Thicker-looking hair is on nearly everyone’s list of hair goals. But you have very little say in whether that’s your reality. Genetics, environmental stressors, and diet can all play a role in your hair's health (and thickness).
Luckily, plenty of temporary fixes are available to help your hair look and feel thicker, not to mention healthier-looking. Combining new habits, tools, and styling products can help you rethink your current hair routine and efforts toward a fuller appearance.
Whether you're dreaming of a voluminous ponytail or bountiful waves, we've got you covered. With our editor-approved advice, you'll be sporting thicker-looking hair in no time.
Here's a sneak peek at what you'll learn:
- The secret to volumizing your roots
- Styling tricks that will make your hair look fuller
- Salon-grade volumizing treatments
Ready to ditch the flat hair blues? Let's get started!
Start with your brush.
The natural oils from your scalp can build up on your hair and weigh down your mane at the root. The result is locks that look limp (this can happen even if your hair is naturally full). As for the solution, it might surprise you with its simplicity. All you have to do is switch your hair brush from a paddle brush to an inexpensive boar bristle brush. The bristles may help distribute the oil throughout your hair more evenly, making your strands seem less weighed down and more voluminous.
Editor tip: Make sure you’re brushing dry hair, not wet, to avoid unnecessary breakage.
Master your brushing technique.
Breakage happens to all of us, but minimizing it can help your hair appear thicker. Roughly brushing your hair is one common culprit behind undue breakage. Next time you reach for your brush, remember how fragile each strand really is. To be more gentle, we like to place a hand mid-hair shaft, then brush in small strokes. Start with your ends and slowly work your way up to the root. Easy does it.
Choose the right hair care system.
Every shampoo and conditioner duo has a main benefit, whether that’s clarifying or adding shine. If thickness is your main concern, choose a system that claims to be “volumizing” or “densifying.” Kérastase Densifique Shampoo + Conditioner Duo is formulated to do both. The result is hydration and renewal of hair texture to recover bounce, amplification of thickness and body to generate lushness, and fortification of the fiber to preserve hair integrity. As for men with thinning hair, you’ll love Kérastase’s Genesis Homme lineup—it’s editor-tested, too!
Pro tip: The way you use the system is just as important as the formulas, so pay close attention to the instructions on the back of both bottles.
Wash hair in the morning.
Washing your hair after you wake up (and your pillow has smushed your strands all night) can help boost moisture and volume. It also helps remove any product buildup left behind from yesterday that’s starting to weigh your hair down. You may have to adjust your morning routine a bit, but it will be oh-so-worth-it!
After you wash your hair, consider a treatment like Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate 5-Min Liquid Mask—perfect for when you’re pressed for time but need good-for-your-hair ingredients. You only need five minutes for it to soak in, repairing damage deep inside the follicle. (See why it’s one editor’s go-to!)
Editor tip: Try reverse hair washing! The trend promotes conditioning your hair first—it’s theorized that your strands will absorb nourishing and hydrating ingredients more easily. Shampooing afterward helps remove some of the heaviness of the conditioner, which coats your hair and can potentially weigh it down.
Exfoliate your scalp.
Scrubbing away product, environmental buildup, and dead skin cells (especially if you’re dandruff-prone) with a scalp exfoliant can help leave your hair feeling lighter. Kérastase Scalp Renewal Micro-Exfoliating Scrub purifies without stripping, lifts roots, and revitalizes hair. While you exfoliate, work in a scalp massage, too. It’s a great form of self-care, and some research suggests regular scalp massages can even encourage growth.
Limit hot tools.
Your blow dryer, curling iron, straightener, and diffuser are great for immediate satisfaction when it comes to making hair look thicker, but they can also cause damage. Breakage and split ends will likely follow, leaving hair even more limp.
Try not to use your hair tools every day, and adjust the settings to be on low heat. You can also consider healthier alternatives like the SteamPod by L'Oreal Professionnel. It styles two times faster using the gentle power of steam.* Check out our how-to guide on everything you need to know about the innovative multi-styler.
Editor tip: Choose several days a week to air dry your hair. To style air-dried hair, we love applying a texturizing product like Matrix Builder Wax Spray. It’s an aerosol wax with a satin-matte finish that enhances the hair's natural shape for an effortless, tousled look. No heat is needed.
*Compared to Steampod without steam and comb (heating plates only)
Don’t skip on heat protectant.
When you do heat style your strands, make sure to safeguard them against damage with a heat protectant. Before hitting the “on” button for your hair drier, apply Kérastase Résistance Ciment Thermique, which helps protect damaged hair during blow dry sessions.
Try a density spray.
Scoop up a treatment like Biolage Full Density Spray to help leave hair fuller-looking and thicker-feeling on those blow-dry days you can’t resist. Formulated with biotin, the spray works on the hair's surface to increase the diameter of existing strands, leaving hair feeling 84 percent thicker without feeling weighed down.* Our editor loves the stuff!
Here’s our favorite way to use it:
Apply a generous amount to damp hair, focusing on the roots.
Blow dry your hair upside down to create lift and volume.
Finish with a cool shot of air to set the style.
*Full Density Densifying Spray vs. non-conditioning shampoo
Find a go-to texturizing product.
We live and die by dry texturizing sprays, and they’re about to change your life, too. Like a magical combination of dry shampoo and mousse, the right product can help your hair feel bouncier, sexier, and (of course) thicker. And unlike a density spray, you can use these sans the blowout. This stuff doesn’t mess around, so don’t be surprised if you become addicted.
Need a starter product? Try Redken’s Dry Texture Spray—formulated with oil-absorbing starches to create airy volume and lift without buildup or crunch. Or opt for Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s Wata Wave Texturizing Spray to get a windswept effect with a long-lasting, flexible hold.
Backcomb for extra volume.
Southern girls can attest to the fact that teasing hair is truly a way of life, particularly if you can get the technique down. First, separate a top layer of hair that will best hide the teasing—it’s best to consider your hair part for this. Using a comb, choose 1-inch sections around the crown and gently comb the hair toward the root. Slow and steady is the best strategy, especially since you want to minimize damage.
When each teased section is finished, gently comb that top layer you separated earlier over the teased sections to hide them. We like to finish with a light spritz of hairspray to ensure your amped-up ‘do stays in place.
Editor tip: Practice teasing your hair in front of a mirror so you can see exactly what you’re doing. Every stroke of the comb is important, especially on hair that feels thin.
Choose hairstyles and accessories wisely.
If you prefer to style your hair up versus leaving it down, do away with tight elastic bands. They can contribute to breakage, making your hair look more limp and less thick. Opt for silk scrunchies or a stylish claw clip instead—there are plenty of ways to wear both so that you can switch up your look. For those who like to let their hair hang loose, hair accessories like headbands and scarves can help to add volume and style to thin hair.
Your haircut matters.
The next time you pull hairspiration to bring to the salon, look for hairstyles with layers. Layers can help to add volume and movement to hair. Avoid hairstyles that are too heavy or flat. Styles like blunt cuts and one-length haircuts can weigh down thin hair and make it look flatter.
Invest in a set of extensions.
It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many women never really consider extensions a viable option. There’s no better guarantee that your hair will look thicker than actually adding more hair to your head, whether that’s through clip-ins or keratin-bonded extensions.
Whatever your preference, we understand that the world of extra hair can be overwhelming for newbies. Your best option is to talk to your stylist to review your choices (don’t forget to share a rough estimate of how much you’d like to spend).
Sleep tight, but never on your ends.
Here’s a lesser-known tip that’s worked wonders for our hair over the years: Before going to sleep at night, we recommend tying back your hair with a no-crease elastic. This genius hack makes your hair look and feel thicker in two different ways. First, you can avoid the static and stress potentially put on hair when it’s dragged across your pillow for eight hours a night. Secondly, sleeping with your hair in a loose side braid or topknot is a heat-free way to wake up with bounce and a gentle wave.
Editor tip: Skip sleeping in a ponytail. A pony doesn’t protect your ends and may leave you with an unfortunate crease.
Ask a professional.
Real talk: It’s not healthy for your mind, body, or hair to stress out over your hair. If breakage, hair loss, or general thinness is getting you down, it may be time to take your concerns to a professional. Schedule an appointment with your tried-and-true dermatologist for more clues about what may be happening. Use our salon locator to speak to a pro near you.
Looking for more expert hair tips? Hair.com has all the professional tutorials and products to keep your mane looking its best.