Hair Care 101
Which Hair Type Are You?
Everyone wants what’s best for their own hair. But despite living with it every day, proper hair care and product use can still be a mystery.
The difference comes down to type: fine, medium, or coarse hair. Knowing your hair’s structure is the first step to keeping it happy and healthy.
In this guide, we’ll go over what makes each hair type different, and what you need to know for your hair’s best care.
Let’s start with a little scientific breakdown.
Hair care 101 (for any type)
Every hair strand on your head is made of about 80 or 90% protein and moisture. Other elements include lipids, pigment, carbohydrates, and a small sprinkling of other minerals.
Protein and moisture, the main parts, are important to keep in mind for hair care needs. Protein is what makes the hair strand strong, but too much can limit hair’s movement. And moisture makes hair springier, but will also create a greasy effect.
Everyone’s hair texture falls somewhere along this spectrum, giving your hair its character (and creating different challenges). To get the right levels of movement and prevent breakage or dryness, look for products that balance out what your hair type lacks.
But the basics of hair care, no matter your type, are essentially the same.
When shampooing, apply just a dollop of product to the scalp and let it rinse down the hair strand. Shampoo magnetically attracts dirt and other gunk, pulling it away from the oil-heavy roots.
When conditioning, think end-first. The ends of your hair have been exposed to the elements longer and have less nourishment from the scalp, so add conditioner there to make up for extra dryness.
Proper care, including finding the right products, largely depends on your hair’s type. Here’s an overview of some hair care best practices for each.
Products and care for fine hair
Structurally, fine hair has extra moisture and less protein than other types. This is what leads to problems like flat, greasy-looking hair.
To fight this flat effect, fine hair needs volume and fullness.
On any hair care products, look for extra protein but skip adding moisture. Products labelled with words like “volume” or “body” are likely to work for your hair.
Products and care for medium hair
Medium hair has an equal split of moisture and protein, making it less brittle and more flexible. But this type’s natural balance is easy to throw off with the wrong hair product.
Too much extra moisture or protein will mess up a good thing. Medium hair needs “balancing” products that don’t go too far either way.
In your product search, check for words like “balance” or “neutral” to get an even mix of moisture and protein.
Products and care for coarse hair
Coarse hair’s structure is at the opposite end of the spectrum: it’s got tons of protein and not much moisture, making it less flexible and prone to dryness.
Coarse hair’s balance needs a bit of gentle care, so look for products that soften and nourish. Hair care products with extra moisture and minimal protein are the way to go.
On any product, labels like “moisturizing” or “hydrating” will point you in the right direction.
By Lauren McCue