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Reader Q&A: Blogger CurlyNikki on Achieving the Perfect Braid-Out

Blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki gives you the step-by-step on achieving a big, bodacious 'do.

Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you’re in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums!

Check out the this week’s installment in CurlyNikki’s reader Q&A series:


How can I do braid-outs to create big hair? I was able to achieve the look while I was transitioning, but now it doesn’t come out as nice. Suggestions? — Pamela


Big hair definitely rocks — but thanks to genetics, we can’t all have it. However, natural hair is very versatile. Why not create the illusion of big hair?

To make my fine, shrink-prone hair appear huge, I style my hair when it’s damp or dry to minimize shrinkage. I prefer twists over braids for the resulting pattern, but my techniques are applicable to braid-outs as well.

For damp sets, I allow my hair to dry for fifteen to twenty minutes until it’s about 75% dry. Then I apply a leave-in conditioner and create 8-10 twists. Fewer twists result in a chunky, voluminous twist-out. Also, using minimal product (and light hold creams versus strong hold gels) yields the ‘controlled frizz’ effect. A damp set gives you definition and a bit more hang time than a wet set would. 

When I style my dry, previously stretched hair, I apply a teeny bit of leave-in conditioner, pomade, hair butter or grease (gasp!) in sections and twist… usually 8-10. This process yields big hair every time, especially on day two!  You’ll notice less definition and even more length than you would with a damp set.

Finally, twist/braid-outs on blown out or roller set hair yields the biggest, fluffiest results, but they also don’t last long. I like to twist with a light leave-in like Lacio Lacio, shea butter, or grease. 

Nikki “CurlyNikki” Walton is a psychotherapist and creator of the largest online natural hair resource. Along with tips and product recommendation, Walton also implements her psychotherapy skills in the sub-section “On the Couch with Curly Nikki.