8 Simple Ways To Soften Coarse Hair

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Getting healthy and soft hair is a dream for many. But those with coarse hair know the challenge of styling and managing those straw-like dry tresses. Coarse hair has a rough texture and needs more moisture than all other hair types. It has a lot of volume, but tangles, frizz, and dryness can be a common problem. You can make your hair soft and healthy with a proper hair care routine. In this article, we have discussed 8 ways you can soften coarse hair. Take a look.

What Is Coarse Hair?

Coarse hair strands have the largest diameter. This hair type comprises all three layers of the hair shaft, namely the cortex, cuticle, and medulla. This hair is generally thicker than a sewing thread. You can feel its thickness if you roll it in between your fingers. However, this hair type needs more time to absorb moisture and quickly loses its luster. Hence, it needs the right hair care products for maintenance. People often confuse coarse hair with thick hair and curly hair. They are not similar and have different textures.

Furthermore, your hair may not always have been coarse. Prolonged use of topical Minoxidil may also have caused hair to turn coarse. But worry not – you can easily soften this coarse hair and reduce the frizz and tangles by following a few simple methods.

How Do You Care For Coarse Hair?

1. Apply Nourishing Hair Oils

Healthy coarse hair is the strongest among all hair types. But it is also the most prone to dryness. You can restore the hair shine and moisture by applying avocado, olive, or coconut oils. These hair oils have rapid penetration power and make hair softer. They also contain conditioning and nourishing properties that help control hair frizz and reduce dryness.

  • Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, K, folic acid, and monounsaturated fatty acids with rapid penetration properties. They protect your hair from moisture loss. The fats in this oil may strengthen each hair shaft and prevent hair breakage. However, more research is needed in this regard. Avocado oil has great lubricating properties and could be used as a leave-in conditioner(1)
  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is rich in vitamins E and K and has a high affinity for hair proteins that can penetrate hair fibers. This hair oil penetrates each shaft and provides long-lasting hydration (2).
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil has been used in hair care for its softening properties. Its oleic acid and squalane may add moisture to the hair. However, more research is needed in this regard.

2. Use The Right Hair Care Products

Always look for hair products that are suitable for your hair type. It is essential to pick a moisturizing shampoo or conditioner specially designed for your coarse hair.

3. Wash Your Coarse Hair The Right Way

Washing your hair right is important. There are three ways to wash hair.

  • Regular Washing: Use a shampoo specially designed for your coarse hair. Wash your scalp twice. Apply a conditioner after rinsing the shampoo. Leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Reverse Washing: Instead of washing with shampoo twice and then using a conditioner, you can wash with the conditioner first and then use the shampoo. This method prevents the shampoo from stripping the moisture off your hair. Reverse washing is great for coarse hair as it prevents hair damage.
  • Co-Washing: Co-washing is washing with a conditioner (free of silicones, petrolatum, or mineral oils) without the use of a shampoo. In this process, the conditioner itself removes dirt and cleans your hair (3). You can follow this method if you have dry, coarse hair that needs immediate rescue. After co-washing, apply a hair oil or hair serum to your hair (avoid the scalp). This will provide nourishment to your hair.

However, do not wash your hair daily or too frequently. Doing so may remove the natural oils essential for hair health. Washing twice or thrice a week gives your hair the time to replenish the nourishing oils. This process can make your hair softer.

4. Air-Dry Your Coarse Hair

Start air-drying your coarse hair to avoid damage from heat caused by blow-dryers. Be kind to your tresses and limit the usage of those heat or thermal styling tools (like flat irons) that can damage your hair. The hot air coming from blow dryers can evaporate hair moisture and cause split ends. If you still want to use them, ensure you apply some heat protectant product prior.

5. Add The Right Styling Products To Your Hair Care Routine

Flat irons, blow dryers, and curling irons are a few tools used for hairstyling. Coarse hair can be stubborn to style. The heat from these tools can damage hair and even lead to split ends and breakage. Also, try to avoid alcohol-based formulas that may dry your hair out further.

6. Use Hydrating Hair Masks

Hair masks provide the essential moisture to hair and nourish it. Eggs, honey, bananas, coconut, avocado, and olive oils are the key ingredients needed to prepare a hair mask at home (2), (4). They smoothen your coarse hair, boost shine and volume, and also encourage hair growth. Mixing egg yolks and oil can help. Egg peptides were found to stimulate hair growth production (5). You can also prepare a banana hair mask and use it.

7. Use Hair Rinses

Hair rinses make your hair manageable, soft, and silky. Unlike hair masks, they run through your hair instead of sitting on the top. You do not have to take a shower after a hair rinse. A good hair rinse will not damage your hair even if you leave it on.

To prepare a hair rinse, you need a good essential oil like that of lavender, tea tea, rose, clove, eucalyptus, or jasmine. Mix one tablespoon of any of these essential oils in one cup of water. Store this mixture in a spray bottle. Apply the hair rinse evenly on your hair. Hair rinses prevent dryness and frizz. They also nourish and hydrate every hair strand and leave your coarse hair soft, silky, and shiny. You can use the hair rinse 1-2 times a week whenever you think your hair requires a quick boost. You can also prepare hair rinses with apple cider and green tea. They add shine and volume to your hair.

8. Make The Right Lifestyle Changes

The right lifestyle changes can also soften your coarse hair and improve its health.

  • Eat Mindfully: Getting the right nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene can boost hair luster. If you are vegan, you may add flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds to your diet. Beta-carotene is abundant in most orange vegetables and fruits. Stay away from processed foods.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking one additional glass of water a day not only improves your overall health but also boosts blood circulation to your hair follicles. Furthermore, make sure you cut down on sugary drinks and have healthy beverages instead.


Coarse hair is a boon as it naturally has more volume. But it also carries the risk of getting tangled or dried out. Using hair care products specifically designed for this hair type will soften your tresses. Following a healthy diet and lifestyle can further help promote your hair health and appearance.


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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).