As someone who is a member of the thin-and-flat hair club, I am always struggling to try to find the best way to style my hair and the best products that will leave it looking voluminous and not limp and lifeless. I haven't tried it all, but I have tried a lot of different tricks—which included testing a ton of volume sprays, shampoos, and conditioners, and also trying some styling tricks like using hair rollers for extra volume.
Needless to say, I will always take any suggestions or advice when it comes to dealing with my thin hair. So I decided to poll a bunch of hairstylists to see what their best tips were for styling and caring for thin and/or fine hair. If you're in the same boat as me when it comes to the struggle, I think you're going to find some very helpful information here. See what they had to say below.
1. Strategic Layers
Just about every hairstylist I spoke to for this story said some strategic layers would help. "For people with thin/fine hair, I recommend face-framing layers tapered into long layers or face-framing with a one-length cut, I do not recommend over-layering as it can make thin hair look even thinner and often make curling hair difficult," explains hairstylist Josh Liu, CEO and founder of Útiles Beauty and T3 ambassador.
And here's what to do the next time you go in for a cut: "Often people ask for lots of layers when really they just want shape put into the cut but don't know how to ask for it. This is why when speaking with your stylist, pictures can be critical to really help the discussion," explains Siobhán Quinlan, a colorist and stylist at Cutler West Hollywood.
2. A Blunt Cut
Quinlan recommends a blunt cut with subtle layers, which can allow for weightless volume when styling.
3. Don't Grow Out Your Hair Too Long
"People often let their hair grow too long," Quinlan says. "Some people with fine hair think if they have long hair, it's more hair in general, so it's better. But often when the hair grows too long it just ends up looking scraggly because there is not enough of it for a solid line. So take into account the length at which your hair will appear the fullest."
4. Use a Volumizing Product When Blow Drying
"When blow-drying for thicker locks, I always recommend applying something volumizing at the scalp before blow-drying," Coco says. "I love Augustinus Bader's The Scalp Treatment because you're getting all of these nutrients pumped into your scalp while getting volume at the same time."
5. Try These Blow-Drying Hacks
"Direct the airflow of your blow-dryer the opposite way of your parting—so if you part your hair to the right, blow-dry it to the left," Liu says. "If you part your hair down the center, blow dry your hair in a lifting upwards motion or rough-dry upside down. If you notice your hair is very flat down the center, opt for a side part which will always create an illusion of lift!" You can always just blow-dry your hair upside, which is probably the easiest, low-effort trick.
And Helen Reavey, hairstylist, trichologist, and founder and creative director of Act + Acre, gives two other tips: "One of my favorite blow-drying hacks is to brush the hair an inch down from the root, and then after bringing the brush back up, blast the hair with hot air for three to eight seconds and release the brush. This will create instant volume at the root of the hair, leaving it looking more full."
Her second trick is to add four to five hair clips framing your face and blow-drying them for 30 seconds. "This will add movement to the hair, reducing the appearance of thinness. If you have a bit more time, try adding 4–5 hair clips framing your face, and blow-drying them for 30 seconds," she explains.
6. Wash Your Hair Upside Down
"A good pre-styling trick I recommend is washing your hair upside down to avoid the water pressure from your showerhead flattening your hair," Reavey says. "This will help the hair look more full and voluminous once dry and styled."
7. Choose Your Hair Color Wisely
8. Add Highlights
"Get highlights! Having dimension in your hair can help it appear fuller—they can be subtle and low-maintenance," Quinlan says. "I always like to use the example of a braid. When people have dark hair, their braids look much thinner than blondes. The blonde braids often appear fuller because there are so many more tones of color in the hair you can see it all better and it gives the illusion of fullness."
9. Don't Over-Color Your Hair
"A lot of people also over color or over-bleach their hair leaving breakage and therefore less hair," Coco says.
10. Curl Your Hair
"Curling your hair will always make your hair appear more voluminous, full, and bouncy," Liu says. "If you curl your hair in opposite directions, it'll create a more texturized and voluminous look. If you curl your hair all the same direction, it'll create a softer voluminous bouncy look. for a voluminous blowout look, section a mohawk and curl back away from the face and set them for lasting hold."
Liu warns against over-heating your hair and recommends using the T3 Curl ID because it can calculate the appropriate heat setting for your specific hair type. "For fine/thin hair, use a lower temperature—overheating your curl will often make your hair fall faster as it can't retain its shape from being too hot," he says.
11. Style Your Hair With Two Ponytails
"Gather the bottom half of your hair into one hair tie and the top half in another just above the other one. This will help the length of it all," Quinlan says.
12. Buy Some Rollers
Quinlan suggests trying out hot rollers or Velcro rollers. "I love that they are making a comeback. I have always been a fan. Letting the hair take shape in a roller will really help the volume and bounce last throughout the day," she explains.
13. Take Care of Your Scalp Health
"I always say that prioritizing your scalp health is the first step to getting hair to thrive," Reavey says. She recommends using Act+Acre's Scalp Detox as a weekly treatment to remove build-up and dead skin cells while also hydrating and nourishing the scalp.
Products to Use
14. Avoid Overloading Your Hair With Product
"So many people pile on the products to add shine, lock in moisture and grow the hair, however, too much product buildup can damage the scalp, ultimately stunting hair growth and overall health," Reavey says. "For example, silicones are often used to smooth the hair and lock in moisture, however, over time they can build up on the hair and weigh it down." Choose a product or two that works for you and stick to it, instead of adding more and more.
15. Use a Lightweight Shampoo and Conditioner
"You want to make sure your shampoo and conditioner are super lightweight," Coco says. "You want your shampoo to cleanse really well and make sure there's no build-up, and you want your conditioner to be lightweight all whilst detangling and adding nutrients to your hair, but without weighing it down."
16. Don't Over-Condition or Over-Shampoo
You don't want to over-condition or over-shampoo your hair. "Most people over-condition their hair and even over-wash their hair leaving your scalp producing more oil than necessary leaving you with limp oily locks," Coco says.
But you also don't want to skip the conditioning because your hair can become dry and brittle. Amy Stollmeyer, DesignMe co-founder and lead hairstylist, suggests applying conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends. "For hair to move and stretch, it needs hydration. Without hydration it will lack movement and feel more flat or so dry it may become fragile and prone to breakage," she explains.
17. Use Fewer Shiny and Oil-Based Products
"Use fewer shiny/oil-based products and opt for dry shampoo, powdery, and texturized products to amp up the volume," Liu says. "I love using SexyHair's Fun Raiser Volumizing Dry Texture Spray. You can put it in before and/or after curling your hair. Oil and glossing sprays can deflate and weigh the hair down."
18. Try a Leave-In Formula
"If you prefer not to condition in the shower, try a weightless leave-in like the Fab.Me Multi-Benefit Leave-in Treatment," Stollmeyer says. "[You] can spray it into hands, then apply right onto the hair when damp after showering (focusing on mid-lengths and ends), and comb it through for even distribution. It is for all hair types and textures; will provide a soft sweep of hydration; absorbs weightlessly; has built-in UV, environmental, and heat protection to keep the hair balanced and strong regardless of what the styling, the weather, or the day brings!"
19. Add a Treatment
"I swear by Matrix's High Amplify Shine Rinse Lamellar Treatment," Papanikolas says. "This treatment acts like a shine booster for your hair. This cutting-edge water-like, weightless formula detangles and adds shine in just eight seconds. It's a perfect traditional conditioner alternative for fine hair and is great for daily use."
20. Test Out Powders
There are a couple of powders that can help add volume without weighing the hair down—just apply them to the roots. Quinlan suggests using Evo's Haze, a stylist powder that you can apply at the roots and can be reactivated throughout the day. And Stollmeyer recommends the Puff.Me volumizing powder which creates a lasting grip and lifts at the roots.
21. Apply a Dry Shampoo
And a dry shampoo not only absorbs oil and can lengthen the time between wash days, but it's also a great trick for pumping up the volume. "One of my favorite products to add volume on the go is our Plant-Based Dry Shampoo—it's the perfect hair pick me up made with tapioca powder, rice starch, and fulvic acid to absorb oil and odor while adding volume to the hair."
22. Use a Volumizing Hair Spray
After your style your hair, Papanikolas recommends using a volumizing spray to hold the style.
23. Opt for a Finish Spray
Quinlan recommends Oribe's Thick Dry Finishing Spray. "[It's] similar to their dry texture spray, but less gritty. So can add a nice fullness, but without the added weight of the texture," she says.
24. Cover Up Your Roots
"This is great if you feel like you have a thin part and see too much scalp, or if you pull your up in any way and feel like your hairline feels like it is showing a lot of your scalp," Quinlan says. "Using something like Color Wow or even an eye shadow to fill in those gaps on your scalp will instantly make your hair look fuller."
25. Treat Your Hair With Serum
"One of my favorite products for thinning hair is our Cold Processed Stem Cell Serum," Reavey says. "It's an anti-aging complex that harnesses the power of plant stem cells and leaf extracts to support the reduction of hair thinning, dryness, and fallout. The formula is rich in antioxidants and promotes and extends the hair growth phase."
26. Take a Supplement
You'll want to check with your doctor before you add any new supplement to your routine, but some can help with hair health. "I love to look for a supplement that you can take on an empty stomach. That's why I love the Augustinus Bader hair supplements," Coco says. "You can take them in the morning with a glass of water and they never upset your stomach. It's working while you're working and you'll see satisfying growth with consistent use. It's the best!"
Quinlan also recommends Nutrafol's supplements. I can attest to them, too, as after taking them consistently for three months, I noticed less shedding.