A lovely reader presented the question, is there a difference between fine hair and thin hair? There was a point in time when I would have answered no, they are the same. However, I now know differently, thus I view fine hair and thin hair as being two different characteristics of hair. In most cases, your hair is likely fine, not thin so let’s dig into the how and why.
Strands of hair can be fine, medium or thick based on diameter. When on a contrasting background or held to light, fine hair is translucent and hard to see. Those with fine hair will generally have a ponytail circumference of 2 inches or less. Medium hair is visible against a contrasting background or when held to light and feels much like a piece of thread. Ponytails generally range from 2 to 4 inches. Thick hair tends to be coarse and wiry and is easily seen against a contrasting background or when held to light. Ponytail circumference is generally greater than 4 inches.
While strand diameter measures the width of individual hair strands, the difference between fine hair and thin hair is driven by hair density which determines how closely strands are arranged on the scalp.
Density is best assessed on dry hair because wet hair tends to look thinner than what it really is. To perform this test, quickly flip your hair forward and back so that it’s naturally hanging in an un-parted, un-manipulated state. If there is a lot of scalp visible, this is low density hair. If some scalp is visible, this is medium density hair. And, if the scalp is not visible, this is high density hair.
Hair may not be of one density. My Komaza analysis determined I have medium to thick density. As you can see in the photos below, I have no scalp showing and my strands are medium thick in diameter.
Difference Between Fine Hair and Thin Hair
Fine hair refers to the diameter of each strand whereas thin hair refers to the overall density of hair. Fine hair with high density will have a thicker appearance than fine hair with low density. In contrast, thick hair with low density will have a thinner appearance even though the diameter of the strands are larger than fine hair.
Exceptions aside, both fine hair and thin hair tend to naturally lack volume and is prone to breakage and damage. Those dealing with these hair characteristics should not overdo it with product to avoid limp and lifeless hair.
My stylist shared a great tip for creating volume for those naturally lacking it — comb all hair going forward and then lightly comb it back down. Combing the hair forward gives the hair volume. This also works with finger combing for those that prefer it. Side Note: Do not overly comb the hair when combing it back down as that will cause your hair to lose the volume that was created.
The difference between fine hair and thin hair is, fine hair is determined by the diameter of your hair and thin hair is determined by the density. Fine hair and thin hair are not one and the same.
Were you aware of the difference between fine hair and thin hair?