Thin hair can easily become flat hair. You may notice that your hair is so fine that it lacks body and volume and it could definitely use a boost. With the right haircut, products, and a few styling tricks, you can easily take some of the weight off your hair and revive those limp and lifeless locks.
Below, our tips for making the most of fine hair.
Cut Your Hair Shorter
The longer thin, fine hair gets, the flatter it lays. It's just a fact of physics. The shorter the hair, the more body it will have. Cutting even just a couple of inches off your hair may help. Yet, if you want the most body for your fine hair, it's best to keep your hair's length above the collarbone.
Some of the best haircuts for fine hair are:
- The long bob: Hair that falls between the chin and shoulders is always on-trend and works with every face shape. With this length, your hair won't fall flat and it creates the natural illusion of body.
- A swingy, shoulder-length cut with the back just a bit shorter than the front. This is a great length because it's not too long and not too short.
- Short hair is always a great bet. Bobs and pixies work very well with fine hair.
Add Layers (or Don't)
Layers have traditionally been considered a great way to add body to fine hair. They add both dimension and movement and are the reason you should get your hair professionally done, rather than trying to cut it yourself.
The Case Against Layers
There is an advantage to going with a single-length cut if you have fine hair. "A one-length cut makes hair look its thickest," hairstylist Garren tells InStyle magazine. "Too many layers can look stringy."
"Keep your hair at a one-length shape. It will add strength and volume to your hair," says stylist Ted Gibson on Stylelist. "If you put in a lot of layers, what ends up happening is that it has no shape."
If you do want layers or your stylist wants to add them, just be careful not to over-layer. Too many layers can leave you with a style that's too choppy. Make sure the longest layer hits at least to your ears.
Also, remember that thinning hair out is not the same as creating layers. Some women have fine hair but a lot of it and may need their hair thinned out to get rid of some of the bulk.
Turn to Hair Color for Volume
Surprisingly, hair dyes actually plump up the hair shaft just enough to make it appear more voluminous. This thickening effect can last for weeks, so adding color can be a very good thing, as long as you don't go overboard and begin to damage your hair.
At the same time, your colorist can apply highlights to give thinner hair the illusion of more volume. Adding a few different shades brings in contrast that adds dimension and makes hair appear thicker.
The placement of highlights can do the same thing: Painting them on with balayage can give your colorist more freedom to add body with color.
Go Long Without Going Flat
If you really do want to keep your thin hair longer than your collarbone, there are a few things that can help.
Switch Your Part
The quickest way to add volume with no long-term commitment is to switch up your part. Over time, your hair becomes used to your part and it will naturally lay flatter. Whether you're parting down the center or off to one side, try the opposite for a while.
If you have fine hair, but loads of it, a few layers will add body and movement. But if you have fine hair and not so much of it, the fewer layers the better. Ask your stylist to angle a few pieces around your face.
Bangs give the illusion of fullness and can add body to your hair. Consider cutting side-swept bangs, fringe, or blunt bangs.
More and more women are opting for permanent extensions and clip-ins to add fullness and body to otherwise limp hair. Just make sure to find a reputable stylist who's experienced with hair extensions. Also, keep in mind that extensions have the potential to damage hair.
Buy a Good Shampoo
Many women use the wrong shampoo for their hair. As you likely know, fine hair can look oily, even after only one day, and your shampoo may not be helping matters.
If you have fine hair, stay away from creamy shampoos formulated for thick, coarse hair. Instead, opt for shampoos created to add volume and body, such as Kerastase's Volumifique Shampoo ($30).
You can get good shampoos at the drugstore, too. Look for anything that mentions volume and try it out for awhile to see if it provides better results.
Shampoo the Right Way
Many women with fine hair experience greasy roots. While shampoo can reduce those oils, it's likely that your ends only need conditioning. You may even have been told by your stylist to avoid a daily shampoo, but that you need to condition more often.
The trick is to find a balance between the two and everyone will need to find what works best for their own hair. This process is a solution that many fine-haired women have found to work great:
- Wet hair and apply shampoo only to the scalp and roots.
- Massage the shampoo into the scalp, cleansing it thoroughly. Don't work it down to the ends.
- Apply conditioner on the bottom two-thirds of your hair, staying away from the scalp.
- Rinse out the shampoo and conditioner. As the shampoo works its way down the hair, it also rinses out the conditioner.
Since fine hair can be susceptible to knots and tangles, you should use a volumizing, light conditioner in the shower and avoid the heavier options. It's also recommended to condition before you shampoo, because conditioners often leave a residue on hair and the shampoo will take care of that.
Apply conditioner only on the bottom two-thirds of your hair. If you condition the scalp, you will only weigh down your flat hair even more.
Air Dry for Volume
Fine hair can be brittle hair, so the less time spent under the heat of a blow dryer, the better. It's best to let your hair air dry as much as possible.
Blot—don't rub—your hair dry with a towel after a shower and comb in a root booster or volumizing spray at the crown, then let it air dry.
To give your hair a natural beachy wave effect, roughen up hair at the crown or scrunch hair in the palm of your hands.
Once your hair dries, you may find that it falls flat within a few hours. Instead of applying more product, simply wet your fingers with water and massage your scalp and crown to reactivate the product you put in after you washed your hair.
You can also wash your hair at night and wake up with hair full of body, a la Heidi Klum: "Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I don't even brush my hair," Klum once told StyleList. "My trick is to wash my hair at night and fall asleep with my hair wet. Then I roll around in the pillow and I wake up and my hair looks perfectly messy."
Blow-Dry for Longevity
A great blow-dry at the salon can last for two to three days, even on oily hair. You can actually give yourself a salon-quality blow dry as long as you have the right products and tools.
- Start by towel-drying your hair until it's as dry as possible.
- When it comes to fine hair, a "rough dry" is key. Remove the nozzle attachment to your dryer (it concentrates heat and can flatten hair). Blast the air all over your hair while roughening up the roots with your fingers. Bend over at the waist and blow dry your hair. This adds lift to the roots.
- Once your hair is about 50 to 75 percent dry, section it off and dry from underneath. Pull hair up towards the ceiling with your brush and shoot the hair up and along the shaft to add body. Put your nozzle back on—a diffuser also helps point the air in a specific direction—and finish drying.
- Once your hair is dry, blast your entire head with cool air. "This creates fullness and loosens up the blow-dry," hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins tells Allure magazine.
Work the Brush
Your brush can make a big difference in how your hair lays. There are many options, but a few that are specifically recommended for flat hair.
Some women really like a metal vented round brush for blow-drying. The metal conducts heat, while the vents circulate it. Hairstylist Ted Gibson recommends round brushes with a mix of boar and nylon bristles. "The combination of the two smoothes and detangles, and creates volume," Gibson tells InStyle magazine.
Technique matters as well. When drying your hair, pull hair up with the brush and blast heat from underneath to add body. Finish the ends off by rounding them under. You can also blow dry with a paddle brush and then end with the rounded brush.
Rinse With Apple Cider Vinegar
If you use hairspray, styling gel, or mousse on a regular basis, your hair is likely suffering from product build-up. Product build-up is particularly bad for fine hair because it weighs down hair that already lacks body.
To get rid of product build-up naturally, use an apple cider vinegar rinse every other week. The vinegar helps break down residue, adds body, and will even help fight dandruff.
Invest in the Correct Products
For fine hair that's gone flat, the key to bouncy, voluminous hair lies in the product. Just be careful not to overuse products. Too much can actually weigh hair down, rather than lift it.
Look for products labeled "volumizing" or "adds body." For best results, Garren recommends massaging volumizing spray or lotion into the roots of hair when it's partially dry. You can also spray your crown and then comb the product through with a wide-tooth comb.
Use creamy pomades and shine serums sparingly and never near the scalp or roots. If you need to use one of these to tame frizz, use the "palm method":
- Put a pea- or dime-sized amount in the palm of your hand.
- Rub palms together and then "palm" the product only on the areas that need it most.
If the last time you used mousse was in the 1990s, don't worry, it has come a long way since then. Today's formulations will thicken your hair without making it stiff.
Use a golf-ball sized amount in your palm and work it through your hair from the roots down to the mid-shaft. It will plump up your strands while leaving them soft.
Change Your Life With Dry Shampoo
Today's dry shampoos are miracle workers when it comes to adding volume to hair that's too slick, too soft, or too oily. Dry shampoo should become a staple in any fine-haired woman's beauty supplies.
The beauty of the dry shampoo becomes apparent on your greasy hair days. Simply spritz or sprinkle dry shampoo along your hairline, let it dry, then brush it out. Not only does it buy you a day or two between washings, it also soaks up oils and adds tons of body.
Hairspray Your Crown
Hairspray can also help you add volume, but it's best when targeted right at your crown.
Try this fabulous trick found in Allure: To lift fine hair after it has been blow-dried, work hairspray along the crown with your fingers. Massage the spray into your roots at the crown until you reach about an inch from the back of your head.
Create Body With a Salt Spray
Most women have some natural wave in their hair. To bring yours out, spritz damp hair with a salt spray. After you spritz hair, scrunch it with your hands as your hair air dries.
You can either buy a salt spray like Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray ($27) or you make it yourself. The recipe for a homemade salt spray requires nothing more than Epsom salt, an oil, and water, so it's both easy and cheap.
Bounce It Up With Rollers
Curls are a great way to add volume and body to hair. You can use a good curling iron, but rollers are best for ramping up the volume around the crown. Huge, fat rollers are a stylist's best friend and something like Conair's Self-Grip Hair Rollers ($13) are great for home use.
"Many hairstylists set their clients' hair in curlers no matter what style they're going for, from updos to long waves," says Garren in InStyle magazine. "They give the hair a lush fullness you can't get otherwise."
To use rollers, Garren recommends first rough-drying hair, then rolling two-inch sections of hair from the ends all the way to the roots. Hair should be fully dry before you remove the rollers. Loosen the curl with your fingers.
Tease That Hair
Nothing builds body in fine hair like a proper teasing job. It takes some practice but can make a world of difference.
When it comes to teasing, "be sure to fully remove the teeth of the rattail comb from your hair after each precise, downward stroke," celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend tells Allure magazine. "That way, you're actually building up the mass of hair, not just pushing it around."