a Step by Step Guide to Growing Fine Natural Hair

I’ve searched the web again and again for information on how to grow the fine natural hair type long. That includes how to stop breakage and what needs to be done to promote length retention.

My reason for searching for this information was not necessarily to grow my own hair but to see if it’s something that requires assembling all in one place to share with my fellow fine hair naturals.

What is and what is not on the web

I’ve read a few great articles on the web about growing naturally curly hair. I’ve even read some great information out there on growing hair in general. Most of what you will find however is really not written specifically with fine hair naturals or those with thin hair in mind.

What you will typically find is information geared to those with thick hair or coarse hair, not fine strands.

What we need are hair practices to promote hair growth along with specific natural hair routines that will work for our fine (and sometimes thin) hair.

Some of what I will share can be applied to various hair types but I’m writing purely from the perspective of a natural with fine hair. I mean really fine hair. As in, so fine one strand of hair looks nearly invisible when singled out.

You may have tons of strands on your hair that appear fine but if you have a lot of them, your overall head of hair is thick. I fall somewhere in between.

NOTE: This blog used to be called Radiant Brown Beauty. Fine Natural Hair and Faith has replaced it but you’ll notice that some of my photos are stamped with my old logo or name. I decided to keep these photos because they are great shots and why re-create them? 😉

wet fine natural hair

How to Grow Fine Natural Hair Long – Step by Step

When it comes to having fine hair, handling is critical. That’s because, each hair is lightweight.

Below, you will find step by step how I grew (and am continuing to grow) my fine natural hair long. This includes length retention.

I. Washing Fine Natural Hair

shampoo in fine natural hair

First things first. There is nothing more damaging to not just fine hair but all hair types than dry hair. Dry hair is prone to breakage. So, the first step in growing fine natural hair is carefully washing it.

Here’s the process I personally follow:

  1. Pre-poo (pre-shampoo) hair before washing
  2. Wash in sections (4-8 twists or loose braids depending on the length and amount of hair you have)
  3. Use a sulfate free shampoo or co-wash product (not a conditioner) to cleanse your hair strands
  4. Stimulate the scalp when washing by using the pads of your fingers or a shampoo brush but do NOT brush through the hair.
  5. Finger comb when you have damp hair, not wet hair.
  6. Avoid dry shampoo products.
  7. Every now and then you may need a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup

II. Conditioning Fine Natural Hair

  1. Deep condition EVERY SINGLE Wash day. No excuses
  2. Use heat with your deep conditioner
  3. Focus on your ends but don’t forget your crown which gets the brunt of exposure from the elements
  4. Apply a little oil or honey to your deep conditioner to aid with slip if needed
  5. Allow your deep conditioner to cool before rinsing it out
  6. Rinse your deep conditioner out with cool water or use diluted aloe vera juice or apple cider vinegar to seal your hair’s cuticles after the wash/condition. (Note: Limit apple cider vinegar use to no more than twice a month)
  7. Your deep conditioner shouldn’t contain protein unless it’s intended for protein/moisture balancing.

III. Strengthening Fine Hair

goat milk conditioner recipe

* Protein treatments are essential for fine hair to remain strong. The not only fortify the hair strand, Protein treatments support the hair follicles as well.

* Apply protein every other wash day but no less than monthly. You can apply it as part of your pre-poo or after washing/before deep conditioning.

* Always balance out a protein application with a moisturizing deep conditioner (unless you are using a product like Aubrey Organics GPB (see above)

Henna is a great alternative to protein treatments. In addition to full strength henna treatments every other month, I have also used a henna strengthening spray recipe consisting of Henna, Shikakai and Amla powders, paired with tea tree oil, rosemary and/or peppermint essential oil.

DIY treatments are great alternatives to store bought strengthening treatments but you have to be careful. Test your DIY recipes to make sure they are pH balanced.

IV. Moisturizing Fine Hair

fine curly hair

As important as protein, apply. moisture to your hair before it dries out.

If you have normal or medium porosity hair, you can get away with moisturizing less often as long as you have adequately imparted moisture to your hair on wash day but as a rule of thumb, moisturize proactively. Daily is best for those with high porosity hair.

Layer your moisture on wash day using a combination of the LOC, LCO, LCOC or other layering method.

L = Liquid. O = Oil. C = Cream and or Conditioner.

Don’t omit a leave in conditioner after washing your hair. It imparts additional moisture.

If your hair dries out sooner than you would like, seal your moisture in with a light weight oil like Jojoba oil, Almond oil or Argan oil.

Heavier oils will weigh fine hair down. For a heavier sealant, use a mango or shea butter that’s been whipped (see this article on using Shea Butter on Fine Hair)

V. Protecting Fine Hair

Twists Protective Style
Twisted Updo

* Sleep on a silk or satin pillow case and/or in a satin or silk bonnet/scarf at night

* Put a satin case over your car’s head rest if it’s not leather

* Wear hair up when commuting

* Watch out for big earrings and necklaces which can snag the hair. It’s nearly impossible to untangle fine hair from it without resulting in breakage.

* Get rid of your flat iron and your curling iron. Direct heat placement to fine hair can be detrimental as it’s highly susceptible to breakage naturally. If you must, limit heat styling to no more than twice a year. But again, preferably not at all because.

UPDATE: I use a new ceramic straightener once per year. Once you get to a desired length, you can heat style infrequently.

* Always use a heat protectant product when straightening hair with heat. Grapeseed oil is NOT a heat protectant.

* Opt for a balance of air drying vs using blow dryers.

* If heat styling, blow hair with warm heat before flat ironing. It will make the one pass method for straightening with a flat iron (direct heat contact) more effective and less damaging..

* When blow drying, stretch your hair with your hands and protect the ends.

* Prevent breakage by oiling your hair every other night or so with a lightweight and easily absorbed oil like Argan oil. This will greatly reduce tangling and SSKs (single strand knots).

* Seal the ends of your hair with a heavier oil like Jamaican Black Castor oil or Thirsty Roots apricot castor oil that will keep them fused together. This will reduce the instances of split ends.

* Take care when styling your hair (see next section).

UPDATE: I now use a RevAir dryer to stretch my hair twice a month. This keeps it virtually tangle free.

VI. Styling Fine Natural Hair

reduce split ends
Crown Twists

* Limit protective styling duration to no more than 2 weeks. Fine natural hair does not like to be bound up for long periods of time. The result of a long protective style is webbing and tangling.

* Utilize low manipulation hair styling aka easy styles like the wash and go or chunky twist out but stretch your curls out if doing a wash and go. This will reduce tangles.

* Minimize how often you do styles that cause your hair to shrink up.

* Avoid using brushes on your fine natural hair (except to detangle with conditioner). Other hairbrushes can fray the cuticle and lead to breakage.

* Limit the use of combs but if you must use a comb, opt for a seamless large tooth comb.

* Avoid using fine tooth combs on your hair. You can use the tail of a rat tail comb to part with but that should be the extent. Using fine teeth and rat tail combs to Combe all the way through your fine hair will create so much breakage. You’ll find much hair in the comb when you are done.

* No added hair or extensions – You need to do too much manipulation to install them. Plus, there’s the friction of artificial hair against your own. Just let your hair be. Style it in simple styles like buns, twist outs, or braid outs. These styles will give your hair a fuller look when you create them with medium to large twists/braids.

If you use heavier products on your hair, the best thing to do is cut back on how much product you use. Fine hair is easily weighed down.

The best products for fine curl types are lightweight in nature and whipped.

VII. Trimming Fine Natural Hair

trimming your own hair

Trim individual hairs by feel. You can feel splits easier than you can see them. If you wear your hair in its naturally curly state, it’s not necessary for it to be even. In fact, it’s best that it’s not.

Get a professional trim at least once a year if having your curls shaped is important to you. However, you will require less trimming if you protect your hair from damage.

Each of these methods of growing fine natural hair is an important part of the step by step process to growing fine natural hair long.

Additional Resources

While the steps I have just shared with you makes up this comprehensive hair growth guide for fine natural hair, there are some additional articles that you may find helpful:

27 Things You Can Do to Improve, Protect and Keep Your Hair On Your Head

Natural Hair Breakage: Stop Over Manipulating Your Hair!

Quick Tip to Stimulate Hair Growth

10 Non-Negotiable Practices of Naturals Who Retain Length

Tips for Maintaining Length on Fine Natural Hair – Part 1

Tips for Maintaining Length on Fine Natural Hair – Part 2

Indian Herbal hair care is another method of growing fine natural hair that is extremely effective. While the articles on this page do not include these types of Indian hair growth secrets, here’s the guide for that: Simple Indian Herbal Hair Care Guide

A Word on Silicones

Many naturals have a problem with using products containing silicones. Silicones have not affected my hair’s ability to grow or maintain length. In the past when I used hair products containing silicones, I periodically clarified my hair with a bentonite or rhassoul clay wash.

These help to remove product build up.

Additionally, an apple cider vinegar rinse will do the same. I tried the Curly Girl Method for nearly a year and didn’t notice a substantial difference in my hair’s condition so every now and then I do use a rinsing conditioner with silicones.

Where to Next?

For step by step instruction on doing the most important fine hair routines, grab the Doing Fine Hair Better Guide:

long natural hair

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