Why Do My Braids Look Thin? PLUS How To Create Voluminous Braids!

It can be so disappointing looking at your finished braids only to see that they appear skinny and tight-looking! This is something I’ve struggled with as I have very fine hair, so I’ve decided to do some digging and get to the bottom of this problem!

Hair that appears thin when braided usually occurs when your natural hair is thin and fine. Even if the hair appears thicker when loose, bundling the hair into a braid can compress the hair, leaving it looking thin. In order to combat this, there are certain braiding styles and tips you can adopt to create a thicker appearing braid.

Keep reading to learn how you can make your braids appear fuller and thicker with these quick and easy tips and tricks!

How To Make Your Braids Appear Thicker (5 Easy Steps)

I came across this simple and super effective method of braiding your hair known as the “pancake method” and couldn’t believe the change in the thickness of my braids!

The best way to make your braids appear thicker is to do the pancake method; this entails pulling apart your braid from the bottom, working up to the top, making it look thicker and wider. That said, this method works best if you pull each strand separately and ensure that you go slowly to avoid pulling too much that you unravel your braid.

How to Get MAX Volume in Braids!

You can try out this method too, simply by following the below easy steps:

Step 01. The idea here is to make your braid flatter (like a pancake) and create the illusion that your braid is thicker. To create this effect, simply start at the top of your head and grab a small section of hair, and split it into three strands.

As you pancake, pull gently in the middle of each braid and tug harder as you reach the outer edges. You want to make sure the braid stays together, but also ensuring each section of the braid appears thicker.

Insider Tip: Make sure that you leave a few inches of hair near the bottom as a resource.

Step 02. To begin your Dutch “pancake” braid, simply cross your right strand under your center strand (basically the opposite of a French braid)! Next, simply repeat with your left strand.

Step 03. As you move down your head, gradually add hair to each outside strand before crossing beneath your middle strand. For the best results and added control, apply some One-Minute Transformation Anti-Frizz Styling Cream to ensure your hair remains tight and in place as you braid.

Insider Tip: Celebrity hairstylist, Bradley Leake, recommends that you keep your braid as tight as possible in the beginning. This is so that you have more room to play when you go back to pancake your braid later.

Step 04. Once you reach the nape of your neck, you can now start switching to a regular method.

Step 05. Once you have completed your first section, simply repeat the same process on the other side. Next, secure the ends with a clear elastic band. For an extra boost of volume, you can loop the ends of your hair into a bun before tying with an elastic.

Step 06. Now it’s time to actually pancake your braids! Simply add some misting spray for some flexible hold. Starting at the bottom, work your way up the braid and begin by lightly tugging each braid loop in a horizontal direction. This will flatten the braid like a pancake, which will create a fuller appearance.

Once you’ve reached your desired thickness, you’re all done!

5 Additional Tips For Creating Thicker Braids

Now that you know how to rock a killer Dutch braid (what did you do before the pancake method?) that is both thick and voluminous, here are some additional tips and tricks you can use on your braid to give a fuller, thicker appearance!

Another way to create thicker braids that differs from the pancake method is to add hair extensions to give your hair some bulkiness and volume; you can purchase a braided hairpiece to clip onto your hair or get full-head extensions. Another option is to use a volumizing hair spray or mousse before braiding to make your natural hair appear fuller.

Tip 01. If you’ve got experience with hair extensions, then this is one of the simplest ways to add some bulk, thickness, and length. Your best bet would be to go for a braided extension so you can conveniently clip it into your hair and create a super volumized look.

Tip 02. If you’re not a fan of hair extensions, then your best bet is to prepare your hair before you even begin to braid your strands. You can use some volumizing mousse or texturizing spray to create a fuller, thicker appearance. This will coat the strands to provide some added texture and thickness. You can even tease your hair a little for extra volume.

My personal favorites are Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing Foam and Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.

Tip 03. Completing your braids with a good volumizing hairspray can also help you to fake the appearance of thicker, fuller braids. The hairspray will help to set the style perfectly and will also add thickness to each strand.

I recommend BOLDIFY Hair Thickening Spray for the best finish!

Tip 04. Always leave a few inches of hair near the ends of your braid and try not to tie off your braid before pancaking, if you can. Rather than typing it off, hold your hair in one hand while you use your other hand to pancake the braid. If you have to tie it off, make sure that you leave a few inches beneath the tie and adjust the hair tie as you wish.

Tip 05. Some volumizing powder is another great way to add some volume to your tresses. While I’m not the biggest fan of putting product in my hair, the volumizing powder can really turn drab, flat braids into fabulous and voluminous!

My personal favorite is Batiste XXL Plumping Powder, which is available online. This powder works its magic by making your hair a little stickier so it doesn’t slip out of your braids as you tug on it. While you don’t need volumizing powder to create a fuller appearance, this product will help you to that dramatically thick look (if that’s what you’re after).

Insider Tip: Remember, a little bit goes a long way, so don’t overdo it on the plumping powder. When I want a little bit more of a natural look, I pancake my hair without using any plumping powder at all and only add the powder on days where I feel I really need it.

Related Questions:

What does it mean when braids get loose?

If you notice that your braids are becoming loose at the roots, chances are that your hair is simply growing. However, this is not always the case! If you have been cleansing your hair often, it could be that you have caused the braid to slip, making it appear as though your hair is growing, when it’s simply super clean.

How long should I keep braids in?

Try and keep your braids in for no longer than 8 weeks. Leaving them in for longer may compromise the health of your scalp and your hair. Also, leave them in for at least one week between installation so that your scalp has some time to breathe.

Does braided hair grow faster?

Braiding your hair can help to make it grow at a quicker pace by providing it with a more stable structure. Also, by making sure your strands are under control, a braid will help to decrease the number of times your hair will need brushing and detangling, which are most often the reason behind hair breaking and falling out.


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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