Techniques and tips
Thin hair? How to make your fine mane look fuller
Hair loss and balding are commonly associated with men—specifically, men who are either approaching midlife or smack dab in the middle of it. Yet women aren’t immune to losing their crowning glory. Some of us begin noticing less hair on our heads and more in our brush when perimenopause rears its ugly head, generally between our late 30s and early 50s. Damage brought on by years of processing—bleaching, coloring, chemically straightening or curling hair—is another cause of hair loss. Women may experience thinning hair as the result of an autoimmune disorder, thyroid disease, or other health condition; even certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy, can cause hair to thin dramatically or disappear altogether. The most common reason women lose their locks? Just as with men, it’s genetics. (Specifically, androgenetic alopecia, which is a science-y term for female-pattern baldness.) Unlike male-pattern balding, however, women tend to experience an overall thinning rather than a receding hairline or expanding bald spots. So if your mom has a collection of wigs that rival Moira Rose’s, or if every photo of your grandmother shows her wearing a hat, start treating your hair with caution and kindness, tout de suite. What to do if you are already cursed with thin, fine hair? There’s no need to worry—we’ve gathered up some great tips and tricks that will prevent your ’do from becoming a don’t.
For curly girls
If you have curly or wavy hair, your stylist may suggest point cutting. This is a texturizing technique that removes bulk at the ends and creates softness. The result is beautiful, voluminous curls along with layers that blend invisibly. Another super solution to fine, thin hair is a shag cut — these 70s-inspired coifs are back in style, in part because they give the appearance of fuller, thicker tresses. Additionally, a shag can rein in unruly curls.
Straight, thin hair
Women with fine hair that also happens to be stick-straight, on the other hand, should avoid layers. If you don’t have natural waves or curls to give some oomph to your locks, straight hair that isn’t super full can look stringy. Because it is literally lighter in terms of weight, cutting layers can backfire and turn your head into a tumbleweed.
Dyeing for thicker hair
What about color? If you’re dying for thicker hair, try dyeing. It’s not the most intuitive solution, but darker shades do give a better impression of fullness than pale blond hues will. In addition, expertly deployed balayage can also fool the eyes of your admirers, much like makeup contouring can create a slimmer face shape or play up your best facial features. Multi-tonal color and subtle shifts in hue are the keys to this technique; a flat, matte brown or black box dye is more likely to look one-dimensional.
Extensions to supplement skimpy strands
You might think of hair extensions as the answer to short-haired women’s prayers, but they work equally well for adding thickness and volume. Extensions run the gamut from simple, DIY clip-ins or tape-ins that are worn for an evening to professional, sewn-in weaves and bonded extensions meant to last for months at a stretch. Do your research into the pros and cons of each approach. Some are simpler and less time-consuming, but they all require something of a commitment. No matter which type of extension you end up choosing, experts agree that it’s best to spring for real human hair. Synthetic locks look—well, fake. Again, enlist your stylist’s help in deciding on the best direction to take based on your hair’s current condition and your goals.
Some thin hair DOs...and some DON’Ts
There’s also plenty you can do to be proactive when it comes to the problem of thinning hair. First, know that stripping your hair’s natural oils too frequently can make it look limp and lifeless, so shampoo only a few times each week. Use a dry shampoo in between washings as necessary. When you do wash, massage your scalp. Besides feeling great, a scalp massage helps stimulate blood flow, which in turn can promote growth. As for conditioner, use it wisely by working it only through the bottom half of your hair, scrunching gently to make sure that all strands are coated. Lastly, keep heat styling to a minimum. Let your hair dry naturally whenever you can, reserving flat-irons and curling rods for special occasions.
The right way to wear ponytails
Too-tight ponytails or buns are a big no-no. If you are in the habit of scraping your tresses back from your face, whether for working out or just because you like the look, switch up your method. A soft, loose scrunchie, a couple of strategically placed bobby pins, or a buff-style fabric headband will get the job done while being gentle on your hair. While many women take their hair down for sleeping, gathering your locks into a loose topknot for sleeping will prevent tangles—and add body and waves overnight.
A word about products
Steer clear of “extreme-hold” gels, spritzes, and sprays, as these can do more damage than good. Instead, choose products formulated for thin hair, like volumizing shampoo and conditioner, plumping mousse, thickening sprays, scalp serum. Many of these contain vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential oils that can improve the health of your scalp and stimulate the growth of stronger, thicker hair. They also provide volume to boost your ’do’s appearance as well as protective qualities to safeguard against additional breakage. As there’s a seemingly endless array of products specially formulated for folks with fine, thin hair, it may take some tinkering before you hit upon the most effective products—better yet, find a friend with similar hair issues and ask her for recommendations.
Thicker hair on a budget
Can’t splash out on pricey shampoos, sprays, and serums? Luckily, thicker hair is totally doable on a budget, too. Check out wallet-friendly drugstore brands or even DIY lotions and potions. Remember, too, that the high-end hair products are intended to be used sparingly, so a little goes a long way. If you’ve been slathering your locks with loads of cheap conditioner in your bid for lustrous, lush hair, consider a “less is more” approach. Try using just a small dollop of a luxury brand. When you crunch the numbers, you might just find that your new regimen isn’t that spendy after all. When you see the results, you may also find them well worth the upfront splurge.