Have you ever spent hours poring over your hairstyle, only to look in the mirror moments later and wonder, “Why is my hair so flat and lifeless?” Well, there’s no need to let flat hair get you down any longer—it’s possible to fight it with the right products, styles, and expert secrets at your disposal.
We spoke to Evanie Frausto, Redken celebrity hairstylist, and colorist Ryan Pearl, Redken ambassador, for their insight on changing your hair game for good. No matter your hair type or concerns, pay attention to these tips for more voluminous locks.
What causes flat hair?
A handful of things can sap the perkiness out of your hair. This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few common reasons you’re battling ho-hum hair days.
Flat hair tends to be fine and straight, which allows the natural oils from your scalp to travel more quickly down the hair shaft for a weighed-down look. On the other hand, the twists and turns of waves and curls make it more difficult for oils to reach the ends of hair, which is why these hair types are often bouncier, albeit drier.
Sebum, dead skin cells, and product residue on the hair and scalp can also add significant weight to strands so they fall limp.
Super-sleek or pin-straight hairstyles, hair that lacks layers or straggly ends in need of a trim can overemphasize your hair's flatness. That’s why it’s imperative to consult a professional to find a suitable cut for you and to know which hairstyles will ensure your tresses are voluminous and full of life in the long run.
Of course, your genetics, lifestyle, diet, and more may result in your hair type being fine or thin to begin with. This means your locks lack density, so flatness is inherent in your style. Luckily, some styling tweaks and the right salon-grade products can restore vitality to your lacking mane.
How do you fix flat hair?
We’re glad you asked! Here are 22 expert and industry secrets to help you pump up the volume.
Get regular trims.
“Longer hair weighs itself down,” says Frausto. “I think a haircut, in general, helps with flat hair, even if it's taking off just a bit of length to relieve the weight or adding some layers for texture.”
Opt for layers.
“I feel that layers are the best option for adding a lot of volume and bounce to hair,” says Frausto. “You can go really short with them or do something more like a shag to add a lot of volume and texture. Or you could keep it simple and add some longer layers and face-framing pieces. Even that little change will help to lighten up the hair and give great volume.”
One caveat, however, is that layers are not one-size-fits-all, so Frausto cautions you to be mindful of how short you want them to be.
“The shorter the layer, the more volume you'll get out of it because it's less weight dragging the hair down. If you're going for fullness, you'll want some short layering on top, but if you just want some bounce, you could do longer layers.”
Try a one-length bob.
You could go even shorter for more shape if you’re having trouble getting any volume whatsoever. One of the best ways to do so is with a blunt or one-length bob. The shape of these styles creates width and volume and directs the eye from left to right, giving you the appearance of thicker, fuller hair.
Consider getting bangs.
As long as you’re not afraid of experimenting with bangs, they’re an ingenious way to make your locks appear more voluminous. It’s all about the optical illusion: bangs create a distraction by automatically drawing the eye to the front of the hair, where it is the fullest, pulling the focus away from the rest of your flatter strands.
If you’re thinking of making the jump, here’s everything you need to know about the different styles of bangs, their upkeep, and the best stylers.
Styling your tresses is a big part of upgrading your locks from flat to where it’s at. Our pro has some tips on where to start to help reveal a newly lively mane.
Switch up your part.
Some of the smallest hair changes can make the biggest impact on the way your hair looks. Case in point: the deep side part. Switching to a deep side part is a quick and easy way to give your hair instant volume since it forces strands to lie opposite at the root, propping them up, so they appear fuller. This simple tweak is perfect for you if you have fine hair that’s known to fall flush against your head.
Master the art of the blowout.
“If you are struggling with flat hair, something like a blowout really helps to give your hair some bounce,” says Frausto. “A professional knows how to maximize fullness and volume while drying your hair.”
If a day of salon pampering is not always feasible, following these pro tips from our blow-dry guide can help you expertly recreate the ‘do in the comfort of your bathroom.
Don’t fear the round brush.
“Another great option is to go to your hairstylist and ask for their recommendation for a round brush set,” says Frausto. “Using a round brush set while blow-drying your hair will give you that bouncy, ‘90s supermodel look, even at home.”
Pro tip: When you use a round brush to blow-dry your hair, be sure to pull hair up with the brush, then blast heat from underneath to infuse body into each section of hair. When you get to the ends, finish them off by rounding them under.
Set your hair the right way.
For super straight or flat hair, Frausto likes to set hair with a bigger barrel curling iron (specifically 1.5 inches) or a hot roller set.
“A trick I use when styling my clients is keeping large rollers at the crown of the head to set the volume while I style the rest of the hair,” says Frausto. “[Then, I] take them out when the rest of the look is finished.”
Pro tip: Avoid over-straightening your hair if you are dealing with flat hair, which could cause damage and make your hair feel limp if you overdo it.
Don’t be afraid to tease.
Craving sky-high volume, especially at the crown of your head? Consider teasing. This method, also known as backcombing, involves using a fine tooth comb to gently comb the hair down toward your scalp, causing hair to slightly tangle and create a voluminous final look.
It’s wise to exercise caution when enlisting the help of this technique to ensure hair doesn’t break or become matted, so we suggest checking out our guide to teasing hair to learn how to do it in the safest way possible.
Make beachy waves.
Typically, beachy waves (or curls in general) will always add extra body to fine hair by “expanding” the look of your mane.
Whether you use a curling wand or flat iron to score the look, be sure to alternate waving the hair forwards and backward while maintaining the iron in a vertical position throughout the process to add the most natural-looking definition. Don’t forget to set the beachy ‘do with texturizing spray!
Extensions are your friend.
Faux hair has come a long way in the past few decades. No matter what final look you are going for, there’s a hairpiece for everyone.
Struggling to maintain fullness and density on top of your head? Consider a hair topper. These smaller, wig-like pieces can be customized by shape, size, hair color, and length to provide extra coverage at the roots, add thickness, or conceal the sides and the back of the scalp.
If you have thin hair and are looking for a hair extension method that will put as little stress on your fragile strands as possible, pros often recommend clip-in extensions and wigs for an instant volume boost. Clip-ins help fill out your hair and are meant to be removed before you go to sleep, so they minimize time spent tugging on your roots, while wigs allow you to keep all of your thin strands tucked up and away, requiring little to no pressure on them.
Who knew it was possible to create the look of more volumized flat hair with strategic color choice and placement? Surprisingly, coloring your hair also has another added benefit of “roughing up” the cuticle, making flat hair better able to hold a voluminous style. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
Ask for a contrasted root.
“I like to keep a little more depth at the root to create some coverage to the scalp,” says Pearl. “If the color is too blonde directly to the root, the hair will appear more transparent.”
Pick a coloring technique.
“Having a color with some varied dimension throughout the hair will help as well,” says the Redken colorist.
Contour your hair.
One step further than your usual coloring service, hair contouring is when your stylist utilizes light and dark colors to create shadows that will complement your face shape and add the ultimate depth to your hair.
There is no specific science to achieving the perfect hair contour since no two faces or heads of hair are the same. A seasoned colorist can suggest a contouring plan that works best with your face shape.
Hair Care Tips
Using the right products is essential for flat hair and can make or break your hair care routine.
Opt for volumizing shampoo and conditioner.
What you use to wash your hair can be your first line of defense against fall-flat hair.
The line contains a volume-boosting blend of Filloxane, as well as softening and silicone polymers that help add volume and body to fine, flat, or over-processed hair.
Skip heavy products.
Knowing which products not to use on flat hair is almost as important as stocking your shower with the right ones.
“If your focus is volume, I would avoid using too many oils, heavy conditioners, or leave-ins. Hair masks should be kept to a minimum,” says Frausto. “Any product that is greasy or adds too much weight is going to diffuse any existing volume rather than add it.”
Try reverse hair washing.
We’ve been conditioned (no pun intended) to follow up our favorite shampoo with its matching conditioner, but what if we told you that swapping these steps could help outsmart limp and lifeless hair?
Known as reverse hair washing, this method theorizes that by conditioning your hair first, your strands will more easily absorb the nourishing and hydrating ingredients. Shampooing afterward also helps remove some of the heaviness of the conditioner coating your hair, which may potentially weigh strands down. The result is said to be shinier, softer, and more voluminous hair.
Whether you reverse wash your hair or do so the classic way, stick to conditioning your ends only to help prevent your hair and scalp from becoming greasy.
Look for a quick-dry heat protectant.
You’re likely the proud owner of a hair dryer, curling iron, and flat iron, but excess exposure to their high temperatures can make hair brittle, fragile, and more susceptible to falling flat.
Stylists recommend using any hot tool at its lowest setting and priming your hair with a heat protectant like Redken Quick Blowout Heat Protecting Blowout Spray. Its flash-drying formula protects hair from heat damage by cutting down on how much time it takes to dry your hair. Plus, it’s packed with rich oils to control frizz and nourish every strand.
Say yes to thickening sprays.
“If you want to blow dry your hair, I would recommend the Redken Volume Maximizer,” explains Frausto.
This lightweight volumizing spray can be used on air-dried or blow-dried hair and has a crunch-free finish.
“[It’s] an amazing thickening spray that really lifts at the root. I love using it on my celebrity clients,” he adds.
As we outlined above, excess buildup can result in hair falling flat. If that’s the case, we recommend swapping in Redken’s Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo every few shampoos. This cream shampoo purifies your hair, removing minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, and calcium, all found in hard water, as well as excess oils, pollution residue, and buildup of product.
Pro tip: For extreme buildup, let this shampoo sit on hair for five to ten minutes before rinsing, and then follow up with your favorite conditioner.
Rely on dry shampoo.
“If you have an oily scalp or hair, using Redken’s Deep Clean Dry Shampoo is a great way to help absorb that oil and keep your blowout looking fresh for days,” says Frausto. And oil absorption = a fast volume boost that revitalizes the look of flat hair.
For best results, spray dry shampoo to the roots, flip your head forward and work a bit more through strands starting at the nape of the neck. While your hair is still flipped over, continue moving up to the top of the head while using your fingertips to gently massage the formula into the scalp.
Use a texturizing spray.
“If dry shampoo isn’t your favorite, Redken’s Dry Texture Finishing Spray also adds volume while absorbing some oil,” he says.
Using texturizing spray will be a bit different than dry shampoo, however. Spraying it too close to the hair or scalp, or using too much of it in general, can backfire and make locks stiff, so building it gradually is key. Be sure to spray texturizer an arm’s length away, then tousle it into your hair as you’re misting it throughout the rest of your head.
For more professional products and expert advice on revitalizing flat hair, head to Hair.com.