You may have been born with thin or fine hair or it’s something you’re just beginning to experience. If you are concerned with the lack of volume in your hair fear not — below is a wealth of knowledge on how to make thin hair look thicker and fuller. From products to cuts to color, this is your resource to help get your natural hair looking and feeling fuller.
Different Causes Of Hair Thinning: From Vitamin Deficiency To Natural Aging
Hair thinning is not caused by any one thing. It can vary from person to person and may be temporary or permanent. Before diving into how to make thin hair look thicker, it’s good to have an understanding of what might be happening on the top of your head.
Temporary Hair Thinning
Telogen effluvium (TE) is the name used by dermatologists to diagnose a sudden drop in the number of follicles producing hairs in the telogen phase of the hair cycle, resulting in temporary hair loss. What can trigger TE is wide-stretching, making it the second most common type of hair loss seen by dermatologists.1
- Possible causes of TE hair loss can include:
- Extreme changes to diet or weight loss
- Iron deficiency
- Significant physical trauma
- Significant psychological stress
- Sudden hormonal changes, including pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause
- Other health issues
Permanent Hair Thinning
Permanent hair thinning is commonly due to genetics and/or a part of the natural aging process.
Natural aging accounts for hair thinning and pigment (melanin) loss in nearly everyone. As you age, the individual strands of hair grow in thinner, and each hair follicle produces less hair over time (and may stop producing new hair altogether).2 The result is thinner and less hair.
Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as female pattern baldness or male pattern baldness, is caused by genes and hormones. It affects an estimated 30 million women and 50 million men in the U.S.3
Depending on the cause of your thinning hair, there are different volumizing products and styling tips you can use to give the appearance of thicker hair. But first, explore these healthy hair and scalp practices.
Elevated Hair Habits: Brush, Wash, And Dry Your Way To Healthier Hair
The aim is to have the healthiest, strongest hair and scalp possible to set you up for styling success. Good hair habits are not just what you do, but how you do them.
Avoid Brushing Wet Hair
While it may come natural to brush your hair after you get out of the shower, you’re better off detangling your hair before you get it wet, since wet hair is weaker than dry hair. Brushing wet hair can lead to more breakage.4
If you must detangle after shampooing and conditioning, consider using a wide-tooth comb instead of your normal brush, which is more likely to tug at your scalp. You might also use a leave-in conditioner so that you can comb through more effortlessly and minimize breakage.
Stimulate Your Scalp With Massage
Massaging your scalp daily can potentially increase the thickness of your hair over time, according to one study.5 Gentle scalp massage works by increasing the blood flow to your hair follicles — this may support your hairs natural growth cycle.6
You can easily fit this into your hair care routine. Spend 3-4 minutes gently kneading your scalp with your fingertips (not your nails) while shampooing your hair.
Treat Your Hair And Scalp To A Soothing Dose Of Aloe Vera
Along the lines of how massage is thought to stimulate the hair follicles, aloe vera has also been shown to support blood circulation to the area it’s applied to, and it’s soothing, conditioning properties may support the health of your hair. 7,8
Air Dry If You Can, Blow Dry If You Must
Simply put, hair does not like heat. Each strand of hair is on your head for approximately 2 to 7 years — heat from blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons can cause a lot of undue wear and tear over that time.9,10
The goal is to keep the hair you currently have, for as long as you can. This is because as you learned, each hair only grows back smaller, and eventually, some follicles stop producing new strands altogether.
Your first line of defense against heat damage is to avoid it completely by drying your hair naturally as often as possible. If you must blow-dry your hair, use a heat protectant spray and hold the blow dryer at least 6 to 12 inches from your head.11
Now that you know the best tips and tricks on how to keep your hair and scalp happy, here are the top styling tips on how to make thin hair look thicker.
Pump Up The Volume And Thicken Your Hair
If you are practicing the art of scalp massage, you can easily incorporate this first tip into your routine — shampooing and conditioning, specifically looking for two properties: thickening and volumizing.
Thickening Vs. Volumizing Shampoo And Conditioner: What’s The Difference?
While both are great choices to thicken your hair, or at least make it appear so, they have different ways to deliver results.
Volumizing shampoos and conditioners are formulated to be lightweight to give your hair bounce and body, which can make your hair appear fuller. Flat hair makes thin hair more noticeable. Volumizing products, in general, seek to add texture to your hair.
Thickening shampoos and conditioners are all about bulking up your individual strands of hair with protein or collagen. Hair is predominantly made up of keratin, which is a protein, and thickening shampoos and conditioners work to bolster this protein. The result can be strands of hair that appear plumper.
Too Much Of A Good Thing: The Conditioner Caveat
Now, while the natural instinct would be to slather your hair with thickening and volumizing shampoos and conditioners, you can unintentionally sabotage your own success by going too heavy-handed. Remember, the goal for thin hair is never to weigh it down. Too much conditioner can do exactly that, no matter how well you style your hair later.
Tip: Remember that hair products that focus on moisturizing, smoothing, or silkening, may result in limp hair due to their usually high oil and/or silicone content. These products are by no means bad they often work wonders on dry, damaged hair. But on the occasion that you want to have an extra voluminous look, you might skip them and use texturizing products instead.
Lightweight Mousse And Volume Spray: A Thin Head Of Hair’s Best Friends
Unlike thick pomades and oils, mousse gives thin hair great hold without weighing it down. Lightweight mousse allows you to add texture to limp hair, control frizzy hair, or play up wavy hair, without the weight of silicones or oils.
Volume spray, also known as root lifting spray, works at the scalp level to give the first inch or so of roots a bit of a lift. With the roots not so flat against the scalp, it can give the appearance of thickness.
Dry Texture Spray: A Good Kind Of Product Buildup
Dry texture spray has the same end goal as volume spray — thicker-looking roots — but the delivery is different. With this spray, you add texture by building up the product at the roots. The illusion it creates is thicker hair growing from your head.
Cut Limp Locks To Give Natural Hair The Look Of Thickness
Any pro stylist will tell you that products will only get you so far — it all starts with a great cut.
Pixie Cuts, Bobs, And Blunt Cuts
All three of these short ‘dos focus on making your facial features stand out, particularly your eyes and cheekbones. By removing much of the length, you don’t have to worry about thin, wispy ends, and products can be used to calm frizzy hair and bring out natural waves.
Shoulder Length Locks With Lots Of Layers
Shoulder length hair is a great option for those who don’t want to go too short to disguise thinning hair, and it compliments any face shape. The secret to making this cut work is adding layers for texture. The benefits of layers for thin hair are threefold:
- They can eliminate some of the bulk, allowing you to play with volume.
- They can frame the face, drawing attention to your bone structure.
- They can make your hair look denser by creating texture and dimension.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to enhance your natural hair with high-quality clip-in hair extensions. For special occasions, you may just want a truly fuller head of hair. In this case, clip-in extensions are a great affordable option. The trick is to color match. This is best done in person since photographs and computer screens don’t always give off the truest colors. Ask a stylist for advice when considering the right hair extensions. You might also be better off leaving it to the pros to install them.
How To Make Thin Hair Look Thicker With Color
Hair color is a great way to make hair look voluminous by playing with the way the light catches your hair.
Layer Up The Highlights
Layers and highlights work hand in hand beautifully. The end goal is the same: to break up the appearance of thin, flat hair with dimension and texture. You can also help draw attention to your cheekbones and eyes with face-framing highlights.
Go Darker For Denser-Looking Roots
This tip is definitely one from the pro stylists. The trick is to dye your roots a darker color than the rest of your hair. The depth of color on the scalp can give the illusion of thicker, denser roots.
Volumizing Products, Pixie Cuts, And Highlights: There’s A Solution For Each Unique Head Of Hair
While thin hair may not feel like a blessing, at least you can rest assured knowing you have plenty of techniques and products to try to see what works best for you. Your hair is beautiful no matter the thickness, and hopefully, these tips help you bring out the best qualities of your natural texture.