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Hair Density: See the Forest through the Trees

Knowing your hair density is one of the four keys pieces of determining the overall care and look of your hair.

What is it exactly? Hair density is the number of hair strands per inch on your scalp. This is not to be confused with hair thickness, which it often is. Hair density and hair thickness are two separate things. Hair thickness refers to the width of a single strand. Hair density refers to all of the hair strands grouped together. So you can have thick hair that is not dense and conversely that thin, fine hair that is dense. The more strands you have, the higher your density is; the fewer the number of strands, the lower your density. Still with me?

Hair Density: See the Forest through the Trees


Count it Out

Well, since the average human has about 80,000-120,000 strands of hair on their head, it is recommended that you get a mirror, a rattail comb and start counting and calculating. Just kidding! While counting is absolutely one way of determining hair density (formula is: # of strands per square inch multiplied by # of square inches of your scalp), we are suggesting that you use the simpler, less mathematical Scalp Viisual method.

Scalp Visual Method

Many people don’t want to be bothered with measuring hair density by getting a phototrichogram, an imaging technique that allows researchers to measure hair density and the growth phase of each individual hair. So the Scalp Visual method is the quick and easy method involving simply looking at your scalp and how you gather your hair in a ponytail.

  • Low Density - you can see your scalp without having to part it, especially when it’s wet.
  • Medium Density - If you need to move or part your hair because you can’t see your scalp; your ponytail is between 2-3 inches in circumference.
  • High Density - You can’t see your scalp and your ponytail is more than 4 inches in circumference.


    Below I’ll break down what the different densities mean, how to care for the various types and potential product recommendations. HOWEVER, I need to first stress that you shouldn’t take these guidelines in a silo. It is highly recommended that you also consider your hair’s porosity, thickness and type (i.e. curl pattern). Scarlett Roucott, owner/creator of Wonder Curl calls them the “Four Pillars of Hair Care” . Consideration of these four  factors is going to help you truly know your hair and aid in your experimentation with products that will ultimately define your unique hair care routine.

    Low Density
    What does it mean?
    Since you have fewer strands of hair to manage, your hair has less volume.
    Why might you have it?
    • Age - hair growth slows down with age due to the slow down of the hair follicle growth cycle
    • Damage - constant heat exposure from styling tools, harsh chemicals/treatments, hairstyles that pull at the hair
    • Genetics - you are likely following in the hair path of your parents
    • Hormones - imbalances can cause hair loss
    • Medications - the effects of various meds can cause hair loss or reduction in hair growth 
    • Nutrition - poor diet and vitamin/mineral deficiencies can lead to hair loss
    • Stress - sometimes you don’t need to pull your hair out from stress - it’ll fall out on its own! Science says telogen effluvium is hair loss that occurs when more hairs than normal enter the telogen phase simultaneously in response to a stressful event or illness.
    How do you take care of it?
    • Avoid heavy products that weigh your hair down like creams, butters, heavy gels and thick conditioners.
      • Aloe vera gel works well because it  improves the quality of hair and also has conditioning and calming agents that minimizes damage by conditioning and soothing the scalp. It helps in unlocking the hair follicles to enhance hair growth.
    • Limit the number of products that you use and avoid layering them.
    • Opt for products that will give you movement and body-ody-ody.
    • Limit the use of heat styling tools and coloring hair because they will just cause more damage to your hair.
    • Keep your scalp clean and free of product buildup
    • Eat healthier and drink more water because even a slight healthy modification in your diet can enhance the texture, sheen, growth, and hair density.
    • When all else fails, go seek the help of a trustworthy trichologist, who can evaluate your situation and get to the root of the problem.
    Our product recommendations
    Medium Density
    What does it mean?
    You have the option of increasing or correlating your hair’s volume as you choose. (We like this degree of control). However the ‘gotcha’ is that as your hair grows longer, the weight of it will pull down your hair and stretch out your curls. The outcome? Your crown/roots appear flat with curly ends and more volume. That can look...odd.
    How do you take care of it?
    • Focus on products that will keep your hair healthy. The right amount of moisture and styling products will keep curls healthy and feel soft.
    • Look for products that enhance the texture, tame frizz and increase manageability.
    • Mousse and dry shampoos will increase volume, while butters and hair masks will decrease volume, while giving your hair more weight and hang.
    • Deep condition regularly.
    • Wash-and-go styles will allow your current hair texture to shine through, while twists and braids will work well to alter your curl pattern and give it more structure.
    Our product recommendations
    High Density
    What does it mean?
    Typically, you have a lot of hair to tame because it’s a lot and it’s big! Hair is heavier and requires strong hair ties to secure it. Your curls are more densely packed in higher density scalps, making detangling a chore.
    How do you take care of it?
    • It’s best to work with your hair in sections to get control of it.
    • Laying products will help to seal the moisture into your hair.
    • Focus on products with heavier holds—like gels, creams, and styling butters. This helps to reduce the volume and frizz by keeping your curls grouped together.
      • A good serum or oil can also help to control that daggone frizz.
    • Carefully detangle those tightly packed curls with lots of conditioner, regular and deep.
    Our product recommendations



    Morgan B. Murphrey, Sanjay Agarwal; Anatomy, Hair -

    Dr. Leonard C. Sperling, June 1999; Hair Density in African-Americans -

    Mathew R. Birnbaum, Beth N. McLellan, Jerry Shapiro, Kenny Ye and Sophia D Reid, December 2017; Evasion of Hair Density in Different Ethnicities in a Healthy American Population Using Quantitative Trichoscopic Analysis -

    Kanchana Leerunyakul and Poonkiat Suchonwanit, February 2020; Evaluation of Hair Density and Hair Diameter in the Adult Thai Population Using Quantitative Trichoscopic Analysis -