We didn’t want to be flat in middle school, and even as grownups, flat is still not what we want — whether it’s boobs or our crowning glory. If your strands are on the limp side of the spectrum, we’re here to give you science-backed tips for pumping up the volume.
In this article, you’ll learn the types of products to look out for, along with the best ways to style your strands for instant volume. We’ve got some holistic tips for achieving long-lasting body and thicker hair too.
Hair Volume 101 is now in session.
Repeat after us: The right haircare products are essential.
If your hair is falling flat, you’ll need to look for volumizing products to add a boost of body. Steer clear of mega-moisturizing formulas, as heavy hydrating ingredients can weigh strands down.
Instead, start with volumizing shampoo and conditioner containing ingredients like rice protein and biotin, which can add lift to fine hair. And it’s not as simple as lather, rinse, repeat. There’s a little technique to it.
Experts at the American Academy of Dermatology suggest this tip for shampoo and conditioner: Focus the shampoo on the roots, and when you rinse, let the suds run through the lengths of your hair. Use conditioner after every shampoo, but apply it only at the ends. Remember, we want those roots ready for lift-off.
Next, apply something like a volumizing mousse before blow-drying to give limp strands structure. If your hair is already dry, a blast of dry shampoo or texturizing spray can give it some grip and body so it doesn’t fall flat.
A favorite hairstylist trick to making hair appear thicker and more voluminous is to cover any sparse areas with a scalp powder. Hair powder can help create the illusion of fuller roots.
We also have tips for long-lasting fullness, so stay tuned.
It’s easier to add volume to your strands when they’re damp, especially at the roots. Add shape and body by flipping your hair upside down and blow-drying wet hair. Focus the nozzle of your blow dryer at the roots, and use a round brush to further lift up the hair from the follicle.
If this sounds like hand gymnastics to you, we get it. If that’s the case, using a blow dryer brush (a hair dryer with a round or flat brush at the nozzle) may be an easier way to add height.
Craving more body? Adding volume is easy with large velcro rollers, which can give more structure to flat hair or straight hair types. Make sure to wrap only small sections around each roller. It’s best to do this while your hair is still warm because as it cools down, it’ll hold shape better.
Think of how a cookie is pliable when fresh out of the oven but hardens and holds shape as it cools. When you unravel the rollers, your strands will have more lift from the soft curls the rollers created. Set with hairspray to lock in your look.
Lastly, switching your part can make a huge impact. When your hair is constantly brushed in the same direction, it can fall flat. Simply changing up the way it lays can add instant volume to your strands.
Now you know all the tips and tricks. But we all know hair can look voluminous and then fall flat pretty quickly.
Here are a few additional pointers to help you achieve a lasting hold:
Eat a balanced, hair-friendly diet. A balanced diet isn’t just for the gym bros. A nutritional deficiency may impact both hair structure and hair growth. Eat meals loaded with vitamins and minerals (i.e. choose lots of vegetables and fruits over processed foods).
While research is limited, being deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, such as iron, vitamin D or biotin, can result in hair loss. Your doctor can run lab tests to see if you have any, and a supplement can help address those needs. Learn more about the different types of foods for healthy hair in our blog.
Be gentle on your strands. Whether it’s heat damage or traction damage, abused hair can experience breakage and lack volume. You may want to ease up on tightly pulled back hairstyles.
Frequent slick buns or ponytails can cause thinning or ponytail hair loss. This form of hair loss (called traction alopecia) is caused by hairstyles that pull on the hair. Try looser styles to give your hair its fullest potential.
Check for hair breakage. If your hair feels dry or brittle and has been breaking easily, you could have hair breakage, which makes hair look thinner and flat. Minimize breakage by babying those hairs and avoiding aggressive treatments (more on that below).
Avoid hair damage. Damaged hair can be caused by frequent coloring, bleaching or even using a scorching hot curling iron or flat iron. One study showed that a hair dryer causes more surface damage than natural drying.
To lessen your chances of breakage, position your hair dryer about 6 inches away from the hair shaft. Preventing hair damage will help you have less hair breakage, in turn giving you fuller hair. Yeah, we know — what a cycle.
Use minoxidil for thinning hair. If you feel like your hair has been flatter than ever, you could be dealing with hair thinning. With fewer overall strands, hair can appear flatter and less voluminous than in its previous glory days.
Minoxidil drops are a topical solution containing 2% minoxidil. One of the most studied and effective hair loss treatments, it’s commonly sold under the brand name Rogaine®. Though the exact mechanism for growth is unknown, it’s believed to increase microcirculation near hair follicles and prolong the period your hair follicles go into the anagen phase (also known as the growth phase). In turn, it promotes faster, more effective hair growth. Minoxidil can also help maintain current hair density, which can be helpful, as many women tend to have thinning hair as they age.
Oral minoxidil is a once-a-day pill that helps kickstart hair growth by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles. If you don’t want to change up your hair styling routine, this may be a good option for you.
Topical finasteride and minoxidil spray is a hair growth spray containing both finasteride and minoxidil. The easy-to-apply solution helps reduce DHT and can be beneficial for women experiencing postmenopausal hair loss.
You now know you can build body that Jillian Michaels would be proud of. How to get more volume in hair may be a bit of an art, but it’s definitely possible.
Remember these tips to create more voluminous hair:
Use haircare products that can help add volume, and avoid heavy moisturizing formulas.
Blow dry your hair upside to add extra lift to the roots.
Switch up your hair part.
Eat a healthy diet.
Try a hair loss treatment if you feel like your hair is thinning.
If you think your hair loss may be a bigger concern, read our guide on female pattern baldness to learn more about potential root causes and treatments. To take out the guesswork, you can also start a consultation with a healthcare provider who can help you best understand what your hair actually needs.
We'd bet you're looking for how to get strong hair as well as more lift and volume — not sacrificing one for the other.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.
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