I have a huge issue with my thin curly hair…I dress up nicely for work, but then I have to deal with my hair, and I generally just stick it in a ponytail. I’d like to try something different, but the very make-up of my hair makes it hard to do anything with it!
I’ve always had very thin, fine hair that curls naturally if there’s moisture in the air. In hot weather, it’s just frizzy. My other issue is that I don’t have a lot of it — I never have. But I’ve noticed that, depending on the season, my hair gets slightly thicker.
I’ve tried “No poo” aka Shamphree briefly to get rid of buildup, and coconut oil, and others. But there’s just so many options out there that I wonder what has worked for other people with fine / thin curly / sometimes frizzy hair? -Erin
There might be some nuggets of advice in our article and the comments about post-partum hair loss to help with thin hair inspiration. But for the best advice for what to do with fine curly hair, we’re turning to the folks who know best — our readers who have this hair texture!
How to style your thin curly hair…. from folks with thin curly hair!
We asked our readers to chime in about how to style thin curly hair, and here’s what they told us
Lori is a hair stylist and gave us some great tips about color and best haircuts that will flatter your thin curly hair:
As a hairdresser of 23 years I can recommend a few things for hair types like Erin has:
- Firstly a semi permanent hair color will thicken the actual hair strand slightly because of the way the color molecules are deposited onto the outside of the cuticle layer ( and every little bit helps right?☺️).
- A blunt style cut will enhance the thickness, over layering will cause the ends to look thin and ratty.
- And try not to use too many conditioners your hair, even if you feel it has a naturally frizzy hair texture. Even a lightweight conditioner can weigh your fine curls down
- Use products to enhance the curl such as sea salt spray… I love this one!
- You can also add in some hair extensions just for fullness and not length!
Channamasala, who also has thin curly hair gave us some great product tips:
- I use Aveda’s Smooth Infusion (every few weeks I change it up with a wash of Aveda’s Rosemary Mint shampoo, I find it helps without being a harsh clarifying shampoo).
- Then I put some Aveda Light Elements Smoothing Fluid in after washing, just one squirt (for anyone who grew up in the 90s, it’s basically a higher-end Biosilk).
- For days when I really feel I need control, after it dries a little hairspray or some hair goo (Matrix Design Pulse Flexible Fibers – feels like Elmer’s glue in your hand but WORKS – just don’t use too much) helps.
I am sure not to put anything but shampoo on my roots, and running my fingers under my hair after it dries, or doing a bit of the old 80s teasing thing helps with lift. I have very slight layers and long bangs, too much layering is a BAD idea for my hair – as someone above said, it makes it look ratty – but blunt haircuts make it hang unattractively.
I only wash my hair every other day. I find when I dry with a blow dryer using diffuser, it reduces fluff but I don’t always have the time or it’s just too hot and I *can’t even*.
If I put my wet hair in a twist with one of those knife-like hair clips and leave it that way for a few hours, then take it down, I find it dries naturally with less fluff as well. If I air-dry I may need to brush again after hair is dry. I always use a wide-bristle brush (I can’t use a comb, it would get stuck and never come out).
I live in a humid, subtropical country and while I can’t eliminate fluff, this has done the best job so far. I swear I do not work for and am not paid by Aveda! I just find they have the best stuff by a very wide margin!
Fawn went for the big chop with her thin curly hair:
I used to describe my hair as not wavy hair or curly hair — just frizzy! It was frizzy both when living in the desert and in the humid south. Probably the single best thing I have done is chop it off. I loved having long hair, but like yours, it is fine and thin (thinner when stressed. a divorce solved that part of the problem), and my thin curly hair looked stringy.
Once I chopped it off, the upside was that the curls took over and I have received TONS of compliments on my hair in the 1.5 years since the big chop. When my mom came to visit, she remarked that she had never seen my hair so curly.
The other things I have done and continue to work well for me: slowly (and I do mean slowly) wean my hair off shampoo. I now use a baking soda/water solution about once a week. It took about two years of decreasing shampooing to organic products, then every other day, then every few days, then once a week with shampoo, then alternating shampoo once a week and baking soda once the next week. I did not do this on a strict schedule, but that is the general idea. My scalp started producing less oil. My ex-mother in law was convinced I would stink on this schedule, but I even passed her sniff test.
Once the oil stripping was gone from my life, I have changed up my deep conditioning hair routine. I have used different homemade oil recipes, but currently just use about 2 drops of grape seed oil on most days (as it gets close to wash day, I usually don’t use any).
With the baking soda solution, I use my nails and finger tips to concentrate on the scalp. With the grape seed oil, I get all over, then rinse after 15-30 seconds. Maybe once every 1.5-2 months I use real shampoo, especially if I get sunscreen or something in it.
These days I used no gels, sprays, gunk after the shower. I am happy and it works for me and my waves. I encourage people to try it, but it is a process.
Grace told us:
I have thin curly hair that goes into ringlet curls that are really fine (when I straighten my hair, it’s slippery), and naturally dark blonde hair that makes my hair look thinner than it is. Here are my tips:
- Even if you go for “the big chop” like others are suggesting, trim your ends about every six weeks-two months. Nothing fancy; I get Great Clips to do these trims.
- I got an ombre dye job last year and the ends were perpetually frizzy because they were perpetually dry and splitting. (Also: don’t get an ombre dye job, lol.)
- A lot of anti-frizz products say to “comb through” while your hair is wet, but I’ve had better results by scrunching from the bottom up. “Combing through” leaves too much product at my scalp, which makes my hair get greasy faster, my scalp itch, and lose volume up top, but scrunching gives the curls their definition without sacrificing the lift at the roots.
- If all else fails, just do what I do: brush it out and go as Hermione Granger for Halloween for the 5th year in a row!
Things that helped Lauren’s thin curly hair:
- Combing with a wide-tooth comb, not a brush.
- Not washing your hair everyday and using dry shampoo on the roots on in-between days. I make a cheap one out of arrowroot powder with a little cocoa powder for color.
Henna makes my hair super soft and plump, though you can only go darker/redder with it. I like the Light Mountain brand.
- As far as hair styles for work, learning how to do french braids or easy buns can help mix it up. I also like the no heat curls method using a headband (plenty of tutorials on Youtube) and then putting it up into a half-up half-down style.
- Also Bumble & Bumble has a thickening spray that might help. It’s sea salt texture spray with a bunch of extra stuff.
Ms T shared these thin curly hair DOs and DONTs:
- DO shampoo, especially if the scalp is oily. Oils and sebum have a hard time getting down a thin curly hair shaft and you don’t want to look like you put jheri curl gel on just your roots. The trick is to JUST wash your scalp. Try to not get shampoo on the ends of your hair; this dries them out. When you rinse, there should be just enough shampoo running down your hair to clean the ends. You may not have to shampoo every day either. Try skipping a day. I wouldn’t go more than two days without washing though, especially if your scalp is oily.
- DO condition, because the hair shaft itself is probably on the dry side. If your scalp is on the oily side, try not to get conditioner on the scalp. (You just got the oil off your scalp, why are you putting it back on?)
- DO use a bit of product. And I do mean just a bit! The fine hair rules apply here. A ton of products will weigh hair down. If you blow it out to straighten it, use a just a bit of light smoothing serum and a big round boars bristle brush. This will help smooth it. If you take the straightening to it, spray on some thermal protection. Argan oil is helpful, but just use a tiny bit. Very tiny. Rub it on your palms and then pat your hair to tame frizzies. A texturing spray is helpful to give hair some lift. Try Bumble & Bumble texturizing spray.
- If you’re going curly for the day, DO use a curl-enhancing spray. It can tame the frizzies and make the curls more prominent. Afghan oil is good here. Just use a little on the ends.
- DON’T grow your hair out past your shoulders. The weight of your hair will pull out some of the curl and lay your hair flatter at the roots. And of course, make it look frizzy. (See a trend here?)
- DO get your hair trimmed on a regular basis. If the ends start looking like rats chewed on them it means your ends have split and there is just no coming back from that. A damage repair product will help, (I like Garnier damage eraser liquid strength, just a little on the ends.)
- When you get a haircut, DO go for layers. Layers wil help release the curl so it can be curly and when straight, will lighten up the hair so it will look fuller.
- DO enjoy that the best thing about this hair type is its versatility. You can go straight or curly with equal ease. Just use a light touch with it and be careful with those ends.
Need even more guidance for your thin curly hair? We love this fine curly hair routine from Carol’s Daughter, a BIPOC-owned business.