Don’t punish your hair with a perm or excessive backcombing. Find out how to volumize hair with the right cut, styling techniques and products.
The Dilemma Of Fine and Flat Hair
You can easily bulk up your hairstyle by backcombing, but constant teasing leads to hair breakage and a dull, lifeless appearance, and that’s where the vicious cycle begins.
If you think styling products that promise extra volume can solve the problem, you’ve been misled: the coating that volumizing products deposit on hair to thicken it only weighs fine hair down. Such products are not actually meant to turn fine hair into thick hair, but thick hair into big hair.
So, it’s back to square one: either grab the rat-tail comb or get a permanent wave, which is the worse thing you can do to your hair. It’s a dilemma, but there are ways to add volume to fine hair without damaging it.
How to Volumize Your Hair
Fine hair always looks good if it has a natural breeziness. You get it by frequent washing. If your hair condition is normal, you can wash as often as you like, provided you use the least possible amount of shampoo. If you wash daily, lather only once.
Volumizing shampoos and conditioners are best avoided. Similar to styling products designed to volumize hair, they coat each strand with a residue intended to create an impression of thickness. Unfortunately, this weighs fine hair down leaving it flat and limp.
For dry or normal hair, use mild shampoos and conditioners containing panthenol, a substance that moisturizes without making hair heavy.
Because of their drying effect, shampoos specifically for fine hair are only appropriate if your hair is oily.
Regardless of condition, rid hair of product build-up once a week with a clarifying shampoo. Always lather twice. A fango hair mask in conjunction with a clarifying treatment lends super body and is recommended for all hair types.
A good alternative to frequent washing is dry shampoo, especially if your hair is oily. Spray the product onto your roots, massage with a towel, then brush out. This freshens and gives a slight lift at the crown. Dry shampoos of today shouldn’t leave a powdery finish.
Mousse, Styling Lotion, Hairspray etc.
For natural looking body and bounce, make sure styling products–like hairspray, mousse and styling or setting lotion–are designed for fine hair. These deliver a coating substantial enough to bolster style, but light enough not to weigh hair down.
Volumizing powder offers instant volume, and is fantastic for updos that usually only turn out well if hair hasn’t been washed for a day or two.
The powder makes hair appear denser by adding a rough coating which builds friction, causing hairs to ‘stick’ to one another. This allows you to successfully create updos on freshly washed hair with the added bonus of considerable volume. Who could ask for more?
On the downside, however, volumizing powder leaves a tacky, cotton candy-like texture and a matte finish–not for you if you prefer shine and a natural feel. You can get around this to some degree by restricting the product to your roots if all you want is a little lift.
Products like styling wax and finishing or shine sprays are too heavy for fine hair and result in flatness.
Hot & Cold Drying
After washing, apply mousse or styling lotion while your hair is only slightly damp, then continue to dry pointing the heat flow against the direction of hair growth, especially where volume is particularly needed. When your hair is absolutely dry, let it cool before styling further. This ‘sets’ the volume. Hair that is not completely dry, or hasn’t been allowed to cool, collapses moments after styling.
Although heat swells hair, holding your blow dryer too close to fine hair or drying too hot results in a dull, frizzy, fly-away texture.
Heated rollers are great to volumize hair. Unless you want curls or waves, choose the largest possible size according to your hair length. They only work on dry hair, and are especially good to add volume and shine after drying or between washes.
You can also put velcro rollers in dry hair and heat them with a hairdryer, but look out for velcro ‘sleep-in’ rollers. They’re a great way to volumize hair overnight which saves time in the morning.
Teasing might create big hair, but it can also make a tangled mess and cause a lot of damage. Backcomb only if you must and only where extra volume is needed after drying. To avoid tangles, knots and breakage, backcomb as close to the root as possible.
Women with fine hair can’t wear every hairstyle. Chin and shoulder length styles in a blunt cut work best. Try a dishevelled bob for maximal body.
Length weighs down the crown, so the longer your hair, the more layered it should be. Long layers create volume without making hair appear thin.
Feathered styles and very short cuts make fine hair look sparse.
Permanent and semi-permanent coloring products with hydrogen peroxide lift the scales of the hair cuticle which roughens texture. This has two effects: one, it makes each hair seem thicker, thus creating an overall voluminous impression; two, it generates friction between individual hairs causing them to cling to one another which buoys up style.
Highlights and Lowlights
Hairdressers can strategically place highlights and lowlights to create an illusion of depth and body.
Temporary coloring products–the type that wash out after two or three shampoos–make hair appear thicker by coating it with a weightless, tinted film. They also condition, lend shine, and offer a ‘foundation’ for easier styling.
Henna is a vegetable dye available in various shades of black, brown and red. It’s the most effective coloring treatment to volumize hair, but the effect is short-lived: a couple of washes at most, even though it’s several weeks until the color has completely faded.
Henna is unsuitable for light and gray hair, and cannot be dyed over with chemical coloring products.
Big, Healthy Looking Hair!
You’ve now hopefully discovered a way out of the ‘fine and flat hair dilemma’. There really is no need for a perm or excessive backcombing with the many alternative solutions available to volumize fine hair. That means you, too, can enjoy big, healthy looking hair!