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What is the Best Shampoo For Coarse Hair?

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Coarse hair is not a curse. The problem is not the hair; it is the products and the approach. One of my favorite stories to tell is about the time I was in a lovely little salon down in Southern California, and the stylist said "Girl, no one should use Pantene or Tresemme.” As a writer, I became obsessed with the why. Why should no one use dollar store shelf products? What products should we use? You see, I am a mother of two girls, one with thick, coarse, heavy hair and the other with incredibly fine gossamer silk hair. Both are beautiful; I just needed to learn how to treat their hair to highlight that beauty. The trickier of the two is the coarse hair. So, what shampoo should I use for her coarse hair? And how do I soften it? 

Table of Contents:  

  1. What Is Coarse Hair? 
  2. The Five Best Tips to Soften Coarse Hair 
  3. Stop Overheating Your Coarse Hair! 
  4. Products for Softening Coarse Hair 

What Is Coarse Hair? 

Coarse hair, as opposed to fine hair at the opposite extreme, is defined by a thick hair shaft. When you hold a strand of coarse hair, it is like holding a piece of thread. With fine hair, you often don’t even realize you are holding a strand of hair. Coarse hair typically shows up on your head looking wiry, kinky, curly, or wavy. To many women, it feels unruly and unmanageable. Allied Market Research shows the hair straightener market to be worth $591.2 million in its current state, and that figure is expected to rise by almost double in the next few years. Crazy, right? But if you listen to many prominent women with coarse hair, they will tell you to embrace it, not to straighten it.  

Why Would You Soften Coarse Hair? 

Part of embracing your coarse hair is to make it more manageable. Soften it. You can find shampoos, conditioners, and tons of other products on the market today that encourage you to love your coarse hair. When you soften it, you get the relaxed, easier-to-style effect without adding harsh chemicals that can cause irrevocable damage.  

The Five Best Tips to Soften Coarse Hair 

1. It’s not the Shampoo. It’s the Conditioner 

With shampoo, a top-quality product will typically do. Shampoo, although important, will not make an enormous difference in your coarse hair. Conditioner, however, will. Remember, shampooing is simply cleaning your hair. Conditioning is where you get the true softening effect. 

Nevertheless, when choosing a shampoo, go for a sulfate-free product. Sulfates can be very harsh on your hair, stripping it of natural oils and leaving it coarse and straw-like. Also, look for natural ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar, that can regulate the pH of your scalp and flatten the scales of your cuticle, leaving your hair softer and easier to manage.  

2. Do Not Shampoo Too Often 

Which shampoo you use, other than top quality and all-natural, might not have a huge impact on your coarse hair, but shampooing too often certainly will. Your hair has natural oils and protectors that keep it moist and healthy. Over shampooing it will only make it drier, which will make it harder to work with as well as less shiny and bouncy.  

3. Leave-In Love 

Leave-in conditioners are all the rave for a reason. Especially for women on a mission to soften coarse hair, a top-quality leave-in conditioner will do wonders for keeping your hair touchably soft. They’re easy to spray on while your hair is damp and provide just the right amount of extra conditioner for coarse hair. 

4. Hair Masks 

The epitome of self-care, a hair mask is an ultra-indulgent treatment for a Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a face mask and maybe even a glass of wine. If you’ve been treating your hair, straightening it, or heating it repeatedly with hairdryers and flat irons, a hair mask is an answer to all your damaged hair problems. You’ll come away from a good hair mask feeling like you just spent hours in a salon. 

5. Avoid the Sun 

Those women in old movies and art from the 1800s knew what they were doing with their bonnets and parasols. The sun does not just damage your skin; it also damages your hair, perhaps even more than your skin. Why? Because by the time hair comes out of the follicle, it is already dead. Adding heat to something already dead, not to mention prone to dryness if you have coarse hair, only adds insult to injury. Keep your hair protected during those long walks outside or while you’re laid out on the beach.  

Stop Overheating Coarse Hair! 

Once upon a time, women went to the salon once a week, got the whole treatment, from nails to hair, and then simply kept that treatment up for the week. They would sleep with a cloth over their hairdos to protect them and wear rubber gloves while doing dishes. Preservation. Today, women often blow their hair dry every single day, applying a flat iron and mountains of chemicals. Then they go out in the sun! No wonder we all complain about dry, damaged hair. All women, but especially those with coarse hair, should stop overheating. The problem for coarse hair is not the hair. It is all the damage we do to it.  

Products to Soften Coarse Hair 

I’ve included a few products below that can help you soften coarse hair:  

Conditioner Options 

From coconut oil to argan oil, these conditioners have all the ingredients a conditioner should have for soft hair. Click the link to check out the details. 

Hair Masks 

Treat yourself with an intense mask to soften even the coarsest hair. Check out the list of vitamins and nutrients in these products at the link above. 

ACV Mist Tonic

I cannot say enough about apple cider vinegar. Adding it to a leave-in conditioner is brilliant for a clean, soft shine. Check out the details above. 

Hair Oil 

Search the internet and you will find dozens of articles proclaiming the wonders of hair oils. Sealing your follicle from the cuticle to the tender ends, these oils are the latest miracle product. Click the link to explore.  

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website thewordywitch.com

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