How to… Get More Volume in Hair

As someone with very naturally flat and fine hair, I’ve tried literally everything over the years to get some volume in hair. In fact – I can honestly say this article has been at least 10 years in the making, so I’m really glad to be able to share this with you!

How to... Get More Volume in Hair

But first, before going on, you gotta check out if “volume” really suits your face shape first. I know – what?! Doesn’t everyone look good with volume? Funnily enough, no.

Having tons of volume won’t do well for certain face shapes, in fact it might make it look worse! So definitely check out “What Hairstyle Suits Me?” to see if it’ll suit you.

Anyway, here are my tried-and-tested, blood, sweat and tears tricks to getting thick, full volume in hair.

1. Ditch the layers

Oh, layers. The big haircut lie. The first thing everyone tells you to get more volume in hair is “get layers cut.” Don’t believe them! I used to get them done at the salon, and they’d “layer” my hair out so much, my hair looked even more thin. Instead keep the ends of your cut very blunt and ask your hairdresser to cut straight across, 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. Keep the length around your collarbone or slightly longer. The weight of the long hair can pull your hair down, making your crown area look even more flat.

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.

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.

Either way, it’s worth a try, and if you do want to try this method out, though, here are products I’ve had success with:

Best Volumizing Shampoos

  • The Body Shop Rainforest Volumizing Shampoo. A bit hard to find online, but it’s available on their official site.
  • Redken Bodyfull Shampoo. Available at Amazon.
  • John Freida Luxurious Volume Shampoo and Conditioner. I don’t usually like conditioner but this one was really good). Available at Amazon.
  • It’s A 10 Miracle Volumzing Shampoo. You might also want to check this out – it’s getting some crazy-good reviews and what I’ll be trying next! Available on Amazon.

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, but the texturizer I talk about in this post is the best I’ve tried.

4. Blow it up

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.

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. You should definitely check out How to… Backcomb Hair Without Damaging It for help.

6. Heat it up

Hair curlers and thongs will also give hair much needed volume, which is also a huge part of how I get volume in my hair. I’m using Tourmaline by Amika, an amazing hair curler (probably the only one that has worked on my hair, and I’ve tried many!) which is available at Sephora or Amazon.

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. You can buy them internationally at Amazon. 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’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 (I encourage you to read my Digital Perm Review & Tips before taking the plunge). 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 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. Why is this? Check out the tips under “Long Face Shape” in What Hairstyle Suits Me? to see what I do for my hair – all my volume tips are talked in full there.
  • My shampoo and conditioner are fairly low maintenance. I use a shampoo from 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! You can get it on Amazon. 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 and Cashmere Falls Argan Oil which are seriously the best hair products ever made.
  • I use a styling product called Sea Salt Spray. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. I go between the cult classic Bumble & Bumble Sea Salt Spray and Toni&Guy Casual Sea Salt Texurizing Spray. After shampooing, I let my hair air dry 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.
  • I’ve also just invested in a proper curling iron. After many years of thinking about it, I finally did it. I’m using Tourmaline by Amika, and it is awesome. You can buy at Sephora or Amazon.

And that’s really it. Honestly, I’d say the biggest 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 backcomb the roots for some extra lift (and always for updos), and wavy hair from the curling iron (my hair is naturally straight) always makes it look more voluminous.

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  • Kelly

    Great tips, thanks!

    • Renee / Beautifille

      You’re so welcome, Kelly! So sorry I just saw your comment now as I changed commenting systems.

  • Rick Kipness

    Geat advice! Even helps with jewish guys hair! Wonderful!!

    • Renee / Beautifille

      Thanks Rick, so glad you found it useful!

  • Naomi

    Wah so many great tips! When I get out of the shower and I let my hair air-dry I usually look like a lion so I don’t need extra volume, however I love how detailed this is!

    xx naomi @ Naomi in Wonderland

    • Renee / Beautifille

      Thanks Naomi. :) And ugh you are so lucky! Wanna trade? I WANT the lion look, haha.

  • Shekin Daud

    Ok i shall ditch layers next time, i had a haircut yesterday. i felt cheated, hairdresser suggest to have more volume, layers is key. But today i feel is thinner than yesterday! :( Great help renee!

    • Renee / Beautifille

      Aw yeah, that sucks! I really don’t get why people say layers is for volume… maybe VERY tiny layers would help, but in general I found that every time I got my hair layered, it would look so thin!

  • Maria

    Hey Renee!! It’s Maria! I’m so glad to receive the email update on your blog switch. I missed your articles so much! And as always, they’re super useful like this one. My hair is so thin, sometimes I wonder if I’d bald prematurely like my Dad lol. Definitely blaming it on the genes.
    I’m already down with the dry shampoo trick (it works and smells amazing, yay!), and have finally stepped out of the “layers” trick that really NEVER works. A straight cut does everything in giving an illusion of thicker hair, and I wish I knew that much earlier!
    Hmm.. I’ve always wanted to venture into backcombing but I can never seem to get it right. My hair always ends up a tangled mess for some reason, and I’ll lose more precious strands trying to sort them out. Eek. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Renee / Beautifille

      Hey Maria, ah so nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for sticking with me, that really means a lot.

      I don’t know if you’re psychic or I am, but tonight’s “Beauty Tip of the Week” is all about backcombing the right/non-damaging way, so look out for that :D

      • Maria

        Ah what a coincidence — that’s brilliant! I’ll be reading it in a bit. Thanks Renee!! :)

  • Nayla Khatib

    Wooohoo renee! I have missed these! The second I saw the word perm I was like “nope.” Your old review still makes me cringe.
    I haven’t tried dry shampoo yet but I guess I’ll give it a try soon.
    I totally agree with the layers thing though.
    My hair isn’t as thick and lush as it used to be when I was younger and I used to get layers when it WAS thick, to give it a better body but my hair is medium fluff now so I’m growing it out so I cab get a straight across cut soon.
    I cut my hair super short a few years ago I don’t know how to send you a photo but I did it myself (not sure if I told you this…it was around the time I was still reading and commenting on beautyfool tho) it was fun. My hair was grown out til under my boobs and I cut it off at my neck. It looked GREAT but then I asked for a trim at a hair salon I had never been to and the creature I refuse to call a woman, shaved the base of my neck hollow and I looked like a walking mushroom. I’m not sure if I’ll go short again for a while now. Ladies. Never change hairdressers. Ever.

    Oh another thing – I recently used castor oil (1/4)and almond oil in my hair. Its greaaat
    A friend of mine who often bleaches her hair told me how she swears by certain oils to keep her hair healthy. N her hair is thick strands like mine, with frizz. And she bleaches het hair alll the time yet its still so shiny strong and healthy. Which ia weird cuz when i last bleached my hair it took forever and then my strands were thinner and really weak. So i trust her as shes been doing this for 7 years. She uses almond oil and castor oil and after showering and washing it away, puts some snake oil in her hair cuz its not greasy. U heard me. Snake oil. I have heard of snake oil before but I was a little weirded out to use it. I can’t find it in India though. I’ll have to order it online or get it the next time I visit the middle east or another country that may have it. Next up – argon oil. I need that lol.

    • Nayla Khatib

      Sorry about the typos. Its 4am and I’m on my phone lol

      • Renee / Beautifille

        Hey Nayla, no worries at all – ah what a great comment, thank you! So many great insights.

        Oh my gosh, SNAKE OIL?! That is CRAZY. Do you mind if I write a post about that (will give a shoutout to this comment/credit you)?

        • Nayla Khatib

          Aaaaaah that would be awesomeee! Go ahead! I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet though >.< but I am dying to try it out! :D
          <3 <3

  • majidah m

    Now this is a great read! Have curly, fine, long hair…they give you that “beach hair” but on other days, it looks so matted like a wet dog :( will try these tips! Love from KL!

    • Renee / Beautifille

      Hey Majidah, thank you :) Let me know how it goes and if it helped? Love from Singapore!