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July 3, 2013

Thicker Natural Hair- Creating the Illusion of Big Hair



So here's the thing, having a lot of hair is often referred to as having big hair... thick hair.  However, hair THICKNESS or coarseness, refers to the size of individual strands, while having many (hundreds) of hair strands per square inch refers to DENSITY. Therefore, it is possible to have densely packed fine hair strands, in order words you can have "a whole lot" of fine hair strands or not so densely packed thick strands :)

According to the Science of Black Hair, "a strand of frayed thread is about the thickness of a medium sized strand of hair. If your strand is larger than this, then your hair is thick, if your strand is smaller than this, your hair is fine."

For the most part, the thickness and density of your hair is determined by genetics and hormones.  It is said that having large follicles yields larger strands and vice versa. So unfortunately, if you were not born with thick/coarse strands, then it is unlikely that there is anything that you can do to "make your strands thicker." However, hair that was once quite dense but thinned due to medication, hormonal issues, chemical treatments or hair color does have the ability to be "re-thickened", so to speak.  For the purposes of this article, we're going to discuss ways to potentially thicken up the strands you already have to create the illusion of bigger hair, as genetics already determined how many follicles you were gifted. 


  • Hair is made up of protein and a break down of the protein structure will cause hair to thin. Incorporating more protein into one's diet as well as adding strengthening protein products (hydrolyzed protein) to your hair will help to fill in any gaps/spaces that may be in the hair shaft, causing it to appear thicker. *Don't overdo the protein products though because if your hair is not sufficiently "soft AND strong" (protein-moisture balance) you will end up with a whole other set of problems*
  • Henna/Cassia - These both mimic protein treatments and coat the hair shaft, causing the hair strand to appear thicker. Both of these treatments (especially henna) may loosen your curl pattern overtime, so it's important to take steps (adding Amla powder, spacing treatments and/or doing just your roots) to prevent this if it's not a desired effect. I know this works because I used henna/cassia treatments to re-thicken areas of my hair that thinned a bit due to medication.  
  • Styling on dry hair - this is a great option for allowing your hair to appear fuller.
  • Applying Castor oil - as you know Castor oil is always the suggestion when someone asks "what can I do to thicken my hair." I know for a fact it works on hair that was once thick since I've used to re-thicken my edges. However, I do not know for sure if it works on "genetically" fine hair. The theory behind Castor oil is that "when rubbed on the scalp, castor oil has restorative properties that not only keep the scalp moisturized, but also help thin hair grow thicker and keep hair from falling out. The Omega-9 fatty acids in castor oil helps to regenerate new hair growth within just a few months." Source 
The only issue with these "solutions" is that they are temporary so they need to be constantly repeated in order to maintain the benefits.


What's your take on hair thickness? Have you had any success with hair thickening remedies? Please share your thoughts and experience below.


CN Says:
Henna works to build up my puny strands.  My strands go from wispy/see-through, to baby doll strands (coarser, fortified and shiny as hell) after a few treatments.  If you decide to embark on a henna journey do your research first!  Styling on dry hair is another trick I lean on in the cooler months.  Works like a charm!  Share your tips below!

36 Chime in!:

Esther Komolafe said...

Thanks for the information it was very helpful to me.

Karlene said...

Brahmi and Alms works for me.

Karlene said...

Brahmi and Alma works for me.

Hilary B. said...

My hair is fine but reaaally dense. Castor oil works for me.

DiscoveringNatural said...

Castor Oil has also worked well for me. You can see from my results: http://discoveringnatural.blogspot.com/2012/03/product-review-jamaican-black-castor.html Also, if you have used Jamaican Black Castor Oil before and got itchy scalp, here are some remedies: http://archive.feedblitz.com/433569/~3903515

DiscoveringNatural said...

YES!! This has also worked for me. I use it as my pre-poo twice a month. This also helps with Shedding and Breakage: http://discoveringnatural.blogspot.com/2012/07/product-review-amla-and-brahmi.html

Anonymous said...

IMO, you can do things to make you hair appear thicker, if you have thin hair. But there is nothing that can be done to permanently change your hair strands from thin to thick!

Abstract said...

I have fine strands with thin to medium density. I use JBCO on occasion but I'm not sure if it thickens my strands. It sure makes them SUPER soft though! A lot of people swear by castor oil for bringing back lost edges. Yes, styling on dry hair and not using products that weigh down the hair too much makes my twists look fuller.

nicthommi said...

Um, the answer should be, you can't have thicker hair if you don't genetically have thick hair. Even thick hair is kind of misleading, since you can have fine hair and have a lot of it, which a lot of "thick-haired" people do.
The rest are just styling tips to make your hair appear fuller(including the henna), and perhaps to avoid breaking off hair, which is not the same as hair naturally shedding which it also is supposed to do. No oils or creams will stop your body from undergoing the natural processes that it is supposed to.
But people need to stop chasing things that are genetically impossible for them. It would be like chasing a different skin color. Keep what you have healthy. But otherwise you're just always going to be dissatisfied.

nicthommi said...

Exactly...it's like chasing a unicorn. You aren't going to ever catch one.

Pecancurls said...

I agree with some of the other ladies. You can use "tricks" to make your hair appear thicker, but the strands will not change. I have not tried any of the remedies for thickness. JBCO did help me to fill in some spots on my temple that had thinned out over time. Side note: I just had a visual of the "teasing" from the 80's people used to do to make the hair look more full.

Jo Somebody said...

I can definitely vouch for henna! But yes, you do have to keep doing it.

anonymous said...

nicthommi you are so right! "Keep what you have healthy."

keisha billups said...

Oh if there were a miracle for this I would be the first in line. I suffer from thin hair and have tried so many different things. My most pressing thing now is thinness in the crown. I have no scalp damage(that I can see) no redness, no sores, no chemicals in my hair. I can't explain it. Im going to try a castor oil challenge and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

It could be heredity is other women in your family with thin hair, especially in the crown?

SavanahRae said...

You either have thick hair or you don't but you can do things to make it look thicker

LBell said...

If you haven't already seen a doctor, you should. It could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

I'm thinning in the front but that's because I'm over 40 and going through "the change." Not saying this happens to ALL older women but it happens to quite a few. I've always been skeptical of castor oil's supposed growth properties but since I have a huge bottle that I've barely made a dent in, I might give it a shot. Happily nobody really notices the thinning but me...another advantage of having Afro-textured hair... :)

Samantha Smith said...

Thank you! That's exactly what I have to tell ppl. If you want to have thick hair you have to be born with thick hair. That's about all you can do for it. If you take good care of fine hair you can reduce the risk of breakage and thinning but you can't make it grow thick.

Vee_thehodgepodgefiles said...

You're welcome Esther. Thanks for reading :)

Vee_thehodgepodgefiles said...

Very true SavanahRae...thanks for reading and commenting :)

Cassandra [C.] said...

The only part of my hair that i want to thicken is my crown area. IT used to be full, now it just breaks easily. I started doing less to my hair overall and others areas have improved, but the crown not so much. Any tips?

But, regarding the article, i dont think there is anything besides a wig or weave that would give you fuller/thicker hair if that is not what you already have. For those wanting fuller hair, why not just get a little piece of weave installed on the thinner area. I saw an episode of LA Hair, where Kim Kimble did just that, and it looked WONDERFUL. . .

Megan M said...

I put Bobby pins at the roots under the hair when I am wearing it out and I fluff it to make it appear fuller and thicker especially in the middle towards the back. But nothing else has made my hair thicker.

Shanna Small said...

If you have genetically thin hair, meaning it is the way you were born, learn to accept it and love it. Do not chase the henna & castor oil fairy. Love you Curly Nikki, but i tried all that stuff because of info I got on here and it was a waste of time. Learn how to style your hair for volume. Stay away from heavy products. Embrace frizz because perfectly defined curls will make your hair look thinner. If you want to wear twists, they have to be micro twists.

Vee_thehodgepodgefiles said...

Thank for comments everyone. ☺

Alwina Oyewoleturner said...

My hair is pretty thick but has normal density. I think as my hair gets longer, it may appear thicker than it really is depending on the hairstyle I choose to wear but it will not gain in density. With that said, I am doing a castor oil challenge to grow in my edges and throughout my scalp to help with growing my hair. I already do protein/reconstructor treatments every once in a while and I even did henna for 5 months. Henna was great but just a tedious process. Once you understand your hair and what it can/cannot do, everything else falls into place. Experiment until you find what works. Great post!

Janay said...

I used JBCO nightly to regrow my edges. I saw the results immediately, basically overnight...I love JBCO!!

SweetThang said...

My hair is thin and I hate that I can't wear two strand twist or super defined curls. These styles look scalpy on me. I have been too so many blogs and websites and seen so many beautiful natural hairstyles. I have tried these same hairstyles on my hair and it looks a hot mess because my hair is so thin. If anyone knows of any blogs or websites for styling thin natural hair, please let me know.

Derika said...

I'm transitioning so my best guess would be that my hair is thick and dense. I could be wrong though. Since my hair is thick, I do not use hair thickening remedies.

Bobby said...

Try a braid out...it might make your hair appear fuller

Jessica Coletrain said...

I use JBCO as well to regrow some areas, but I didnt think any product could actually 'thicken' your hair.

Jessica Coletrain said...

LOL @ chasing a unicorn

Shanna Small said...

I like this idea. Cool

keisha billups said...

I have been to the dr. and I have no diabetes,no high blood pressure, no thyroid problems, I take no meds besides vitamins. I noticed this like 5 years ago and it got worse. It was one of the main reasons I became natural. I am almost 2 yrs in and I have noticed that it doesn't seem as noticeable, but when I wash hair or twist hair it looks very scalpy in crown area. The rest of my hair is nice and full. I have learned to deal with it but I do get envy from time to time.

keisha billups said...

Not especially. There are women with thin hair but they are all older. I have no sisters but both of my brothers were balding in their 20's.

Nikita said...

Having read through a majority of the comments, I can say w/o a doubt tht there is not going to be One particular thing tht works for everyone. And no, you can't change the size of your follicles but like it said you can change the density.

There are things tht can cause a person to have thinning hair like hormone imbalances or like in my case two years ago I was chronically anemic n had no idea. So if your noticing a dramatic difference then there's probably an underlying reason. As soon as I started taking my iron vitamins w vitamin c together (more absorbable) I saw a huge difference.

My hair is fine but all my life I've had a lot of hair, so for it to get thin n be coming out a lot I knew there was a problem, even though at first my family thght I was going crazy. I did used an oil by Vatika tht has amla, castor, henna, n coconut oil in it. And it definitely does wrk to increase volume and make your hair more healthy. I also cut my hair so I have a shoulder length curly bob now Thts very full. Some ppl are saying it doesn't wrk but it did for me. So now I just take my vitamins nod my oil treatment ever so often n I love my hair. Hope this helps.

Adeola (The Mane Captain) said...

i don't really wear my hair out. so hair thickness isn't really an issue for me.
themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

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