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 experts Feisal Qureshi and Gretchen Friese, we put together this roundup of the 38 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 thicker, fuller tresses 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.
- Gretchen Friese is a BosleyMD stylist and certified trichologist. She has over 20 years of beauty industry experience and is based in Denver, Colorado.
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. 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 Eva NYC's Zero Gravity Volume Powder ($12).
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.
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.
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 ($19) 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.
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.
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 ($70)—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 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 ($24).
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.
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 ($29). 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.
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.