You probably know if you have fine hair or thick hair, but to make it perfectly clear, here’s a test. Remove a hair from your head and place it next to a piece of sewing thread. If it’s thicker than the thread, you have thick hair. If it’s the same size, you have medium hair. If your strand of hair is thinner than the thread you have fine hair. Suspicions confirmed. But here’s good news. Fine hair doesn’t have to mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of limp, lank hair and meh hairstyles. Here are pro tips for making your fine hair look full and fabulous. Because you like big hair and you cannot lie.
Hair Volume Starts In The Shower
“Your shampoo and conditioner play a big role in what happens next if you have fine hair,” says Los Angeles hairstylist Sunnie Brook, who works with celebrities like Elisabeth Moss and Allison Williams. “For example, I like to recommend Biolage R.A.W. Uplift Shampoo and Conditioner to my clients with fine hair. They contain kaolin clay which absorbs oils from the hair and scalp. Eliminating oil will help prevent your hairstyle from going flat as the day wears on. And the conditioner moisturizes fine hair without adding weight.”
Fine hair will look even thinner if it isn’t healthy yet it’s very delicate, so it’s important to treat it with loads of TLC. After applying your conditioner in the shower, use a wide tooth comb to detangle your hair before rinsing out the conditioner. Gently blot your hair with a towel—no vigorous rubbing that can lead to more tangles, which in turn can cause breakage. Don’t use a brush on your wet hair—stick to big plastic combs that won’t catch or snag. Mist on a lightweight, leave-in conditioner to help with detangling. When you use blow dryers and hair styling tools, opt for the lowest heat settings to avoid burning or singeing your fine hair and apply a heat-styling primer first for thermal protection. Explore air-dry styling options to give your hair a heat styling break. Try a lightweight air-dry spray that will provide shape and shine.
Get The Right Haircut
Skip heavily layered haircuts—they will make your fine hair look even thinner. Instead, says Brook, “ask your stylist to create solid, blunt ends. They will give your hair more body and bounce by causing it to stack on itself. For wavy or curly fine hair,” she adds, “I like to create a few shorter layers underneath or within the interior of the hair. The shorter hair lifts the longer hair on top, which gives the style a fuller, ‘stacked’ appearance.”
Hair Styling Secrets
In general, says Brook, waves or curls add the appearance of lots of body to fine hair. “One of my favorite styling tricks,” she reveals, “is to use a smaller iron to curl the sections underneath the hair to create the illusion of volume. Then I finish by curling the hair on top with a larger iron. I also like to tease the roots a bit before I curl the hair. That really gives me some mega volume! And I always recommend alternating the direction of each curl—some back and some forward—as well as staggering the curl pattern in a brick layering way to build up volume and texture.” You may also want to rethink the way you part your hair in order to create the illusion of fuller hair. For example, says Brook, a deep side part helps add height and volume at the roots.
Color Dos And Don’ts
As long as you don’t over process and damage your hair, hair color can actually help make your fine hair look thicker. The color itself works by swelling each hair shaft slightly in order to allow the dye to penetrate, so it will actually become slightly thicker. Getting highlights can also “rough up” the texture of fine, silky hair a bit, which helps hold a set longer. Also, artful placement can make a huge difference. For example, if you have dark hair, your hairstylist can create lighter highlights that will diminish the contrast between your hair and your scalp. He or she may also create a multidimensional look using two or three shades--such as a medium base with highlights and lowlights--to give the illusion of fuller hair.
Product “Musts” And “Must Nots”
In addition to volumizing shampoo and conditioner, Brook’s go-to for fine hair is a good root volumizer like Biolage Advanced FullDensity Densifying Spray Treatment. “This root spray immediately gives the illusion of fuller hair—it can appear twice as thick,” she explains. “For best results, apply the product, let it dry and then layer it over the first application once again. Not only does it thicken the hair, it prevents breakage and adds lots of shine.”
And when it comes to don’ts for fine hair? “Stay away from heavy oils, serums and leave-in styling creams,” Brook suggests. “These can weigh down the roots and the hair shaft, causing strands to separate and become lifeless.”