Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/13/2022
We’ve all had moments where we catch a glimpse of our hair in the mirror, only to notice that it’s looking a little thinner than usual.
A wide variety of issues can all contribute to limp hair that’s lacking in volume, from questionable hair care habits to hormonal issues, nutritional deficiencies and even problems like androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern hair loss.
The good news is that with the right mix of healthy habits, hair care products and, if appropriate, medications, it’s possible to give your hair a major boost in volume, regardless of your hair type, color or length.
Below, we’ve shared 12 techniques that you can use to increase hair volume and give your hair a thicker, fuller and healthier appearance, all without needing to spend a small fortune on costly hair care products and treatments.
Asking your stylist for layers is a classic way to create the appearance of thicker hair with extra volume, and for good reason — when it’s done right, it works.
Layers add an extra dimension to your hair, giving it the appearance of more volume when you style it carefully. Choosing a layered haircut can be a particularly effective way to add volume if you have hair that’s naturally fine or thin.
Just be careful not to have your hair textured too aggressively, as this can affect its shape and make it harder to manage.
One of the quickest and simplest ways to produce the illusion of more volume (but not actually any extra volume) is to switch the way you part your hair.
Some of us have a natural part line — an area of the scalp where our hair parts from left to right without any styling. Over time, it’s normal for your hair to lay slightly flat when it’s allowed to sit naturally.
To instantly add some volume, try parting your hair in the opposite direction, or creating a new part with a wide-toothed comb. Not only can this appear more dynamic — it can also give your hair a thicker, higher-volume appearance in just a few minutes.
Using a blow dryer is a quick and simple way to give your hair the appearance of extra volume, but there’s an art to doing it the right way.
If you need to quickly boost your hair volume, use the lowest setting on your blow dryer and hold it a reasonable distance from your hair. If your hair or scalp gets too hot, switch the dryer off for a moment and let your hair recover before you continue.
As we mentioned above, exposing your hair to excessive levels of heat can harm the hair shaft and increase your risk of dealing with broken or damaged hair.
This is especially true when it comes to hot combs, curling irons and flat irons, which apply heat directly to your hair to change its shape.
While using a straightener or curling iron strategically can create the appearance of instant extra volume, overdoing it can cause your hair to eventually look dull, damaged and — in an absolute worst-case scenario — even make your hair strands break prematurely.
To get the best results from these styling tools without the damage, use any heat-based tools as rarely as possible — ideally, once a week or less. When you use them, part your hair in sections and choose the lowest heat setting to minimize any harm to your hair cuticle.
A lot of your hair’s volume is genetic (meaning how many hair follicles you have and where they are located). Other aspects of your volume of hair are linked to healthy habits, such as the food you eat and/or how you care for your hair.
We’ve covered these more further down the page (they’re both seriously important, so it’s worth reading on to learn more about them).
However, one extra thing that you can do to create the appearance of more volume is to apply hair products that are formulated specifically with volume in mind.
These include thickening sprays, which use copolymers to attach to your hairs and make them look thicker, and styling products such as volumizing mousse and spray, which offer hold while giving your hair a stronger, more dense appearance.
The science behind these products ranges from mixed to nonexistent, but many stylists swear by them as quick and easy tools for creating extra hair volume (in addition to healthy hair care habits, of course).
Stress is terrible for just about every aspect of your health, from your cardiovascular system to your mind. It’s even terrible for your skin — something you’ve surely noticed if you’ve ever gone through an acne breakout during a stressful period in your life.
Not surprisingly, stress can have a serious impact on your hair. In fact, chronic or severe stress can cause your hair to temporarily become thinner due to the effects of a form of hair shedding called telogen effluvium.
This type of hair loss occurs when stress or other factors prematurely move your hair follicles into the telogen, or resting, phase of the hair growth cycle. It can cause diffuse hair thinning, which — needless to say — isn’t very good for your hair’s volume.
To prevent stress-related hair thinning, try to limit your exposure to situations that make you feel stressed.
This could mean limiting your time around people who make you feel stressed, or taking certain steps to deal with a stressful career. Or it could just mean engaging in some additional self-care whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Shampoo is essential for keeping your scalp clean, but it can cause your hair to become coarse and dull, especially when it’s overused. To give your hair a good combination of volume, visual impact and thickness, it’s important to use a conditioner after every wash.
To get the best results from conditioner, concentrate it on the tips of your hair, which often need the most protection from damage. Avoid applying conditioner to the full length of your hair, as it can potentially make it look limp and lifeless.
If you have naturally oily hair, you may want to try using a dry shampoo to keep it clean and stop it from feeling weighed down.
Dry shampoo works by reducing dirt, grease and naturally-occurring oil called sebum that builds up on your scalp and in your hair. As its name suggests, you don’t need to rinse your hair to use it — instead, it’s fine to apply it directly to dry hair.
While there isn’t any high-quality scientific research on the effects of dry shampoo, many people swear by it as a quick and simple tool for adding density and volume to your hair.
While diet won’t cause pattern hair loss in women (the type of hair loss that gives your thin hair around your part line), some nutritional deficiencies can contribute to shedding and reduced hair growth.
To keep your hair healthy and full of natural volume, try to eat a balanced diet that’s packed with hair-friendly vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other nutrients.
Good vitamins for preventing hair loss and promoting healthy hair growth include vitamins A, B, C and E. Deficiencies in some essential minerals, such as iron, are also linked to an increased risk of hair shedding.
The most effective way to take in these nutrients is to eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and other nutrient-rich foods.
You can also use products like our Multivitamin Gummies alongside a healthy diet to make sure you consume lots of hair-friendly nutrients.
Most importantly, avoid improper diets that restrict your nutrient intake or crash diets that require an abrupt, severe decrease in your protein intake, as these can potentially contribute to sudden hair shedding.
It’s not just heat and excessive brushing that can harm your hair shaft and make your hair look thinner — there are also numerous other common sources of hair damage that can stand in the way of the thick, voluminous look you want. These include:
Brushing or combing wet or damp hair. Even mild brushing can seriously harm your hair when it’s wet or damp. Wet hair is heavier and more fragile than dry hair, meaning it’s often easier to pull on the hair root and detach the hair from the follicle.
Using hair extensions or a weave. While weaves and hair extensions temporarily give your hair more volume, they can damage your natural hair and contribute to broken hair and hair shedding.If you want to use a weave or hair extension, choose something light and get it fitted by a professional. To minimize damage, avoid wearing a weave or hair extensions for more than three months at a time.
Contrary to popular belief, brushing your hair 100 or more times per day won’t make it thicker, stronger or add extra volume. In fact, excessive brushing is much more likely to damage your hair and achieve the exact opposite result.
When you brush or comb your hair, it’s easy to tug on the roots and cause your hair follicles to shed prematurely. This can leave you with a head that’s full of thin, patchy-looking hair lacking in coverage and volume.
Instead of brushing your hair as part of your daily routine, use a wide-toothed comb and brush your hair only when you need to style it. When you brush, make sure to avoid pulling on your hair follicles. It may help to divide your hair into sections, then brush each one individually.
Although hair loss is generally associated with men, it’s very possible to experience hair loss as a woman.
Several forms of hair loss can cause you to shed hair and lose volume, including female pattern hair loss (also referred to as androgenetic alopecia) and telogen effluvium — a form of shedding that’s caused by stress, infections, illnesses and nutritional deficiencies.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, you can stimulate growth with minoxidil, a topical medication that’s believed to work by stimulating blood flow to your scalp and moving your hair follicles into the anagen, or growth, phase of your natural hair growth cycle.
Minoxidil usually takes two to four months to produce results, but they can be very noticeable, especially if your hair was starting to look a little thin before treatment. The end result tends to be a thicker, fuller head of hair with plenty of additional volume.
While the right products and habits can add instant volume to healthy hair, if you have hair that’s noticeably starting to thin or showing signs of a potential illness, it’s best to talk to a specialist in scalp and hair care.
You can do this by asking your primary care provider for a referral, making an appointment with a dermatologist in your city or talking to a licensed medical provider online about women’s hair loss treatments.
Your healthcare provider may ask you to take a blood test to identify any issues that may have an impact on your hair’s thickness and volume.
This can help them to recommend the most appropriate form of treatment, whether it’s the use of medication, therapy or changes to your lifestyle.
We all want thick, healthy and voluminous hair, and the good news is that getting it isn’t as hard (or as expensive) as it’s often made out to be.
You can add immediate volume to hair by layering your hair, switching up your part location and using hair volume products, such as mousse or thickening spray.
However, you’ll get the best results by combining these techniques with healthy long-term habits for growing healthy hair, such as eating a balanced diet, limiting stress and, if necessary, using a hair growth medication such as minoxidil.
Worried about weak, fragile or thin hair? Our selection of women’s hair loss treatments have you totally covered, with proven products to help you stop hair loss, promote healthy hair growth and keep your hair looking and feeling strong, voluminous and healthy.