Volume is a characteristic of curly hair that takes a while to love. When I first transitioned from relaxed to natural hair, the thought of my curly hair being big and standing out in crowds was terrifying, partly because of my own internalised texturism of how curly hair ‘should look,’ but also because I was mirroring the natural hair movement at the time, which was seemingly engrossed by perfectly defined curls.
Very few curl–fluencer routines and very few products actively encouraged embracing your hair’s natural volume, thickness and density.
But now, post-unlearning, I know there is no right or wrong way for curly hair to be, and that I can achieve both curl definition and volume in the same breath.
So, let’s break down the ways to achieve volume, while still holding onto your curl definition. These five hacks are super easy to follow…
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Picking for volume
My afro comb is my best friend; in fact, I probably have about five of them. I carry at least one around with me at all times, because I never know when I’ll need a little afternoon volume boost!
My most important tip is to always start by picking from underneath your hair in an upwards direction, which is always easier to do if your head is upside down. Once you feel experienced in this, you can experiment with changing the directions you pick in to get your desired look. If you’re a beginner though, I recommend starting from underneath your hair first.
Another thing to remember is that not all picks are the same. Picks with shorter teeth will create a different look to those with longer ones, and some are just easier to use than others generally. I have selected some of my favourites for you to shop here:
Selecting the right type of products for volume
Unless you have naturally thick, dense, voluminous hair, heavy creams and butters are going to work against volume.
Try replacing them for a hydrating leave-in conditioner and a watery gel or foam so that your hair is not restricted and forced flat.
Some of my favourites are from Innersense, Matrix, Pattern Beauty and Curlsmith.
Switching up your product application
Where you apply your products directly affects your hair volume; if you apply a lot of heavy formulas to your roots, you will likely struggle to gain volume. Try focusing on your mid-lengths to ends instead, as this will give your hair the chance to showcase its natural lift.
If you are someone who needs to apply products to their roots because of extreme dryness, just make sure you are cleansing your hair and roots properly with a good shampoo, as build-up won’t help with achieving volume either. Your hair needs to feel free!
Altering your styling method
In my opinion, this is the most important part of promoting a volumising routine. If you’ve never tried styling your hair upside down, I would highly recommend it.
Applying a gel or product with hold while your hair is flipped upside down increases the chances of it drying in that form, which will help to work against the gravity pushing it downwards.
Plus, why would you pick your hair upside down but not style it in the same way?
Finishing with your drying method
I know I may sound like a broken record, but if you dry your hair with a diffuser, try doing it upside down. You can then occasionally flip it around in different directions so it doesn’t become stiff, stuck in a certain position or flat.
Once your hair feels dry, sleep on it (with your bonnet on or using a satin pillowcase, of course), then give it another go over with the diffuser the next morning and follow with picking it with your afro comb. I’ve found this routine helps wake up my curls and enforces a bit of volume memory.
Lastly, it would be ridiculous of me to not address how crucial the hair cut and shape is when it comes to volume. The more rounded and layered your hair is, the more easily you will achieve volume.
Having said that, I’m confident these five tips will work regardless of your hair’s shape or cut!