Here is a complete guide on how maintain and style natural fine afro kinky hair.
You will learn how to evaluate the thickness and the density of your hair and how to create more volume when styling your hair.
You will also find recommended products for fine hair at the bottom of the article.
What is hair thickness?
The thickness is the diameter of a strand of hair. The larger the diameter, the thicker the hair.
The smaller the diameter, the finer the hair.
Afro hair can either be thick, fine or medium thickness. Thicker hair is stronger and less likely to break.
This is why thick hair tends to retain its length easier than fine hair.
How to evaluate the thickness of your hair?
Hair thickness varies according to the different area of the head.
To evaluate the thickness of your hair, pick some hair from the front, the back and the sides of the head.
Place the hair strand under the light:
- Fine hair is almost transparent when placed under the light. They quickly lose their volume and are easily weighed down by water, oils and conditioner. They are often compared to baby hair or “angel hair”. You can barely feel a strand of fine hair between your fingers.
- It is easier to see a medium thickness strand of hair under the light and to feel it between the fingers. This is the most common hair thickness among women. They are stronger than fine hair.
- Thick hair is easily visible under light, even on a surface of the same color of the hair.
Characteristics of fine afro hair
Fine hair has fewer cuticle layers and a smaller cortex.
Because there is less cuticle to go through, water easily penetrates fine hair but evaporates just as quickly.
Moreover, because the cortex is smaller, there is less room to accommodate water molecules.
Fine hair is delicate, breaks easily and has more difficulties to retain its length compared to thicker hair.
This type of hair is easily weighed down by creams and butters.
Density and thickness of the hair
Thin hair and fine hair are two different things. Indeed, the density is the number of hair per cm2 of scalp. You may very well have fine hair but a lot of it (high density).
Likewise, you may have thick hair but a few of it (low density).
The relationship between the thickness and porosity of textured hair
The diameter of a strand is the physical factor that has the most impact on porosity.
The finer the hair, the more easily the water penetrates and evaporates.
This is why fine hair tends to be high porosity.
This is also why fine hair can be easily tinted but loses its colour just as easily.
Fine afro hair maintenance
Protein-rich hair products
Choose hydrolyzed protein rich hair products.
These proteins will create a film around the hair fiber, which will give it more support, tonus and volume.
That being said, not all of your products should contain proteins. It is important to alternate from time to time with a protein-free hair product in order to avoid ‘protein overdose’.
How to recognize proteins in your hair products?
Look for the following keywords:
For example “Hydrolysed Wheat Protein”.
How to recognize amino acids in hair products?
Amino acids are the units of proteins. They strengthen the hair by penetrating deep into the cortex.
To recognize amino acids into your hair products, look for: source of the amino acid (silk, rice …) + “amino acid”. For example, “silk amino acid”.
Should you use sprays, milks or creams?
Use moisturizing sprays or milks rather than creams that may weigh down your hair.
Strengthening the hair with henna
Neutral henna treatments and colouring your hair with henna will strengthen fine hair, give it support and volume.
While coloring henna is permanent, the effect of a neutral henna treatment is temporary.
I recommend another application of neutral henna only once the previous effect has faded.
Make sure to test on a small section of hair before applying it to the whole head.
Sometimes, henna can dry out hair and make it brittle.
Rhassoul is a clay that increases volume on fine hair. Use it instead of your shampoo.
Products to avoid on fine hair
Avoid using butters, castor oil or silicone-based hair products, which can weigh down fine hair.
Fine hair should also avoid using the no-poo method (i.e using only hair conditioner to wash the hair).
This technique does not effectively eliminate product build-ups, that may accumulate and weigh down your fine hair.
Fine hair is easily weighed down by product build-ups.
This is why it is important to clarify your hair regularly (every 4 to 6 weeks) with a clarifying shampoo (such as Kinky Curly – Come Clean).
Hair care routine idea for fine afro hair.
- Spray the length and the tips of your hair with a mixture of conditioner and water and gently finger detangle.
- Shampoo your hair twice using a protein and sulfate free product shampoo.
- Apply a protein treatment on the hair only. Do not apply any product on the roots to avoid weighing down the hair.
- Leave the product on your hair following manufacturer’s instructions (never leave your treatment overnight).
- Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Spray the length and tips of your hair with a protein-rich leave-on conditioner.
- Apply a small amount of sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil on the lengths and tips.
Wash your hair preferably once a week.
Apply a protein treatment every other week.
If your hair loses its stretch and becomes hard, reduce the frequency of use of the protein treatment and alternate with a protein-free treatment.
If your hair is still soft and too stretchy, increase the frequency of your protein treatment.
During the week, alternate between a protein-rich spray and a non-protein spray to avoid any potential “overdose”.
Avoid applying products on the roots to avoid weighing down your hair and reducing volume.
Product recommendations can be found at the bottom of this article.
How to style fine afro hair?
Because fine hair is relatively fragile, the way you style your hair should limit breakage.
- Opt for protective hairstyles that require little handling when styling or undoing the hair.
- Wear medium to large two strand-twists rather than small ones. The thinner the twists such as “mini-twists” or braids, the more likely your hair is going to break while styling it or when undoing your hairstyle.
- It is better to wear twists compared to braids. Because the tips of braids are harder to undo, it increases the chances of breakage.
- Wearing buns and alternating the location of the bun is a very good protective hairstyle for fine hair.
- When you wear your hair out such as a twist-out or braid-out, wear your hair up to prevent the tips from rubbing with your clothes and becoming more fragile.
Density is the number of hair per cm2 of scalp.
Afro hair has an average density of 190 hair strands per cm2. There are 3 types of hair densities: sparse, medium and high density.
How to evaluate your hair density?
To evaluate the density of your hair, study the appearance of your scalp when your hair is dry and in its natural state. Using a mirror and looking at it from different angles, can you see your scalp easily?
- If you can see your scalp easily, you have a low density.
- If you can slightly see your scalp, you have a normal or average density.
- If you have to move your hair around in order to see the scalp, you have high density.
Fine hair maintenance and low density hair maintenance don’t use the same products.
Low density hair can be thin, medium thickness or thick. Hair density is controlled by hormones and genetics.
Medical treatments such as chemotherapy can also have an impact on hair density.
Hair growth can not be stimulated by the application of products on the scalp (other than products prescribed by a dermatologist) or by scalp massage.
Additionally, dietary supplements do not promote hair growth either. They can only “complement” your diet.
If you have a deficit in minerals and vitamins which are necessary for hair growth, dietary supplements will provide the missing minerals.
How to style low density hair?
Twists + bantu knots = curly afro
- Twist your hair then wear your twists into bantu knots.
- Once your hair is dry, gently remove your bantu knots and twists.
- Shape your hairstyle.
These twists gives you more volume than traditional twists.
Embrace the “shrinkage”
Stretched hair will show more scalp than hair worn in their natural shrunken state.
Braid-out = more volume
The braid-out will give you more volume than a twist-out.
Indeed, you will get more frizz and less definition when removing the braids compared to twist-outs.
Less definition = more volume
If you wear a braid-out or a twist-out, the more you separate the strands, the more volume you will get but the less definition you will end up with.
Get rid of the sectioning left by the braids /twists
After undoing your braids/twists, dampen your hands and massage your scalp in order to remove any remaining sectioning.
It is better to have medium to large size braids/twists as it will be easier to get rid of the sectioning.
Products for fine afro hair
These products do not contain silicone.
(p): contains proteins
Range of products for fine hair: Shea Moisture – Fruit Fusion
Pick preferably a translucent shampoo. Opaque shampoos are cream based shampoos and they tend to weigh down your hair more easily.
- Jessicurl – Gentle Lather Shampoo
- Mielle Organics – Babassu Conditioning Shampoo (p)
- Camille Rose Naturals – Clean Rinse
- Shea Moisture – Yucca and Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Conditioner (p)
- Shea Moisture – Fruit Fusion Coconut Water – Weightless Crème Rinse (p)
- Shea Moisture – Fruit Fusion Coconut Water – Weightless Crème Masque (p)
- Shea Moisture – Yucca and Plantain Anti-breakage Strengthening Masque (p)
- As I Am – CocoShea Spray Moisturizer
- Jane Carter Solution – Quench (p)
- Jane Carter Solution – Slumber Party
- Mielle Organics – White Peony Leave-In Conditioner (p)
- Shea Moisture – Yucca and Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Styling Milk (p)
- Camille Rose Naturals – Curls Love Moisture Milk
- Mielle Organics – Moisturising Avocado Hair Milk (p)
- As I Am – Moisture Milk
- Curls – Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-in (p)
- Shea Moisture – Coconut and Hibiscus Frizz Free Curl Mousse
- Cantu – Wave Whip Curling Mousse
- Jane Carter Solution – Natural Twist Out Foam