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Fine Hair


Steve Carell as Michael Scott

One of the common misconceptions regarding hair type and texture is understanding the differences between fine hair and thin hair.

Depending which hair expert you talk to they will tell you that hair can be classified by Hair Type, Texture, Condition (porosity) and Length.

In reality there are more categories hair experts utilize to determine hair classifications including sight, touch and hair's aroma to name a few additional classifications not often discussed.

Definition Of Hair Types

Generally speaking Hair Type refers to the diameter of the hair which is classified from the widest diameter which is coarse, medium, fine or very fine.

You may see Hair Type defined as fine, medium, thick or very fine, fine, medium, thick to extremely thick. Again, different hair experts will offer different opinions and classification systems.

Regardless of the Hair Type naming conventions utilized, fine hair has the narrowest diameter and coarse or thick hair has the widest diameter.

Layers - Medulla, Cortex, Cuticle

Coarse or thick hair contains three layers including the medulla, cortex and cuticle. Usually the scales on the outside layer are closely overlapped and raised away from the hair shaft, which is the primary reason coarse hair easily absorbs water.

Medium hair is the most common type of hair and also contains the medulla, cortex and cuticle like coarse hair. However the three layers present in coarse hair may not be as all comprehensive as it is in coarse hair.

Fine hair doesn't have three layers. It only has two, which includes the cortex and the cuticle. It does not have the medulla.

Fine hair can range from very fine to fine. That may sound confusing but the reality is that fine hair is not standard issue. Men, women or children can have fine hair which has different levels of fineness.

They can also have differing levels of coarseness which some heads of hair combining multiple types with some parts of the hair being fine, some medium and maybe even some coarse.

Fine hair, regardless of how fine, requires special care. Why? A microscopic study of the structure of fine hair is that it has only two layers.

Definitions Of Three Layers Of Hair Structure

The Medulla is the innermost layer referred to as the pith or marrow of the hair shaft and is composed of round cells. People with fine or very fine tresses do not contain this layer.

The Cortex is the middle or inner layer which provides the hair's strength and elasticity. It's made of a fibrous substance created by elongated cells. This layers contains pigmentation which controls the color of the hair.

The Cuticle is the top layer of the hair which is often referred to as the horny outer layer. It is composed of transparent, overlapping, protective, scale-like cells which point away from the scalp and towards the ends of the hair. Chemical and other related hair treatments blow open the cuticle scales so that the treatments can be absorbed by the Cortex.

People with coarse or medium hair contain all three layers.

Hair Shapes

Hair also has unique shape with straight hair having a round shape, wavy hair having an oval shape and curly or kinky hair has almost a flat shape.

Wiry Hair

Regardless whether your hair is very fine, fine, medium or thick, it can also be defined as wiry. When hair is wiry is has a hard glassy feeling because the cuticle scales lie flat against the hair shaft. As a result it takes longer for this type of hair to be treated since the cuticles are harder to penetrate. This can be true of fine hair which is also wiry.

Fine Hair Type Plus Textures

Fine hair can occur in all different hair textures which include straight, wavy, curly and kinky. Jessica Simpson is a great example of someone who has fine hair which is also naturally wavy.

Fine Hair Versus Thin Hair

Fine hair can also go through periods where it thins but any hair type or texture can also experience thinning. One of the points of confusion is that people with genetically bestowed fine or very fine hair are referred to as having thin hair. This may not be accurate unless the person who has fine hair is also experiencing thinning.


Fine hair can be defined

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- Revised Publication Date: 03/03/10

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