The grass is always greener, especially when it comes to hair. Girls with stick straight hair long for the ‘I just stepped off the beach’ waves, while curly maned women long for a day of straight, shiny strands without having to endure a 10 minute straightening process. Several stunners with trendy bob cuts wish their hair would grow faster and longer without split ends, while many Rapunzel inspired beauties wished that they had the confidence and face shape to pull off a rocking pixie cut. And while those of us with thin, limp locks long for Victoria’s Secret model volume, do Gisele and Gigi wish that their hair would just fall flat and lifeless on their heads? I’m going to bet that the answer is a no.
Most women (unless we are going for a super sleek, straightened look) yearn for that voluminous bounce and vibrant air of a professional blowout. But how can those of us who don’t have time for a daily trip to the local blow-dry bar or the funds for a traveling glam squad pull off some extra volume? Even those with the finest of hair can achieve a nice lift by switching up their styling routine with a few basic guidelines to volume.
Don’t Wash Away The Bounce
There are many different kinds of shampoos and conditioners on the market because there are many different kinds of hair. The thin haired and volume impaired should always look for products labeled ‘volumizing’ or ‘bodifying’. Volumizing shampoos and conditioners are key for finer locks because they gently cleanse the hair and remove any unwanted buildup.
If you have fine, oily hair like me and your freshly washed hair gets greasy by 4pm, you probably feel the need to wash it everyday. Stay away from moisturizing shampoos that intensify the oil, and instead look for volumizing shampoos that gently remove the excess oil without stripping the hair. Those with fine, dry hair can shampoo less frequently and should opt for a volumizing shampoo that’s labeled as ‘moisturizing’ or ‘creamy’.
Regardless if your thin hair is oily or dry, there are a few cues to follow when it comes time to wash your skinny strands to achieve some added fullness and bounce:
1) Always start your shower with a hot rinse. The hot water not only removes the dirt and built up products, but it also opens up the cuticles to absorb the natural oils that have been loosened from the scalp.
2) Less is more when it comes to shampoo. A common mistake we make is lathering the full length of our hair instead of just focusing our energy on our scalp. Only apply the shampoo to the roots, working up a nice lather and massaging your head for a couple minutes. This technique not only removes the dead skin and improves circulation for growth, but it also prevents the shampoo from further drying out the already brittle ends of your hair.
3) It’s ingrained in most of us to thoroughly wash off shampoo before applying conditioner, but many stylists will do both at the same time. After you shampoo your scalp, apply conditioner to the bottom two-thirds of your hair, starting slightly above the midshaft and working your way down to the ends. Avoid conditioning the roots because the scalp will absorb the oil and weigh hair down. Once the shampoo and conditioner are both complete, rinse them out together. The shampoo will work its way down the hair, rinsing off the conditioner and any residue it would have left to make your hair fall heavier and flat.
Tip: Fine hair can easily tangle and when wet, so comb through your hair before stepping in the shower to prevent any extra knots when you step out of the shower.
Dry With Oomph
Grabbing a hair dryer and drying your hair seems like an easy enough task, but perfecting your at-home blowout can prove daunting, especially when it comes to creating volume. A big no-no that stands in the way of voluminous hair is pulling out a brush too soon. Before you begin, pull the concentrator nozzle off of your dryer. It’s designed to direct the heat to one specific area, flattening the area and not allowing for a rough dry.
4) Start with a rough dry by blowing air all over your hair while roughing up the roots with your fingers. This process lifts up the roots and roughs up the cuticles to maximize volume.
5) Flip your hair over, drying against the direction that your hair will lay. This will cause the roots to stand up rather than cling to the scalp, creating the illusion of thicker and fuller hair. Direct the heat from the roots down to the ends until your fine hair is about 80% dry.
6) Stand erect, pull out a brush and put the nozzle back on the dryer. Using a round, big barreled brush, section off the hair and begin to dry it upwards, gently brushing the shaft from underneath the hair. Pulling too hard with the brush will flatten your hair and wreck all the work you’ve already put into the roots.
7) When you reach the top layer of hair that lays on either side of your part, dry against the direction that the hair will lay to give it a last bit of oomph.
Tip: Finish with a cool air blast – it relaxes the blow-dry to create fullness and bounce.
Cuts And Parts
Shorter hair gives the impression of greater volume, while longer hair can weigh the hair down, making it look flatter and finer than it really is. Occasionally this weight can separate the strands, exposing the scalp to make your thin hair seem even more sparse. Stylists say that for the best movement your hair should be no longer than the shoulders, sitting above the collarbone for optimal volume.
Well sorry stylists, my thin strands and I love long hair and refuse to go short. But I do know that cutting off even a couple inches can increase volume, so I compromise and maintain a mid-length cut with only a couple layers around the face. While layers can add body and movement to those who have a plethora of fine hair, it’s best to have fewer layers for those of us not blessed with an abundant mane. A one length cut actually makes smaller amounts of fine hair look their thickest.
Many women keep the same part for years, if not an eternity. After all the years of the hair being flattened down in one direction, changing the part (center to side, left to right etc.) will help lift the hair away from the scalp and provide height.
Tip: Using a rat tail comb, create a zigzag part to better disguise any sparseness and make the hair appear fuller.
The Holy Grail Of Volume
What’s a girl with an oily mop to do? Experts say not to wash your hair everyday because it removes a protective layer from your hair and weakens it. Weaker hair = less volume, but oily hair = no volume. You want to wash your hair every day to remove the grease, but then the excessive washing dries out your scalp so the scalp then produces even more oil to moisturize itself.
Enter dry shampoo: the #1 product for fine hair. Not only does dry shampoo absorb the excess oil and dirt, it also adds tons of body and volumizes limp, fine hair. It doesn’t make the hair feel stiff like many gels and mousses, and it can actually provide greater hold and long lasting volume better than some hair sprays. But most importantly, it can give your hair some much needed time away from heat styling and products to promote healthy hair. And healthy hair = more volume.
Tip: Keep a mini dry shampoo in your purse to refresh mid day. Instant volume.