As naturals I know we are tired (if not we then certainly ME) of the natural hair jargon and the natural hair typing. If it isn’t a mathematical equation frenzy used to describe our hair (3c, 4a, 4b…etc) then it is these terms used that we are all truly so confused about. From thick, to kinky, curly, wavy, coarse, thin…etc there are so many terms used to describe what is sitting on top of our heads. And why does it even matter you might ask?  Well understanding the difference between thin hair, fine hair, coarse hair…etc can help you better understand how to create and upkeep your hair care regimen. So let’s start at the basics (what I consider the basics from where I’m learning it myself) discussing the difference in what density/ thickness can mean for you.

Most people think that if they have thin hair that automatically equates to having fine hair. That is not always the case and here’s why.

Thin Hair Vs. Fine Hair: What’s The Difference?

There are two different qualities of your hair that help with the labeling process. There is how thick your strands are and how dense your follicles are. Thickness is often described using terms like fine or coarse while density is described using terms like thin or thick. So it is very possible to have hair that is fine and thin as well as fine and thick as you are describing two different qualities of your hair.

So what does it mean to have thin hair? : If you describe your hair as thin you are referring to/ describing the density of the follicle.  Having thin coarse hair is absolutely possible. Thin hair is not always synonymous with having fine hair, as they are two different things. Thin hair means you have lesser hair follicles placed closely together. That is why quite often you see a lot of scalp during your styling process. Naturals with thin hair tend to have to fluff out their roots a bit more after taking down their twists to hide the exposed scalp.

What does it mean to have fine hair?: Having fine hair doesn’t necessarily mean that your hair is thin. Fine hair refers to the thickness/diameter of the actual individual  strand. There are a few ways to check the thickness of your hair but the easiest is by doing a strand comparison. If your hair strand appears like thread then you have coarse hair. It is however possible to have thin coarse hair. Pluck a strand of hair and compare it to what you see in the chart below.


What does it mean to have both? : If you have fine thin hair, that is not necessarily a problem but it does require you to pay close attention to your hair care regimen. Fine and thin hair is gentle/fragile and can be easily damaged/broken. Therefore it is best to be careful/gentle when protective styling particularly. Tight braids/ twists/ or faux locs shouldn’t be done too tightly especially around the nape and edge area. Something else you want to pay close attention to when dealign with thin/fine hair is the styles and styling products you use. Thin/Fine hair can often times seem dull or lifeless especially with stretched styles like twist outs or braid outs. What you should do if you want to have these styles is make bigger twists/braids to avoid as much scalp showing. You will get a thicker/fuller appearance without too much manipulation or losing too much definition.

Reminders: When categorizing your hair properly remember the final tips

Thickness= Fine, Medium, Coarse

Density= Thin, Medium, Thick

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13 Responses to Thin Hair Vs Fine Hair: What’s The Difference?

  1. I am so happy that someone finally told the difference! Most of my hair strands are fine but my hair is extremely thick. Trying to get ladies who ask me questions to understand the difference has been interesting. I may mention this article on my site. Well said!

  2. THANK YOU,THANK YOU,THANK YOU,I have thin/find hair also I am natural. I love the information you have given me, I am 69 years old,I want my hair to look good and when my hair look good I feel good again THANK YOU.

    • I have really fine hair that does that too, and I normally just put conditioner in a bad tangle/rat nest and let it sit for a few minutes before I shower. Normally that helps me get rid of bad tangles.

  3. Thankyou thankyou I was really keen to know about this information , I did not ever heard the word fine , but it actually described my hairs . I have fine and thick hairs , and now I will be searching on how to convert fine hairs into medium or coarse as I really need to change my hairs . As fine hairs are usually difficult to have a style.

  4. Oh thank goodness someone finally, clearly, and concisely differentiated between fine and thin. As a person with both, it is beyond frustrating to find products that provide volume, but don’t include oils, silicones, and other ingredients that don’t weigh down my hair.

    I have found that dry shampoo is a godsend for people with the fine/thin combo. And I avoid creams, pomades, or anything with weight. I stick to mousse. And I have learned to wet set my hair like a pro with pretty big rollers. It pulls up the root and gives volume and shine w/o weight. I keep it above my shoulders with soft layers. I can’t do a pixie cut or very short styles because they look awful on me. I rarely flat iron my hair because it doesn’t have enough weight to be stick straight w/o looking weird or leave it curly as it looks a complete mess and you can see through it. I hate extensions and am worried they will break off what little I have. Funny thing is that you can’t see my scalp.

    And I color my hair to give it dimension and coloring it gives it more volume.

    Here’s hoping they find a way to make Latisse for use on your scalp. My eyebrows and lashes are gorgeous with continued use of that stuff – thick and very dark.

    Again, thanks for this explanation and keep up the good work!

  5. Well this is really helpful, thanks for this amazing piece of information Melissa. If finally cleared my doubt thanks for sharing!

    • I have naturally curly hair, however it is super fine.. It looks really thick from the outside but when you gather it up in a braid it isn’t so much. BTW, girls with curly hair should never brush or comb their tresses. I have a book on that, just let them dry naturally, along with products applied.