Even if you weren’t born with fine hair, you might notice your ponytail looking leaner as you get older. Plump your locks with these easy pointers
Hair is the one part of our body most of us wish were a little fatter. And while some women are born with thin hair, many will develop it over time. “Usually, women have breakage or hair loss caused by chemical treatments or flatiron abuse, but a health condition like anemia or a thyroid problem can also be the culprit,” says Francesca Fusco, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Other common causes include stress and hormonal shifts (women may shed hair for up to a year after having a baby). If you notice dramatic or unexplained hair loss, see your doctor. Everyone else: Try these simple mane-thickening moves!
Keep It Clean
The squeakier fine hair is, the better (and bigger) it will look. “Like your facial skin, scalp tissue holds a lot of bacteria, and when combined with oil, it can weigh down the hair and impede healthy growth from your follicles over time,” says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City. Shampoo daily with a clarifying formula.Try: L’Oreal Professionnel Volumetry shampoo ($23.50, at salons), which contains antibacterial, deep-cleansing salicylic acid. Chase with conditioner applied to the mid-shafts and ends only.
Do a Scalp Massage
Your scalp is the bedrock of your hair—keep it healthy, and your hair will grow in healthy, says Phillips. Once a week, swap your usual shampoo for one with mint or menthol, which is thought to help stimulate circulation, and massage it into your entire scalp (sides, nape, and crown) with the pads of your fingers for two minutes, then rinse. Try: Pantene Pro-V Weekly Deep Cleanse ($5, at drugstores), which contains mosa mint oil.
Being married to your flatiron or getting highlight-happy can put you on the fast track to thin hair. “High heat and chemical overload can weaken and dry out the hair, leading to breakage called trichorrhexis nodosa, and can put a strain on hair follicles and prevent healthy hair growth,” says Fusco. Once a week, after shampooing, thoroughly rub a rich treatment mask into your scalp and hair, and rinse after three minutes. Try: Clear Scalp & Hair Deep Hydrating Treatment Mask ($5, at drugstores), which contains vitamins B5 and E and proteins to help strengthen hair over time, making it less likely to snap off.
Be Picky About Products
Thickening sprays and mousses are like puffer jackets: They give the illusion of bulk. “Both contain polymers that coat the hair and make it seem bigger,” explains Phillips, who recommends a spray formula for straight hair, and a mousse to add definition to waves or curls. If using a spray, distribute it evenly through damp hair from roots to ends. Try: Rene Furterer Volumea volumizing conditioning spray ($26, at salons). For mousse, rake an egg-size dollop through damp hair, then style. Try:Garnier Fructis Style Sky-Hi Volume Mousse ($4.29, at drugstores).
Bring on the Hair Spray
It does more than simply lock your style in place. “Hair spray is very buildable, plus, you can brush it out as you go, and it gives hair this amazing thick, nonsticky feel with a little lift,” says Benjamin Mohapi, a Los Angeles hairstylist. Try: Oribe Thick Dry Finishing Spray ($37, oribe.com), which has panthenol to swell the hair shaft as you spritz.
Get Bigger Buns
Doughnuts help increase your size in more ways than one. When used on your head, the foam kind “can fool everyone into thinking you have a ton of hair,” says New York City hairstylist Natasha Leibel. Try: Conair Bun Maker ($5, at drugstores). Make a high ponytail and secure. Place the doughnut around the elastic, lift the pony straight up, then slide the doughnut to the tail’s tip. Roll it toward the base, distributing the hair evenly around the doughnut as you go.
Feel the Heat
Hot rollers are perfect for creating not only big waves but also root lift and bounce, which curling irons can’t usually do. “Plus, they don’t get as hot, so they’re far less damaging on fine or thin hair,” says New York City hairstylist Tommy Buckett. Lift sections of dry hair at your crown, wrap your ends around the roller, and coil it down toward your scalp. After 15 minutes, remove, run your fingers through your hair, and finish by misting hair spray all over (make sure you blast your roots for extra lift). Try: T3 Voluminous hot rollers set ($99, at Sephora).
A round, natural-boar-bristle brush—a thick-haired girl’s dream for smoothing and polishing—is kryptonite for the fine camp. “It pulls the hair so taut that it makes the cuticle flat and skinny, while a round ceramic one lets you shape hair and maintain a little bit of volume and texture,” says Buckett. To do a mega-body blowout, wrap each section of hair around the brush, lift, and aim your blow-dryer at the roots. Try: Goody Style Gwl Hot Round Brush ($6.89, at Target).
“Seeing things” isn’t usually good, unless it’s more hair you’re seeing…and highlights can make that happen. “Tonality and depth create shadows and a 3-D effect, so hair looks thicker,” says Kyle White, a colorist in New York City. Have your colorist paint chunky highlights on the front of your hair that gradually get thinner toward the crown, and leave underlayers untouched for the most natural effect (ask your colorist about using an oil-based lightening agent, which contains up to 70 percent oil and gently lifts color while conditioning hair and preventing breakage, says White). Top highlights with a gloss, which adds shine and also—surprise!—imparts a nice volume boost. “Glosses deposit pigments onto your hair’s cuticle, which can help it appear fatter,” says White. Hit the salon or use an at-home version. Try: John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss ($13, at drugstores) weekly.
Find a Happy Medium (Hue)
Blonde-aholics, take note: “Very light hair colors can trick the eye into thinking it’s seeing scalp, which makes hair look thinner,” says White. But ultra-dark hair doesn’t do you any favors either, because the contrast makes even the tiniest glimpse of scalp more noticeable. The best shade, says White, is a light to medium brown, which will make hair look denser without drawing attention to the scalp.
A simple trim can also buy you some bounce. “Fine hair is easily weighed down, so I always tell my long-haired clients to lose a couple of inches for instant body,” says Buckett. If your hair is thin from damage, get a blunt cut to remove broken ends and make the bottom of your hair look thicker. If allover oomph is what you’re after, add long layers (short ones can appear straggly).
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