Everything You Need to Know About Coarse Hair

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


When you really get down to it, hair is 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.

To break it down: 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 hair, however, takes on another layer of meaning with natural 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:

What is Coarse Hair?

Coarse hair is often misunderstood as being a hair type that has to be very dry, and while this may be true, it’s not always the case. Your hair can be wavy, curly, or even straight and still be coarse too.

1. Strand Thickness

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

2. Coarse Textures

Coarse hair can be straight, wavy, curly, tightly curled, 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 automatically be prone to frizz or unmanageable locks.

coarse hair versus fine hair infographic all things hair

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 Suave Almond + Shea Butter Moisture Mask for its powerfully nourishing formula that leaves hair silky smooth to the touch.

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

Wash with Nourishing Products

coarse hair african-american hair types
In the natural hair community, coarse hair means your strands are on the thicker side.

Coarse hair skews dry and/or brittle, so best to use a system that helps nourish and moisturize strands without weighing them down. The Good Stuff Gentle Shampoo is, as the name suggests, a gentle, sulfate-free formula that removes excess oils and dirt without compromising the hair shaft’s integrity.

Contrary to a regular rinse-off conditioner, thick, coarse hair can do with a new approach: a leave-in cream. The Good Stuff Intensive Nourishment Cream is chock-full of nourishing ingredients that help balance its moisture levels and strengthen strands, all while keeping hair shiny from wash to wash (!). Perfect!

How to Style 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.

The best texturizer for coarse hair is one that provides definition and holds without the weight-down. We love the light yet sculpted feel coarse hair gets from Suave Professionals Define & Shine Serum Gel, which is formulated to impart just the right moisture.

Use the Right Brush

When deciding on the best brush for your hair type, try a flat or round brush that has ample space in between each bristle. This will be much gentler on your strands and help prevent breakage.

The best time to detangle your hair is post-wash, but go slow and be careful, as your hair is most vulnerable when wet. Brushing before your hair completely dries can help prevent frizz and unwanted knots.

Best Hairstyles for Thick Coarse Hair

Can’t decide what hairstyle is best for your coarse hair? Check out our inspiration below.

1. Teeny Weeny Afro

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: afro
Go carefree with a TWA. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

If you have thick natural hair and you’re looking for a style that only requires minimal styling, a TWA cut may be the right fit for you. Keep your afro style moisturized by styling with Suave Professionals Curl Defining Cream.

2. Coarse Bob

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: coarse bob
Thick hair gives your bob a full appearance. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Take advantage of the full looks you can create with thick hair. Start with this bob style. Keeping your thick hair short will help emphasize the volume if you’re looking for ways to show it off.

3. Thick Halo Braid

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: halo braid
All about the fluff.

Who doesn’t love a good thick braided style? With thick, coarse hair, you can create this pancaked version of the look.

4. Curls and Braids

hairstyles for thick coarse hair curls and braids
Hairstyles for thick, coarse hair: Have fun with your texture!

Play around with your curly locks and mix up your look by adding braids. For an even more voluminous look, brush out your waves or curls.

5. Crimped Hair

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: crimped hair
Crimps are back. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

This blast from the past is back in full force. Take advantage of this crimped hairstyle while you can. Back-comb the ends of your hair to create a fuller and intentionally frizzed-out look.

6. Wash-and-Go Curls

hairstyles for thick coarse hair wash n go curls
Hairstyles for thick, coarse hair: Wash it and air-dry!

Not into the amount of time it takes to dry your thick and curly hair with a handheld dryer? Try this wash-and-go curly style instead. A wash-and-go style is perfect for anyone in a rush.

7. The Thick Lob

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: lob
Thick and blunt? Super chic. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

The lob hairstyle is one of those cuts that are really easy to style on a daily basis. We love how much body and natural volume thick and coarse hair types can achieve with this cut.

8. Chunky Body Wave

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: chunky body wave
Thick and full of body! Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Want to try hairstyles for thick, coarse hair with a long, flawless bounce? This chunky body wave is easier to create than you think. At night, wind your hair into a low bun. In the morning, release and set with Dove Style+Care Flexible Hold Hairspray.

9. Pixie for Coarse Hair

hairstyles for thick coarse hair pixie
Short and fluffy is the way to go.

Layers create a fluffy finish on this short pixie style. Just because you opt for a short haircut doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any texture or volume from your hair.

10. Ringlets

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: ringlets
Keep your thick curls healthy and voluminous.

Use your fingers to twirl your thick curly hair into this ringlet style. A defined look is a great way to show off your natural texture. A gel, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel, can help with definition.

11. Shoulder-Length Hair

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: shoulder length
Add body to your thick hair. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Take your hairstyle beyond the blowout and set it with hot rollers to achieve a bouncy hairstyle. This voluminous curled look is taking over TikTok, so if you want to go for a very on-trend style, try this!

12. Soft Curls

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: soft curls
Soft and fluffy curlicues.

You may be spoiled for choice by the number of hairstyles for thick, coarse hair you can create on natural hair types. How about narrowing it down to this soft and fluffy style? Use sponge rollers at night to maintain the look.

13. Tight Curls

thick coarse hairstyles tight curls
Go a little tighter in your curls to create more volume and drama.

Create a little drama in your style with some tighter curls. What’s great about tight curls is that they will last you about three days, getting looser every day.

14. Curly Bangs

thick coarse hairstyles curly bangs
Use your thick hair to your advantage with some curly bangs.

If you’ve got seriously curly hair, then you need to try curly bangs! We love how voluminous and healthy this style looks, and it’s a great way to play with your curl type.

15. Half-Updo

hairstyles for thick coarse hair half up
Half-updos are perfect for keeping hair out of your face!

If you’ve got thick coarse hair, then getting it out of your face may be a priority. Try a half-updo to keep some of your hair down but the rest out of your eyes.

16. Tucked-In

thick coarse hairstyles tucked in
Tuck your hair into a turtleneck for a chic style.

Tucked-in hair is trending (especially now that the weather is cooler), so get out your turtlenecks and try out this cool ’90s throwback.

17. Hydrated Curls

hairstyles for thick coarse hair hydrated curls
Keep your thick curls hydrated and happy!

If you’ve got thick coarse hair, then it’s key to keep your curls happy and healthy. Don’t forget to use moisturizing products to help maintain your beautiful curl pattern.

18. Soft Layers

hairstyles for thick coarse hair soft layers
Give your thick hair some soft layers to add dimension.

Add some layers to your thick coarse hair to give some more body and texture to your look.

19. Brushed-Out Curls

hairstyles for thick coarse hair brushed out curls
Brush out your curls to get extra volume.

Pump up the volume by brushing out your curls. This look lets your natural volume shine. If you’re worried about added frizz, apply a serum or oil to the midshaft and ends of your hair for a smooth look after brushing out.

20. Braided Headband

hairstyles for thick coarse hair crown braid
Braided headbands are always worth the hassle.

Feeling overwhelmed by your thick, coarse hair? Create a braided headband and use your locks as the ultimate accessory!

21. Sock Bun

hairstyles for thick coarse hair sock bun
Get the most volume out of your updo with a sock bun.

This style is so easy to create and is the perfect quick updo for any occasion. Check out our sock bun tutorial for an easy-peasy how-to.

22. Loose Braid

hairstyles for thick coarse hair loose braid
A loose braid always works with thick hair.

In a hurry? Go for a loose braid or two for a quick and effortless style. A small braid like this adds interest to your look without having to have your entire hair in a braid.

23. Fishtail

hairstyles for thick coarse hair fishtail
Get creative with a fishtail braid.

You can’t go wrong with a fun fishtail style! This style works so well on thick, coarse hair.

24. Tight Dutch Braid

hairstyles for thick coarse hair french braids
Create some clean and tight Dutch braids.

Tame your thick coarse hair with some tight Dutch braids. By crossing the hair underneath the middle section when braid instead of over, you’ll make your braid pop. Plus, the volume in your hair will help the braid stand out.

25. Curled Lob

hairstyles for thick coarse hair curly lob
Lobs are a great length for thick hair and look fab when given a loose curl.

We highly recommend going for a lob cut if you have particularly thick hair, as it’ll lighten your overall hairstyle, while at the same time imparting the feel of more volume.

26. Sleek High Ponytail

hairstyles for thick coarse hair sleek pony
A sleek pony is a great way to get thick hair off your shoulders. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

Create a sleek high pony, as it’s always on-trend. This is a classic look you can never go wrong with. It’s sleek and sophisticated!

27. Long Bangs

hairstyles for thick coarse hair long bangs
The girl boss of bangs.

Use your thick coarse hair to your advantage by going for a long bang style. Thick blunt bangs pair so well with a classic bob.

28. Straight

hairstyles for thick coarse hair straight
Show off your thick hair with a straight style. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

It may sound simple, but sometimes a straightened style is all you need. This look is sleek and is never going out of style.

29. Side-Part

hairstyles for thick coarse hair straight
Switch up your style with a side part. Photo credit: Arianna Sharfman

A side part is a great way to change up your look without getting a cut or new color. You can never add a bit more volume to your hair by switching up your part.

30. Layered Pixie

hairstyles for thick coarse hair layered pixie
Create depth by giving your pixie cut some layers. Photo credit: Arianna Sharfman

Adding layers to your pixie cut will add depth and dimension instantly. This will also add more movement to your short haircut.

More on Maintaining Coarse Hair

To keep coarse hair looking and feeling smoother, shinier, and healthier, a consistent moisturizing routine that minimizes the use of heat-styling is necessary. For more tips and tricks for coarse hair, click on the nifty links below:

1. Co-Wash

2. Deep Condition/Use a Hair Mask Regularly

3. Use a Pre-Styler or Serum Before Heat Styling

4. Minimize Heat Styling

5. Gloss Treatment

6. Leave-In Conditioners

7. Relax Hair

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