How to Make Fine Hair Look Bigger in a Ponytail

Creating ponytails for thin hair can be downright disappointing. The flat looks leave a bit to be desired.

In this article, I’ll show you an easy technique to make your ponytails look fuller. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to do a high ponytail, low ponytail, messy ponytail or simple ponytail.

fuller twist out ponytail

This ponytail hack will help those with thinner hair to achieve a much more voluminous ponytail.

And while, this ponytail hack is more geared toward those with a natural hair type, or curly hair (even wavy hair), the good news is if you have straight hair, you can likely implement this tip as well. Let’s get to it.

Bigger hair

Fuller hair

That’s what most of us fine hair sistas are looking for. Trust me I know.

I’ve done everything from using a texturizing spray to adding one of those volumizing hair pieces that you clip at the crown of your head. That was an awful contraption by the way. It may have given me some lift at the crown but it was so unnatural looking. Plus, if not careful with it, you can cause tangling to occur in that area of your head. No thank you.

Well, sometimes you have to fake it til you can make it! (Ok. We’ll likely never make it on our own but let’s not look at the glass half full!)

There’s techniques and tools that can be used to make your hair look fuller, especially when styling it in a ponytail.

In this post on summer go-to hairstyles, I shared a style that made me have a fuller looking ponytail. It was really super full and big. (Coincidentally, it’s the pic featured at the beginning of this post)

As in, way bigger than it would normally look without using the technique that I did to make it look so full.

ponytails for thin hair

How Not To Do Ponytails for Thin Hair

Before we get into how to a great way your ponytail look more, there’s a few things you’ll want to avoid doing because traction alopecia (a type of hair loss) is not the goal here.

Here’s what not to do when creating your ponytails:

Don’t Use a rubber band

These little boogers can cause hair breakage for those of us with thin hair. Instead opt for a hair tie or ponytail holder that’s made of smooth material (example, a satin or silk scrunchie)

Ditch the Tight Ponytails

Another thing to not do is tight ponytails. Any tight hairstyle you do is counter intuitive to making you appear to have thick hair. They are also a recipe for hair damage and hair thinning.

Also, to create your ponytails with twists or braids, the best thing to do is to do them loose. Tight braids and twists put too much traction on the hair.

Remember that traction alopecia I mentioned earlier? This can sometimes lead to permanent hair loss. It’s when your hair is literally pulled right out of the hair follicles and those follicles are then damaged beyond repair.

So, steer clear of doing tight ponytails of any kind.

Please Do Not Tease Your Hair

I think teasing or back combing the hair is something done more by our Caucasian sisters but I think it’s still important to point out.

Teasing hair roughs up the cuticle layer. So, in the quest of getting ponytails for thin hair to appear bigger, please don’t do this. It’s not worth it.

How to Make Ponytails for Thin Hair Bigger

hack for fuller ponytail

Now that we’ve gotten some of the most common culprits of damaging hair when it’s put in a ponytail, let’s look at how to do them better when you have fine hair and thin hair.

So, the ponytail is one of those easy hairstyles that can be done in a pinch. However, you want to make sure your ponytail is looking good.

While you can use hair accessories to jazz up your ponytail, let’s first look how to make it appear bigger and better.

For those of you with inquiring minds (still reading ha!) who wanted to know how I created the fuller-looking ponytail in the photo above, I’ll walk it out step by step for you. It’s super simple by the way.

So here are the steps:

  1. First, make sure your hair is mostly (if not fully) detangled, This is super important if you are going for sleek ponytails and especially if you have longer hair.
  2. Second, but optional is to work with your hair in its most curly state. (Use rollers if you have straight hair). This will help add some additional volume.
  3. Then, snuggly (but not tightly) pull your hair back into a ponytail, holding it in place with one hand.
  4. Stretch a seamless elastic on one side of where you are creating the ponytail and pin it in place with a bobby pin.
  5. Work around the elastic at the base of your ponytail, stretching it out as you pin it down until the elastic is fully pinned to your head in a stretched out fashion.
  6. Adjust your hair by gently pulling the hairs out to fluff it up some

NOTE: When, pinning the bobby pins into your hair from the top, make sure you pin them downward. This will not only secure the pins so the elastic doesn’t move, it also hides them so you can’t see them once your ponytail is set.

While I initially placed the band and pinned it in a way that secures the pin on one side and then the other, I discovered a better way.

The best way to pin the elastic without it pulling is to start on the underside of one side of your head and work in a clockwise fashion.

You can also adjust the placement of the band to create a high ponytail, low ponytail or mid height ponytail. It’s all in the placement of the elastic band and bobby pins.

Also, for my more visual learners, here’a a little video tutorial I put together that demonstrates making your ponytail bigger in action:

See. Easy right?

Notice I changed the placement slightly to show what the ponytail could look like at different levels. If you’re going to try this technique on your thin ponytail, it’s imperative that you try it at different levels to see which looks best on your head.

I think this bears repeating though >>>> Make sure you work on hair that’s in a curly state vs straight when possible.

It’s not that you can’t get a bigger ponytail on fine hair or thin hair when it’s straight. It just may not look as voluminous as you would like. This is especially tru if you have long hair. 

Still try this technique though. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results on your straighter hair.

Otherwise, work on hair that’s either in a wash and go, twist out or braid out. My fave is actually creating my ponytail on old hair that was previously in a twist out. It makes the hair look really full and put together.

Tools and products Used for a Bigger Ponytail

As you can see from the photo and video, I’m working with natural hair. However, even if you have straight hair, the tools you use will be essentially the same. Here’s what I use:

  • A seamless elastic band that’s slightly stretched out of shape. While you can use a new band, it’s more difficult to stretch and may be too tight on your hair.
  • 4 bobby pins
  • Ecostyler Curl and Wave gel (This is optional for your ponytail to appear smoother. You can also use any edge control product of your choice)

Notice I did not use any hair extensions or any sort of clip-in extensions. It’s not saying you can’t use those. Just be very careful that they don’t tug at your own hair. 

Ponytail Hairstyles

fuller ponytails for thin hair

Now that you know how to make a bigger ponytail, it’s time to get to styling them. Check out the ponytail styles here: 50 Natural Hair Ponytail Styles

Now that you know how to make a bigger ponytail, it’s time to get to styling them. You can implement this technique for thicker-looking hair when doing all sorts of ponytail hairstyles.

That includes the half-down look where the top section of hair is pulled up into a ponytail.

Below you will find some ponytail styles I’ve done on my fine natural hair using this technique OR ponytails which I could have done this technique.


long curly ponytail

I love this ponytail so much. It was truly effortless to create and while I didn’t use the ponytail hack I just shared (opting more for length over volume), imagine if I had.


ponytail updo with color

For this ponytail I used some hair color to give it more visual interest but notice how full it appears. This is NOT my hair’s natural way of being when in a ponytail. *wink


twist back curly ponytail

For this ponytail I used a seamless elastic band as well and pinned it using the technique I just shared. I didn’t stretch this one out as much as I did for the demonstrated style but the ponytail is still fuller than it would have been had I not stretched the band at all.

These three ponytails were shared in my 50 ponytail style ideas article. Check out some of my other ponytail styles here: 50 Natural Hair Ponytail Styles

The ponytail hack shared above may not be applicable for all styles but you can use it for any of the styles where you aren’t also twisting or braiding your hair.

A Prayer for Our Hair:

Father God in heaven, your word says “Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” So, thank you for the gift of healthy strands. May they stay nourished and strong. In Jesus Name. Amen.

This post has been updated for clarity.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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