We can't all be born with flowing manes that would make a '90s supermodel jealous. Fortunately for those of us whose hair falls on the thinner end of the spectrum, myriad styles can create the illusion of a fuller head of hair. Using our finest hairstyling know-how and the advice of experts Feisal Qureshi, Gretchen Friese, and Abii Raji, we rounded up 70 of the best hairstyles and haircuts to make thin hair look more voluminous. While some of these A-list inspirations may have fuller heads of hair, emulating their styles will trick onlookers into believing you have thicker and fuller tresses than you actually do.
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.
- Gretchen Friese is a BosleyMD stylist and certified trichologist. She has over 20 years of beauty industry experience and is based in Denver, Colorado.
- Abii Raji is a hairstylist based in New York City.
Scroll through to see the official Byrdie guide to the best haircuts for thin hair.
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.
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. Friese explains: "When the hair on the thicker side is parted to the thinner side it will fill that side in a bit to create balance and thicker-looking hair." Add a few bends to the front pieces of hair for added texture and create lift at the roots with a styling powder like Got2b Volumaniac Bodifying Spray Powder ($5).
Bun With Bangs
Sometimes, the move with thin hair is to show it off. Take Laura Harrier's ballerina-esque bun with thin, razored bangs. Here, the bun is a classic (just pull hair back into a ponytail and pin the ends around the elastic) but the bangs add some oomph.
Bedazzled Side Part
- What's better than a side part? A bedazzled side part. Adorn your side part with a few pops of pearls or jewels for a red carpet-worthy moment. Even if you aren't a hair accessories person, you can pull them off.
Shorter hair is oftentimes stronger than longer strands, so even very fine hair can benefit from a super-short crop. 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.
Bantu knots are chic and protective, and don't require thick hair. Use a product like Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade ($14) because to keep the knots moist.
Pixie With Side-Swept Bangs
A pixie haircut is round by nature, and with a few soft layers and side-swept bangs, it can look fabulous on thinner hair types. Go choppy around the nape of the neck where you can afford to go shorter—this will also give the illusion of an elongated neck.
While those with thick hair may find it more cumbersome to pull off an ear-tucked style, thinner hair types won't have to fuss with flattening out the extra hair that sticks out. Pair it with a short cut, like a bob, for volume.
Ruth Negga's short curly crop is all kinds of wonderful. "This cut is shorter in the back and on the sides and longer on top," describes Friese. "The focus of the cut will be that longer part which will have more weight and appear thicker." Another perk? "This style is also easy to wear. It can be blown out smooth or it can have a more piecey look by using a paste or pomade to separate the strands," she adds.
This look works with your natural hair so it's easy to replicate. Create a slight side part and rub your hair with a towel to partially dry, spritzing on some texture spray. Let air-dry to finish.
For this look, just pull hair into a traditional ponytail and curl the ends using a wide-barrel wand. Spray on a texture spray to add grit.
Sporting a lob (aka long bob)? Go for an under curl at your ends, which offers a subtle flare and something different from the age-old curl-away-from-your-face style. Try a jagged part and blow-dry hair normally, flipping toward your jaw-line once you reach the ends.
Victoria Beckham has had some iconic hair moments, and her angled bob is no exception. "The [angled] 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," he adds.
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 like RHW and keep the ends blunt rather than feathered. Use a texture spray like Hair Shake Liquid-To-Powder Texturizer Finisher ($16) by Joico to create volume.
Lob With Side-Swept Bangs
Side-swept bangs can look thicker if cut right. Qureshi says to ask your stylist to cut side-swept bangs into a “shallow concave” shape and then style them to the side. "If not, with thin hair your side-swept bags will look more like diagonal bangs," he notes.
Braided Low Bun
If your hair is braided, you're already halfway to this unique style. Pull hair into a low chignon, and pin it up. (You can use the pins to fasten hair so that it looks thick, even if it's on the thinner side).
The '70s-inspired curtain bangs are back. Not only are they flattering for nearly all hair types and face shapes, but they're also relatively low-maintenance—only requiring trims every other month to maintain their face-framing length.
Thick, Blunt Bangs
Whatever your style may be, incorporating bangs can add a bump up to thin hair. Just make sure your fringe is thick—the blunter the better. "If the hair is thick enough in the front, a deep thick fringe is a nice way to bring the focus forward to a thicker section of the hair," comments Friese. To style, she recommends using BosleyMD Mousse ($18) on wet bangs and blow-drying with a flat brush from side to side and then down.
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.
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."
The shag has the ability to revive limp hair while still giving off a cool-girl vibe. Essentially, the cut can be described as having lots of razored texture, movement, and volume via long layers and bangs, making it ideal for those with thin strands. To fake the fullness, style with layers and an ombré to add body and dimension.
"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 unnecessary damage." Try Moroccanoil's Perfect Defense Heat Protectant ($28)—it coats the hair with nourishing antioxidants as it protects.
Blunt bobs have to be one of our favorite hairdos since they look flattering on just about everyone. According to Friese, "Any cut with a blunt perimeter will create the illusion of thicker hair than a cut with more texturized or feathered ends. An all one length blunt bob (around chin length) is a great option for thin hair. It can be worn straight and sleek as well as wavy and tousled, which is very popular right now."
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 ($25).
While a typical braid can accentuate a finer hair texture, a braided headband is an alternative that adds 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.
Half-Up, Half-Down Ponytail
Kristen Bell's ode to Kelly Kapowski's retro half-up half-down pony is the modern version, which, when paired with bangs, gives more body and life to otherwise flat hair. Wrap a strand of hair around the base of your ponytail for extra dimension.
One surefire way to hide the thickness of your hair? Rock a buzz cut. Though it requires more upkeep (to keep it short and clean), it's fairly low-maintenance in terms of styling.
A-Line or Stacked
A-line cuts have gotten a major upgrade. They are incredibly versatile when it comes to styling. While Jourdan Dunn opts for lots of texture, this cut also looks great with a smooth finish. Friese says, "This is a blunt cut where the back is shorter than the front and layered to create lots of volume at the crown. It can be worn cheek, chin, or just below the chin length."
Glamorous Side Sweep
One of Leslie Mann's go-to looks is this pulled-to-the-side, slightly waved style. By teasing the roots and gathering the hair over to one side, she's able to give her thin strands a bit more oomph.
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," 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).
Double French-Braided Updo
Why do one braid when you can do two? A double-French braided updo is sure to be your new go-to: it's playful yet formal, and effectively gets your hair out of your face without foregoing volume. We approve of the way it adds a natural lift to the roots.
Half-Up, Half-Down Bun
This laid-back hairstyle for thin hair exudes that model-off-duty vibe. To achieve this, Qureshi recommends honing in on getting as much volume as possible at the root (before starting with the bun) so prep with Living Proof's Full Dry Volume Blast ($30). For extra volume, Qureshi says to tease the ponytail before looping it around into a bun for maximum thickness.
A tousled take on the completely slicked-back 'do, this relaxed brush-back can be made to appear as casual or elegant as the event calls for. Let your hair dry naturally before working in a styling pomade with a comb, making sure to pull back gently for that relaxed feel.
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."
While normal layers can have the effect of making hair look thinner—a definite no-no for those of us with already thin strands—interior or invisible layers work to create texture and fullness. And according to Friese, they're also a great option for the person who wants to keep their hair on the longer side. "Because short hair supports long hair, adding shorter pieces under the overlaying longer pieces will create a lot of volume," she says.
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 an 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).
No one has to know you're sporting fine hair underneath this mile-high ponytail. The hairstyle naturally creates the illusion of lift while the strategic addition of a scrunchie gives more volume. But if you're looking for even more fullness and body, there's a trick for that.
Aside from the right cut, the right color can also lend volume to thin hair. Qureshi explains: "Thin hair is one of the few textures where color, highlights, and balayage can truly help hair look thicker and support volume. 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.
As we just mentioned, adding color to your hair is an instant way to pump up its thickness. A head-turning pastel pink pixie can work to draw attention away from hair's natural fineness. If you're feeling frisky, DIY from the comfort of your home.
If your hair is a little lackluster in the volume department, a pompadour is a sure-fire way to transform it. Spritz some hairspray on the bang-area of your head, comb it upward, and take a blow-dryer to it to ensure it holds in that up-right position.
Dyed and Super Short
You can wear hair cropped while still drawing attention. Without going all the way to the scalp, buzz hair so that there's half-an-inch to an inch remaining, and dye it a fun and vibrant shade.
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).
Low Side Ponytail
Here's a style that suits thin hair effortlessly. With a low side ponytail, you have options: keep it sleek and straight or play it up with some waves. Either way, pull the pony to one side and part your bangs on the other for added balance.
If a non-traditional cut is what you're after—that simultaneously flatters thin tresses—then why not consider an asymmetrical style? According to Friese, "Cutting the hair shorter on one side than the other adds the illusion of weight to the longer side which will make the hair look thicker. This is usually done on a shorter length cut."
If you don't want to commit to an asymmetrical haircut, you can easily style hair to meet this look. On one side, either pull back and secure hair with pins or slick-back with a strong-hold gel.
One way to make thinner hair appear voluminous? Try teasing, says New York-based hairstylist Abii Raji. "I recommend a teasing comb to help provide added volume and hold," Raji says. This works particularly well on a shag, which has layers that mimic natural thickness.
Even thin hair can rock a braid. Pull hair into a high ponytail, then braid the end. Pull the ends slightly apart to create the illusion of a wider (i.e. thicker) braid.
Middle-Parted Low Ponytail
A middle-part is simple, but adds drama to a low ponytail. "You can pull all your hair back or leave some hair down to frame your face," says Raji.
Take a cue from Lupita Nyong'o and shape your short, natural hair into two small Afros. Using a comb will help to add volume to thin hair.
Add some texture spray to a classic half-up style and you have volume, to boot. We like Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray ($49). Just a spritz on the finished style, and a little muss with your fingers, and you're set.
Slicked and Side Parted Waves
This style is proof that, even without any volume up top, a style can still make your tresses look thick. Here, volume is relegated to the mid-lengths and ends while a slick side-part adds drama.
The slicked look couldn't be easier, as it doesn't even require hair to be fully dried. Just apply pomade to damp hair and comb it through the top and sides, allowing the hair to air-dry fully before stepping out.
If your hair looks even thinner in an updo, this look's for you. Braid the ends, then wrap it around the top of the head and secure with pins. The final look will make hair appear fuller than it is — plus, it's pure romance.
"You can choose to style the hair using a curling or straightening iron. Section the hair horizontally down the middle," says Raji. Finish by spraying some dry shampoo, such as Living Proof Perfect Hair Day ($26), at the roots for added volume.
Box Braid Ponytail
Box braids are a stylish protective style, but be warned: they can lead to hair breakage. So see a professional that is experienced with box braids and use a deep conditioning treatment before you get braided.
Double Slicked Braided Pigtails
Even thin hair can be braided. And on the plus side, it makes hair look that much thicker. Take a cue from Tessa Thompson and create a strong middle part before braided hair in two low pigtails. Be sure to use a strong-hold gel to slick the sides for extra drama.
A traditional ponytail is great, but you can take the style into evening territory by using a comb to create a severe side part and using a gel to slick the sides down so there are no flyaways.
For this look, Separate hair into two sections and Dutch braid hair in each section until you reach the bottom, securing with an elastic. Using dry shampoo will help maintain the style and revive second-day strands, allowing hair to have extra volume.
Mid-Length and Tousled
This look is all about keeping it casual but still chic. Using a center part, dry hair and then add a bit of wave with a wide-barrel curling iron. Finish with shine spray.
Blunt Beach Waves
If you have slight waves in your hair, this is the way to play them up. Just part wet hair in the center, comb through and apply a product such as Sexy Hair Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Plus Humidity Resistant Volumizing Spray Mousse ($20). Let air-dry and fo.
One surefire way to add pizzazz to a classic pixie cut? Straighten the ends. This only works on hair that's at least a couple of inches long, so don't try it on anything shorter. A side part really shows off the look and the added length gives the illusion of thickness.
Dramatic Blunt Bob
Keeping the hair just below the chin, and keeping ends blunt but feathery, makes hair look wider than it really is. This look works with both a chic blowout or loose and natural waves.
Romantic Space Buns
Take the traditional space bun and spin it on its head by keeping the look very shiny, and keeping some pieces of hair loose, to frame the face.
Half-Up Bob With Flipped-Out Ends
This half-up bob offers the illusion of thickness and volume up top (where hair is lightly teased at the crown) and at the ends, where hair is flipped out. Use a round brush to flip the ends out and away from the face while drying the hair.
The universally flattering lob works on even thin hair. Here, the ends kick slightly in (a round brush is the best tool for this) which helps give the illusion of thickness.
The key to a great blowout is to first coat your strands with a heat-protective, volumizing product before actually adding any heat. We like Shu Uemura Fiber Lift Volumizer ($39).
Textured Lob With Curtain Bangs
Curtain bangs help widen the entire look of a hairstyle — so they are a great addition for thin hair. For this look, try air-drying the hair and adding a texture spray like Sachajuan Ocean Mist Texturizing Spray ($15).
For the DIY version of this style, blow dry while hair is flipped over (and use high heat). Once it's partially dry, use a round brush to add volumes and waves while you finish drying with a blow-dryer.
Long Natural Waves
If you don't have naturally wavy hair, you can fake it. Just apply a liberal amount of R+Co One Prep Spray ($22) on damp hair, then blow dry and add waves with a wide-barrel curling iron.
A modern mullet has plenty of layers, so it makes even thin hair appear voluminous. To style, let hair air-dry and finish with a product like R+Co Two Way Mirror Smoothing Oil ($32) to add sheen.
Does thin hair look better short or long?
Of course, there is no rule that you have to add volume to your thin hair to make it look good, but if that is what you're looking for, then you'll want to err on the shorter side. "Generally when it comes to haircuts if your hair is thin, the shorter your hair, the fuller it will look," celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimmons told us.
What kind of bangs are good for thin hair?
If you have thin hair, light, wispy bangs can help add shape to your haircut. And what's extra great about wispy bangs? Just about any bang style can be cut wispy. "Side bangs, blunt bangs, micro bangs, curtain bangs—they can all be cut to accommodate a lighter, wispier feel," according to hairstylist and Byrdie contributor Ashley Rubell.
How do you cut thin hair to make it look thicker?
If you want to create the illusion of thicker hair—which, again, isn't a requirement—ask your stylist about layers. "Soft, face-framing layers will add dimension and fullness without weighing you down," hairstylist Jessica Shakir told us. "You can also ask your hairstylist about adding internal layers to your shoulder-grazing locks, so you can keep the length of your hair while adding the volume you desire."