Is Thick Hair Healthy?

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Most people with thick hair would agree. Whether their position is justified or not remains to be seen. To thoroughly understand the concept of healthy hair and how it correlates with hair thickness, a few aspects of hair health are explored in this article. The signs of healthy hair, the difference between thick and thin hair, and a couple of healthy hair tests are explained. The article wraps up the discussion by answering the title question and recommending a few healthy hair habits.

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What are the signs of healthy hair?

Healthy hair has the following attributes:

  • Elasticity (minimal breakage): A healthy strand of hair can be stretched up to half of its length without breaking. When released, it will spring back to its original length. If your hair breaks when you stretch it, then it is not in good health.
  • Strength (minimal shedding): If you lose too much hair while brushing, combing, styling, or showering, it means your hair is brittle. It is normal for any person to shed up to 80 strands of hair every day. Anything beyond this should sound the alarm.
  • Smooth Texture: When you run your fingers through different sections of your hair, it should feel soft to the touch. If it feels dry and rough, then it is possibly damaged and deserves special attention.
  • Dandruff-free Scalp: Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. The presence of dandruff suggests poor scalp and hair health.
  • Moisture Retention: Healthy hair has the ability to retain moisture. If your hair is unable to retain moisture or if it loses moisture very quickly, then you have a hair problem.
  • Natural Shine: Healthy hair is naturally shiny due to its ability to reflect light off its smooth surface. If your hair is dull and lifeless, then it is not healthy.
  • Hydrophobic Property: Healthy hair repels water because the cuticles are closed. On the other hand, unhealthy hair has open cuticles making it easy for water to be absorbed by the hair thus weighing it down.

How to distinguish between thick and thin hair?

Thick & Thin Hair

Thick & Thin Hair

Thick hair is significantly different from thin hair. Their differences are listed in the table below:

CharacteristicsThin HairThick Hair
VisibilityBarely visible when held between two fingersEasily visible when held between two fingers
FeelCannot be felt when rolled between two fingersCan be felt when rolled between two fingers
Ponytail sizeLess than 2 inchesMore than 4 inches
Size of hair folliclesSmallLarge
Number of hair folliclesFewMany

How can you determine if your hair is healthy?

There are two ways to find out if your hair is healthy or not:

  1. The water test, and
  2. Drying time.

Both methods are explained in the table below:

Methods Healthy HairUnhealthy Hair
The water testStrands will float if put inside a bowl of waterStrands will sink if put inside a bowl of water
Drying timeDries fasterDries slower

A 27-year-old IT consultant based in London woke up to an alarming discovery one morning – her pillow was littered with strands of her hair. After just a cup of coffee, she hurried to a trichologist (i.e. hair and scalp specialist) in her area. She was diagnosed with split ends, damaged cuticles and a flaky scalp following a hair and scalp examination. On further probing, it was found that her hair products, diet, and job-related stress contributed to her hair issues.

Those with naturally thick hair (like the IT consultant) take it for granted that their hair is healthy only because it is thick. These people are unaware of the effort required to keep thick locks in good shape. They fail to realize that thick hair is just as susceptible as thin hair to problems like split ends, frizz, dandruff, and alopecia if not properly cared for. A hair care routine suited to the particular hair type and thickness is essential for maintaining healthy hair.

It is also worth noting that conditions like dandruff and hair loss can be triggered by air pollution, an underlying medical condition, a genetic predisposition, or an unhealthy lifestyle. Developing hair-enhancing habits can abate problems faced on a regular basis such as split ends, breakage, and frizz.

Thick hair is generally regarded as a marker of healthy hair which is why many people desire it. Although it certainly looks better than thin hair, thick hair does not ensure good hair health by its own virtue. Like thin hair, thick hair has to be cared for.

Why is it important to care for thick hair?

All hair, including thick hair, will lose their luster and vigor if they are neglected. For hair to feel and look beautiful at all times, it must be cleaned and styled using products and tools which will optimize its health and minimize damage to it. In a nutshell, hair care is important for the following reasons:

  • Hair growth
  • Prevention of scalp problems like psoriasis and folliculitis
  • Elimination of dandruff
  • Reduction of breakage and shedding
  • Increased self-esteem that comes from great-looking hair

What healthy hair habits can you adopt?

Even if you have thick hair, you must develop hair habits for healthy hair in the long run. The following list serves as a guideline and is, in no way, exhaustive:

  • Avoid shampoos and cleansing products that contain sulfates. This chemical dehydrates the hair and causes frizz.
  • Shampoo every 5 days if you have thick hair and every 2 days if you have thin hair.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner to moisturize your hair.
  • Use a wide tooth comb to detangle wet hair.
  • Blow-dry your hair at the high heat settings initially for faster drying and then set low heat settings to prevent hair damage.
  • Trim your hair every 6 weeks to prevent split ends.
  • Apply a suitable hair mask once every week to rehydrate and soften the hair.
  • Avoid bleaching products because they tend to strip your hair of its natural moisture.
  • Eat a balanced diet with the right amount of proteins for strengthening your hair from its roots.
  • Exercise regularly to stimulate healthy blood circulation to every part of your body including your hair follicles.
  • Manage stress to avoid its adverse effects on your hair.