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5 Ways to Fake Fuller Natural Hair

Your ‘big hair’ dreams could come true with the help of this pro advice

spinner image a woman with full curly hair drinking a smoothie
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If there’s one thing naturalistas covet for their curls, it’s major volume. But curls that fall flat after a tedious wash and styling routine can feel like a cruel joke. 

Dealing with curls that lack body and bounce can take the fun out of flaunting your natural crown. This is especially frustrating as your mane matures and loses density, or if you had fine-textured hair to begin with. But there are several ways you can fake the fullness — from layering your locks to undergoing a color transformation. Here’s how:

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1. Get a curly cut

The right haircut can do wonders for flat curls, adding dimension and volume. “It’s the ability to create mass, connection and cohesion that gives the hair the fullness that can be absent when curlies go too long without haircuts, or [when the] hair gets too long [and] no longer connects,” says Aishia Strickland, educator and tight curl expert. Additionally, hair that’s all one length can appear flat and weighed down and could probably use some shape. “It’s best to create a round, layered cut for the most volume and dimension,” says Larry Sims, celebrity hairstylist who’s worked with Janet Jackson, Gabrielle Union and Tracee Ellis Ross. Consult with your hairstylist to determine what kind of haircut best suits your length, density and texture.

2. Experiment with color

A clever way to create the illusion of fuller curls is to explore various color combinations that’ll deliver depth and dimension. For example, hair contouring is a trendy technique that can make your locks appear thicker by strategically placing light and dark colors around your tresses. Your hairstylist may use a combination of root shadowing (applying a darker shade to the roots), highlights (lighter sections of hair) and lowlights (darker sections of hair) for contrast. If you want the greatest amount of depth in a subtle way, lowlights can make all the difference. “Highlights can as well, but you’re going to get the most depth with lowlights,” Sims says. One caveat is that coloring your hair too often can weaken the strands. “For many, color thins out the hair over time due to the chemicals, and [not] everyone’s hair and scalp [can] handle it,” warns Mo Williams, natural hairstylist and owner of Such a Natural salon in Michigan.

3. Eliminate heavy products

Some naturals are so fixated on taming frizz that they pile on the product. But contrary to popular belief, a little frizz can be essential to creating the volume you want. Strickland encourages using gels that allow a more “lived-in” look. “This just means a combination of frizz and definition,” she says. To strike the right balance, consider replacing heavy gels with lightweight formulas. As Sims notes, curl creams and custards, paired with the use of a diffuser, can give you volume for days. Bottom line: Your hair texture will ultimately determine what products you’ll need. “Some [people] can use mousse, cream or gel, but it’s all [going to] vary based on the person,” Williams says.

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4. Consider clip-ins

Seeking instant volume? Clip-in extensions may be your best bet. The number of wefts you’ll need will depend on how much volume you’re trying to achieve. “Clip-ins are an awesome and low-commitment option for making hair appear more full,” Strickland says. For a realistic look, Sims suggests choosing textures that blend well with your natural curl pattern. Luckily, many companies offer a wide range of textures to choose from, making it easier to find your match. Sims also recommends removing extensions at night to avoid tangling and matting during sleep. While clip-ins can be a quick way to get more volume, it’s crucial not to neglect your natural tresses. “Be careful not to wear them too often, and … still be sure to take care of your hair by keeping it clean and moisturized,” Williams advises.

5. Play with parting

It may seem simple, but switching up your part is a fuss-free way to create fuller-looking curls. “Playing with parts is ideal as some of us curlies have varying degrees of density throughout our scalps,” Strickland says. “It’s very helpful to observe the various degrees of density so that you may wear your hair in a way that suits you.” So, if you rock a middle part often, try a deep part for extra body and a touch of drama. “Extreme side parts give the illusion of fuller hair, [and you can use] the center of your scalp as a point of direction for a curly fringe,” Sims says. Regardless of how you part your hair, ensuring there’s volume at the roots is key. Consider trying the “root clipping” technique, which involves applying clips at the scalp to create ultra-volume. Your trusty hair pick can get the job done, too.

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