Ask anyone with thick hair and they’ll likely tell you that their mane is both a blessing and a curse. Thin hair can be frustrating (leading many to turn to biotin supplements to try and promote growth), but taking care of thick hair has its own challenges for sure. Things like combating dryness and frizz and spending hours detangling your hair can be draining. And finding the right products and tools to coax your strands into place can be a series of bad hair days until you get it right.
But thick hair is also amazing. And with the right hair care routine, taking care of it can help your natural hair texture shine. If your thick hair is a nightmare to tame you’ve come to the right place. From the best products and styling tips to the easiest hacks and hair looks, this is your complete guide to taking care of thick hair.
Thickness and density are often used interchangeably, but they’re different measurements that together make up your hair type. But thickness refers to the width of a single hair strand; and density describes how thin or thick those hair strands are, collectively. So you may have fine hair that’s dense. It’s also possible to have thick hair that’s not dense.
The best way to determine your hair’s thickness is to feel it. Hair is made up of mostly protein. Thick hair has a lot more protein, meaning the hair strands are stronger. So if your hair is stiff to the touch, you have thick hair. Another way to measure your hair’s thickness is to pull out a hair strand and compare it to a sewing thread. If your hair is as wide as the thread, you have thick hair. If your hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair.
These hair hacks will make taking care of your thick hair and maintaining hair health less of a chore.
When you have thick hair, the natural oils that are meant to keep it moisturized are unable to travel down the entire length of the hair. This is why thick hair tends to get dry and frizzy, especially if you have long hair. Washing every day can strip these oils even further and leave the hair even drier. So cutting back on the shampooing gives these oils a chance to work. If you have thick hair, leave at least two days in between shampoos. Use dry shampoo on your in between days if you need it.
Not to sound like a broken record, but thick hair is dry. Swap out your regular shampoo with a cleansing cream to keep those thick strands hydrated and avoid dandruff. This tip is especially important if you have thick, curly hair. This will help prevent breakage and keep your hair manageable. And don’t forget a moisturizing conditioner!
Your hair is in its weakest state when it’s wet. Excessive towel drying and brushing while your hair is wet can be extremely damaging. Instead, squeeze any excess moisture from your hair with a microfiber towel or t-shirt. Spray any tangles with hair milk and smooth them out with a wide-toothed comb.
Air-drying thick hair can take hours. But excessive blow-drying is damaging. So what should you do with your thick hair when wet? Let it dry partially before finishing with the blow-dryer, and always remember to use a heat protectant spray before your next blowout.
Split ends can make your hair look damaged and lifeless which is not a look that many of us strive for! To keep your locks looking healthy and to work toward healthy hair growth, see your hair stylist for a good trim every 6-8 weeks.
If your thick hair is heavy and weighing you down, there's an easy solution. Ask your stylist to add some layers into your cut. This will add both lightness and movement to your thick hair.
If your hair is absolutely too thick to tame, thinning shears might be the answer. Thinning shears are scissors that have one blade with teeth and one blade without. These teeth act as grooves on the blade to quickly take hair out in even sections. This helps alleviate excess weight, soften lines, and blend between sections. But since at-home haircuts can be risky, consider asking your stylist to work on thinning hair themselves.
Thick hair calls for hair products that keep it hydrated and the dreaded frizz at bay. If you’re struggling to keep your thick hair tamed, these are our top products, tools, and accessory recommendations.
Hair oil is a thick-haired gal's best friend. The key to eliminating frizz is keeping your hair moisturized. A hydrating hair oil is a must-have in your thick hair product arsenal. You can even use coconut oil.
Whether it’s a flat iron, blow-dryer, or curling iron, it’s important to choose hot tools that minimize hair damage. Certain materials, like ceramic, are better than others when it comes to maintaining the hair's integrity. Look for hot tools designed with these materials. They will always be labeled. Remember to protect your strands with a hair primer before using any heat. And if you have already done some damage to your hair, see our previous post “How to Strengthen Your Hair.”
Hair masks are a healthy hair habit for all hair types, but especially thick hair. Like we discussed earlier, the natural oils in thick hair aren’t able to travel down the entire length of the hair, leading to dry hair, especially at the ends. This leads to frizzy, unmanageable hair, and a natural hair mask once a week can help.
Finding hair accessories to hold your thick hair in place can be difficult. Clips automatically pop out as soon as you snap them in, elastics break and headbands get lost in your hair. Stock up on headwraps, spiral corded ponytail holders, controlling and volumizing mousse and scrunchies to keep your mane under control.
These are the best haircuts and hairstyles to rock this season if you have thick hair.
The pixie cut is a huge hair trend in 2021 and is a great cut for thick hair. Remember that the pixie has lots of variations so bring pictures of pixies you like to show your hair stylist.
An easy way to remove excess weight from thick hair is to de-bulk the ends. Thinning the ends gives a cut movement. Ask your stylist for a cut that maintains length and fullness, but still has an airy bounce.
Braids are the perfect hairstyle for days when your hair is really out-of-control. Plus, the best braids are ones made with thick, voluminous hair. The type of braid you choose is up to you, switch it up or perfect your fave. But make sure to have this go-to style at your disposal. Not sure how? See the quick tutorial below.
How to do a basic braid
A long, wispy bang looks so chic on thick hair. Ask your hair stylist to remove weight from your bangs by using thinning shears.
Strong, angular cuts are perfect for those with thick, natural hair. The key to getting your curls to work with this style is to cut your hair when it's dry. Curls change and shrink when they're wet, so you want to make sure your hair is being cut in its finished state for this hair look.
Half-up hairstyles can be a struggle for girls with fine hair. Since there’s not as much hair to work with, it can make hair look even thinner. But if you were blessed with thick hair, the half-up hairstyle is yours to rock! Whether it’s a half-knot or a half-pony, this is another hair look to have in your line-up.
Ask anyone with thick hair and they’ll likely tell you that their mane is both a blessing and a curse. Taking care of thick hair has its challenges, but thick hair is also amazing. Using our thick hair routine makes taking care of it a whole lot easier.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
Photos by @goldandglowco