Sorry to disappoint, but if you were born with fine hair (which refers to the diameter of each individual strand), you can’t actually make your hair thicker. But fun fact: people with fine texture have more hair on their scalp than others, according to Anabel Kingsley, head trichologist and brand president of Philip Kinglsey. In other words, with the right styling, you can make those fine strands of yours look like the full head of hair that it really is. Ahead, 12 hacks, tips, and words of advice for achieving bigger, thicker hair, courtesy of Kingsley, celebrity hairstylists, and a fine-haired girl from Texas who’s tried it all (yours truly).
1. Wash regularly with a thickening shampoo
Thicker hair starts in the shower with the right shampoo, so no more choosing yours based solely on the way it smells. The right shampoo for fine hair should add body and bounce, so look for descriptors like “volumizing,” “thickening,” or “lightweight” on the label. And forget what you’ve been told about dirty hair is the secret to volume. Kingsley says frequent cleaning (at least every other day) not only helps to keep your scalp healthy, which in turn supports healthy hair growth, but it also removes excess oils that weigh down your roots. “This is especially important for fine or thinning hair, as it easily gets weighed down,” Kingsley says. “Infrequent shampooing can also lead to a flaky scalp, and a flaky scalp can cause or worsen hair loss.”
2. Condition your hair before you shampoo for more texture
Skipping conditioner is another classic tip you should rethink. Conditioner is non-negotiable for maintaining healthy, strong hair. If you're worried the creamy formula will weigh down your strands or make them too soft and slick to hold a style, condition first. Washing your hair in the reverse order will create the ideal texture for building volume in your hair.
3. Embrace mousse for added volume.
Mousse gets a bad rap because for sometimes being crunchy and sticky, but it's key for adding volume to otherwise limp hair/ whether you're letting it air-dry or blowing it out. Hairstylist Mark Townsend says for fine hair, use an egg-size amount and work it evenly through damp hair, roots to ends.
4. Use a deep conditioner once a week.
Breakage isn't fun for anyone, but it's especially rough on fine hair, which is naturally more fragile than other textures. As your hair breaks off, the appearance of your mid-lengths and ends becomes even thinner, so Kingsley says a weekly intensive conditioning treatment with a deep conditioner is key for maintaining strength and hydration. Again, do it as a pre-shampoo treatment, and you won't run the risk of weighing down your hair.
5. Encourage volume while you sleep.
The easiest way to flatten a good blowout is to sleep on it. To get one more day out of your look (hey, you worked hard for it) twist your hair in small sections and pin it up before bed. Not only will it prevent creases, but it'll also maintain the volume and bounce at the ends of your hair without requiring more heat the next day.
6. Fill in your roots.
Root powders are great for covering greys, yes, but they're also the key to creating the illusion of thicker hair. Use a tinted powder that matches the colour of your roots and a small brush to fill in your hair part or areas where your scalp might show a little more. No one will know the difference.
7. Use dry shampoo even when your hair is clean.
Dry shampoo is obviously great for reviving oily hair, but Townsend says it also works wonders as a texturizing spray—especially on super-fine strands. When your hair is squeaky clean and lifeless, dry shampoo will create that day-two texture and grip, which is necessary for when you’re trying to build volume. Just make sure to hold the bottle far enough away so you don’t accidentally overdo it and dull down the shine.
8. Volumize while you air-dry.
Too much heat-styling leads to breakage, which leads to thinner hair. Good thing the use of heat isn't the only way to build volume. Hair hack from hairstylist Riawna Capri: use your sunglasses to encourage lift. If you don’t naturally have volume and you let your hair air dry, it’ll lay flat against your head (go figure). Instead, pull the front section back while it’s still damp with glasses or sunglasses (a headband is too tight), and then push them forward to loosen it up a bit. Keep it like this until it dries, and then remove the glasses for tons of volume.
9. Hack your ponytail to make it look thicker.
When the goal is My Little Pony but your current situation is more like My Little Ponytail, try this clip trick. Start with a high pony. Split the tail into a top and bottom half, then clamp a tiny claw clip right into the middle of the base to add more volume. Slightly tease your hair above the clip to hide it. If you don’t have a clip, you can get the same effect from a hair tie. Secure your ponytail as normal, but instead of wrapping the hair tie around your entire pony on the last wrap, pull only the bottom half of your ponytail through. This will push the bottom half of your hair down and lift the top section up slightly to create the illusion of a fuller ponytail.
10. Fake it with hair extensions.
Hair extensions might not be the quickest or easiest way to thicker hair, but they're definitely the most transformative. If you want something more permanent, you could try tape-ins or sew-ins. But if you're looking for versatility, clip-ins are a great way to add volume to any hairstyle whenever you want it. The best part? You can install them yourself. Adding clip-ins when your hair is down is pretty self-explanatory, but adding them to updos and ponytail hairstyles takes a little more creativity. Start with a small ponytail at the crown your head. Then, wrap the weft around the base of your ponytail, clipping them to your head as you go. Once you've added all the extensions you want, gather the rest of your hair into a ponytail to finish.
11. Tease your hair for an instant root lift.
Teasing or backcombing—or whatever you want to call it—is the ultimate trick for creating volume at your roots. Hold a small section of your hair up and away from your head. On the underside of the section, insert a fine-tooth comb gently push the hairs toward your head (think: the opposite of combing your hair). Then, hairspray each section at the roots. Continue doing this in small sections to create the height and shape you want, and finish by lightly smoothing over the top layer of hair to hide the teasing underneath.
12. See a professional if your hair is thinning.
People often confuse fine and thin hair for the same thing, but scientifically speaking, they're different. Fine hair is what you're born with. Thinning hair is something that can change over time. As Kingsley explains it, there are two different kinds of thinning hair. The first is genetically predisposed and is called androgenic alopecia or reduced hair volume. This is where the individual hairs on your scalp gradually become finer and you produce more hairs that are thinner and shorter. The other form of thinning is when there's actual hair loss occurring called telogen effluvium. Kingsley says this is a reactive hair loss and is not genetic. "It's triggered by some sort of internal disturbance or imbalance, such as high fever, nutritional deficiencies, hypo or hyperthyroid or rapid weight loss," Kingsley says. If thinning hair is more so your concern, schedule a visit to a trichologist to get to the root of it. After testing, they can suggest the right hair supplements, diet, or products for your specific needs.