Hair Density: Ways To Measure, Hair Density Vs. Thickness, And More

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan
by Arshiya Syeda

Hair is one of the first few things people notice when looking at someone. It usually helps frame the face, and many people desire to have hair that looks lush and full.

But, that does not mean one has a lot of hair on their head or that their scalp is fuller. This is where the terms ‘hair density‘ and ‘hair thickness’ come into play. There is a difference between them, and understanding both will help you tailor effective care routines for your hair.

What Is Hair Density?

Hair density refers to the number of strands that grow per square inch on your scalp. It can vary during your life, changing over the course of years and through adulthood.

Before you jump to find out how to determine hair density, note that the human head has more than 100,000 strands of hair on average (1).

Seeing the sheer amount of strands on the human head, it must be tempting to know what your hair density is. Find out how you can measure your hair density below.

Is There A Way To Measure Hair Density?

Accurate measurement of the density of your hair requires help and technical intervention. Even then, the determined density is not permanent. Since the different areas of your scalp exhibit varied characteristics, the density may differ (2).

The two most seemingly accessible ways that can help you measure hair density are:

1. Count

This method is more of an estimate rather than a tiresome activity. Simply count the number of strands on a square inch patch of your scalp and multiply it by the number of square inches on your scalp. Note that the average number of strands of hair on one square inch of scalp varies between 124 and 200 (3).

2. Scalp Visual

Counting can be quite time-consuming, so another way to determine your hair density is by looking at your scalp.

  • If you can see your scalp easily, you can assume that it has a low hair density.
  • If you can see your scalp, but not too clearly, you may assume it to be medium hair density.
  • If it is hard to spot your scalp, consider it to have high hair density.

The above-mentioned methods are not absolute, nor are they the gold standard. For accurate calculations, clinical aestheticians and doctors use computerized methods, involving a dermatoscope which are also being improved for efficiency.

If you find that you have low hair density, it will be beneficial to know its reasons.

What Are The Reasons Behind Low Hair Density?

The human body is made up of numerous chemical combinations. Each characteristic is attained naturally, and some are acquired from the environment you grow in. A few of the most common causes of low hair density are:

1. Genetics

Genes determine various components of your hair, skin, and body – right from your skin color to the pigments in your hair. If your parents had finer and less dense hair, chances are you will too. If they had a denser growth, you are more likely to as well.

2. Age

It is natural for your hair growth to reduce with age. Multiple studies have found that hair density peaks at around 27 years and begins to decrease after the mid-thirties. As you grow older, your hair follicles – which are the roots of hair strands – slow down in their cycles of growing new hair every time it falls. Eventually, they stop growing new hair altogether (4).

3. Hormones

Hormonal imbalances caused by hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, PCOS, and other health conditions are commonly known to cause hair loss (5).

4. Nutrition

A healthy diet is essential for healthy-looking hair and skin. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can show up as changes in your scalp, which can cause hair loss (6).

5. Damage

Low hair density can occur due to improper handling of hair. This is also known as trauma alopecia. Hairdos that constantly pull your locks, harsh chemical relaxers and treatments, and exposure to high heat from styling tools can affect your hair density (5).

6. Stress

Stress has been known to induce hair loss. Thankfully, this is usually temporary, and normal hair growth continues with a new cycle. The only solution to this is stress management (7).

7. Side Effects Of Medication

Many drugs, such as cancer drugs, immunosuppressants, and beta-blockers, list hair loss as a side effect. Though not everyone experiences these side effects, if you notice a change in hair density after taking these medications, consult your physician about it (8).

Now that you are familiar with the causes and the exact meaning of hair density, you can try the right products and hairstyles that bring out your best! Below are some styling tips for people with different hair densities.

Styling Tips According To Hair Density

  • Low Hair Density

Go for haircuts like bobs and layers. These create an illusion of a fuller and a larger crown of hair. Also, when styling your hair, tease the roots to puff it up further. Use volumizing shampoos and ditch any chemical-rich serums and hair products. They can weigh your hair down, giving it a thinner look.

  • Medium Hair Density

You can experiment with different hairstyles as your hair does not fall at either end of the spectrum. Based on how you choose to style your locks, you can use products that protect them from further damage.

  • High Hair Density

Low layers and ‘slicing’ haircuts work well for you. For you, choosing the right cut can be a little tricky. Your hair texture also makes a difference as curls are more likely to look larger if cut too short. Use products that weigh your hair down and nourish it well.

While knowing your hair density while picking a suitable hairstyle matters, knowing if your hair is thick is different. We assess the difference between hair density and hair thickness below.

Difference Between Hair Density And Hair Thickness

Hair thickness refers to the size of a strand in terms of diameter, which correlates to the size of the hair root or follicle. On the other hand, hair density is the number of hair strands on your head.

The thickness of your hair does not make a discernable impact on your overall appearance, but hair density does. As such, you should focus on increasing your hair density for a thicker, fuller crown.

Here are some ways to combat sparse hair growth and get high-density hair.

How Can You Increase The Density Of Your Hair?

1. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment

In this treatment, platelet-rich plasma is derived from your blood and injected into specific areas of your scalp. This stimulates hair growth and reduces inflammation. The platelets contribute to hair growth as they are said to be rich in proteins (9).

2. Low Light  (LLLT)

For this, red light therapy and cold laser are used to stimulate hair growth. This method is more convenient and claimed to have lower adverse effects than long-term evasive procedures (10).

3. Nutritional Supplements

Since poor nutrition plays a role in hair loss, you should take supplements if you do not hit the required daily intake for various nutrients and minerals. Supplements of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have shown an improvement in hair quality and perceived growth (11). You can also consume amino acid and protein supplements.

If you feel that your hair density has reduced, consult your doctor about the above methods and pick one that suits your requirement. You can also refer to a hair density chart for more efficient results.

What Is A Hair Density Chart?

If the methods mentioned above require too much of an effort, you can always switch to weaves. Weaves are hair extensions that add to the volume and length of your hair.

To figure out which weave suits you, you may refer to the hair density chart based on a standardized system, as listed below:

  • 50% – Very thin and sparse. This is usually recommended for older people.
  • 80% – A low hair density weave that shows the scalp easily.
  • 100% – Most commonly selected and gives a natural look and feel.
  • 120% – Slightly more than the natural look that is becoming increasingly popular.
  • 130% – A moderate-density weave suited for people in their mid-20s.
  • 150% –  This is a highly dense weave and not commonly selected.
  • 180% – Extremely dense; most weave makers do not recommend this unless required.

Not interested in a weave? Are you more inclined to conventional methods like shaving off your hair? Read on to know more about shaving your head to increase your hair density.

Can Shaving Your Hair Actually Increase Its Density?

The belief that hair density can improve if you shave your head is a myth! It merely gives that effect as the blunt (thick) ends of your hair start growing again from the roots. Shaving can give your locks a better feel, but do not be fooled. This is only because the new hair that grows is not as damaged from environmental exposure.

More importantly, shaving your hair cannot help with thickness. Hair thickness depends on the shaft composition and follicle size. Therefore, shaving your hair is not the best solution for low-density natural hair.

Closing Thoughts

To combat low hair density, you can make smarter choices when it comes to hair products, styling, and nutritional choices. Do remember to consult your physician first before trying any medication or supplement. With these tips, you can now increase your hair density for a thicker, fuller mane!

11 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Arshiya Syeda

Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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