Let’s be clear on one thing: Being born with super-thick, flowing, supermodel-esque hair may afford you more options, but there’s no reason those with fine hair need to throw in the towel. Much of beauty is about optical illusions. Just like the right lipstick can make your lips look fuller and the right eyeliner can make your peepers pop, the right cut and style can transform thin hair into a (seemingly) thick, voluminous mane.
Using our finest hairstyling know-how and the advice of Feisal Qureshi, founder and creative director at Raincry, we put together this roundup of the 35 best hairstyles and haircuts for thin hair to look thicker and more voluminous—with lots of photos to prove it. Some of these A-list inspirations may already have thick hair to begin with, but it's the way in which their hair is styled that will trick onlookers into believing you have a thicker, fuller mane than you actually do. Plus, we're sprinkling in some product recommendations along the way.
Meet the Expert
Faisel Qureshi is the founder of luxury haircare brand Raincry, and has three decades of experience in the beauty industry as a hair artist.
Scroll through to see the official Byrdie guide to the best haircuts for thin hair.
Shoulder-Length Blunt Cut
No matter the hair type, long locks have the tendency to weigh the hair down, but this is especially true for those whose hair fares thinner. "Typically, very long lengths will lack volume and that includes your layered lengths also," says Qureshi. "I recommend making the hair and layers proportionate with each other and not too long overall." If you're going for a shoulder-length cut, opt for blunt ends, as this can make your hair appear thicker.
Deep Side Part
With a deep side part, you’re essentially lumping all of the hair together on one side. This creates the illusion of volume. Add a few bends to the front pieces of hair for added texture and create lift at the roots with a styling powder like Eva NYC's Zero Gravity Volume Powder ($12).
Shorter hair is oftentimes stronger than longer strands, so even very fine hair can benefit from a super short cropped cut. Pixie cuts can actually make your thin hair appear thicker than it really is. Try one with choppy layers to add volume, and work in a light styling balm or paste like Reverie’s Rake Styling Balm ($36) to give your cut definition without weighing it down.
"The asymmetrical bob is best done on thinner hair textures, as thin hair typically shows off straight lines really well and this lends to emphasizing the cut’s beautiful geometry," says Qureshi. "Once that cut and shape has been achieved, the bob becomes very easy to style, maintain, and grow out with thinner textures."
This chin-grazing bob is made to look thicker with the addition of some waves. Apply a wave-boosting leave-in like the R+Co Sun Catcher Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner ($32) and curl with a medium-sized curling iron.
Lob With Light Layers
The ever-flattering lob works on any hair type, especially thin hair, because it frames your face without weighing you down. Layering adds movement to hair, but removing too much could backfire. Stick with light layers and keep the ends blunt rather than feathered. Use a texture spray like Hair Shake Liquid-To-Powder Texturizer ($19) by Joico to create volume.
Whatever your style may be, incorporating bangs can add a bump up to thin hair. Just make your fringe is thick—the blunter the better. Heavy bangs add density and bring body to the front.
Qureshi recommends identifying the category of thin hair you fall into. Consider the following: How thick each individual strand is and how much density (or strands of hair) you have on your head. This will make it easier to find a haircut or style that suits you.
Straight-across bangs are ultra-flattering on oval face shapes, but if you have thin hair, your natural hair type matters. "If your hair is oily like many with thin hair, then be sure to leave enough length in your bangs to account for the extra volume needed at the root area when styling," says Qureshi.
A slicked-back 'do is versatile—it can look polished and sophisticated or be the epitome of chic. Whatever style you choose, Qureshi urges slicking back on dry hair, noting that "if your hair is wet when you slick it back, it can make your already-thin hair look separated and less dense."
It's the hairstyle that keeps making a comeback: flipped-out ends. Made popular in the '60s and coming back in style in the '90s, this retro 'do makes otherwise fine hair that falls limp appear thicker. To achieve, use a blow-dry brush—like Amika's Blowout Babe Thermal Brush ($100)—to give yourself a blow-out, making sure to do a flipping motion away from the face once you reach the ends.
"For most people beach waves are achieved through a wand or iron," notes Qureshi. "For those with thin hair, it's especially important to use a heat protectant spray to shield your fragile locks from the unnecessary damage." Try Moroccanoil's Perfect Defense Heat Protectant ($28)—it coats the hair with nourishing antioxidants as it protects.
Mid-Length Voluminous Curls
While thinner hair types are notoriously known for resisting a curl, getting that voluminous retro-wavy look is possible. Your hair is more likely to hold a curl if it doesn't have length to weigh it down. Be vigilant about using a curl-boosting spray like Aveda's Be Curly Curl Enhancing Hair Spray ($23).
While a typical braid can accentuate a finer hair texture, a braided headband is an alternative that adds in some playfulness to your look while still maintaining that braided element. Qureshi advises not to pull or apply too much tension near the root area, as this can lead to stress on the follicles and cause hair to not only look thinner but become thinner with time.
A hair-raising bouffant makes a statement wherever it's worn. For a little lift, try incorporating extensions. "Be sure to create an adequate base—usually by teasing—to allow for your extensions to anchor into," Qureshi advises. "Otherwise your bouffant will collapse as soon as you start achieving height."
For a healthier tease, use a teasing brush that has boar bristles like the Drybar Texas Tease Teasing Brush ($18), which is made up of part nylon, part boar bristles that'll add volume without the damage.
This laid-back hairstyle for thin hair exudes that model-off-duty vibe. To achieve, Qureshi recommends honing in on getting as much volume as possible at the root (before starting with the bun) to help hair look thicker. Living Proof's Full Dry Volume Blast ($29) is formulated to give a boost of volume for fine to medium hair types. For extra volume, Qureshi says to tease the ponytail before looping it around into a bun for maximum thickness.
Topknots are praised for their "I-woke-up-like-this" vibe, yet they still somehow always manage to look put together. For thin hair, Qureshi advises to "make sure that it's not too far forward" and to go for a messier, disheveled look rather than a sleek one. "This will help that topknot look thicker and provide a sassy alternative to the usual."
The classic Old Hollywood hairstyle is both timeless and workable for all hair types, thin included. "Traditionally, this style is achieved starting with wet hair," says Qureshi. "However with thin hair, be sure to start on dry hair to allow for easier, more comfortable styling and much less damage when brushing out." If your thin hair is frizz-prone, use an in-shower anti-frizz treatment like the In Common Static Silk Smoothing Enhancer ($30)—it'll land you polished curls in the end (sans flyaways).
"Thin hair is one of the few textures where color, highlights, and balayage can truly help hair look thicker and support volume," notes Qureshi. "So experiment and have fun." Ask for tight pieces at the top and thicker color at the ends of the hair—this will create the illusion of a more voluminous mane.
For a more formal updo, opt for a side chignon, which is easier to create than you'd think. In fact, this style is touted as being one of the most favorable for finer hair types, as it doesn't require volume at the front or too many bobby pins (which are notorious for slipping off of thin hair types).