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Curly Nikki

How to Make Fine Natural Hair Appear Thick

By January 27th, 202124 Comments
CN says:
re-posting since we’re talking about fine hurr! 
How to Make Fine Natural Hair Appear Thick
Hola Chicas!

Last night’s post got me thinking…

Many of us (not erry’body, tho) want thicker looking hair. I’m talking BIG, voluminous, heavy, block-people’s-line-of-vision tresses. I too fancy big hair, and even go so far as to henna regularly to achieve it. Score! It totally works, but what happens when you can’t henna (due to time constraints, side effects such as curl loosening or the red tint)? Or, if henna simply didn’t work for you? Obviously, growing more hair per square inch would be sorcery… so we have to work with what we’ve got.

Read On>>>

My tips for fuller looking hair:
  • Wash&Gos shrink and shrink and shrink some more. This shrinking action makes my hair appear shorter and thinner than it actually is. Stretched styles such as twist and braid-outs, roller sets, bantu knot-outs, and Twist-n-Curls, really aid in stretching out the curl, showing more length, and thus giving the illusion of volume. Also, I don’t know about you, but my hair doesn’t shrink uniformly. Left to its own devices, the back (which is very fluffy and has a tighter curl) will shrink to 80%, and the front, to my chin… other pieces throughout shrink anywhere from 25%-50%. This makes for a very uneven and sparse looking finished product. When it’s all stretched out to the same length it looks healthier and BIGGER!
  • Dry sets rock! For me, they only work in the winter, tho… the summer humidity shrinks them up as soon as I hit the front porch. Dry sets yield an even bigger look than the typical wet set twist or braid-outs. Love, love, love these! To achieve the bossiest dry sets, I gently finger detangle in sections, brush through with a paddle brush to create an undefined bush (breaks up the curly clumps), and twist using a leave-in or cream to set the waves(no water necessary). I allow it to set overnight and in the morning… pure awesomeness.
  • Damp sets.  Allow your freshly washed and conditioned hair to air dry for 30 minutes or so before twisting or braiding.  Damp sets yield nearly the same results as my dry sets with a teeny bit more hold. The results are less defined and piece-y as compared to a wet set.  
  • If you don’t have time to do a wet set to stretch your hair in preparation for a dry set, you can blow dry your hair on warm, concentrating on the roots, and skipping the ends. A twist or braid-out on blown out hair may not last very long, but you’ll definitely be rocking the Joan from Girlfriends look. I would reserve this style for special occasions. The blow dryer is definitely a frenemy.
  • Fluff! I fluff with my fingers. Gently raking through the released twists starting at the roots. I first separate all the twists, then separate the sections further. Finally, I do the raking action, shake, use my fingers like a pick to cover any parts, and I’m out the door.
  • Pineappling. This nightly routine also stretches the hair. Days after a good pineapple, my hair looks fuller, and I love that.
  • Finally, eating a healthy, balanced diet, engaging in lots of cardio (to stimulate the scalp), and gentle hair practices can all help you keep more of what you grow. Also biotin is known to thicken the actual hair cuticle providing a fuller appearance because of the increased diameter of the hair shaft. And MSM supplements claim to lengthen the growth cycle, which would make for fuller looking hair, since you’d keep strands for longer. 
  • Less is more when it comes to product. Opt for curl creams over gels. Hard hold products can make fine haired curlies look stringy and overly clumped/defined, they also make your hair too stiff to fluff (which results in frizz). Also, always use less product than you think you need.
What tips do you have to help finer hair appear thicker?


  • Locke says:

    Hi Nikki , I really love your site and the effort you put into sharing your knowledge and tips with other curly haired women. The only thing I want to ask is do you think you could reupload these pictures of you ,where you show a difference in your hair before and after your henna treatments? They are so small that they don't really show that much of a difference. I am thinking about coloring my hair with henna, so any ,,good" before-and-after pictures would help me make my decision.
    Thank you and keep up the good work! ;D

  • Anonymous says:

    @Once upon a time – I agree wholeheartedly. While stretching keeps my hair more moisturized and softer, generally it does not make my hair thicker. It definitely gives my hair more 'hang,' and that is exactly what I don't want when it comes to twistouts – I want big, voluminous hair. I am still frustrated with how to make my short, fine hair look thicker.

  • BekkaPoo says:

    I'm going to have to go against the consensus and say that stretching doesn't help my thin hair look thicker. It just pulls out the curls, and makes it even limper. My hair naturally flops so stretching it makes it easier to fall, thus, less volume. If I want lots of volume I cut down the product, and either don't comb, or fluff unstretched hair from the roots. Shrinkage is the key to volume for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this post! So many times you watch youtube and other natural hair sites and only see beautiful big full hair only to dream your hair would be the same when in reality fine thin natural hair has its challenges.

    I am a new natural and I love it but I have so much shrinkage and I just learned that the wet and dry twist out gives my TWA more fluff;) People think my hair is so thick….Thanks for the post! Hope to see more :<)

  • Anonymous says:

    great tips Nikki, thank you times a million! Your hair is gorgeous!

  • Anonymous says:

    Nikki you may want to consider buying your henna at Their henna is pure and they pre-mix it, so if you want dark brown hair, you can purchase the dark brown henna and so forth. Also, when you use their henna you can get the full effect in about an hour. It is not necessary to leave the henna in your hair any longer. This will make the whole process much quicker. I don't know how some women can leave that stuff on their hair for over 7 hours! That is way too time-consuming! Peace out!

  • Califabulous says:

    @kimmie0810 try separating each twist into 5-7 parts (if you haven't tried this already)and fluff at the roots/scalp. I thought I would mess up the curl pattern and create tons of frizz but it REALLY gives me the volume I want. It becomes this funky, big hair! You may need to use something with a little more hold. I've been using Shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie or shea butter. Hope it works for you:)

  • Anonymous says:

    What Anonymous 3:16 said. If I braid my hair for a braidout when it's wet after washing, the braids shrink up and it's hard to cover the parts. If I do the braids on dry hair and dab with a little watered down leave-in and seal with a butter mix, I get longer and fuller braidouts. My hair strands are baby fine, but it's very dense — my hair looks fuller and thicker when braids are done on dry or almost dry hair.

  • E says:

    I think you were reading my mind with the thin hair problem and the winter hair regimen. These are my two biggest hair problems! I don't usually have many problems in warmer months, and my hair thrives. Plus natural hair has no problem swelling in all of the humidity. But winter always knocks me back a couple of steps, I have to do a big trim, and then I need all of spring and summer to make things right again before I mess it up next winter. Vicious cycle!

  • Zay says:

    Hi Nikki your before and after pics are dramatic wow thanks for sharing. I noticed that you said fine hair girls should use curl creams over gels. which ones do you suggest?

  • Anonymous says:

    Braid out and twist outs get fuller once you find the right thickness for the twist or braid. I finally found for my hair that I can't have more than 12 all over. However once I wash my hair I can use more. What I do is give my hair one day to dry and then start using the 12 method. You will have to find the number that works for you. Also when you braid it must be braided to achieve as many crossovers within the braid. In other words if you braid loose and can get to the end of the braid with 5 crosses you are not braiding firm enough. Also you must twist the ends( about 1/3 inch) with your fingers so you will have a curl at the end.
    When you take the hair down be careful in separating and use a technique of seperation for the particular type of texture in different parts of your head.
    I forgot to mention that I also decide to do braids(in random) depending on which sections of my head are the loosest or tightet. Also braid in the direction you want the hair to go. That is crucial. Don't braid out at 90 degrees if you don't want your hair standing out all over; or do braid out if you want a fluffier look.
    In sum customize your braiding techinique and keep experimenting until you find the braid set that works for the style that you want.

  • Sharmer says:

    Wow Nikki this is the first time I'm seeing your natural curl pattern, pretty!!

  • kitka82 says:

    @Tianna Mae,

    You can totally do a twist-out on your TWA if you make the twists smaller. I have even done a braid-n-curl on my 2-4 inches of hair. I use skinny gray flexirods to curl the ends (about straw-size).

  • kimmie0810 says:

    I was just coming in to ask what I can do b/c twist & braid outs leave me looking like a noodlehead too lol. I was thinking last night about doing a rollerset. I'm going to try & see if that works.

    I just don't understand. Even if I don't make uniform parts, any time I attempt a braid or twist out, my hair separates & clumps into sections of noodles. It doesn't appear uniform & if I try to fluff or blend it, the curl/twist pattern is disturbed & I end up with a curly 'fro I could have gotten from a WNG.

    I have 3C hair that's about 8in but cut shorter in back. I figured I'd probably have to let it grow out some more? The only way to get bigness & fullness now is to fluff out post-wash day hair.

  • Jenell : BlakIzBeautyful says:

    Dry sets do add much more volume then wet sets!

  • Anonymous says:

    Same here – braidouts and twistouts make my hair look like thin noodles; NAGL. I'll have to try the magnetic rollers to see if there's a difference. I've always wanted to try henna based on CurlyNikki's results, but am too worried about the potential colouring.

  • BreukelensFinest says:

    great tips! i am getting really good into fooling people into thinking i have huge amounts of hair. twist outs are my best friend

  • ashley says:

    I fell in love with twist-outs this week! My TWA loves it and it preserves my moisture in these harsh winter months! I am looking to purchase Mixed Chicks to see how that goes.

  • Anonymous says:

    I prefer roller sets with magnetic snap on rollers because braidouts and twistout make my hair look like thin noodles.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love henna too and find that nothing increases my volume like it does. Whenever I do a full henna treatment,however, it loosens my curls pretty significantly (takes me from 3c/4a mix to a full and uniform 3c with a dash of 3b mixed in). It's pretty dramatic and the first time it scared the heck out of me. lol

    Thankfully, this side effect is temporary and the benefits of the shine,thickness, reduced shedding and heaviness outweigh the disadvantages. I've learned to play around with it and actually enjoy the styling flexibility it allows for. For instance, if I want a looser style and more red color for a few weeks, I will do a 200g henna tx. If I want to just luxuriate in tighter curls, I do no henna/cassia tx for a month- 6 wks, but I DC weekly.
    When I want less of the loosening effect, but some of the color benefits, I mix half henna and half cassia for my treatment. This gives me a golden red rather than the full red of henna.

  • TiAnna Mae says:

    The before and after pics are great! I really can understand what you're talking about. I'm newly natural and just BCed 2 months ago. My hair is any where from 1-4 inches depending on the location of my head (lol). Is it possible/beneficial to do a twist out with such short hair???? I really am getting tired of the

  • Califabulous says:

    I wear a dry twist out sans flexis at the ends. I wear less twists, about 6-7,and make sure they are fat twists to achieve chunkier fuller hair. There is less definition and a litte frizz-very little- creeps in but it adds to the overall volume and texture of the look. THANKS to CURLY NIKKI as I have adpated this style from you! I am still perfecting the right product use for both hold and softness but I have found that less is more!

  • vonnie says:

    in order for my hair to appear full, I have to either do a dry twist/twist out or the great pineapple technique that you've shown. Wet twists/twistouts hide sooooooo much of my length! Get super defined twisty curls but they are so much shorter and not full with a wet set. blech! lol. So I am loving the pineapple right now


  • Moni says:

    Braidouts look much better on my fine hair than twistouts. The first day is never the best, but my hair gets fuller the longer I leave it out. Also, the larger the braids, the larger and fluffier the braidout will be.

    The products that I use are also key. I love light yet moisturizing water-based products such as Qhemet Biologic Burdock Root Butter Cream (HG!). I apply my leave-in (Giovanni Direct, also a HG), then apply BRBC and seal with a lighter oil like Vatika or a whipped shea product (used sparingly) before braided freshly washed/cowashed hair. This keeps my hair moisturized and helps it fluff out without being weighed down by too heavy products.

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