Bold, bouncy & oh-so-beautiful, voluminous curls always make a statement (and that statement is, I know I look good.) Even if you don’t have naturally voluminous curls, with the right tools & accessories for natural hair & tips, you can give your hair the boost it needs to achieve volume—and maintain it—all day long.
So, our only question for you is: are you ready to bump it up?
In this hair care guide, we’ll share 6 simple hacks that will help you achieve luscious & long-lasting voluminous curls.
Quick Question—What Exactly is “Curl Volume”?
Before we share secrets, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to curl volume. Are we talking about curl thickness? Curl lift? Curl width?
The truth is, when talking about “voluminous curls”, there’s no one size fits all answer. Hair volume looks a little different on every curl pattern! However, when someone wants to boost hair volume, they’re usually looking for increased:
- Hair thickness
- Follicle count (or total hairs)
- Root height
- Curl width
- Shine & smoothness
So, what helps individual hairs know to stand at attention? Let’s dive into the top factors that impact how to get volume in curly hair.
What Affects Volume in Curly Hair?
Before boosting your curls, it’s important to know what factors lift & lower the volume. Once you narrow down the root cause (pun intended) of any flatness or low volume you may be experiencing, you can choose the best products for your hair.
You know that one friend who always rocks a luscious mane? Unless she’s a dedicated styling soldier, she’s probably blessed with naturally voluminous hair. Our natural hair volume is somewhat uncontrollable—and that’s completely normal.
From DNA to menstruation, biological factors that control curl volume include:1
- Genetics – Familial DNA & genetic conditions
- Medical conditions – Thyroid issues, alopecia, anemia, endocrine disorders
- Hormonal fluctuations – Menopause, PCOS, menstrual fluctuations
- Aging – Loss of nutrient absorption efficiency with age
Now, onto the fun part. Even if hair volume is somewhat genetic, the right habits can give your natural setting a lift.
On the other hand, any habits or substances that damage your hair are volume killers. By reducing your hair’s health, they leave you with thinner locks & flatter curls. So, if you want to transform your hair & boost your volume, consider how these factors may impact your curls:2
- Environment – Low air moisture, pollutants, etc.
- Damaging product chemicals – Parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde
- Hair care habits – Rough brushing, heat styling, overwashing
- Lifestyle choices – High stress, low sleep, poor nutrition
How Can I Volumize My Curls?
Now that you know what impacts hair volume, it’s time to take the height into your hands.
Perfectly bouncy & thick coils won’t appear overnight. However, new routines & small habitual changes will lift those locks & give you the volume you’re looking for. Learn how to get volume in natural curls with these must-have tips.
1. Skip the Oils
From coconut to jojoba, everyone loves preaching the benefits of hair oils—and they should! But if you want volume? Scratch the oils.
Hair oils are heavy-duty moisturizers & sealants. By coating the hair cuticle, they lock in crucial moisture. However, this can end up weighing hair down, especially if it’s thin or damaged. You’ll be left with shiny but flat curls. So, when choosing styling products, avoid common oils like:
- Almond oil
- Jojoba oil
- Coconut oil
- Castor oil
- Argan oil
- Grapeseed oil
2. Cleanse Your Scalp
Another type of oil that can weigh your curls down? Sebum, or your natural oils.
Your scalp produces sebum at hair roots to coat each individual shaft, sealing in healthy moisture. Unfortunately, sebum can be a little too good at its job. Excess scalp oils can weigh down hair, leaving you with less-than-voluminous curls. Add product buildup to the mix, & it becomes doubly hard to add spring & bounce to your hair.
Instead of cowashing or skipping shampoo, focus on healthy scalp cleansing to prevent excess levels of sebum. Try a clarifying, shampoo that is clear of surfactants, such as our Hydration Shampoo or Clarifying Shampoo, while showering to get the lift you’ve been looking for.
3. Condition (But Lightly)
Skip the oils, but do not skip the conditioner. To achieve luscious, photo-worthy volume, your hair still needs healthy moisture.
Conditioner works via cationic surfactants, or ingredients with a positive electric charge. In contrast, your hair has a negative electric charge. This polarity helps your hair soak up conditioner & all of its nourishing ingredients—which can increase volume. Look for lightweight conditioners with ingredients that stimulate hair growth & strength like:
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin B7, Biotin is commonly consumed orally and is used to promote healthy hair growth. However, supplementing your wash day routine with products specifically formulated with Biotin is a perfect way to further support healthy, voluminous growth. Reach for our Lightweight Conditioner to see for yourself!
- Amino acids – Your hair is actually 95% keratin protein, bonded in flaky layers. To help rebuild & strengthen these bonds, consider amino acids. These molecules are the building blocks of proteins, & research shows they can improve tensile strength & moisture retention.3
- Saw palmetto – An antiandrogenic plant extract, saw palmetto can significantly improve hair density & total hair count.4 Consistent use could leave you with thicker, fuller curls.
- Caffeine or coffee derivatives – Surprisingly enough, caffeine does more than wake up your mind. One study found that caffeine blocks the hair-thinning effects of the hormone DHT.5 This created hair shaft elongation & widening, two volumizing pluses.
Dealing with flat roots after every shower? Here’s a pro tip—condition your hair just from mid-shaft to ends. This will help you achieve lift at the root.
4. Style with Volumizing Products
Need an instant volume boost? Then get ready to introduce some volume-friendly products to your hair care shelf.
Once you hop out of the shower, it’s time to get busy. The right volumizing products can provide your curls with instant & long-lasting volume. Start with lightweight & shape-forming natural hair styling products such as:
- Curl mousse – Ever wondered, “what does hair mousse do & how to use hair mousse for curls?” An oldie but a goodie, hair mousse provides an irreplaceable hold, lifting individual curls from their roots. On wet hair, apply a small amount of a volumizing mousse from the roots down. Paired with PATTERN’s Curl Mousse, a tool like our Hair Pick can help distribute product without roughing up your texture or creating crunchy curls.
- Volumizing spray – It’s not magic, but it’s pretty close. A volumizing spray will boost your hair right before your eyes. The key to these lightweight sprays lies in polymers. These chemical compounds coat & stiffen individual hairs, creating that “lift” effect.6
- Styling cream – Even with volume, you still need moisture. A styling cream can give your curls healthy hydration & shape. For that perfect balance, our curl-friendly Styling Cream uses rich shea butter & the polymer hydroxyethylcellulose. After showering, run a small amount through damp hair, avoiding the roots.
- Dry shampoo – Noticing a little grease on your roots? A spritz of dry shampoo can keep your curls bouncy until the next wash. Most dry shampoos use powders like talc & starch to soak up oils & create friction, lifting hair at the roots.7 Others use surfactants to cleanse these oils without residue.
5. Plop It
We know—it’s hard to resist the bounciness of a fresh blow dry. But to protect your hair from excess heat damage (protectant sprays can only do so much), it’s best to find other volumizing drying strategies. Luckily, we’ve got an idea or two.
Called “plopping” or “pineapple-ing”, gathering your hair loosely at the top of your head can boost volume & preserve curls. If you’re new to the technique, follow these easy steps to learn how to plop your hair:
- Find a snag-free elastic scrunchie or silk scarf (scarves are best for 4a, 4b, & 4c curls)
- Bend over & gather your curls at the top of your head
- Gently wrap or twist your holder around the curls
- If going to sleep, cover with a satin bonnet, like PATTERN’s Satin Cap, or extra silk scarf for protection
Once your hair is dry, you’ll be left with bouncy & beautiful curls.
6. Get a Volumizing Cut
There’s nothing a good haircut can’t fix—and that includes volume issues.
If you want semi-permanent hair volume, you may want to consider a volumizing hair cut. Just remember that on every curl pattern, a volumizing cut will look a little different! From 3a to 4c, check out which hairstyle may fit your beautiful curl or coil type best:
- Gentle afro & bangs – Like a soft halo, this circular style has layered curls descending just to the tops of shoulders. Long bangs add to the face-framing shape, creating further volume in the front. Thick & dense curls (usually 3c or 4a) work especially well with this cut.
- Side-part “bob” – This isn’t your average bob. To create long-lasting height, a shoulder-length & oval-shaped cut on a side part adds instant movement. This can help dense hair textures, like 4b & 4c coils, stay lifted all day long.
- Side-sheared pixie – For tighter curl patterns, this short hairstyle keeps hair reaching to the sky. Sheared sides fade into a longer top section, usually just two or three inches in length. This makes sure your curls stand straight with zero limp coils.
- Inverted triangle bob – Working with fine curls that refuse to spring? This top-heavy haircut can help. With a short top layer & longer bottom layer, your curls get more volume at the crown. A little fringe helps round out this look.
Let PATTERN Lift You Up
By following the tips in this guide, you can cherish your crown and get the lush, voluminous curls you’ve been looking for. & with PATTERN, you can reach even higher hair heights.
Consider us your curly hair mecca. We carry science-backed wash, style, & treatment products that add extra bounce, spring & volume to your curls—all with zero harsh chemicals. That’s because at PATTERN, we believe natural care helps natural beauty shine. Check out our curly hair products today to experience the difference for yourself.
- Akanksha, Shah Sanghvi. "Ways to Increase Hair Volume & Density." eMediHealth. 18 January, 2022. https://www.emedihealth.com/skin-beauty/hair-scalp/increase-hair-volume
- Oshimura, Eiko et al. “Hair and amino acids: the interactions and the effects.” Journal of cosmetic science vol. 58,4 (2007): 347-57.
- Evron, Evyatar et al. “Natural Hair Supplement: Friend or Foe? Saw Palmetto, a Systematic Review in Alopecia.” Skin appendage disorders vol. 6,6 (2020): 329-337. doi:10.1159/000509905
- Fischer, T W et al. “Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro.” International journal of dermatology vol. 46,1 (2007): 27-35. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2007.03119.x
- Gould, Hallie. "The Science of Beauty: How Do Volumizing Hair Products Work?" Byrdie. 6 June, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/how-do-volumizing-hair-products-work