What’s the Deal With Coarse Hair?

Learn how to work with your dry, coarse texture, while avoiding frizz.


When you really get down to it, hair is so complex. You can have a full head of thick-looking hair that actually has a surprisingly fine texture—and vice versa! Coarse hair is a common bone of contention in the hair community, as not many people can accurately put their finger on what it is. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, coarse is an adjective used to describe that something is “loose or rough in texture.” Typically found on curlier hair types, hair strands can take on a drier, rougher feel when it lacks moisture (common with curly hair), or when strands have been over-processed or severely damaged. Coarse, however, takes on another layer of meaning with African-American hair types. In this case, it also means having thicker hair (as opposed to having a regular thickness or finer strands). Read on to learn exactly what is going on with coarse tresses, and how best to work with this texture:

Coarse Hair: What Is It?

coarse hair african-american hair types
In the natural hair community, coarse hair means your strands are on the thicker side. The right coarse hair treatment will help you out.

1. Strand Thickness

The cut-and-dried definition of coarse hair is, as we mentioned, hair that’s rougher to the touch. With African-American hair, this can mean hair that’s also thicker than other types.

2. Coarse Textures

Coarse hair can be straight, wavy, curly, kinky-curly and everywhere in between. There are people who are more genetically prone to having coarse strands. If you are of Asian or African descent, you may be more likely to have thicker hair strands. But don’t fret, as it’s really not a bad thing, nor does it mean you’ll always be prone to frizz or unmanageable locks.

3. Caring for Coarseness

In general, coarse hair tends to be on the drier side. Luckily, there are a million easy ways you can add moisture back into your strands without weighing it down. We’re fans of using once-weekly hair masks for this hair type.

Hair masks are always a great coarse hair treatment to restore dry, unruly strands. One of our favorite hair masks is Dove Quench Absolute Intense Restoration Mask for its powerfully nourishing formula that leaves hair silky smooth to the touch.

Another one of our top hair mask picks for dry coarse hair is Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque. Its conditioning properties are perfect for restoring hydration into your thirsty locks, without weighing curls down or having them lose their shape.

5. Styling Coarse Hair

Styling coarse hair can be more difficult than working with thinner strands. Because the strands themselves are thicker, you need to work with smaller sections of hair. This way, any hot tool you are using can fully heat the hair without needing to go over the same area multiple times. Because of the thickness of the strands, if you do have coarse hair that also feels rough, a smoothing product may be a good fit! You can use a serum like TRESemmé Keratin Infusing Smoothing Serum to hydrate your hair and help you tame rougher textures.