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 using coconut oil and/or combined with a moisturizing conditioner to prevent hair loss
  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. They are useless for black hair. Our hair texture needs a thorough cleansing.
  7. Every now and then you may need a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup but this shouldn’t be more often than once a month because they do strip your hair of its natural oils.

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:

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Anna L Morgan

    Thank you so much. I have been looking for tips on taking care of and growing my fine hair. I was wearing braids, because it is so hard to style my hair, or hold a style. The braids really tore my hair. Making it even thinner. And tearing away my edges. I am attempting to grow my edges back. But in this process all I can do with my hair is ponytails.

  2. Olivia

    Hi, and thank you i’m going to try your techniques over the weekend. I never though i would find a blog for fine natural hair women as no seems to understand when I say i have fine natural hair and they say it’s thick from looking at it. My hair is super brittle and dry and I do not want to big chop again for the third time due to not being able to keep it moisturized, it breaking in clumps or the constant single strand knots on my ends. I’m hoping this conditioner works, i’m using kinky curly knot-today for the slippage, what would you recommend for a deep conditioner? Shea moisture and Carol’s daughter does not work on my hair and i’m getting frustrated buying all these products. Looking forward to see the result from your blog, thank you again.

    1. Hi, Two deep conditioners I really like:

      TGIN Miracle RepaiRX Deep Hydrating Mask
      Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Penetrating Hair Treatment

      Also, consider doing hot oil treatments using olive oil, Argan oil or whatever your hair likes. This can cut down on the dryness and single strand knots

    2. Catherian

      Hi so I’ve been natural for about almost 4 years now. I’ve noticed no major length retention and now I’m just getting frustrated. My hair is very soft easy to break yet very coarse at the same time my hair is very easy to break. I’m just now starting to act seriously with deep conditioning every week making sure my protein moisture level is right however my biggest problem is stopping with added extensions because do feel like my hair is on the finer/thinner side on top of the shrinkinge I’m just finding a hard time doing a style that I can achieve by myself and feel comfortable and not self conscious about at this point without the added extensions.

      1. hopefully some of these tips will help. Yes, deep conditioning is something you should do every way day. Consider adding a pre-poo also. With your hair being fragile, keeping it strong and moisturized is very important to prevent the breakage. Also, depending on how you wear your hair, keeping it stretched will reduce the tangles that cause breakage

    3. hi! I really like TGIN Miracle RepairX Deep Hydrating Hair Mask and Curls Dynasty Pumpkin Mint Deep Conditioner

    4. adam

      Eden body works jojoba and manoi DC is super cheap, super hydrating, and protein free. Mielle babussa and mint is a protein/moisture balancer and prob my holy grail.

  3. Kaye

    Thanks for your blog. I have hair like yours except it’s high porosity and have watched some of your youtube videos and you have reinforced some of the things I’m only now in my early 40’s have started trying. My hair drives me crazy.

    1. hi Kaye. Glad to help where I can. Don’t get too frustrated. Just develop some basic hair care practices, be consistent and don’t over-do. For us fine hair naturals, less is more when it comes to handling the hair.

  4. Page

    How should a person with low porosity hair do daily moisture? Should I spray with water and seal with oil daily until my next wash day? Or leave it be until wash day?

    1. It really depends on your hair’s needs. since people with lowpo hair have a bit of difficulty getting the hair follicles to open up, it’s actually more crucial to impart lots of moisture via vigorous deep conditioning on wash day.

      Then, throughout the week consider steaming your hair once or twice during the week to open up your hair follicles and apply a daily leave in product followed by a sealant like a lightweight oil.

  5. LaShonda

    Hello I have been looking for a site like this for two and half years. My fine hair has literally drove me crazy. The steps you give at a little much and confusing I’m looking for a simple way to grow my hair. I know it’s not simple but I’m such a low maintenance person. I really need help

    1. Hi there. Since this is a guide, its pretty in depth. check out the “hair regimens” (you can do a search on the site). There’s shorter step by step advice

  6. Mona Harper

    Do you recommend Hair Vitamins? Does diet play any role in hair growth and retention?

    1. Hi Mona. Hair vitamins are best for those who perhaps aren’t getting their nutrients from whole food sources. Food is your best source of nutrients and a balanced diet does contribute to healthy hair that grows. That, and adequate water intake. Some ladies take biotin specifically to influence hair growth. You have to try it for yourself.

      I’m taking a liquid hair vitamin from Curls to test out if it will increase my rate of growth.

  7. I’ve been doing these techniques to my fine hair but it’s seems to not be growing at all and I’m very desperate for long hair

  8. Noelle B.

    How do I find out weather I have fine hair or not? I have a thick head of curly hair that is manageable, but I don’t know what characteristic is specific to classifying hair as fine or otherwise.

  9. Foxychoconaps

    I grew with most of the steps I don’t use tool on my hair just figures and I do I use Ayuverta oils for my scalp I use to suffer from a lot of hair fall out and all that stopped as soon as I started using amla oil. Other than these 2 things I agree with everything. I also find it bittersweet wearing PS they are beautiful but I find that I experience breakage once my hair starts growing out (new growth) mini twists and braids just aren’t pretty to me anymore. Any other styles you can think of that I can keep in for at least 2 weeks without touching ? Thanks

    1. I don’t recommend mini twists on fine or thin hair. It takes a lot of manipulation to put them in. I used to do them but it definitely caused too much breakage. Medium sized twists are better and there’s plenty ways you can style them but for length retention, less is more. I also like to do buns which I will set at night but only keep those in for a few days before having to redo them.

      Amla can cause some ladies allergies but I have heard that it works well for preventing hair fall out. I use amla in my henna tea spray but have never used it alone on my scalp.

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