What is hair density? How is it different from hair volume?

Let’s talk about hair density, the thing we all want and some of us don’t have and can never have. Hair density is often what makes hair look fuller and voluminous; however, hair volume isn’t always because of high density (also known as, a lot of hair), it can also be due to strand thickness. 

Hair density vs. Stand thickness?

High Density Hair Illustration

Density, when used in hair the world, refers to the amount of hair strands you have per centimetre or inch of your scalp or skin. Apparently, the average person has between 800 and 1 200 hair follicles per square inch (between 120 and 200 follicles per square centimetre) of their scalp, and sheds between 50 and 100 hairs per day (the shedding part is a bit stressful if you ask us). 

The other hair characteristic that influences volume is strand thickness, this is the diameter of an individual hair strand/shaft. But when we talk of hair thickness on the streets, we are generally referring to a combination of strand thickness and hair density. The reality is that someone could have low density hair that is really thick or have high density hair that has really thin strands, both these cases would present themselves as volume.

How do you know if you have low density or high-density hair?

Medium Density Hair Illustration

You can use the brutal force method of counting the hair in a square centimetre of your scalp. If you have long hair you can determine whether you have  high, low, or medium density by tying it in a single pony, and wrap your forefinger and thumb around your pony; the diameter of the pony will indicate your density, if your forefinger and thumb touch but don’t overlap your nail you have medium density hair. If your thumb overlaps all the way to the first knuckle of your forefinger you have (very) low density hair, if your thumb and forefinger don’t touch you are on the higher end of the hair density spectrum. This method is a bit corrupted because it is also affected by strand thickness and the size of your hand, unfortunately.

Otherwise you can wet your hair and let it hang/stand loosely, if you can easily see your scalp through your strands you have low density hair and if you can barely see your scalp you have medium density hair. The less you see your scalp the more dense your hair is. 

The last alternative to figure out your hair density will work even if you have a teeny-weeny afro, and it’s a pencil test (yes, these are oppressive methods of apartheid but it’s not oppressive if you’re doing it on yourself 😉). Stick a pen or pencil in your hair, close to your scalp, and shake your head a couple of times to see if the pen falls out. If the pen falls you have low density, if the pen moves a bit you are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, if that pen is stuck it means your hair is at the higher end of the density spectrum.

If none of these options are suitable for you, you can do what is called a phototrichogram (don’t ask us how to pronounce that), this is a medical test that assesses the quality and quantity of your hair.

Low Density Hair Illustration

What determines hair density? What determines your hair density? Hair density like most hair characteristics has genetic influences. Hair density is not only influenced by genetics but also your lifestyle choices, any medical conditions you might be experiencing, eating habits, or stress (which can influence hair fallout).

What Can You Do to Improve Your Hair Density?

There are a few products that are commercially available that are dedicated to helping improve hair density or volume, but there are also a lot of home remedies that you can make using products in your kitchen or your bathroom. You can try the products listed below to solve some of your density struggles.

Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that keep the scalp clean and help strengthen your follicles. Aloe can be applied directly to the scalp and gently massaged into your scalp using your fingers. After an hour aloe can be rinsed off with cold water, moisturise your hair as you normally would.

Honey and onion juice: This is better done with red onions and not white onions. With a dash of water, blend chopped onions until they are a pulp and then drain the onion water using a cloth. Measure the water and add an equal part of honey to the onion water and mix thoroughly. Massage the mixture into your scalp and leave on for an hour or a bit more, rinse out with cold water once the hour is over.

Happy hair care!

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