The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Thick and Coarse Hair

Different folks need different strokes: A customized guide for women with thick, coarse hair. 

Photo by Paul Westlake


"This type of hair is often drier because it has the least amount of oil glands and the largest diameter," says Kingsley. The good news: It also means you can go the longest between shampoos. "Wash once or twice a week, and make sure you lather twice if it's been a whole week between shampoos," says Timothy Brad Wandrey, the director of education for Cutler/Redken Salons. Use something labeled as moisturizing, like Caviar Alterna Haircare Moisture Intense Oil Crème Shampoo and Conditioner. "They often contain oils like jojoba, coconut, or argan, which sink in and restore moisture," says Christyn Nawrot, a national educator for Phyto and a licensed cosmetologist.


Get a cut every 12 to 16 weeks, and at every other appointment, ask your stylist to remove bulk from your hair. "Doing it at every appointment could make your hair look and feel too thin," warns Wandrey. Also, try to keep it on the longer side. Styles that are shorter than shoulder length require more maintenance in a daily styling routine, as this texture looks best smooth and shaped.


"Coarse hair tends to be naturally dark, so regrowth can be very noticeable," says Ian Michael Black, the global artistic director for hair color for Aveda. Color as often as you need to—every two to four weeks if you have severe grays, or every six to eight weeks for highlights. "If you're using a semi- or demipermanent formula, pull the color all the way through to your ends every time to get a boost of shine," says Justin Anderson, a colorist at the Chris McMillan Salon, in Beverly Hills. Keep in mind that coarse hair can be very dry, so incorporate a hydrating mask into your regular routine to prolong your color's vibrancy.


Heavier styling creams, like R+Co Jackpot Styling Crème, and oils, like Dessange Paris Oleo Miracle Replenishing Oil, are your best bet. "Start with a dime-size amount and add more as needed," says Wandrey. This will help add moisture and shine and also define the texture.

Hair Hack

This type takes forever to dry and style. Fake a blow-out by showering at night and twisting damp hair into a high bun. In the morning, undo it, and wind a half-inch iron through a few front and side sections. Set with hair spray.