Dos And Don'ts For Lookin' Fine With Fine, Thin Hair

Fine hair care that turns the volume up to 11.
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Christina P.
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Fine hair care that turns the volume up to 11.

Fine hair can be shiny and soft, but it's also a lot like owning a fancy silk shirt. Sure, it's gorgeously touchable, but there are very specific care instructions. As much as you might want to, you can't just throw that silk shirt in the dryer.

"Fine" Versus "Thin" Hair

Fine/Coarse: This defines the diameter of the hair shaft. If the individual hairs are narrow, they're fine. Hairs with a larger diameter are coarse.

Thin/Thick: This references how much hair you have on your scalp. If the hair density is low, your hair is thin. If you have a high hair density, not a lot of visible scalp, then your hair is thick.

Each hair type has its good points, though female beauty standards have seemingly favored a long, thick mane. (Otherwise, hair extensions wouldn't be such a booming industry.) As someone with both fine and thin hair, this used to make me a bit self-conscious. But the grass is always greener on the other scalp! 

Here's what I've learned about getting my fine hair to look its best.

short fine hair

This is it! This is all the hair I have on my head.

Avoid Harsh Shampoos & Heat Tools That Aren't Adjustable  

Fine hair gets damaged more easily than coarse hair. Don't use harsh shampoos, and focus cleanser on the roots and conditioner on the ends. Just like you wouldn't dry your silk shirt on high heat, avoid super-hot styling tools. If you do prefer heat styling, try to find tools that allow you to adjust the heat output--and crank it way down. You'll also want to keep your hair healthy with frequent trims, to remove any damaged ends. 

Resist The Urge To Wash Your Hair Every Day 

If your hair is fine or thin, chances are that it also gets oily pretty quickly. So while you'll want to wash your hair every day, you must resist this urge. (I am slowly getting better at this.) Try to give your hair at least a day between washings. Find a good dry shampoo and tough it out till you and your scalp adjust. I'm starting to prefer my hair on non-wash days--and I can sleep later!

And while no amount of products or styling will actually increase your natural hair density, keeping your scalp in good condition helps your hair grow as healthfully as it can. If your hair is actively thinning or falling out excessively, please see your doctor. Thinning hair could just be genetic, but it's also a symptom of vitamin deficiencies or thyroid issues.

Choose The Right Volume-Building Tools & Products 

Volume is the biggest challenge for folks with fine or thin hair. We just don't have as much to work with as other hair types, so this is where the magic has to happen.

Round brushes with gentle bristles and a warm/cool hair dryer with a concentrator are probably your best styling bet. Heavy moisturizing serum or cream, especially applied at the root, will just weigh your hair down. Stick with light products, such as spray or mousse. It's kind of obvious, but you'll want all of your washing and styling products to be of the volumizing variety. Hydrolyzed wheat protein is a common volumizing ingredient.

I've also recently fallen in love with volumizing powders. It’s not quite dry shampoo--the powder is loose and has a subtle sticky quality. It works very well for creating a bit of oomph while standing in the office bathroom right before heading to happy hour.

Don't Tease! And Use Hot Rollers Instead Of A Curling Iron 

Teasing, while it can build volume, causes damage. For special occasions, I prefer hot rollers over curling irons, since they don't get as hot. And you can catch up on your messages or sip some coffee while they set! Take them out and spray your hair to make the defined curls hold. Or you can use wider rods, gently brush out the loose curls, and have better overall body.

hair in curler rollers

Not your grandma’s curlers--though I can’t say the same about the robe.

Think Twice Before Getting A Razored Cut 

A classic bob can make fine hair look fuller and frame your beautiful face. Blunt cuts or long layers help keep the ends from looking too thin. Beware of styles that involve thinning or razoring your hair. Stylists who are unfamiliar with fine or thin hair may suggest this to add body, but I've never found that removing hair creates the illusion of more hair.

Hair Accessories Are Your Friend 

Don't shy away from snazzy headbands or quirky clips. Rather than bobby pins, which may slide out if your hair is fine enough, look for clips that either snap into place or have teeth that close tightly. If a barrette or other hair accessory has some space in the clasp, it has a greater chance of slipping loose.

hair barrette accesories

In the words of Lady Gaga, show me your teeth!

Fine hair can be silky soft and romantic. It's also less likely to clog vacuums and shower drains. Learning to appreciate and rock what you have is the best way to make sure every day with fine hair is a (more than) fine hair day!

Do you have a signature haircut for your thin hair? Or have you found the single most important volumizing product you will ever use? Let your fine friends know in the comments!