There is an unspoken rule about black natural hair, a myth that persists despite every trichologist’s and hairdresser’s attempts to debunk it. The myth maintains that black hair is “thick” or “coarse,” and is often cited as the reason black parents put caustic chemicals on their children’s heads.
Of course, these parents know little of black hair. If they did, they’d know that not all black hair is coarse. In fact, much of it is fine (or thin) and extremely fragile.
Unfortunately, many naturals don’t find out just how fine their hair is until they attempt to style it. They find that those beautiful, chunky twist outs their favorite vloggers rock are nearly impossible to achieve, and their puffs are merely miniature versions of more thick-haired naturals’.
So what’s a fine-haired natural to do when she discovers that several natural hairstyles just don’t look amazing on her own mane? Here are 6 hairstyles that don’t always look quite right on fine hair and how to tweak them to make the most of your texture:
1. Twist Outs & Braid Outs
Twist outs and braid outs are staples in the natural hair community, probably because they’re stylish and keep the hair stretched and free of knots. Sadly, though, these styles can fall a bit flat if you have fine hair.
There are a couple of things you can do to make your twist outs and braid outs look fuller and more luscious, the first of which involves properly sectioning your hair. While many naturals like using small sections to achieve optimal definition, medium-sized sections are a great compromise for people who want a bit of definition and volume. Separating some of these sections after you’ve taken down your twists is okay, but don’t overdo it.
You should also be careful not to apply too much product to your hair. It doesn’t take much product or oil to weigh down fine natural hair, and you want to avoid that dull, limp look. That said, go for light oils that complement your texture.
2. Bantu Knots
Admit it: You thought you were going to walk out of your house looking like Jada Pinkett Smith after you went natural. You simply couldn’t wait to flex on everyone with this Matrix-inspired style.
Too bad your bantu knots are tiny and make your head look like a balloon…
The truth is that your knots are probably never going to look like Jada’s, but there are some things you can do to beef up those bantu knots. You can start by taking it easy with the tension; that tension will only make your knots look punier than they actually are.
I also recommend that you avoid styling your hair while it’s wet in this case. Wet hair shrinks and makes your hair look super fine, so wet hair isn’t ideal if you want to sport decent-looking bantu knots.
3. (Wearable) Twists
Twists are the ultimate protective style for those of us who like to save money (on added hair) while keeping our natural hair safe. The truth, however, is that not all of us can confidently wear our twists out into the world. Some naturals may disagree, but the scalpy look does little to make many women feel good about themselves.
And that’s okay. There are ways to work around your fine hair’s properties.
Spacing and clean parts are so important here. The two can make or break this style.
As counterintuitive as what I’m about to say sounds, if you attempt to create neat, uniform rows for all of your twists, you’ll make a mess of things. Those uniform rows won’t do anything but reveal more of your scalp to the world.
You should instead create the twists in a sort of criss-cross pattern. Create one row of twists, then follow that row up with another row in which the twists are placed between two of the first row’s twists so as to fill in the space between those twists.
If that makes any sense at all.
Pro Tip: This tip doesn’t necessarily work for braids. Braids compress the hair more, so they look remarkably thin when compared to twists. I recommend that you add hair if you want to sport braids.
4. Roll, Tuck, and Pins
Roll, tuck, and pins admittedly require a bit of creativity and vision (neither of which I have). With enough practice, though, you can master them in no time.
But if you happen to have fine natural hair, the learning curve will be higher. You’ll imitate your fellow naturals only to find that your hair looks almost nonexistent when you roll, tuck, and pin it.
You want to use old, fluffy hair to get a nice-looking roll, tuck, and pin going. This fluff will give you more volume to work with.
More importantly, you’ll need to stay far away from tension. Our tendency is to use as much tension as possible, but this force compresses our natural hair too much and makes our hair look as if it’s hugging our heads. We want our hair to protrude from our heads when we do roll, tuck, and pins, so we must gently grip and secure our hair.
We’ve all seen those naturals who have about six inches of hair (compared to our twelve) and somehow have larger puffs than us. The difference in volume likely boils down to the difference in texture; they have thick, coarse hair while we have thin, fine hair.
So how do we resolve this problem?
Sometimes, the truth is hard to swallow, but here it is: Your puff probably won’t ever rival that of someone who has much thicker or coarser hair than you. That said, don’t ever try to replicate someone else’s puff. Try owning yours instead.
I suggest that you start with old, stretched hair if you want to puff your hair out. It will have less definition, but will appear fluffier and fuller. When positioning the puff, try to make it sit as low as possible and secure it as loosely as possible to maximize volume. If you place your tie or scrunchie too high or use too much tension, you puff might look small and unimpressive.
And make your head look like a pineapple.
6. Flat Twists
You haven’t seen a tragedy until you’ve seen a flat twist (or cornrow) on fine natural hair. Flat twists look measly and very unimpressive on fine natural hair.
Because you can hardly tell they are there at all.
My recommended fix?
Ease all the way up on that tension. If you don’t, your flat twists will make you look somewhat bald, and something tells me that’s not the look you’re going for when you rock flat twists.
You might also consider strategically placing your flat twists. Having a roadmap or plan beforehand helps maximize the overall effectiveness of the style.
And my most important tip?
Clean parts. Your twists will look a hot mess (as will you) if your parts are crooked, which is something that’s true for even thick-haired naturals.
Perfecting Hairstyles on Fine Natural Hair Is Difficult…
…but so doable. You just have to work at it and understand your texture’s limitations.
And, sometimes, you just have to accept that your hair won’t do what your favorite vlogger’s hair does if you don’t add some hair.
So if you need to add some hair? Go for it. Let the Natural Nazis twist themselves into pretzels as they attempt to invalidate your experience as a natural-haired, naturally dope black woman. You owe no one an apology.