There are a lot of upsides to having fine hair or thin hair: It air dries almost instantly, is easy to fasten into updos, does well with heat styling, and doesn't require much product. But with fine or thin hair, rocking a voluminous blowout or bouncy curls can be a struggle. Instead of major body, finer hair can often appear flatter and have less movement. It can also become weighed down with oil quickly.
The good news? Achieving the look of thick hair isn’t an impossible task. With the right styling techniques, hair care products, and lifestyle changes—it’s as easy as can be. To help your hair look fuller, thicker, and overall healthier, we’ve rounded up 12 tips from scalp experts, hair stylists, and trichologists. Ready to make your hair thicker? Read on!
About the Experts:
“If you are looking to add volume to your hair, start with a volumizing shampoo as the foundation,” says Austgen. “Volumizing shampoos are going to help fatten and swell the hair cuticle to create a more airy feel and look of the hair.” Volumizing shampoos and thickening shampoos can both help to make hair look fuller overall. Whichever you choose, looking for a formula that is sulfate free is better to prevent product buildup.
Thickening shampoos focus on individual strands of hair, while volumizing shampoos focus more on the roots. Thickening shampoos work by infusing the hair with proteins, vitamins, polymers, and/or moisture that plump up each strand, making each piece appear thicker. This is ideal for boosting thickness in fine hair types.
Volumizing shampoos focus more on adding lift to the roots. They help break down buildup around the scalp and infuse the hair with invigorating ingredients like caffeine, biotin, and meadowfoam seed oil.
After you've used a specialized shampoo in the shower, double down on your mission to achieve full-bodied hair by also using hair-thickening products like texture creams, texturizing spray, and thickening tonics.
A thickening cream that you apply to towel-dried hair will work similar to a thickening shampoo, plumping and coating individual strands to make them appear and feel thicker.
A volumizing spray or volumizing dry shampoo is typically applied to dry roots to add texture, lift, and that little bit of oomph. Try using a thickening product on wet hair and finishing with a volumizing product on dry hair—this will help target both the roots and the hair shaft for a fuller effect.
Austgen suggests picking out products that are free of drying alcohols such as ethanol, SD alcohol, propyl alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. “These products are used to fatten and swell the hair cuticle to appear fuller, but can be done with better ingredients that do not dry out and damage the hair,” she says. “Instead, look for volumizing products containing hydrolyzed oat protein and fatty alcohols such as cetyl or cetaryl. You should also avoid products that contain man-made silicones as they weigh the hair down.”
Need some guidance on how to pick out the right products? Check out our list of the best thickening hair products here. Keep in mind that your hair needs moisture like your skin. Yates recommends using a hair mask at least once a week.
Here's the hard truth: Little can be done to permanently change the diameter of individual hair strands. Thickening products can do wonders to temporarily plump hair strands, but when it comes down to it, fine hair is genetic and can't be changed.
However, doing what you can to promote healthy hair growth can make a difference in hair strand quantity, ultimately helping hair thickness. Making sure your scalp is happy, healthy, and well-nourished provides the perfect environment for all your hair to grow in strong and at its maximum potential. This can eventually help to create a fuller head of hair over time.
One easy way trichologists recommend to boost hair growth is by incorporating hair-nourishing foods into a healthy diet that are linked to strong, healthy strands. Look for foods that are high in fatty acids, protein, and vitamins A, B, C, and E that are particularly effective for those actively experiencing hair loss.
If you're doing all the right things and your hair is still looking flat, your scalp could be the problem. Over time, products, shampoos, conditioners, and oils can create buildup on the scalp, which can weigh down strands at the root. “When you exfoliate your scalp, you’re scrubbing away product and environmental buildup, which creates a fresh, clean surface that is not weighed down.” Exfoliating is an easy way to provide natural lift for every strand.
If you're experiencing thinning hair, working an exfoliating scalp massage into your hair routine could make a big difference. This not only increases blood flow to the scalp to encourage growth, but it can also unclog hair follicles that are blocked from growing due to sebum and product buildup. Over time, hair thinning and overall hair health may improve.
Looking for some tips on exactly how to tackle scalp exfoliation? Follow our guide on how to exfoliate your scalp here.
Blow drying with a large round brush, using a curling iron, running a straightener through your hair, and diffusing the hair can all help hair appear fuller, but if you're using hot tools every day, that can end up doing more harm than good. Hot tools are known to cause breakage—the enemy of thick, full hair. With less long hair to create body, it'll be even harder to create volume.
If you simply cannot go without hot tools, remember to always use the lowest heat setting that works for your hair and always use a heat protectant spray. If you’re blow drying hair, Austgen recommends drying the roots with a concentrator in the opposite direction of where you want the hair to fall to create lasting lift. She also likes to sprinkle in a little bit of volumizing hair powder at the root.
“Since hair takes in moisture and nutrients, leave-in conditioner, cream [etc] and swells when it dries, it will look fuller and thicker after a morning styling rather than after a night’s sleep,” explains Philip B. Besides, tossing and turning all night long is one of the easiest ways to boost frizz and breakage—so just start out fresh in the morning with a wash.
Using a cool air dryer rather than a hot blow dryer is recommended, “but the key is the very lowest fan setting with a diffuser,” explains Philip B. “Avoid power, along with heat, for best results.” Even though this takes a bit longer than a traditional dry, it will help hair look fuller in the long run, he says. Check out our picks for blow dryers here.
Philip B is a fan of vigorous scalp massages—especially Ayurvedic head massages. He says they’re perfect for “stimulation, circulation and oxygenation of the scalp supports healthy, vibrant, healthy hair growth.” If you really want to get ~wild~ with it, Philip B says headstands and inverted yoga poses can only help boost this stimulation.
“The leading cause of hair breakage is chemical treatments like hair color, relaxers, and even keratin treatments. Overuse of color treatments and relaxers are the biggest culprits. There are many things you can do to prevent hair from breaking. No more permanent color or bleach (highlights, balayage), no more heat styling, no more brushing the hair when it is wet, [and no more] tighter hairstyles," says Yates.
But that isn’t realistic for everyone! Yates suggests communicating with your stylist on the coloring component, explaining that you do not want to overlap your color because putting color on top of color creates the perfect environment for breakage. Feel empowered to ask your hairstylist for a bond builder in your treatment too. Bond builders can help protect your hair from current and future cuticle damage.
The only way to fix hair breakage is to cut it off. This is why regular hair cuts and trims are necessary. You should be cutting your hair roughly every three months in order for it to be the healthiest it can be. “To return hair back to its healthy state you will need to cut roughly one inch above the break,” says Yates.
When summer is approaching, keeping your hair up and off your neck is often a great way to stay cool. If you must wear your hair up a couple times a week, try and avoid putting the ponytail in the same position each time.
“Wearing a tight elastic band in the same place can cause cuticle tears, especially if you rip it out of your hair or position it back in place by pulling the two sections of your hair causing the tie to move up,” says Yates. You can always opt for a silky scrunchy in addition to changing the position of your pony. We love these from KRISTIN ESS and these from CROWN AFFAIR.
There are many natural oils that can boost healthy hair follicles and growth. Perhaps our favorite is rosemary oil, because there are so many ways to use it, it’s widely available, and it’s thinner than olive oil or castor oil, which can be pore-clogging for some.
“Rosemary is a plant-based ingredient that can help the overall health of your hair and scalp due to its anti-inflammatory properties,” says Philadelphia-based hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor. She adds that rosemary can stimulate hair growth, thicken your strands from the roots, help increase blood circulation, improve scalp conditions, and even help reduce stress.
For more info on how rosemary oil can help detox your scalp and promote healthy hair growth, read our complete guide to the ingredient here. You’ll also find product recommendations you won’t want to pass up.
Just like we take vitamins to support our immune system and general well-being, taking a hair supplement to achieve your hair goals isn’t a bad idea either. The best vitamins for hair growth are proven to be vitamin C, E, B, D, and A.
It doesn't hurt to research what hair supplements could be right for you, but it’s best to consult your doctor or a holistic health professional. Vitamins can be expensive, so we recommend knowing which will give you the best results and are backed by professionals. To start, take a look at Vegamour and Jupiter!
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