Hair Challenges: Protective Styling on Fine, Thin Natural Hair

Author’s hair in February 2011

By Christabel of Chys Curlz

The above picture is of my hair in February of 2011 and as you can see, my twists are not like those luscious, thick and full twists we see so many fabulous ladies rocking. My hair has always been fine and a low density even when I was relaxed. So, when I went natural, this translated to spacey twists and I just didn’t like the look on me. Normally, I would just move on from it…okay so my hair doesn’t do individual twists so what? But I just couldn’t move on. Why, you ask?  Because I knew that since I had fine hair, it was important for me to wear more protective styles and to me, protective styles were twists pinned up and left alone for several days at a time.

However, I just didn’t like the look on me. I tried…I mean REALLY tried to love it on me. I would wear more makeup, bigger earrings, cute bows/headbands,flowers, beanies (can’t wear them everywhere); and I still didn’t like it. So, the next question was, how was I going to protect these finestrands of mine while satisfying my psychological need to like the way my hair is styled?

Well, I decided to try other protective styles like buns (but they pulled on on my edges too much), twist outs (a bit better than buns, but there was too much manipulation every night), flat twists (these worked the best), and updos on stretched hair (liked these a lot). So, I had many options to choose from now and upon implementation, my hair was thriving. You see, the picture at the top of the post is of my hair after 3 years of being natural. Yes, the twists were on wet hair so it was a bit shrunken but I was not retaining appreciable length until I started doing more protective styles.

Fast forward to December 2011 when I decided to revisit individual twists [Click photos to enlarge]:

Dry Twists December 2011

Wet Twists with Shrinkage Dec 2011

My results were better this time around for several reasons:

  • I had cut off about 2″ of color damaged ends so my hair looked better
  • I discovered that twisting in the opposite direction from what feels natural to me yielded plumper twists as the twists tend to unravel just a little bit thereby making them appear plumper (try this and see what you think. It was a game changer for me.)
  • My hair had more length and density (from shorter hair growing out) from many months of more protective styling

Mind you, I still prefer flat twists and updos for my fine and low density tresses but whenever I do individual twists in my bang area, they do not look as spacey anymore [Click photos to enlarge].

Updo after taking out  flat twists

Love me some flat twists. SO many styles you can create

As you can see, my hair is still not very dense but I make it work

Are you a fine-haired-low-density natural? Try these tips and let me know what you think and please share any other tips and tricks you have for protecting your ends.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

110 thoughts on “Hair Challenges: Protective Styling on Fine, Thin Natural Hair

  1. Twisting in the opposite direction, huh? I’m going to try this today. I generally don’t like twists on me, as I am a fine-haired natty myself. But I need a low-manipulation protective style at this point.

    Thanks! :)

  2. My hair is teh same, very thin and limp. I’d like to try your suggestions but um, what exactly is the opposite direction? Should this be towards your face or away from your face?


    • What she’s saying is if you normally twist your hair in one direction because that is what feels natural, you should practice getting into the habit of doing it the other way. She’s just referring to individual twists there, like the ones she had in her first pic.

  3. I was really delighted to find this particular article posted because I can relate 100%. I have super fine,dense and tightly coiled hair. I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.To this day, I swear I will never wear twists in public because mine are so scanty. In the course of my 1 year natural hair journey I have learnt tricks on how to create the illusion of a full head. I am so grateful for you-tubers and websites like this one because I could not have endured for so long.

  4. I so glad I found this article because there are only one or two helpful article about styling for thin/ fine. The only thing us i already twist my hair but I’m gonna try this method next time. Please write more about this because it is really helpful.

  5. I have supercoils that look extremely thick when I sport a wash-and-go or twist/braid out, but I’ve had the same issue with protective styles like braids or twists. I’ve never worn flat twists. I’ll have to try them!

  6. Thank you for this post! I have definitely hit a wall with my thin/low density hair. I mean, I’ve tried every method in the book and I swear, I gain NO length. Like NONE over months and months and months (years even?). I don’t use silicones. I constantly moisturize. I deep condition. I give extra care to my ends with natural oils and pomades, I detangle very gently… My hair is healthy but where is the length already?!! I don’t need it going down my back I just want a liiiiitle more, like a good three inches would be a game changer! It’s just barely reaching my shoulders for years and just doesn’t look good down (out). Could you please tell me your current regime? Your hair looks beautiful in the Dec. 2011 photo, and I will definitely twisting the opposite way, but I’m hoping you have some other tips my thin (but healthy) hair could benefit from! Many Thanks!!!

  7. When I was younger, I swear my natural was thick and full! But now, after 30 years of perm and hair color, I’m back to being natural and my hair is thin and full. The first pic here looks just like my hair when twisted/box braids, but these are my best protective styles. On this post, it is so great to see how many of us are repping natural hair. But, I agree, it is true that there just aren’t enough images of ‘our’ hair shown on natural blogs.

  8. LADIES I HAVE THE SOLUTION TO THINNING HAIR….EXERCISE!!! Blood flow to the vessel of the hair follicles stimulate growth! We have to be honest about the situation. Are you eating right? Leafy veggies are great for hair and nail growth. Are you drinking lots of water? Your hair is like a plant it needs moisture not just a pound of product…what you do on the inside matters a ton. And finally are you getting that blood flowing? I promise you, there will be life changing results… I am a living witness…I wish I could post pictures but I ran across this article haphazardly. But if you do your research it all boils down to a healthy lifestyle. Another thing…it may not be in your DNA to have THICK hair! Please Do some research before you give up or go out and buy a ton of product!


    • Thank you for saying this!!!!! I just started my exercise routine last week & drinking more & nothing but water. I hope to c a diff.

  9. My hair was thick until I had my son. After that i experienced hormonal changes that totally thinned out my hair and it never really recovered. I exercise, eat healthy, etc, but hormonal changes are real!

  10. Omg! I just went thru this yesterday. I decided to try a different protective style which was individual twists; due to me transitioning i still had straight ends so i had to use flexi Rods to curl my ends; the twists were very spacey and i decided to bobby pin them all up. For the rest of the week that’s how my hair will stay but with a beanie…

    I’ve decided to stick to my flat twists under a beanie for my protective styles then breathe on friday, wash day is Sunday! Until winter is over …

    Any suggestions on protective styles?

  11. I also have fine hair and low density so this post gives me much needed hope! Can’t wait to take out my current protective style to try the reverse twist method. I too have problems with spacey twists. Can’t wait to try…thanks!

  12. Yup I got that fine dry looking hair that looks thicker than what it is until I twist it and see what it looks like ( the picture above) oh well still love my natural hair. Glad somebody put an article out there that I an relate to and thanks for sharing and the encouragement.

  13. Thank you for posting this. It’s good to see a hair type so similar to mine. I have low porosity, fine, kinky, low density hair. I have been natural for close to two decades (way before it was fashionable). I only recently started applying 2-strand twist and I do like it better than other protective styles.

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