How to determine your hair type once and for all

Think you know your hair type but can’t seem to find products that work? Much like understanding your skin type is vital for curating an effective skin care regime, accurately determining your hair type is crucial. Still, many people maintain a misconception when it comes to their hair, as it can be more difficult to determine than diagnosing your skin as dry or oily. The fact of the matter is that hair types are much more complicated. Need some help? Let’s get to the root of determining your hair type, once and for all. 

The obvious categories of thick, thin, curly, or oily barely scratch the surface of what makes up hair types. Just like you, your hair is unique, and truly understanding the type of hair you have means putting time and money into products and treatments that will actually work for your hair and help you make the best hair care decisions. 

Here are a few factors to consider in determining your hair type.

Diameter of hair strands

The best place to start in determining your hair type is to begin by measuring the diameter of a single strand of hair. Take one strand of hair between your fingertips. Don’t feel anything? This is a sign of fine hair. If you do feel the lone strand, your hair is of medium width, and if it feels thick or textured, your hair is likely coarse.

Another strand test includes taking one single strand and laying it on a flat surface. If it’s barely visible, it is fine. If it looks textured and thick, your hair is coarse. Anything in between is medium. Setting a single strand of hair next to a piece of thread can also help you gauge the diameter or width of your hair; if it’s about the same width, your hair is medium. If it is thicker than the thread, your hair is thick. Similarly, if it is thinner, your hair is fine.

Hair Density

People often confuse diameter and hair density to be one and the same, but this is far from the truth. A person may have a thin hair strand width but have a thick amount of hair. Essentially, hair density refers to how much hair you actually have – the number of strands themselves and not how thick each one is. Thin diameter does not always equal thin density, nor does medium diameter equal medium density. More often than not, people will have differing densities and diameters. 

The method to determining your hair density is simple; take a handful of hair from the front of your head and gently pull it to the side. Is a lot of your scalp visible between the bunches of strands? If so, this means you have thin density, if you can barely see your scalp at all, your hair’s density is thick. Anything in between is medium density.


Hair density and diameter are key factors in helping to determine the type of products to use. For instance, someone with dense hair and coarse hair strands will need smoothing, anti-frizz products, while someone with thin density hair and coarse hair strands will need volumizing products, to make the hair look fuller.


Have you ever tried stretching out a hair strand before? This is a simple way to determine the elasticity and strength of your hair. If the hair strand snaps immediately after trying to pull it between your fingers, your elasticity is low, whereas if you’re able to stretch the strand, your hair’s elasticity is high. 

Hair elasticity is a healthy hair indicator and helps determine how well your hair can hold any styling. High elasticity hair is better able to retain shape such as curls, waves, or other hairstyles easily, whereas low elasticity hair may need more product to hold styles, or may not be able to hold shape for very long. With low elasticity hair, it’s important to look for strengthening products and treatments like hair masks to prevent breakage and reinforce your strands.

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