) 
Have you done a strand test? Is your hair fine, medium or coarse? 


  1. Thanks sooo much...your post is very helpful. I have fine thick hair and it is soo hard get my hair to grow. I stay away from high heat and dye at all costs!!!

    1. Thank you for your comment Crystal. Growing fine hair to long lengths is a challenge but it is not impossible. We have to take extra care of our precious fine strands. I hope the post helped.

  2. OMG!!!! I loved this article. So I have been natural for like 4yrs now and my hair never got longer than 8 inches. SO I am trying to do things differently. I always have problems with breakage and did my first protein treatment ever about 6 weeks ago. Yes, in all my yrs of being natural I thought protein was of the devil and moisture moisture, but now I see and your article confirms my new discovery that fine hair needs protein. I used aphogee and I hope that continues to work. SOme questions I said avoid microbraids and extensions but do braids and two strand twists. What kind of braids are you talking about? Can I do braided of kinky twist extensions but in bigger sections instead of micro and keep for 4 weeks instead of like 8weeks? I use black soap to shampoo/clarify maybe every 2 weeks is that okay? How do pre poo oil treatments work if you go right ahead and shampoo off the oil? Do you wash hair in braided sections? I get the least breakage that way, but unlike what I see in youtube videos when I unravel the braid after a supposed wash, it seems the water did not fully penetrate so there is some residual conditioner or oil..but then washing each section loose results in some hair loss. How do you wash your hair? Pls email me answers at if you get a chance. Thank you sooo much.

    1. Thank you for your comment and reading our blog.

      Like you I have fine hair and kept wondering why it was not growing. I was treating and moisturising my hair but it would still break. I was very relieved to find out that it was breaking off because of the techniques I used. To answer your questions:

      What kind of braids are you talking about?

      I am referring to protective style braids with your natural hair and not extensions. For instance, instead of creating mini two strand twists..braid the hair.

      Can I do braided of kinky twist extensions but in bigger sections instead of micro and keep for 4 weeks instead of like 8weeks?

      Yes bigger sections is the key. The problem with using extensions is that many braiders like to use small sections with a lot of weave. This results in the hair breaking and being pulled from the root because of the weight of the braided weave. Using more hair per section will eliminate breakage and hair loss.

      I use black soap to shampoo/clarify maybe every 2 weeks is that okay?

      I am not familiar with black soap. Washing your hair every two weeks is fine. Be sure to alternate between a moisturising and clarifying shampoo...only use a clarifying shampoo when your hair looks dull and limp. You do not want to over cleanse your hair.

      How do pre poo oil treatments work if you go right ahead and shampoo off the oil?

      Pre poo oil treatments work to soften the hair and smooth the cuticles. They also seal in moisture. If your hair is excessively dry a pre oil treatment will make it more manageable during the wash process and eliminate further damage that would be caused by the shampoo.

      Do you wash hair in braided sections? How do you wash your hair?

      Yes I wash my hair in sections. Three sections in the front and three in the back. I shampoo, condition and detangle each section separately. First I deep condition, then shampoo, use a wash out conditioner to detangle the hair by section, rinse out the conditioner, then apply a leave in conditioner by section, seal ends with oil, then use curl cream to style hair. I do not use a wide tooth comb or brush...I only finger detangle my hair.

      I hope this helps!


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