How to: Get More Volume in Hair

volume in hair

Image: Kristen Stewart W Magazine

“How to get volume in my hair?” is one of the beauty questions I’ve asked for a long, long time. And I’ve been doing it all wrong until a few years ago.

As someone with very naturally flat and fine hair (plus, there’s not a lot of it), I took the same old advice you always hear about: “Want thicker hair? Just cut in some layers!” Well, not so fast. Because in my experience, layers do not work, so I’ve been trying pretty much everything about getting volume in your hair. I can honestly say this article has been at least 10 years in the making! Here are all my tricks in thick, full hair.

10 Ways to Get More Hair Volume

1. Ditch the layers. Oh, layers. The big haircut lie. I used to get them done at the salon, and they’d “layer” my hair out so much, my hair looked even more thin. It was pretty terrible. So cool off the layers and keep the ends of your cut very blunt, which will give the illusion of thicker hair – this has made the biggest difference in my hair in terms of how much thicker it looks now.

Oh, and another thing – if you tend to have very thin, flat hair, avoid super long, straight haircuts. The weight of the long hair can pull your hair down, making your crown area look even more flat. You can find more hairstyle advice at What Hairstyle Suits Me? Find Your Best Hairstyle Today.

2. Get the right hair products. The products you use in the shower is also incredibly important, because shampoos and conditioners (especially conditioners) can weigh your hair down and make it look even more flat and limpy, and therefore thin. I’ve found that volumizing shampoos do work, but they are bit tricky. For one, if you have colored your hair, beware – some formulas can strip or fade the color. Also, because volumizing shampoos give volume and are formulated not to weigh hair down, it does not contain so many conditioning agents; so it can dry out your hair a lot. So personally, while I’ve tried volumizing shampoos and conditioners in the past with some success, I’ve decided not to use them because they made my hair very dry. (However, my friends swear by these products, so this bit is different for everyone).

Either way, it’s worth a try, and if you do want to try this method out, though, here are my recommended products I used with some success

best volume shampoo

Left to right:

Another quick tip for those with thin hair that is also really flat: condition your hair first, then shampoo it. Conditioner tends to weigh down your hair, so reversing the steps will combat that.

3. Try volumizing styling products. Hair products that I feel really make a difference for me are styling products. A volumizing mousse, in my opinion, works just as well as volumizing shampoo without drying out your hair. (If you are using volumizing shampoos and conditioners though, you can still use these products). All you need to do is squeeze out a dollop of mousse and comb it through your hair, roots to tips. Or, if you’d rather a spray, try a texturizing lotion, sea salt spray, etc. There are many in the market.

4. Get a good blowdry. A tip all the pros use is to blow dry your hair upside down – flip your head and blast the hot air from the nape of your neck to the crown, working backwards. Also, focus on blowing your roots. After blowdrying, avoid heavy leave-in conditioners, shine serums and styling products that will just weigh your hair down after all your hard work. A simple thickening hairspray will do.

backcombing teasing hair volume

5. Teasing & backcombing. Backcombing (or sometimes called “teasing”) your hair at the crown and smoothing some hair over it will lift hair and not make it so flat. The photo on the right shows how to do it – basically, get a thin comb, lift your hair and comb it backwards into your roots. This will create what looks like a messy hairball, but then release the hair you are holding up and brush it on top of the hairball and smooth it out. The hairball should be hidden underneath the hair. Beware though, backcombing is very damaging, but if you want some extra height at your roots, this works very well.

6. Heat it up. Styling tools such as curling irons (and even flat irons, when used correctly) can give your hair some volume, especially curling thongs. As you know, wavy hair always look more voluminous and fluffy. This takes practice though, and it does damage your hair if you do it too much.

7. Stock up on dry shampoo. Here’s a general hair tip: Don’t wash it everyday! Use dry shampoos for the days you don’t wash your hair – it revives greasy hair and gives slight volume. My best friend swears by dry shampoo, and many others – it is especially good for volume at the crown area. It does work very well, and I really like the ones by Batiste. I tried those first and they worked so well, I never tried another dry shampoo after that. They are super cheap, too.

8. Consider hair dye. Another option for thicker hair is to dye it. Coloring your hair instantly makes hair look thicker – particularly darker colors – and well placed high-lights and low-lights can give the illusion of dimension.

9. Experiment with extensions and wigs. While I experimented with hair extensions – the glue kind, the clip in kind – and they do work very well, personally I felt it was a little too high maintenance for my liking, and I was always a little paranoid that it might rip off! A friend of mine experiments with extensions and another one wears wigs and it works perfectly for them, but they do say it’s a lot of work and upkeep. It’s all about personal preference of how much you’d like to spend on your hair, but this for sure will work.

10. And the last resort: perms. A pretty drastic way to get volume in your hair is opting for a perm. One thing’s for sure, you will save a lot on blow drying and products. A root perm will give lift to flat hair, a body perm will give you all around waves; your hair will instantly have more body and volume.

Unfortunately, perms are very damaging to your hair – it is best that you haven’t had any prior chemical treatments (as in you don’t dye it, you don’t use heat tools on it, etc), and that your hair is very healthy. I would say that perms are the last straw, as it really is damaging. I’ve seen both extremes of perms – I’ve had great ones done and really bad ones done; both full body perms, root perms, and digital perms (check out my Digital Perm Review & Tips before taking the plunge). However they are so damaging I haven’t done them in many, many years and it has all grown out. So if you’re thinking of a perm, do a lot of research on a proper salon and really think about it carefully, because it cannot be “undone.”

What I Do

So I featured some of the ways to get volume in your hair… but you might be interested in what I do to my hair. Like I’ve said, I’ve tried just about everything and while my hair will always be a bit on the thin side, you can’t really tell from all my hair tricks! Here’s exactly what I do and what I use that I would recommend trying:

  • My haircut. I do not allow layers in my hair, except two small ones near my chin, which I think can actually just be called a long side swept bang. The rest of my hair is cut straight across, so everything is blunt.
  • My shampoo and conditioner are fairly low maintenance. I use a shampoo by The Body Shop, which is not meant for volume, but for some reason, whenever I use this, my hair looks really full and fluffy, so I love that! I actually don’t use conditioner in the shower, not because of anything other than I really dislike washing my hair and conditioning is extra work! But I do use coconut oil which is amazing. I use Dabur Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil which is seriously the best product ever made.
  • I use a styling product called Sea Salt Spray – I’m sure you’ve heard of it. I’ve used the cult classic Bumble & Bumble Sea Salt Spray, and while it was good, I felt that the Toni&Guy Casual Sea Salt Texurizing Spray was much better for me. After shampooing, I let my hair air dry (I never use heat styling tools, unless when I get my hair cut which is once a year) and once it’s try, I flip my hair over and spray sea salt spray back to front (neck to top of my head), and then I use my fingers to rub the product into my roots.

And that’s really it. But honestly, I’d say the big difference for me is the haircut – and a good sea salt spray. If I have a “special occasion” where I want to do my hair, I might backcomb the roots for some extra lift, and I just bought my first curling thong which I am excited to try since I love the look of wavy hair (my hair is naturally straight).

Do you know someone who is struggling with getting volume in their hair? Please share this post to them and help them out, and if you have any questions or comments, let me know on Twitter.

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