This TikTok Hack Brought Serious Volume Back to My Curls

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Recently I was scrolling through TikTok before bed (as one does) and came across a plea for curly hair advice. “How do people’s curly hair have curls that come all the way from here?” the TikToker asks, pointing to the crown of her head. “How do you get the volume up here? How do you get it to not be flat?”

Before I have a chance to respond “a diffuser or a brush,” the creator already beat me to it. She’s already tried those two techniques, which had me staring at my own curls in the mirror like, “Wait, how do you get volume at the root?” I soon found myself down a rabbit hole of responses from fellow curly gals willing to help her out (because the curly community always sticks together!) One hack that caught my attention was root clipping.

The Coolest Styling Hack for Thick Hair, According to TikTok

What Is Root Clipping?

Root clipping is a technique where you apply alligator styling clips at the top of your head (aka the roots) to create volume. “This is definitely an easy way to achieve volume, which many people struggle to get in this area,” explains Nubia Rëzo, a curly hair expert and owner of Rëzo Salon in New York City. “It’s important that your roots match the volume throughout the rest of your hair. Otherwise, you end up with big hair accompanied by flat roots.”

How Do You Root Clip Your Curls?

The technique is actually pretty simple. It requires three steps and one product: hair clips. (And if you don’t own hair clips, you can also use claw clips, small meta hair pins or even a hair pick to achieve similar results.)

As for the steps, first, you want to wash and prep your hair as you normally would. Invest in volume-enhancing mousses and/or creams for a fuller finish. “You want a good ratio of both water and product to create a slippery consistency to help maneuver the hair,” Rëzo explains. “The ratio should be 80 percent water and 20 percent product (which equates to roughly the size of a dime). Simply put: You want to use enough product that can shape and mold your curls without weighing it down (and making it harder to reach peak volume).

Then, go to town on applying the clips right at the roots of your curls. Rëzo suggests trying this technique while your hair is still wet because “the clips will lift the roots up and help speed up dry time.” The average number of clips used for most people is between three to five clips, but you’re more than welcome to apply as many as you want (or have on hand). Finally, air-dry your curls or reach for your diffuser to finish up the look.

how to get volume at root for curly hair cat
Sofia Kraushaar/Chelsea Candelario

Is It Beauty Editor-approved?

Sort-of. I watched a few tutorials to make sure I was getting the placement of the clips just right. Initially, I spent a lot of time rearranging the hair clips to get them as close to my roots as possible. While many suggested air-drying or diffusing before removing the clips, I decided to leave them in overnight.

The next morning, I saw a definite lift in the front, but the back looked like it needed a bit more work. I won’t knock this hack just yet because it was my first trial, but I can see myself adding this simple step to my styling routine. I’m eager to play with the width of the sections and the number of clips I use next time. (FYI, I used five.) And I might try using a hair pick to see how that looks. All in all, root clipping made my curls appear fuller even though my technique is still a work in progress.

Are there other ways to bring root volume to curls?

Absolutely. “There are many different ways to achieve a fuller, more voluminous look without always having to use heat on your curls,” says Rëzo. Here are three other ways to to create height and dimension to your curls:

  • Style your hair while it’s wet. “When styling, you’ll first want to make sure your hair is completely wet. It's a lot easier to manipulate and shape the hair,” explains Rëzo. If you style dry hair, you’re more at risk for frizz and dull locks. Also, try adding a denman brush to your routine or consider finger coiling for more definition and texture.
  • Keep a texturizing product in your collection. So you’re rocking third day curls and you’re starting to lose volume. Don’t sweat it. Instead of going the whole wash route, you can reintroduce fullness by using a texturixing spray. “You want to apply the product right on the scalp, so it can create the texture at the roots, which will make it easier to fluff up,” she tells us. “Then, you want to flip your head upside down, and start rubbing your fingertips in a fast sideways motion without getting too close to the front of the hair. This will create an intense amount of volume.”
  • Section your curls. This technique gives you a chance to define your curls and bring out your natural pattern. Rëzo recommends focusing on one inch of hair at a time and applying styling products starting at the nape of the neck. “Separating your curls into smaller sections naturally dries the hair faster and makes it look fuller because it’s not all clumped together. The placement of the sectioning is key, and the more sections, the better,” she says.
  • Use a diffuser. Now we know the viral TikToker who kicked off this experiment didn’t see results on her own hair with this technique, but based on my own experience (and many other curly gals), it can be very effective when done right. The best way to use a diffuser is flipping your hair over and running the attachment close to your scalp into a circular motion. It doesn’t only dry your hair, but add that much needed volume from root to ends especially with a good shake and fluff. And psst, pixie diffusing is a great place to start for voluminous curls.

So, are you ready to say goodbye to flat roots?

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...