Photo courtesy of @havuni
If your hair is fine or low in density it can dry like a wet blanket, close to our head without the lift and volume we see with other curls. Luckily there are some tricks that fine haired curlies and anyone looking to amp up the volume have in their toolboxes. You may find that in the pursuit of bigger hair, you have to accept some of the frizz that comes with separating your perfectly clumped curls - it's all about the look you're ultimately going for.
Clarify your hair
If your hair is forever flat at the roots, it may be weighed down by product buildup from your moisturizers and stylers or residue from hard water. The first step in the pursuit of volume is to clarify and remove anything that’s holding you down. The Elucence Volume Clarifying Shampoo is a classic clarifier in the curly community, and I’ve found that it really does help me in my volumizing routine. Another great volumizing shampoo I’ve tried is the Eprouvage Gentle Volume Shampoo. I’ll usually use a clarifier once every week or two, but you may find that clarifying once a month or less works best for your hair type and lifestyle. Here are a few more clarifying shampoos that are gentle enough for curly hair.
Rinse upside down
I discovered this tip by accident while washing my hair in a sink, but it really does help me achieve more lift at my roots. By tipping my head forward and allowing the water to run over my roots in the shower, my curls start to clump and form pointing up, instead of flat to my head. I like to apply my conditioner, flip forward, and comb the conditioner through with a wide tooth comb, then rinse.
Clip at the roots
Clipping at the roots is a widely used technique in the curly community. While this technique may be intimidating to the beginner, I’ve heard it best described by curl stylist Brianne Prince, who calls it “O Clipping” due to the shape your arm makes when inserting the clip, “I have so many clients that come in and tell me that they have tried clipping in the past and just couldn't get the hang of it. Usually the reasons why are that they are using the wrong type of clip for their hair or that they are attempting to clip at an awkward angle.” To clip, after applying your styler or refreshing your curls:
- Lean out to one side, this makes your hair is hang off of your scalp, which is very important
- Grab a small section of hair (less than an inch)
- Create an O around your head with your arm, and insert the clip with the "mouth" of the clip facing away from your roots
- Leave them in for 10-20 minutes, then carefully remove
See a full clipping tutorial with photos and videos here.
I recently rediscovered mousse thanks to curl stylist Brooke Michie, owner of Lyric Salon in Austin, Texas. She made me reconsider mousse when she used it in Grace’s wavy hair transformation. She likes DevaCurl’s Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam because “it’s alcohol-free and lightweight, and the airy formula helps give your roots lift and volume – especially for fine or looser textured hair.”
Photo courtesy of @makaylamclovin
If I really want my hair to have volume, then I absolutely have to diffuse. Air drying is fine for my curl definition, but it doesn’t give me the bouncy volume that a diffuser can. For an extra boost, flip your head upside down (a common theme) and diffuse upside down, switching your part from side to side so that it doesn’t set in one direction.
Fluff with your fingers
I learned this technique from NaturallyCurly’s Co-Founder Michelle Breyer. At various moments throughout the day, you can see us at our desks, heads flipped forward, fluffing our roots out to make our hair bigger. As Michelle says “big hair is the new long hair.”
Use root lifting products
I don’t place a lot of stock in “volumizing products” because nothing can actually make the strands of your hair wider, but there are some products that do help me achieve the appearance of greater volume. In my experience, the best products for this are the ones that add hold and stiffness to the roots so that they don’t dry flat to my head. EvaNYC has a powder with a unique candy floss consistency that works well on dry roots. SheaMoisture’s Dragon’s Blood & Coffee Cherry Volume & Lifting Spray is one of the few products that I have sprayed on my roots that doesn’t weigh them down, and Brooke Michie also recommends using the DevaCurl Mousse all the way up to the roots.
Tease with a pick
This tool may typically be used by tighter, coilier curl patterns, but curlies of all shapes and sizes can benefit from picking out their hair from time to time. If you have looser curls or waves, you can use the pick by placing it close to the ends and pushing the hair up towards the roots a few inches, then repeating on different sections around the head. If you have tighter curls or coils, you can insert the pick at the roots and then pull gently towards the ends a few inches, to loosen up the curls closest to your head. Just be sure to be gentle with your curls when using this method, as you don’t want to over-manipulate or cause breakage with the pick. Check out this article for a tutorial on using a pick for more volume at your roots.
Get a haircut
If your hair is long and hasn’t been trimmed in months, then the length of your hair may be working against you. I can’t overemphasize the impact a proper curly cut from an experienced texture stylist can have on the shape of your curls. I’ve definitely experienced times when my hair stopped responding to all of my usual tips and tricks, but once I got a trim they were back to bouncy and defined. A stylist will also be able to advise you on your specific curl pattern, density, width and length. These tips are a broad starting off point, but a personal consultation with a stylist who can see and feel your curls would be invaluable.
Optional last resort:
As someone who has suffered bleach damage, I don’t recommend this lightly; however, there have been those with very fine hair who find that lightening their hair gives them the extra volume that they seek. Bleach does raise the cuticle, which could appear like fuller hair. The trade-off here is that bleach also damages your hair and loosens your curls, and this damage is generally irreversible. It all depends on your priorities. If your hair health and curl definition are a higher priority, then give this a pass. If you’re seeking more volume at the risk of your ringlets, then consult a colorist for their professional opinion on what your individual hair can take.
NaturallyCurly World: Have you found any tricks for bigger hair? Share yours in the comments!