I feel particularly close to what I have chosen to write about today. One of the things I remember not liking about being relaxed (apart from the scalp burns and hurt that came with retouching) was that my hair always laid so flat on my head. It just never had the kind of body that everyone else I know seemed to have. So for 3 years before I began my transition back to natural, I stopped using relaxers and began texturising my hair. It definitely made a difference, but still, styling my hair to my liking was always an issue. I just always felt like at certain times and from certain angles, I looked like I had no hair.
Apart from getting excited about having my real hair texture on my head, going back to natural for me, was a chance to rock a full head of hair. I had dreams, people, of walking around with a big ass afro that will block doorways. It was a no-brainer: natural hair = thick afro, right? WRONG!
It took me getting heat damage, combined with attempting mini twists to come to the realisation that, some of us have fine and/or thin hair. And I’m here to tell you that ain’t nothing wrong about that! Well, I’m here to tell this to you after spending a week sulking and searching for something that will tell me otherwise. AB is in complete disagreement that I fall in this category, but babe ain’t never seen my hair eye to eye. One day, I will sit down and she will attempt to install mini twists for me and then she’ll see what I’ve been talking about all this time. Luh you boo!
The thing is, when you begin your natural hair journey, chances are that you might not know that you have fine or low density hair until you attain a certain length and are on course to begin enjoying some hangtime. But fear not! There are ways to style your hair in order to create an illusion of volume.
1. Bantu Knot-outs
This is number one on my list, because I have rocked this look a couple of times and it has fooled even me. There are two methods I know that can be used for bantu-knot outs. One is where you roll the hair tight between your fingers and then continue into the bantu knot. The other is where you start off with a twist and then roll the twist into a bantu knot. I have tried both methods and I very much prefer the look and definition that I got with the ‘twist first’ method. One reason why this is number one on my list is that unlike the other styles I will mention, you don’t necessarily have to separate the curls you get in order to achieve a volumised look. The style in itself automatically does that for you, and so more often than not, you could separate the curls a little bit and then fluff the roots with an afro pick and you are good to go.
2. Flat Twist-Out
I am yet to try this out. However, while I have no personal testimony, I have seen the results on other people with similar hair. It looks great and will definitely be the next style I try out. The sort of results I like best are those where the end of the twist are either put in bantu knots or curled with perm rods. Jouelzy has a really good video tutorial that gives you a visual of what I mean.
3. Rod Sets
If you can tell already, there is a pattern here. Most of the styles that create the illusion of volume for this hair type are styles where the hair is curled upon itself. So these are not styles that stretch the hair and show off length. Personally, I will take volume over length any day. I am currently rocking a rod set that I had done at a natural hair salon in NYC called Mixx Beauty Bar. Erica Watson, the stylist and owner of the salon, was my hero today and I shall dedicate another post to reviewing my experience here. The process of installing these rods by myself, at home, looks daunting to me. But I know that one day when I have enough time, I will try it out.
4. Braid-outs & Twist-outs
Sometimes, you want to show off your length and say “to hell with scalpiness (or lack of body)”. I say go for it. But always always remember to separate your curls, carefully. Separating them will create that desired volumising effect.
5. Loose Twists
For those with longer hair, you might want to give this a try. The rationale behind this is that the twists should be loose enough not to make your hair look scanty, thereby giving more body to each twist and indeed, to the entire head of hair.
6. Pompadours & Buns
Also for sisters with longer hair. Stretching by threading has been reported to be a great way to add volume to hair while also keeping it stretched. So your hair is stretched and you are looking for how to style and create that volume illusion? Go for a pompadour. Go for a bun.
7. Mini Twists
I have attempted to do this twice and have abandoned them quarter of the way because they literally looked like thread. Unfortunately, I have no picture of my hair to show you, but I will allow you imagine by comparing a picture of AB’s mini twists (Up) to a picture of my bed-time ‘chunky’ twists (Down).
8. Chunky Braid-outs & Twists-outs
The longer your hair, the easier it becomes to put your hair in chunky twists. However, this hair type cannot really enjoy the luxury of a chunky twist-out as is. What do I mean? Well you cannot just unravel your chunky twists and be on your merry way. You still have to separate those curls to enjoy the beauty of the twist out.
This is a chunky braid-out on AB’s hair and as you can see, the curls are in tact with little or no curl separation done. This would not necessarily be the result on my hair.
And if all else fails…
9. Trusty Ol’ Shrunken Fro
Yup. Like I mentioned earlier, the longer the hair, the more apparent the texture/density. I find that I can always find solace in the loving arms of my shrunken fro (or even a combed out, or no-comb fro). You can wear it as a glorious halo above your head; pin up one side; as a fro-hawk; or even as an afro puff.
So there you have it. Do you have fine and/or thin hair? What are your go-to styles? Any tips are welcome!
I hope all is well with you! Biko, you people should send some sun and warmth my way. I don tire for this oyinbo cold abeg.
Love all that is you today and always!
– Mee Mee
15 thoughts on “More Scalp than Hair: Styling Solutions for Fine &/or Thin Hair”
I have fine hair too and I don’t normally wear it out (because I never know what to do with it), but when I do I use curlformers. Im bad at styling my hair and those always give me nice curls.
I laughed sooo hard reading your post. I feel you on the fine hair. I don’t leave my hair out oh…. When it’s not in some protective style, and it’s ‘resting. I simply ‘Ba’ (Yoruba for calabar) and put a wig on.
I swear this post came at the right time for me. I’m currently transitioning – about ten months post and I was thinking of mini twists to hold me over for exams. In my head I knew my fine hair just won’t cut it but my heart saw this other girl’s fine-a** twists and got major envy.
Hmmm… I just might still go for it. YOLO!
I really like this post! I have fine hair and I can all too well relate to everything you said in the beginning of this post. In my relaxed days no matter how much growth I though I had it still looked like my hair was struggling. Once I went natural I was quickly reminded (over months and months of underwhelming twist-outs) that my hair is fine. I now stick with wash-n go’s. I didn’t think a girl with 4c hair could do it but I sho’ have been. That’s what I stick with. I still notice my fine hair but I also notice my curls alot more which makes having fine hair cool for me. Plus fine hair means I don’t have to use nearly as much product as other naturals with thicker hair…woop woop!
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I have fine/thin hair too but threading and braid outs always do the trick for me, twist outs are for when I’m not being lazy.
I have fine, low density 4c natural hair that is APL and I agree that mini twists are not a great style on our kind of hair. But to be honest, my hair doesn’t like “out” styles (braid out/twist out) either… Or rather maybe I don’t like those styles on my hair because they look thin and like “girl comb your hair or something” rather than “sistah I love your fro.” Loose twists work well when I have the patience to do them but my go to is chunky flat twisted styles- either 2 all-back flat twists to wear all week or a bun or a tucked puff are the styles are usually go to to create the illusion of full hair.
I also have very fine and thin hair. I used to be really sad about this because I envied those with thick and full hair. With length, I began to love my hair. I always have loose twists on the night before and then, them into a roll tuck and pin style. Those are my go to styles. I have never tried the rod sets or flexi rods because humidity takes away everything and I get a TWA at the end of the day.. Any suggestions for me?!! How can someone achieve a twist out in this country without all the frizz or just a little bit of frizz
Great post! I feel you! I have fine hair too though with medium density. You might not believe it (from my pics) but I know to avoid styles that make my hair look scanty. I don’t make precise parts, I love loose twists, shrinkage is my friend, I don’t bother with smooth roots when I do any curly sets and I don’t bun too tight…oh and embracing the frizziness of older sets.
I have fine thin hair too. When my hair was relaxed It used to lie flat on my head like I had low cut. Now mini twists are my go to. They used to come out terrible and scalpy till I discovered a YouTube tutorial by 007newnew called’ How to do two strand twists on short to medium length natural hair’. Totally changed the way they look and everyone loves them. You guys should definitely look for it and try it out. Hope it works for you too!
Ah seen! I’m gonna look this up and try it out. Thanks, Zainab!
I totally love this post!. I have fine hair too so i have always had it braided or in weaves because i dint like having it out. However, recently i learned how to do Bantu knot outs and it is all i have been doing ever since i let my hair out. but thanks to this post, i cant wait to try out other styles too…. lovely work!
This was written for me! I too have extremely fine 4C hair, low porosity and density. It seems to grow in length but not at all in volume. On top of that, I have an M hairline which can make me look like I’m balding at the edges. When I put my hand through my hair when it’s stretched out, it’s airy and light through my fingers. Now that my hair is about six inches stretched out, I put in twists for the first time and I’m…liking them. Yes my hair is fine and my scalp is visible in most part but I have to love the way I was made. I use volumizing shampoo and conditioner which I find helps a bit.
OMG! I’ve finally found my people: women who can relate to the more scalp than hair challenge. Thank you, God! Seriously.—— I have not had a relaxer since May of 2014. I looooove not slaughtering my fine, thin hair with chemicals after 25 plus years of doing so, but I have yet to find a style that works for my face type and my super fine, super soft, super thin hair. Thank you, Mee Mee, for the article, and thank you, my sisters, for the comments. You’ve given me ideas and comraderie. Maybe there is hope after all. 🙂
I have thin hair too!! It really bothers me and that’s how I came across this post. Most of the naturals posted on social media pages have gorgeous thick luscious hair and I keep trying to look for people with scanty hair like mine. My edges are thin as well but they’re growing out. I wear my hair in Afro puffs like 99.9% of the time then I lay my edges. The puff makes it look like I have a lot of hair lol. Also, my hair isn’t just thin/scanty. It’s also NOT growing! And trust me I’ve done all the internet research. I think some genes just don’t allow hair growth last a certain length. I’m 3 years natural and my hair looks like I’ve been growing it only a year. I use to think there were solutions to gaining volume but there’s no way to get more hair follicles in your scalp lol. I’ve been super tempted to relax my hair so I can fix weaves and do leave out but I know I’d regret it so that’s not an option. Also been tempted to lock my hair but I might get bored of it and if the locs are short I won’t feel any better. So I guess I should just love and care for my hair and learn other styles besides the Afro puff. Problem is most people who end up blogging or vlogging are those with perfect hair and not my kind of hair so I can’t really see how it’s going to turn out. Anyways…great blog post.
Mabel, I also have fine hair. I think you should check out finenaturalhairandfaith, CurlyBola, santinajohnson1, and Beautifrohair. They’re all on YouTube. The first two have a blog also on fine natural hair.