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Thinning Hair? There’s a Style Fix for You
Jun. 03, 2022
Full-fill your wishes for a more voluminous mane with our pro tips
It’s a factor of aging and hormonal dips in perimenopause, but thinning and disappearing strands do not need to dictate your look. A good cut, some smart maintenance, and a few strategies can work magic to create the illusion of a fuller head of hair.
Want fuller hair? Start at the scalp
Making sure the hair you do have is strong is step one in your mission to build more volume. A healthy scalp is the answer, says Helen Reavey, a trichologist and founder of Act+Acre hair care, who swears by three key habits:
1. Exfoliating regularly to remove dead skin cells, excess sebum, and product buildup so follicles have a clear path to receive the nutrients they need to be productive.
2. Eating a diet of vitamin- and mineral-rich whole foods, good fats, and less sugary junk, to supply those necessary nutrients (or supplement with a daily gummy that also has biotin to boost beauty effects)
3. Giving yourself regular head massages to rev blood flow and deliver oxygen to your strands.
What this looks like—a couple of times a week, apply a salicylic-based exfoliant (it’s less aggressive than a scrub), like Act+Acre Cold Processed Scalp Renew, by massaging with your fingers or a scalp Gua Sha to prompt circulation. For a good follow-up, add a serum designed to hydrate the scalp and rejuvenate the follicles to produce more robust hair growth. Try Act+Acre Cold Pressed Stem Cell Serum or Curlsmith’s Scalp Stimulating Booster.
If you want in go further with a second serum that specifically bolsters thinning hair, I.C.O.N. 5.25 Hair Growth Replenisher has ingredients that naturally fortify strands for a fuller mane. And to give extra oomph to strands, consider biotin, an essential vitamin that promotes keratin formation for strong hair, such as in the Phenology Beautiful Day gummies, designed to be taken every morning.
The hair washing changes to make for fuller hair
Expect some trial and error when it comes to finding your sweet spot with shampooing since it’ll depend on how often you use styling products that can build up residue, the amount of oil you naturally produce, and lifestyle (for instance, how often you’re getting sweaty at the gym). But there are some basic guidelines:
“If your hair is naturally coily or kinky, wash at least once a week to remove follicle-blocking buildup on the scalp,” says Jennie Roberts, celebrity hair stylist and textured hair educator in Manchester, England. “Washing too infrequently deprives hair of moisture, which you want to keep hair flexible so it doesn’t snap when you’re styling and exacerbate the thinning problem.”
Roberts recommends Curlsmith’s Detox Kit, which includes a Primer that creates a shield around the hair shaft to protect its moisture, a Wash&Scrub to deep clean and exfoliate the scalp, and a Calming Conditioner to rebalance moisture levels. For fine, straight hair that gets limp quickly, you’ll likely want to bump it up to a couple of washes a week, says Devin Rahal, a stylist in New York City. “And use a volumizing shampoo to plump the hair cuticle and give some lift.” Rahal loves Hair Story (Deep) New Wash, which cleans thoroughly, but also conditions. And be kind to your hair, implored Roberts. “Consider letting it dry naturally to prevent damage. And when styling, use less tension that tugs on your strands and causes breakage,” she says. “Remember, your hair density isn’t the same anymore, so reduce the amount of product you’re using overall. Too much makes hair look limp and lank, the opposite of full and voluminous.”
Roberts also warns against heavy oils that claim to help hair grow. “Our scalp is very clever at creating its own perfect environment when simply given the nutrients it needs,” she says.
Best haircuts to help hair look more full
If you’re straight or wavy:“Truly, the hands-down best cut for you is a pixie, which is so chic if you’re willing to go there,” says Rahal. “Straight hair just doesn’t have the natural texture to give it lift, so this close crop adds the body you need, and hides any area where you can see scalp.”
Not all pixies are the same, you have options: Soften the look by keeping the hair at the top and bangs a bit longer and swept to one side, or go strong with a striking Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby” style. Do note that you’ll need trims more often than you would with long hair since too much growth will cause the style to lose its shape and look uneven.
“If you have some wave or texture, a wolf cut looks amazing, and is absolutely universal,” says Rahal. Essentially, it’s a modern short shag that’s structured with choppy pieces towards the bottom and layers around the crown to pump it up. “To keep it from becoming a mullet, make sure there’s a solid fringe around the bottom, not wispy razored strands that hang only in the back,” he says. “This cut is so easy to pull off because it’s loose and flowy. It also really helps hide a receding hairline.”
Another style that’ll enhance the hair you have: a bob, just above the shoulder. “Get the ends cut so the shape is sharp and angular—having all your hair end at the same point creates the illusion of width. And if your hair is super thin, add some layers that you can zhuzh up and give lift while still keeping that blunt cut razor-sharp. If your hair is super straight, go in knowing you’ll need to commit to some product to help with the body.” Rahal loves Hairstory Lift Volumizing Spray to thicken the strands; for more oomph, he goes with DESIGNME PUFF.ME Volumizing Powder. Then blow dry in the opposite direction of where you want your hair to lie to add lift.
Another trick Rahal gets behind: Hair pieces. “Halo Couture makes really easy add-ons in all colors that give you additional hair to play with, look super natural, and are held in by the tiniest headband, so they’re comfortable,” he says. You’ll need to buy them through a stylist, so contact Rahal at devsdoeshair.com to purchase. If you’re coily, curly or kinky: Deciding on a hairstyle when your hair is thinning can be heartbreaking, says Roberts. “I’ve been there and personally I opted for a short cut to give me more volume and not hang on to hair that made me unhappy every morning.” It’s a good rule of thumb for anyone battling a mane shortage. When thin, ringletty hair is long, the curls aren’t supported enough and gravity weighs them down, robbing you of volume. You’ll have more luck with an elegant compact, sculpted haircut, says Roberts.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be short short, but bring it above the shoulders so it holds a sharper shape and gives the illusion of density.” And consider adding some layers to bring height to the crown and put more bounce in your curls. But razoring or slicing ends is a definite no, she says. This compromises the texture and just adds to the thinning appearance.
“Afro textured hair has the beautiful quality of being three dimensional, so it’s slightly easier to create the mirage of being thicker than it is,” says Roberts. The same short-and-sculpted strategy holds true, and make sure hair is always hydrated so it’s soft and springy.
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