The Best Thickening Products For Thin Hair, According To Top Hairstylists
This post was originally published in May 2019 and has since been updated with new products.
Whether your mane has always been fine (thank you, genetics) or you’ve recently noticed that your hair seems to be thinning (a common issue for many women, caused by a multitude of different factors), the struggle is real when it comes to styling thin hair. But before you give up on the idea of big, bouncy curls or sexy bedhead, know that the right arsenal of body-building products can quickly plump up your strands. Here, top stylists share the best hair thickening products, starting with the scalp and working through the ends with a roundup of strengthening treatments, volumizing sprays, plumping mousses, and blowout creams. Your best hair days are yet to come!
The Best Hair Thickening Products
Styling products are helpful, but to really thicken your hair, it’s important to start in the shower. We’d never bash conditioner, but the truth of the matter is that it does weigh down your hair, especially if it’s fine or thin to begin with. If you want to consider skipping it, try this sudser. “Many of my clients with thin hair don’t like the weight of conditioner, so this 2-in-1 is a great option,” says Sara Kimberly Sembrat, a stylist at the Bob Steele Salons in Atlanta. “It really plumps the hair and adds density.” Credit negatively charged clay powder particles that bind to the hair fibers to create volume and texture.
Another product to try before reaching for your styling products is a scalp treatment. This leave-in spray uses Indian gooseberry and hydrolyzed keratin to support the health of the hair, soften strands, and reduce scalp irritation. But the star ingredient is red clover, which not only adds instant volume to the hair but also supports anchoring of hair fibers into the scalp, thus reducing fallout and giving hair a fuller appearance overtime. For best results, use it consistently, spraying directly onto the scalp and massaging it in to ensure even distribution; do not rinse.
This is a must-use for San Diego-based stylist and salon owner Jet Rhys before almost any blow dry. “To maximize the body-building results, split your hair into two-inch sections — three on top, two on either side, and four in the back of your head. Spritz the root area generously with this spray, then massage it in to ensure the roots are fully saturated,” she says. When blow-drying, use your fingers to gently pull strands up and away from your scalp: “This will help encourage major expansion of the hair,” she adds.
“Thickening products applied to dry hair tend to build the most volume,” explains Michelle Pasterski, a stylist at Mixed Co. Salon in Chicago. “This dry texture spray maximizes the diameter of the hair, while also absorbing excess oil and prolonging your style.” Win-win! To use, lift up small sections of your hair, spraying both at the roots and mid-shaft. “It adds an airy texture to everything from a pixie to beach waves and also works great to plump hair before an updo,” she says. You can also try Rhys’s trick with any dry texturizing spray: “As you spray, shake your head from side to side; this creates little air pockets that help make the hair look even fuller,” she says.
“Blow-drying this mousse into your hair leaves it thick and full, yet incredibly soft,” says Pasterski. It touts a long list of beneficial ingredients, such as panthenol to swell the hair shaft, conditioning vitamin E, and polymers that thicken and create a flexible hold. Pasterski suggest working a golf ball-size amount into damp hair at the root, working it downward. “Blow dry with a round brush for extra volume, or use a flat brush for a voluminous but polished look,” she says.
If you use hot tools on the regular, this product will become your hair’s BFF. The unique jelly texture doesn’t add weight to hair pre-styling and leaves strands soft, not sticky or tacky. As for its thickening abilities, the formula uses rice and soy proteins to provide some serious volume while apple stem cells strengthen the hair at the scalp and help prevent premature hair loss. Of course, it protects against heat damage and adds shine, too.
Alex Brown, a celebrity stylist in Chicago, mists a generous dose of this spray on damp hair from roots to ends before blow-drying. “It gives great volume without feeling sticky or weighing down the hair,” she explains. Bonus points for price (it’s the most affordable of the bunch), and the fact that it delivers some hold, too, making it choice to use before curling or flat ironing.
Hairstylists love that this thickening spray makes hair easier to style, giving it grip and texture, while also adding body to limp strands. The secret? A combination of thickening polymers wrap around each strand and extend, plumping hair and giving it a fuller appearance. The effects will be noticeable after blow-drying the hair with a round brush, but it also adds great bounce and all-day hold after using a curling iron.
“This delivers light and airy volume, and it actually plumps the hair cuticle,” says Sembrat. Credit hyaluronic acid, a molecule that helps hair attract and retain moisture, leaving it thicker and softer. Sembrat recommends applying a dollop the size of an orange on damp hair before blow drying; it may sound like a lot but, “you won’t feel any extra weight in your hair,” she says.
Similar to the old school baby powder method, minus that telltale white residue, this root powder adds lift and absorbs the excess oil that weights down hair between washes. Maltodextrin and silica add a clear film-like coating on the hair fiber, which gives the appearance of fuller, thicker strands. Ginger, ginseng, and biotin promote a healthy scalp, thus boosting the hair growth cycle.
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