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 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 hair, 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 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.

If you ever wondered how you can tell if you have thick, coarse hair, you can simply look at the size of the strands of your hair and pay attention to the way they react during washing and drying. If your hair takes a longer time to dry, it’s definitely on the thicker, coarser end of the spectrum.

While having thick hair has its benefits, like being strong and able to withstand damage longer than finer hair types, many women face drawbacks when it comes to finding hairstyles for thick coarse hair. Looking for a style that helps you embrace your thick coarse hair? We’ve rounded up some hairstyles for thick, coarse hair types for you. Read on:

1. Teeny Weeny Afro

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: afro
Hairstyles for Thick Coarse Hair: 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 Define & Shine Serum Gel.

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 coarse bob style.

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. Mix up your look with braids.

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 naturally frizzy look.

6. Wash-and-Go Curls

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: wash and 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.

7. The Thick Lob

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: lob
Thick and blunt. 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 thick and coarse hair types create on the look.

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 flawless body on long hair? 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. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Layers create a fluffy finish on this short pixie style.

10. Ringlets

hairstyles for thick coarse hair: ringlets
Juicy curls.

Use your fingers to twirl your thick curly hair into this ringlet style. 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 with hot rollers to achieve this bouncy hairstyle.

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 3 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, it’s a great way to play with your curl type.

15. Half Updo

thick coarse hairstyles half updo
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 so get out your turtlenecks and try out this look.

17. Hydrated Curls

thick coarse hairstyles 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.

20. Braided Headband

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

Feeling overwhelmed by your thick coarse hair? Create a braided headband to use your hair as the 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.

22. Loose Braid

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

In a hurry? Go for a loose braid for a quick and effortless style.

23. Fishtail

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

You can’t go wrong with a fun fishtail style!

24. Tight French Braid

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

Tame your thick coarse hair with some tight French braids.

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, it’ll lighten your load and give you more volume.

26. Sleek High Ponytail

hairstylesfor thick coarse hair high ponytail
A sleek pony is a great way to get thick hair off your shoulders.

Create a sleek high pony, as it’s always on trend.

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.

28. Straight

hairstyles for thick coarse hair straight
Show off your thick hair with a straight style.

It may sound simple, but sometimes a straightened style is all you need.

29. Side-Part

hairstyles for thick coarse hair side part
Switch up your style with a side-part.

A side part is a great way to change up your look without getting a cut or new color.

30. Layered Pixie

hairstyles for thick coarse hair layered pixie
Create depth by giving your pixie cut some layers.

Adding layers to your pixie cut will add depth and dimension instantly.

The best texturizer for coarse hair is one that provides definition and hold without the weigh-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.

Soft, silky strands are indeed the Holy Grail no matter what our hair type, but even more so when you have naturally coarse hair as the latter tends to feel rougher and dryer than most. To keep coarse hair looking and feeling smoother, shinier and healthier, a consistent moisturizing routine that minimizes the use of heat-styling is necessary. Click on the nifty links below for more tips:

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

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!

Still a bit confused? Check out our handy dandy infographic the next time you’re in a bind. Remember: diameter, not density!

coarse hair versus fine hair infographic all things hair


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