This is for the girls who seethe with jealousy every time they watch a Victoria’s Secret commercial. For the ladies who have tried every single thickening spray on the market. For the women who treat the detangling process like open-heart surgery, desperate to preserve every possible strand.
This one goes out to all of the thin-haired ladies of the world — I am one of you, and I feel your pain.
Yes, I’ve battled static-y, flat, flyaway hair my whole life… and it hasn’t been fun. However, in my years of experience, I’ve also gained some pretty good knowhow about the best ways to combat thin, flat, lifeless hair. And today, I’m going to share them with you!
Quick disclaimer before we begin: I’m no hair expert — I’ve never been to cosmetology school, and I’m definitely not a “beauty guru”, whatever that even is. These are just the tricks that have worked for me. (YMMV.) Share your own tips by leaving a comment!
Related reading: Want Perfect Hair in the AM? Try These Easy Hairstyles for Sleep
1. Avoid tangles like the plague.
When your ponytail’s diameter measures a half an inch, losing any strands to rough brushing is something you want to avoid. The problem is, thin hair is more susceptible to static and wind, which are both major contributors to tangly hair. Also, teasing combs and hairspray, staples in a thin-haired girl’s styling kit, can also cause serious tangling.
Of course, loading up on conditioner seems like an obvious fix. However, the heaviest, most tangle-busting formulas come with the unfortunate side effect of weighing down your hair, canceling out any natural bounce your locks may have. It’s a total catch-22.
However, all is not lost! After much trial and error, here are my best tricks for avoiding knots and tangles:
Brush your hair before you shower. Dry hair is stronger than wet hair, so de-tangling before you shower will preserve more strands.
Use good quality shampoo and conditioner. I swear by Peter Lamas’ Chinese Herbs Stimulating Shampoo and Conditioner, but I only use them every other wash because they’re kind of pricey. I really do think they’ve made my hair much fuller and thicker, and the conditioner is great for lightweight detangling.
Condition your hair, but don’t go overboard. Only apply conditioner to the bottom 2/3rds of your hair, and be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Spot-treat tough tangles with leave-in conditioner. There’s no need to weigh down your entire mane if there’s only a couple trouble spots.
Never brush wet hair!! It’s age-old advice for a good reason. If you have to detangle wet hair, a wide-tooth comb is much gentler than a brush, and you’ll have much less breakage.
Sleep with your hair in a loose braid or ponytail. I’m no stranger to those awful, dreadlock-like knots that develop behind the nape of your neck. Give your hair a quick brush before bed, and tie it back to avoid some trouble.
Invest in a satin pillowcase. If you always wake up to tangles, consider swapping your cotton pillowcase for a satin version. While cotton can rough up your hair as you toss and turn, satin reduces friction, meaning less breakage, fewer tangles AND better hair in the morning. Some even claim that satin pillowcases give you better skin!
2. Make your haircut work for you.
In my experience, it’s a myth that thin-haired girls can’t pull off certain haircuts. From long manes to chin-length bobs, I think you can pull off any style with a little bit of research.
When I had a bob haircut, I found that layering my hair worked best. Layers gave my hair a fuller appearance, and worked well with the styling I did with a large round brush and blow dryer. When my hair was short and cut more bluntly, it kind of gave me a weird, triangle-shaped news anchor kind of look. Not cute.
Now that I have long hair, however, I actually prefer fewer layers. I don’t want to take any volume away from my ponytails, braids, or curls, so I like to have as much hair as possible to play with. I typically don’t use a round brush when I blow dry anymore, so maintaining a specific shape isn’t as important.
However, this is just my experience: I’ve heard many girls say the complete opposite about their own cuts. My best advice is to talk to your hairdresser about your morning routine and your level of blow-drying knowhow. Together, you can come up with a great cut that will work with your hair.
3. Have some great styling tricks up your sleeve.
This is probably the most important arrow in a thin-haired girl’s quiver. There are hundreds of products out there that promise to solve your flat-hair problems. Although I’ve yet to discover a magic bullet, here are a few styling tricks that work well for me.
Make friends with dry shampoo.
Thin hair tends to get oily fast — there’s just not enough of it to sop up the amount that your head produces. However, constant washing and blow drying will cause breakage. To counter this, dry shampoo is an absolute lifesaver. Not only does it keep your hair looking clean and smelling fresh, but the powder gives your roots a ton of body, especially if you tease them a bit as well.
Although aerosol dry shampoos are really easy to use, I’ve found that they only last a couple weeks. Also, it’s hard to apply the amount that I like (and let me tell you, I lay my dry shampoo on thick!). I’ve found that powder forms, like my favorite, Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo (right), work best for me.
To apply dry shampoo, sprinkle a bit on your fingertips, flip your head upside down, and rub into your scalp in sections. Okay, so maybe an easier way to apply it is to use the convenient pointed nozzle and apply directly to your scalp, but I find that my way disperses the powder a lot more evenly. If you have dark hair, be sure to brush through so your hair doesn’t look gray-ish!
Boost your roots!
A fast and easy way to do this is by blow drying your hair upside down. Be sure to comb your hair really well first, to avoid tangling.
Another way to do this sans-product is to tease sections of your hair at the crown. I’ve found that teasing combs with three rows of teeth work miracles on my hair. (I’m an Oklahoma Sooner – it’s practically part of our uniform to poof the crowns of our heads!)
Another good way to add some volume is to spray in some product and go at your roots with a round brush and blow dryer. I’ve used Big Sexy Hair Spray Mousse (left) for probably ten years now, and it’s my absolute favorite root lifter on the market.
Think About Texture.
I have very straight, very slippery, thin hair. It makes curling my hair – or even giving it any form of body – very difficult.
About a year ago, I started spritzing my hair with beachy salt spray before blow drying it — and it has made a world of difference! It gives my hair twice as much volume, and curling it right then or the next day is easier than ever. Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, although very pricey, is the best salt spray out there.
Of course, this might only work because I have straight hair. If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, I imagine that blow drying salty hair could turn it into a crazy, frizzy mess.
If that’s the case, try rubbing a dab of smoothing cream through your hair instead, or even using a combination of salt spray and smoothing cream. Only use a little bit of cream so your hair won’t be weighed down, and blow dry either with a diffuser or a vented brush, depending on the kind of texture you want your hair to have.
4. Here are a few more tricks I’ve rounded up online…
- Some websites claim that you can add body to your hair by braiding/crimping the bottom layers and leaving the top (or the sections that you can see) straight. This sounds kind of like a crazy mess to me (not to mention time-consuming), but if you’ve tried it before, be sure to leave a comment and tell us about it.
- Other sources say that taking folic acid or other prenatal vitamins will make your hair grown in thicker and fuller. I’ve never tried this either, but my friend who does it says that she has to pluck her eyebrows and shave her legs twice as often, too… (Um, no thanks.)
- I’ve heard that massaging one’s head increases blood flow, which might stimulate your hair to grow faster. I don’t have the patience to try this and see if there are measurable results, but I can see how this might be somewhat helpful.
- Hair extensions are not only great for adding length – they can also add volume and mass. I briefly had glue-in extensions a few years ago, and while I loved how thick they made my hair look, it was hard to ever get my scalp feeling clean. Not to mention, when I removed them, my hair felt thinner and more damaged than ever. I’ve actually heard that clip-in extensions, like the popular HairDo extensions, are really easy to use and won’t damage your hair since they clip in and out so easily. Have you used extensions before? What did you think?
As a final thought, remember to embrace your hair for what it is. While you might get frustrated that you’ll never have the full, waterfall-like mane like the models on TV (who are almost all wearing extensions, by the way), know that there are hundreds of girls out there who are insanely jealous that your hair only takes five minutes to blow-dry.
You’re unique and beautiful in your own way, and now you have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to enhance what you already have!
Share Your Tips!!
Do you have thin hair, too? What tips and tricks can you share your your fellow CF ladies? Have you ever tried hair extensions before? Do you use any kind of special shampoos or hair products? How to you keep your hair tangle-free? Leave a comment and help us out!