Balding is an unavoidable side effect of growing older for many men. Some start to lose their hair as early as their twenties; others may not notice their hair thinning until their forties or fifties. The lucky ones will keep a full head of hair well into old age but most of us will start to notice our hair look thinner and our hairline start receding at some point in our adult life.
Let’s take a quick aside– balding is natural and nothing you should be ashamed of, so let’s check our ego at the door here.
If you feel like you already have “thin hair,” then you may be extra sensitive about the possibility that you’re starting to go bald. However there is a difference between thinning hair and fine hair.
Fine hair might feel thin when you run your hand through it but actually has nothing to do with hair loss. So, how can men tell the difference between thin hair vs. fine hair?
Fine Hair: Texture, Not Hair Loss
If your hair feels thin when you run your hands through it, this may be about your natural texture rather than potential hair loss. Hair texture is determined by its physical characteristics - like the diameter of each strand - rather than how much hair you have.
What is fine hair, you ask? “Fine” is a term used to describe hair that is very thin in diameter, as opposed to medium or coarse hair, which grows naturally thicker. An individual hair strand is obviously too thin for you to measure yourself but, if you roll a single strand between your fingertips and can’t feel it, then you have fine hair.
Medium or coarse hair is easier to feel because the strands are wider in diameter. If you have fine hair then it probably will feel thin when you run your hand through it, but this would be true even if you have a very healthy head of hair.
Caring for fine hair comes with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Your ultra-thin strands will feel silky and smooth and can easily be styled straight with a blow dryer or a straightener.
On the other hand, getting some extra volume out of your light and airy hair can be a tall task, especially since fine hair is fragile and more prone to breakage.
Finding the right products for your hair type can make all the difference:
- A volumizing shampoo can help you add some oomph to your fine hair, which typically does not have much natural volume on its own.
- When you style your hair, a protective mousse or heat spray can prevent your tender strands from excessively drying out or breaking. If you use a blow dryer, try to stick to the low heat setting as well.
- Avoid using heavy or thick styling products, which can weigh down your hair and make your look fall flat. Try not to over-condition for the same reason.
The key is to use products that will keep your hair healthy without weighing it down to maximize the volume that you do have.
Thinning Hair - A Fact Of Life
The fundamental difference between thin hair and fine hair is whether your hair is changing over time. The term "thin hair" refers to the density of your hair - or how much of it you have and how far apart the individual strands are - rather than what type of hair you have.
Thinning hair is one way men can start to lose their hair as they age, and can occur with any hair texture. Men with fine hair might assume that their hair is thinning because some of the characteristics seem similar. For example, thin hair also has very little natural volume and can feel very soft and delicate. In this case, however, the lack of volume is a result of a lack of hair. Similarly, the soft hair could be either a result of hair texture changing with age– you can thank dihydrotestosterone for that. Or, maybe, because you’ve had fine hair all along.
The easiest way to distinguish between fine and thinning hair is to pay attention to how your hair has changed over time. Have you noticed a newly receding hairline? Have you lost volume over the past few years, or noticed that your hair is starting to become patchy or uneven? If you're nodding in agreement, then your hair is likely beginning to thin.
There are products that claim to reverse hair loss, but we’ll note again that hair loss is a natural part of the aging process. Though there isn't a whole lot that you can do to avoid it, you can take steps to keep your hair looking full and healthy:
- Use a styling product that will add some texture to your hair, like a thickening cream or a volumizing mousse. As with fine hair, avoid products that are too thick or heavy, as these will just weigh your hair down.
- Ask your barber for advice on what hairstyles might help to compensate for thinner or accentuate other features. Hair cuts that leave your hair a little longer on top tend to work well, as you can comb your hair over or add some volumizing product.
- Use a pre-shampoo scalp oil to open up your hair follicles and stimulate blood circulation and hair growth. This will also help your hair lock in moisture, keeping it strong and healthy and less likely to break or fall out.
You’ll likely have more success trying to manage the way your hair looks than trying to reverse the thinning process. Fortunately, a good hairstyle and the right products can make a world of difference.
No matter how hard they fight it, most men will experience thinning hair at some point in their lives. It can be tempting to obsess over perceived changes in your hairline; however, knowing the difference between fine hair vs. thin hair can help to save you some stress– if you’re worried about losing your hair, more stress is exactly what you don’t need.
Understanding what’s going on with your hair is the best way to determine how to take care of it and keep it healthy. In this case, for men with fine or thinning hair, this means being careful not to over-condition and avoiding heavy products that will just weigh down your hair.
You should approach your hair with the same care that you treat your skin. Prioritizing products with natural ingredients and using them regularly can make a huge difference in how healthy your hair looks, and when you look good, you’ll feel good.
And remember, whether you’ve got thin hair, fine hair, or no hair, you still rock– don't stress more than its worth!