Lil anecdote about yours truly: The first time I ever deep-dove into the magical world of ~the internet~ was in middle school, when I spent a full weekend attempting to figure out how to style my fine, flat, thin, curly hair. I’m talkin’ sketchy curl forums, typo-riddled blogs, and the occasional ill-advised DM with strangers about my curl type. Cut to me, a decade (plus) later, and I can confidently say that after literally all of the trial and error, I’m now a true expert on the best products and tricks for thin, curly hair.
I’ll preface this with the not-so-fun news, though: There’s no single curl product that will magically make your curls look 10x thicker (trust, I’ve tried them all). Instead, if you really wanna amp up your curl pattern and get major volume, you need to take a multi-step approach that starts with how you style your hair (the most important part, IMO), and ends with what products you actually use to keep ‘em voluminous. Yup, that sounds overwhelming, but I promise you it’s not. Just follow my lead, starting with…
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Use shampoo (!) on fine curls
Maui Moisture Smooth & Repair Anti-Frizz Curl Shampoo
Despite what you’ve probs heard, shampoos are not the devil for curly hair—at least, not for thin, curly hair that gets greasy by the end of the day (hi, me). Fine curls can’t handle the butters and oils in cleansing conditioners and co-washes; we need a little cleansing action to keep our curls light and defined. The key here is to use a sulfate-free shampoo (this one from Maui Moisture is my fav), which still breaks down scalp oils and buildup, but won’t strip curls.
Clarify thin curls regularly
Mixed Chicks Shampoo
Certain ingredients (see: silicones, waxes, mineral oils) will quickly build up on the surface of your curls, weighing them down and making them look frizzy, flat, and greasy. I saw a major change in my hair once I started using a clarifying shampoo—yup, one filled with harsher sulfates—every 2 to 3 weeks to break down buildup and “reset” my curls. Pro tip: Cover your ends in conditioner both before and after clarifying to help keep it from drying out.
Use lightweight curl products
Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse
After trying virtually every product combo, I’ve found my fine curls do best with a lightweight curl cream (I swear by Ouai’s Fragrance-Free Curl Cream) for definition, and a lightweight, volumizing curl mousse layered on top for hold. I’ll first squish the curl cream through my sopping-wet hair in the shower (upside down, natch), and then squish in a few golf ball-size puffs of mousse.
Diffuse thin, curly hair
XTava Black Orchid Hair Diffuser Attachment
I usually let my curls air-dry, even if that means sleeping on damp hair (more on how I do that below), solely because I actually like my curls loose and messy, rather than perfectly spiraled. But on days when I want my curls to really spring up and get major volume and definition, I’ll diffuse right after plopping (here’s my favorite tutorial on how to diffuse curly hair, FYI). This universal diffuser attachment fits most blow-dryers (but measure first!) and has long prongs and a wide bowl to evenly cup your curls while you dry.
Add some texture
Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Volumizing Root Powder & Dry Shampoo
Listen, no matter how well you follow these steps, your flat, fine, thin curls are probably still going to need some extra help in maintaining their volume all day. And usually, that help will come in the form of a texturizing spray, texturizing powder, and/or dry shampoo, like this hybrid from Briogeo. I usually sprinkle a bit along my roots in the morning, gently massage my scalp upside down, and I’m left with non-sticky volume and a bit of oil-absorbing powder that keeps the greasies away.
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