Thin hair has its advantages: it air-dries quickly, requires less product, and styles faster. However, when you’re aiming to rock a mega-voluminous look, thin hair can pose some challenges. The good news? With the right styling techniques, you can attain a substantially fuller effect even if you weren’t born with loads of locks.
I asked a few professional hairstylists to share their best tips for creating the appearance of thicker hair. Read on for 10 totally doable, quick ways to whip fine hair into a full, bouncy mane.
1. Add a few waves.
Straight, fine-textured hair tends to lay flat against your head. For instant body, try styling hair with a curling iron or wand. “Adding wavy texture will almost double the density of fine hair,” according to Fran Nordstrom, master stylist at Waves Salon in Sayville, New York. Begin by prepping with a thermal protectant spray like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray ($6). “These products not only protect the hair strand from heat, but they also provide hold for a longer lasting curl,” she says. Worried about heat damage? As a heat-free alternative, Nordstrom recommends using Velcro rollers for creating soft, bouncy curls. “Simply set your hair, mist with a light hairspray, and after a few minutes remove for a freshly lifted style.”
2. Don’t skip the blow dryer.
Air-drying is much faster when you have fine hair, but blow drying might be worth the effort. With the right technique, you can achieve a significantly fuller look. Stylist Deycke Heidhorn recommends starting with a root volumizing product to prep the hair (she likes Lived-In Texture Creation Cream by Mizani, $18) and then using a heated styling brush to create loads of body. She recommends the Dyson Airwrap Styler ($550), which comes with multiple attachments. (Yes, it's a cousin of the famed $400 Dyson Supersonic hair dryer.)
3. Rock bangs or a bob.
Choosing the right haircut can do wonders to create the illusion of thicker locks. If you’re thin on top, consider getting bangs to camouflage a sparse hairline. “Either a blunt cut or softer, longer bangs with a side part will cover or smooth over a thinning hairline,” says Heidhorn. She also warns that long hairstyles, while pretty, can weigh down fine hair. Instead, opt for a length that will make your ends appear fuller, like a cropped bob. What about layers? “There’s a myth that layers will create volume because they are less heavy and won’t load down hair,” says Heidorn. Though light layers can give hair texture, movement, and buoyancy, they can be particularly tricky in fine hair, which tends to lay flat and shapeless if not styled just right. When choosing a layered haircut, keep in mind that daily styling might involve some extra elbow grease on your part. Heidhorn recommends consulting with your hairstylist for volumizing tips, so you don’t lose all the bounce and shape after the first wash.
4. Try clip-in extensions.
Ever dream about rocking a high ponytail as thick and long as Ariana Grande’s? If you have thin hair, you can still achieve this voluminous look with the help of a few trusty clip-in extensions. “Clip-ins offer immediate length and fullness,” says Nordstrom. “Plus, they’re easily removable for minimal damage to your natural hair.” Extensions that are taped, bonded, or micro-linked may not be the best fit for fine hair, which tends to be more fragile, so stick to the commitment-free clip-ins. Try Vario Clip-In Human Hair Extensions ($65 and up), as celebrity hairstylist Gregg Giannillo swears by them.
5. Add lowlights or highlights.
A little color goes a long way to develop dimension in hair. “Generally speaking, the darker you go, the more depth you create,” says Heidhorn, who suggests enhancing your natural color with lowlights. Conversely, a few well-placed, sun-kissed highlights can breathe warmth and texture into darker hair. If you opt for highlights, asking your stylist to do balayage—a hand-painted highlighting technique—is your best bet for natural-looking, seamlessly blended color.
6. Spray on some root concealer.
We’ll let you in on a secret—root concealer isn’t just for touching up grays. Root concealing sprays just might be the quickest way to create a fuller appearance at your crown. We recommend Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray Temporary Gray Coverage ($25) for masking exposed parts and thin hairlines.
7. Flip your part.
Sometimes the best solution is the easiest. Changing your part is a quick and simple way to add body to fine, flat hair. After years of parting your hair to the same side, it essentially becomes trained to lay limp. “Flipping your part creates great volume and fullness because you’re taking the hair out of its natural fall,” says Nordstrom. Try switching things up, and you’ll be amazed at the instantaneous lift in your locks.
8. Sprinkle on some hair-building fibers.
If you have a widening part or a thinning hairline, Toppik Hair Building Fibers ($8 to $80) is your new secret weapon. Made from keratin, a key protein in your hair, skin, and nails, Toppik contains statically-charged fibers that bond directly to your strands, blending undetectably with your natural hair for a thicker appearance. Sprinkle the fibers onto sparse areas of your hair and voila—an instantaneous transformation. Plus, it’s wind-, rain-, and sweat-resistant, so you’ll never have to worry about run-off.
9. Avoid products containing alcohol.
Next time you shop for a hair product, be sure to check the ingredients. If it contains alcohol, skip it. By drying out your scalp and hair shaft, alcohol strips your hair of sebum, a natural oil it needs to avoid breakage. Simply put, you need sebum to keep your hair strong and moisturized. Adds Heidhorn, “If you’re not using oil and cream-based products because you’re afraid they’ll weigh down your hair, make sure to use a hair mask every other week to restore moisture to your scalp.”
10. Grab the comb.
You probably left your teasing combs back in the 1980s, but it might be time to brush up on your backcombing technique. “Teasing is a classic way to get more lift from your crown,” according to Nordstrom. She was happy to share a lesson in Backcombing 101. “Lift a section of hair just behind the very top of your head," Nordstrom explained. "With a pintail comb, push in three to five smooth, even strokes from the middle of the hair to the base, creating a ‘cushion.’ Next, take the section of hair just in front of the cushion and flip back and over. This will hide the teased portion and leave you with smooth height and instant fullness.” We promise you won’t end up with an outrageously outdated bouffant!
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