1. Pick a thickening shampoo and conditioner
If you don’t want to try expensive extensions or experiment with supplements, there’s always the tried-and-true method of volumizing: picking a [thickening or volumizing shampoo and conditioner]. “I prefer to go with the work-with-what-you-have approach by using hair products and styling tools to create volume, thickness, and texture,” says Devin Toth, celebrity stylist at [Salon SCK].
"Shampoos and conditioners labeled volumizing or thickening usually contain fewer conditioning ingredients, so they don’t weigh hair down,” says GH Beauty Lab Chemist [Danusia Wnek]. They’re a good foundation (but not a replacement) for stylers; use the matching shampoo and conditioner set for best results. Try the GH Beauty Lab’s volumizing and thickening shampoo and conditioner test winners, below.
2. Cut hair at your shoulders or above
Though “[longer hair]” and “thicker hair” are sometimes used interchangeably, in reality, they’re totally different. " If you have thin hair, opt for a cut that is short to medium length ," advises Nick Penna, owner and lead stylist of [SalonCapri].
“Often thin or fine hair that’s very long can look stringy and even thinner since it’s weighed down by the length.” Searching for the perfect cut for your thin hair? Think blunt cuts: we’ve got [three long bobs] that will work wonders.
3. Use your dry shampoo in a whole new way
[Dry shampoo] is one of the beauty world’s modern miracles, but it does more than make your dirty locks look clean. Spraying a bit of [dry shampoo] along your roots can give you an instant boost of volume.
“Dry shampoo often contains powders like starches and minerals to increase the friction between strands and absorb oil, which creates volume,” Wnek says. The GH Beauty Lab suggests trying out the [Bumble and bumble. Prête-à-powder], a winner of their dry shampoos test for giving hair all-day volume.
4. Invest in high-quality extensions
When applied by a pro, [hair extensions] are an effective, natural-looking way to make your hair appear thicker — as long as you go to a seasoned stylist who has a lot of experience with extensions, of course. But it’s important to note that there’s one big catch: the price tag. According to the [experts at Angie’s List], a set of extensions, especially those made of human hair, can cost you anywhere from $275 to $1,400.
5. Keep your hair healthy
This seems like a given, but [getting great-looking hair is nearly impossible when you’re constantly damaging it. “If women want thicker-looking hair, they should minimize the use of heat styling tools and refrain from using too much conditioner in the shower,” Toth says.
Taking precautions like using heat protectant spray and not over-washing your hair can help it look thicker and stronger over time, too, by minimizing breakage and hair loss. And lay off the super-tight hairstyles and heat tools as often as possible!
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6. Strategically tease your hair
Teasing your hair doesn’t have to turn you into a full-on 1980s rockstar. If your locks tend to fall flat, use a skinny or rattail comb to gently tease it at the roots all over, giving the appearance of more volume.
A more targeted approach: Back-comb near the roots with a comb where you want height (like at the crown), then comb over hair to smooth, suggests [Bridget Brager], a celebrity hairstylist in Los Angeles. This will give your hair nice oomph at the roots without that telltale teased look or rattiness.
7. Add volumizing styling products to your regimen
Starting your style with volumizing or thickening products can go a long way toward making your hair look fuller, fast. Leave-in thickening and volumizing sprays, mousses, serums and gels are used on — and “left in” — damp hair and provide more fullness boost compared to shampoos and conditioners.
“They coat hair to make it feel thicker and give it grip to help you manipulate strands into a voluminous look,” Wnek explains. See the GH Beauty Lab’s volumizing and thickening spray test winners below for the most effective options.
Another to styling aid try: root lifting spray. “Hair flat to the head always looks more thinner than hair that is lifted at the root,” Penna explains. “Women can use a root lifter to give their hair bounce and volume right at the start of the hair shaft.”
8. Ask your stylist for highlights
If you’re open to coloring your hair, adding a few foils into the mix could be the right way to go. " [Highlighting hair] adds the look of depth to strands ," Penna says. “It gives your mane dimension, which creates the illusion of fuller locks instead of flat, single-toned hair.” Talk to your stylist about the [most flattering highlights] for your face, or bring a photo of a style you already love to your consultation.
9. Use a ceramic brush when you blow dry
Using the right post-shower tools can also make a difference in helping your hair appear thicker and more bouncy. “I like to use a ceramic barrel brush to build volume during a blowout,” Toth says.
Instead of blowing downward on your roots with your hair dryer, make sure you’re getting the brush under your roots and lifting upward as you blow dry. A round brush is super helpful for this. Not sure which brush is which? Check out [our handy hair brush guide].
10. “Color in” your scalp
The [more of your scalp] you can see, the thinner your hair will appear. Fill it in a bit with eyeshadow or a coloring spray, like Bumble and bumble Hair Powder. Hold it out about 10 inches from your scalp and spray it onto your roots. Seconds later, voila! No more roots.
Brunettes, if you already use dry shampoo, try swapping out the traditional white spray for a brown-tinted hue, like DryBar’s Detox Dry Shampoo For Brunettes. It adds volume while giving the scalp a dark tint.
11. Start taking supplements that benefit your hair
The shelves are packed vitamins and supplements claiming to stimulate hair growth, but a Rx is your best bet for something that truly works. “Female-patterned hair thinning is related to our hormones and the sensitivity of the hair follicles to the hormones,” explains New York City dermatologist [Hadley King, M.D.] “Hormonal prescription medications such as some oral contraceptives and spironolactone can be very effective in making hair thicker.”
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12. Consider a dermatologist visit
One in four American women reports thinning hair — and that doesn’t count those born with wispy or sparse strands. For serious thinning hair or hair loss, a session with a dermatologist (they also specialize in hair) may be needed.
Does Rogaine Work?
“Hair that’s naturally thin in diameter [fine] or sparse is genetic,” says [Joyce Davis, M.D.], a dermatologist in New York City. “Hair loss is often hereditary (or androgenic) thinning, which tends to be patchy.” Another common type is telogen effluvium (TE), or allover shedding due to hormones or health issues such as thyroid or autoimmune disease and anemia.
With TE, hair generally grows back once the problem is treated; see a doc for diagnosis. For androgenic loss, the [OTC topical minoxidil] is proven to grow hair with continued use. For all types, PRP (platelet-rich plasma), a new dermatologist’s-office treatment, stimulates growth with scalp injections of your blood’s growth factors, Dr. Davis says.