People often think structure refers to how the hair feels: rough, dry or oily. However, those are not hair structure. Hair Structure refers to the thickness and density of each individual strand of the hair.
Each individual strand is formed of 2 or 3 layers. The cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The ladder is the innermost layer of the hair shaft, the medulla is a soft/fragile, spongy mass of tissue. The cuticle is the most outward layer, it protects the inside of the hair shaft from damage. In between these two is the cortex which is made of long protein. The pigment that give your hair its natural colour is tucked among these protein strands. When you get split ends, it means you have worn the protective cuticle and since the cortex can’t repair itself you have to cut it.
There are 3 categories of hair structure:
Fine hair is the more fragile structure. The strands are thin and can easily break or damaged.
The structure of fine hair is by two layers: the cortex and cuticle.
Hair style: fine hair is light which makes it hard to achieve voluminous hair and hold a style. The right method can help achieve volume and style though it is hard to manipulate.
The most versatile and the most common hair structure. Its strength is on medium and hair can be manipulated easily making it easy to hold styles and curls. The structured by two layers – the cortex and cuticle & may also contain the medulla. Medium hair can be more resistant to breaking.
Hair style: Medium hair is in between light and heavy making it easy to be manipulated and hold curls and styles.
Thick/Coarse Hair is strong as its compositions has all three layers – the cortex, cuticle and medulla. It has more protein than the other 2 texture types. It appears full not only on the scalp, but its body has a lot of volume. This hair texture can tolerate higher amounts of heat, strong chemicals like dye, relaxers, texturisers and resist breakage.
Hairstyle: thick hair is able to hold most hairstyles for longer period of time. Blow outs, silk press, dying the hair or hold curls, the styling options are endless. However, you should always test on a small area before proceeding to do the whole head.
To know your hair structure there is a simple way you can test it.
Simply take a hair strand from a brush or comb and line it next to a piece of thread.
- If its thinner than the thread, then you have Fine hair.
- If its the same size as the thread is then your hair structure is Medium hair
- If the hair strand is thicker than the thread then you have Coarse/thick hair.