My hair is so fine that it gets weighed down by basically anything I put on it. Even a smidge too much hair oil, and I look like the girl from The Ring, only blonde and with a generally less menacing vibe. There are two basic types of fine, limp hair. Like me, you could have plenty of individual strands that are all really fine. Or you could be dealing with hair loss, which can be caused by factors such as genetics, hormones, and nutrition. (Oh, and stress, which is entirely possible at this moment because, well, *gestures vaguely around*.) But no matter your thin-hair type, hair thickening products (the right ones, at least) can do wonders. (The wrong ones? Well, see movie reference above.)
“Hair-thickening products use different ingredients that help expand and build upon the shape and thickness of your hair strand, typically when heat is applied from a blow dryer,” says celebrity stylist Kristen Shaw. “They can also be applied when your hair is dry to make it look fuller.”
Below, you’ll find a full breakdown of her favorite hair-thickening products for each step fo the styling process, plus her tips for choosing which ones are right for you.
Thicker hair begins in the shower, with a volumizing or thickening shampoo and conditioner. “These are great because they give your hair a great place to start—with a volume and thickening boost before you even put any other product in,” Shaw says. Think of them as the foundation for your entire style: If you use them, you won’t need to use as many styling products later.
Plus, everyone with thin hair, no matter the type, can benefit from a volumizing or thickening shampoo. Most of them “work by opening the cuticle and depositing a thickening agent to expand the hair,” she explains. She recommends Virtue Full Shampoo ($38) and Conditioner ($40), which contain nourishing ingredients like pink pomelo and artichoke leaf.
Products for Damp Hair
Spray volumizers are one of the easiest products to use. Just mist on your roots before blow-drying. They’re formulated to work with the heat of your blow-dryer, says Shaw, who likes Oribe Maximista Volumizing Spray ($39).
And don’t dismiss mousse! When you think of it, you probably remember the sticky foam you stole from your mom’s bathroom in middle school, but mousses have come a long way since then. Shaw says they should be blow-dried in, and work best when you use a brush (read: this isn’t the product for textured hair or curls you want to dry with a diffuser).
“For those with chemically damaged or broken hair, I recommend the shampoos first, and then a light volumizing spray or moisturizing mousse that will give their hair a thickening boost without damaging it further,” says Shaw. One of her favorites is Davines Curl Moisturizing Mousse ($28). “It’s amazing for giving fine hair a boost, and it leaves it feeling so soft!”
Sea-salt sprays, dry texturizing sprays, texture powders, and dry shampoo add volume to dry hair. If you have damaged hair, though, proceed with caution, because these products may have drying ingredients that can make damage look worse. “I recommend that my clients with healthy, stronger hair strands use the sea salts, dry shampoos, and dry texture sprays because their hair can handle the dryness,” says Shaw. She recommends Playa Endless Summer Spray ($24). (FWIW, my fine hair loves this product.)
You can also turn to temporary hair-color products, like root concealers, to give the illusion of fuller hair. “For my red-carpet clients, I sometimes use these to fill in sparse areas along their hair lines,” says Shaw. She likes John Frieda Root Blur ($14), Oribe Airbrush Root Touch Up Spray ($32), and the Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch Up Stick ($25). After you apply the product, use your fingers to blend it in. “The goal is to create a shadow where you would normally see the scalp, not to cover the strands completely with an opaque color.”
24-7 Fine-Hair Help
If you have fine or thin hair, Shaw says you can also use supplements to help boost your hair’s volume. Moon Juice SuperHair ($60), which contains ingredients like biotin, kelp, and saw palmetto, is her current favorite. Hum Nutrition Red Carpet ($25) is another option; the soft-gel capsules contain black currant seed oil and vitamin E.
Her final words of advice: Experiment! It often takes trial and error to find the combination of products that works for you. “Mix and match products and see what works best for your hair type, or change the amount you use.” she says. When it comes to styling fine hair, even the pros don’t always get it right on the first try.