“How to get thick hair?” is one of those lofty questions we wonder, like “how to get rich?” It seems almost like a fantasy, but our hearts pitter-patter for the dream. But how can we achieve said dream without joining an MLM? (We kid, kind of.)
While a genie may not be able to grant you this wish, we are hair experts and we have seven science-backed tips on how to make your hair thicker — or at least appear thicker — in a month. Read on to get the full scoop.
First, we’d like to preface that whether you have fine hair or thick hair, a little self-love for those strands (however little or many) goes a long way.
You may have noticed how hair near your root tends to look whole and intact while ends can get dull, broken or split over time. This is because that hair near the ends is older and has been exposed to the elements for a longer period of time. Your ends quite literally become the weakest link. But caring for both the hair near the root and the ends is crucial for thicker, fuller hair.
We know why you’re here. Here are seven tips to help your hair appear thicker, including:
Try a Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner
Keep Your Scalp Healthy
Be Gentler With Your Hair
Give Yourself a Little TLC
Eat a Healthy Diet
Manage Your Stress
Experiment with Hairstyles
Try Hair Growth Treatments
So, let’s dig in.
There are tons of shampoos and conditioners on the market, but does the one you choose really matter? After all, it gets rinsed out at the end of your shower.
It does matter, because different formulations can offer you different benefits. A volumizing shampoo and conditioner, for example, removes grime and buildup but it’s also designed with ingredients that can give limp hair some hold so it appears thicker.
Thickening shampoos and conditioners, along with other hair thickening products, tend to avoid the heavy moisturizers which can weigh hair down. You may also want to take a look at the label to avoid any harmful ingredients — if you’re on the sensitive side, ingredients like sulfates may trigger skin irritation.
A healthy scalp is the root of healthy hair (sorry, we had to!). Like we mentioned above, the shampoo you use matters. The right shampoo should effectively remove sebum, sweat, styling products and grime from your scalp.
It also matters how often you suds up. Some studies have indicated that infrequent washing can allow scalp sebum levels to increase and let hair products build up on your scalp. This can create scalp-related issues like itchiness or seborrheic dermatitis.
Just like how a good skincare routine is essential for a healthy complexion, make sure you’re including scalp care in your hair regimen. If you’re prone to a dry scalp and have noticed flaking, you can try an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. A hydrating scalp scrub with gentle sugar granules can also help slough away flakes.
Taking it easy on your strands can also help with thicker hair Minimizing bleaching, heat styling and tightly pulled back styles can help reduce split ends, frizz, hair breakage and loss of shine — and keep your hair strong and healthy. Even using your blow dryer less can help.
One study demonstrated using a pre-wash creme oil can offer promising results for maintaining the strength of the hair. This same study demonstrated regular use of coconut oil, which seems to penetrate the hair shaft better than other oils, can help prevent hair breakage. For even more help, try a hair mask.
Learn more about how you can repair chemically damaged hair in our guide. And if you need to heat style, make sure to use a heat protectant spray to fend off damage.
There’s some science that shows that while scalp massages can't cure hair loss, they may help with promoting hair growth. In the small but promising study, nine men received four-minute scalp massages daily. (Side note: how do we sign up for these studies?) After 24 weeks, hair thickness was shown to increase.
All the gym bros talk about a healthy diet for muscle gains. But did you know a healthy diet doesn't just feed your biceps? It’s also key for healthy hair growth.
One study found that females who used an omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplement for six months showed improvements in anagen hairs. These hairs in the growth phase of the hair growth cycle so that's definitely a plus. Additionally, telogen (resting) hairs decreased, while overall hair growth increased. And more hair growth means overall thicker-looking hair.
Here are some other foods to include in your meal prep:
Salmon and other types of fatty fish. These fish are rich in vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin is essential in various pathways related to hair growth and hair follicles.
Spinach. This leafy green is loaded with folate and iron. One study found that people with alopecia areata hair loss had significantly lower folate levels than the control group. The research suggests that higher folate levels may be associated with better hair growth.
Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, guava are all high in vitamin C, which plays a major role in the absorption of iron.
Get a more extensive list of foods for healthy hair in this article.
Has anyone ever told you to “calm down” and then you inevitably get into a cycle of getting more annoyed? Um, don’t shoot the messenger, but if you’re worried about thinning hair, managing your stress and channeling your inner zen may also help you get thicker hair.
Acute stress — whether it be from a toxic friendship, a sudden illness or loss of a loved one — can lead to sudden hair loss, known as telogen effluvium. Keeping your stress under control can lessen the chances of finding hair strands on your pillow and in your drain.
Ever wonder how celebrities have a bob one day and waist-length hair the next week? We can tell ya one thing, it’s definitely not just biotin. Many hairstylists will use extensions to make hair look thicker and longer (helllooo, Rapunzel dreams come true).
Since getting thicker hair is a journey, hair extensions, wigs and weaves can all temporarily add extra body and fullness. Learn more about hair extensions for thin hair and hairstyles for women with hair loss in these guides.
Prefer a more natural approach? Speak to your hairstylist about haircuts that work for your hair type. A chic bob (a la Anna Wintour, the queen of chic) may do more for you than longer hair.
Now, don’t freak out — using minoxidil or other hair growth treatments aren’t just for balding men. If your hair has been a little thinner than usual, hair loss treatments may help add the thickness you’re after. Whether you need a little oomph along your hairline or want to add some overall body, here are some treatments to consider:
2% minoxidil drops. This topical solution works by encouraging your hair follicles go more speedily into the anagen phase, promoting faster, more effective hair growth.
Oral minoxidil. For some people, oral minoxidil may be more effective than a topical solution. This once-daily pill has been found to show similar results to a 5% minoxidil topical treatment, although it’s only prescribed off-label for women.
Spironolactone. Studies have shown that this once-daily pill can also be helpful in treating female hair loss and promoting new hair growth. A prescription medication, spironolactone blocks androgen production, which in turn decreases the amount of DHT, the hormone that causes hair follicles to produce thinner, weaker hair follicles.
Getting thicker hair is definitely a process, so remember that patience is a virtue. While there are some instant boosts (like extensions), some of these tips can take up to 6 months to really show results. If you’re trying to chart a path to being full of it, know this:
Use the right hair care products, especially the shampoo you choose matters. It plays a key role in not just keeping your scalp clean, but also the overall health of your hair. Which brings us to…
A healthy scalp is the root to healthier hair, which can lead to thicker hair.
Be gentle on your hair — try to avoid bleaching, air-dry when possible and take a break from hot tools like your curling iron and flat iron.
Managing your stress and eating well can also play a role in the overall body of your hair.
Hair extensions or wigs can be a great temporary boost, especially for fine hair.
Hair loss treatments may help with any areas of thinning and lead to new growth that will boost thickness.
If you feel like you’re ready to up the ante for hair health, speak with a healthcare provider to get a personalized recommendation, with no waiting room boredom.
Sara Harcharik Perkins, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. She is the director of the Teledermatology Program, as well as the Associate Program Director of the Yale Dermatology Residency Training Program. Her research focuses on telemedicine and medical education. Her practice includes general medical dermatology, high-risk skin cancer, and procedural dermatology.
Dr. Perkins completed her undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania and obtained her medical degree at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed her medical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by residency training in dermatology at Yale University, after which she joined the faculty.
Ahmad, M., Christensen, S. R., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). The impact of COVID-19 on the dermatologic care of nonmelanoma skin cancers among solid organ transplant recipients. JAAD international, 13, 98–99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10518328/
Ahmad, M., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). Learning dermatology in medical school: analysis of dermatology topics tested in popular question banks. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 48(4), 361–363. https://academic.oup.com/ced/article-abstract/48/4/361/6869515?redirectedFrom=fulltext&login=false
Belzer, A., Leasure, A. C., Cohen, J. M., & Perkins, S. H. (2023). The association of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma with solid organ transplantation: a cross-sectional study of the All Of Us Research Program. International journal of dermatology, 62(10), e564–e566. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijd.16700
Ahmad, M., Marson, J. W., Litchman, G. H., Perkins, S. H., & Rigel, D. S. (2022). Usage and perceptions of teledermatology in 2021: a survey of dermatologists. International journal of dermatology, 61(7), e235–e237. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijd.16209
Asabor, E. N., Bunick, C. G., Cohen, J. M., & Perkins, S. H. (2021). Patient and physician perspectives on teledermatology at an academic dermatology department amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 84(1), 158–161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491373/
Belzer, A., Olamiju, B., Antaya, R. J., Odell, I. D., Bia, M., Perkins, S. H., & Cohen, J. M. (2021). A novel medical student initiative to enhance provision of teledermatology in a resident continuity clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. International journal of dermatology, 60(1), 128–129. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753449/
Cohen, J. M., Bunick, C. G., & Perkins, S. H. (2020). The new normal: An approach to optimizing and combining in-person and telemedicine visits to maximize patient care. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 83(5), e361–e362. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316470/
How it works
Not sure which products are right for you? Take our free Hair Quiz and get a personalized routine recommendation.