8 Simple Ways To Soften Coarse Hair

Manage your rough and frizzy locks with the right products in the right way.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dr. Shruti Chavan Dr. Shruti ChavanMBBS
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA Experience: 5 years

Coarse hair is a common hair type that looks great but is difficult to manage. Those straw-like locks make the hair styling process all the more challenging. What if there was a way to soften coarse hair? This hair needs extra moisture as it has a rough texture. But with a proper hair maintenance and care routine, you can minimize the frizz, dryness, and tangles associated with a coarse hair texture. This article explores 8 simple hair tips to soften your coarse hair. Continue reading.

What Is Coarse Hair?

Coarse hair strands have the largest diameter. This hair type comprises all three layers of the hair shaft, namely the cortexi  The middle and the thickest hair layer that lies between the hair hair cuticle and medulla, and contains the bulk of the hair most of its pigment. , cuticlei  The outermost part of the hair shaft that is formed of dead cells layered together responsible for strengthening and protecting the hair. , and medullai  The innermost layer of the hair shaft that is nearly invisible, extremely fragile and surrounded by the cortex. It contains sparse cells, air bubbles, and mitochondrial DNA. . 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. The differences are discussed in the next section. Scroll down to know more.

Coarse Hair Vs. Thick Hair

While we usually use both terms to describe hair texture, each refers to a different aspect of your hair.

Thick hair refers to your hair density, which indicates you have an abundance of hair follicles on your scalp. However, thick hair doesn’t necessarily indicate the diameter or texture of the individual hair strands.

Coarse hair, on the other hand, refers to the thickness or width of individual hair strands. Coarse hair has wider and typically stronger strands that feel rough or thick to touch. Individuals of all hair densities may have coarse hair. This means that you may have thick or thin hair with coarse strands.

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

A woman applying nourishing hair oil for her coarse hair
Image: Shutterstock

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 hair 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 acidsi  A type of dietary fat that is unsaturated, liquid at room temperature, and may reduce inflammation. 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 hair softening properties. Its oleic acid and squalane may add moisture to the hair. However, more research is needed in this regard.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Always apply heavier oils, such as coconut oil, on dry hair. Hair shaft penetration may be less effective with wet hair because the oil molecules are larger.

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.

According to a recent survey conducted on US and GB (Great Britain) women with curly and wavy hair, only 28% of US women and 16% of GB women apply leave-in conditioner to their hair. Further, 21% and 27% of US and GB women respectively use serums for shine and anti-frizz.

3. Wash Your Coarse Hair The Right Way

A woman washing her coarse hair
Image: Shutterstock

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

A woman air-drying her coarse hair
Image: Shutterstock

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.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Use a microfiber towel and gently squeeze different areas of your hair. Additionally, run your fingers through your hair to dry it quickly.

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

A woman with a hydrating hair mask
Image: Shutterstock

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). These hair treatments 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.

A blogger tried a banana hair mask and noticed positive results on her hair. She writes, “To my surprise my curls were still well defined and very soft before using my regular conditioner…My hair felt stronger, softer, and smoother. It was shiner. And the dry scalp I was experiencing in the front of my head is currently nonexistent (i).”

7. Use Hair Rinses

Herbal hair rinse for coarse hair
Image: Shutterstock

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.

Infographic: Easiest Ways To Soften Coarse Hair

Coarse hair is one of the most difficult hair types to manage and style due to its dryness. Following a proper hair care routine and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help smoothen dry and frizzy hair. To know about the easiest ways to soften coarse hair, check out the infographic below!

easiest ways to soften coarse hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Coarse hair is thick and contains all three layers of the hair shaft. These strands have the largest diameter and require more time to absorb the moisture. Therefore, you need to take extra care to soften coarse hair and manage them. Following simple tips like applying nourishing oils, using the right products, washing it the right way, air drying, and using hair masks will help soften the tresses. Consuming a healthy diet and making a few lifestyle changes can further help promote your hair health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does hair get coarser with age?

Possibly. According to anecdotal records, while hair turns thinner as we age, women may notice coarse facial hair, and men may notice coarse eyebrows and nose hair.

What causes thick, coarse hair?

Genetics, steroidal medicationsi  Natural or synthetic anti-inflammatory medications administered for allergies, eczema, arthritis, and other issues. , and the use of minoxidil may lead to the development of coarse hair.

Why is my hair so hard and coarse?

Hair can be hard and coarse due to genetics, heat or chemical damage, or a lack of moisture and hydration. Daily pollution and dirt, unhygienic practices, and stress can also ruin your hair texture.

What deficiency causes coarse hair?

A deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals, such as biotin or iron, can contribute to coarse hair.

Does hair get more coarse as you age?

Hair can become more coarse as you age due to hormonal changes, a decrease in oil production, and natural wear and tear.

What ethnicity has coarse hair?

Coarse hair is commonly found in people of African and Afro-Caribbean descent, as well as those of Hispanic and Mediterranean descent.

What syndrome has coarse hair?

Menkes syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that can cause coarse, brittle hair, and other symptoms.

What are some considerations for choosing the right hair care products for coarse hair, such as shampoos, conditioners, and treatments?

When choosing hair care products for coarse hair, it’s important to look for moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and glycerin. Avoid products with harsh sulfates or alcohol that can strip the hair of natural oils.

How often should you trim coarse hair to help maintain its health and prevent split ends?

It’s recommended to trim coarse hair every 8-12 weeks to help maintain its health and prevent split ends. However, this may vary depending on the individual’s hair texture and styling habits.

Key Takeaways

  • Apply nourishing hair oils like avocado, olive, or coconut oil to soften coarse hair and eliminate frizz and tangles.
  • It is critical to use a hydrating shampoo or conditioner made specifically for coarse hair.
  • A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can also assist in improving the health and appearance of your hair.
Soften Coarse Hair

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Master the art of caring for coarse, dry, and gray hair with these easy tips. Check out this video that offers expert advice to help you maintain healthy and beautiful hair effortlessly.

Personal Experience: Source


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Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee member of CDSI (Cosmetic dermatologist Society of India). She is highly skilled in non-surgical facial skin rejuvenation and face lift by the use of injection treatments and lasers.   Dr. Chavan is well-versed with dermatological and aesthetic procedures. Her special...read full bio

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