Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/30/2022
Hair extensions are a godsend for many women. They help us protect and grow our hair, they help us try new styles and help us keep things fresh and interesting. For women with thinner hair, they also help keep us feeling confident and happy in our own skin. When it comes to selecting the best hair extensions for thin hair, there are a few things to consider.
What look are you going for? Just how thin is thin is “thin”? What type of hair extensions work best for your hair?
There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive in.
There are a number of different types of hair extensions and application methods — some need to be done by a hairstylist, while others can be done at home.
There are also several different materials used to make hair extensions, ranging from synthetic fibers (like polyester, acrylic and nylon), to animal and even human hair, and each type of fiber comes with its own benefits and drawbacks (price point and appearance, notably).
However, the physical types of extensions for which these fibers are used are pretty universal:
An at-home method that can be good for thin hair is clip-ins.
With these, you can clip them into your hair right before you go out and then unclip them when you get home.
They’re an excellent way to add quick length or volume to your hair without constant tugging or pulling on thinner hair (which can be more delicate).
Similar to clip-ins are halo hair extensions, which is essentially hair attached to a wire.
To wear these, you’ll part your hair in the back of your head from ear to ear, and then place the halo extensions on top of the bottom layer of your hair before layering the top portion of your natural hair over it.
These are simple, quick and relatively inexpensive ways to bolster the appearance and volume of thinner hair.
Another type that can work for thinner hair is extensions that are bonded directly to small sections of hair.
This is done with micro bonds, sometimes called keratin bonding (where the extension is looped over your hair and the two are fused together with a special tool and heat), or fusion hair extensions (where adhesive is used to stick the extension to small sections of your hair).
While you’ll need to see a professional for these types of extensions, folks love them because they use smaller sections of hair that tend to give thinner hair a much fuller, natural appearance.
Another hair extension method is to have them sewn in. With this method, your actual hair is braided in rows across your scalp. Then, wefts of hair extensions get sewn into the braid with a needle and thread to give you a fuller head of hair.
They’re great because they can stay in your hair for a few months. However, because thinner hair may not be a sturdy enough anchor for sewn-in extensions, they may not be ideal.
Yes, extensions can turn thin strands into your dream hair. However, if you’re not careful, they can also lead to a type of hair loss called traction alopecia.
When something pulls on your scalp (like extensions), your hair shaft may be damaged and become loose from the follicle and fall out—leaving behind bald spots.
The possibility of traction alopecia doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid extensions, but it’s a good idea to only wear them for short amounts of time. This is another reason clip-ins can be so great for thin hair.
Additionally, if you ever experience any pain or irritation with extensions, take them out immediately.
If it’s thicker or longer hair you’re after, picking a type of hair extension isn’t the only means to the end. There are a variety of things you can do in the effort to boost your natural hair. Though it’s important to know that growing thicker hair doesn’t happen overnight.
Consider some of these options.
If your hair is thin thanks to hair loss, consider trying minoxidil on for size. It is an FDA-approved topical medication used to treat hair loss. It comes as a liquid solution or foam and is best known by its brand name, Rogaine®.
You've probably seen tons of hair vitamins and supplements being sold by influencers on social media. One common one? Biotin, a B vitamin known for encouraging healthy hair and growth — particularly in people with biotin deficiency.
One study suggested that taking biotin may produce faster hair growth in women dealing with thinning hair.
You can also get biotin from certain foods, like eggs, milk and bananas. If you don’t think you get enough in your diet, considering a supplement could help.
As we mentioned above, a diet filled with certain vitamins can help your hair.
For healthy hair, try to eat a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Helpful foods include salmon, nuts, oysters and more.
If your hair is on the thinner side, it’s understandable that you may want to investigate extensions. Not only can extensions add thickness, they can add length to your strands.
There are human hair extensions or types made with faux pieces of hair. Beyond what they’re made out of, there are different types of extensions and methods of application—and some are better for different hair types.
And choosing the right extensions for thinner hair is key. The type you sew into your natural hair may be too aggressive for thinner locks.
Instead, you’ll want to consider clip-in options or halo hair extensions (which are temporary extensions that can be removed at any time), or the types of extensions that are being bonded to small sections of your natural hair. The former, you can do yourself, but the latter will require the help of a trained professional.
In addition to extensions, there are other ways people with finer hair can boost thickness. From sticking to a healthy diet to taking medication or supplements, there are a number of ways you can amp up your thin hair.
Want to consider medication? The first step is to set up a consultation with a healthcare professional to discuss what you’d like your strands of hair to look like. He or she will be able to assess any hair damage and consider your hair texture to tell you what may be a good fit.